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7 days sailing the coast of Croatia

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If the things that make your summer holidays feel that little bit magical include tiny hidden beaches, rickety bars that lead right into the water, sea that looks like the cracked open inside of a sapphire, freshly caught local seafood, 2,000 year old cities and a good long happy hour, we think you’ll agree that Western Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is a thing of beauty. Here’s how we’d advise spending your week, if you’re thinking of exploring it...

 

Day 0 – Split

 

Fly into Croatia’s bustling, harbour-side second city, Split, the night before your boat leaves in order to avoid rushing on the day. Jump on the bus from right outside the arrivals hall; it’ll cost you 30 kuna (around £3.20) and is far more social than a taxi – because multiple tour companies leave Split on the same day, you’re extremely likely to meet fellow travellers during your 45 minutes journey into the city.

 

When you’ve arrived in Split and checked into your hotel (your travel company will be able to advise you on where to stay in order to meet other people on your trip before you set sail) have a wander through the ancient Roman streets, framed by the 4th Century Palace of Emperor Diocletian, before meeting up with the friends you made on the bus for cocktails and/or dinner at one of the many restaurants in Split’s old town.

 

Day 1 – Split to Hvar

 

Your rep is likely to visit your hostel/hotel in the morning, so grab them early so they can show you to the boat before you set off around noon. Don’t spend time unpacking – get up on deck, where you can meet your fellow sailors and feel the feeling that every non-antipodean has when cruising off on this adventure, which is: wow. What a lot of Australians.

 

Quickly, this will be followed by – oh, 95% of the people on this boat are travelling on their own. Let’s INTEGRATE!

 

You shall then begin the not very long process of getting ‘integrated’ with the three Canadians, two Americans, four Brits and 27 Aussies that you’ll be sharing your entire week with (minus four and a half hours that you’ll spend sleeping, on average, each night).

 

You’ll quickly be treated to a hearty three course lunch (homemade soup and bread, followed by chicken, vegetables and a fairly substantial dessert), before making your way to the deck, where you can bask in the sun for a couple of hours as Split melts away and the extremely beautiful island of Hvar draws ever closer.

 

When the boat docks for your first swim stop, take the plunge and throw yourself off into the sea. Because the philosophy of this trip is #noregrets, and it’s your responsibility to make it come true. Look out for dolphins because yes, they’re likely to be around.

 

When  your boat has docked in Hvar make the 20 minute climb up the Venetian  fortress, drink in the panoramic view (pictured) then descend through  the winding streets towards the port and grab a burek (baked pastry,  filled with feta, meat or vegetables) before spending the rest of your  night embracing the hospitality of the island’s favourite waterfront  bar, the aptly named Carpe Diem.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Hvar to Korcula

 

After a lazy continental breakfast, spend the journey from Hvar to the Dalmatian island of Korcula sunbathing and swimming off the boat. Arriving in Korcula, the rumoured childhood home of explorer Marco Polo, make sure you breathe in the perhaps overwhelming history. It is here, in a tower by a tiny stone church, that Polo first met his father – a merchant who would inspire his son to travel to Asia, meet Kublai Khan, and record his journey to an extent that had never been seen before. 

 

After your visit to Marco Polo’s house, climb the stepladder to reach Massimo – a tiny, open-air cocktail bar housed on top of an old fortress, where drinks are levered up by rope. Visit late in the afternoon, when the heat has subsided and the bar is less crowded.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening, eat the island’s famous pizza and indulge in the local wine - named the best in the world in 1967 – before hitting the bars. You can pick up a glass of white wine for a whole 10 kuna (around £1) or a cocktail bucket for 90kn. As your rep may inform you: there’s no point saying that this might be a big night. This will be a big night.

 

Days 3 and 4 – Dubrovnik

 

Croatia’s (possibly) most famous and prettiest city is likely to be a much-anticipated trip highlight. There are a multitude of things to do in UNESCO-listed Dubrovnik, whether you’re into history, watersports – or even just a certain TV uber-smash.

 

But hey, you’ve got time to embrace all of the above. Have a wander around the steep and cobbled streets, dotted with authentic local restaurants, orientate yourself with the (admittedly tiny) city by utilising a local tour guide, take the 90 minute walk along the city walls and spot as many Game of Thrones filming locations as you can, visit the world’s oldest pharmacy, and then reflect on very recent history inside the memorial to Dubrovnik’s Yugoslav War dead. If you’ve got time, grab a kayak and paddle around the old walls, aided by a knowledgeable local instructor – it comes highly recommended, for a unique view of the city.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When all this exertion has just got too much, head to one of two Buza Bars (pictured), which are built into the ancient city walls and lead down into the sea, allowing you to mix swimming with an afternoon beverage in spectacular fashion.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When night falls head to Revelin, the city’s best club, also built into the city walls, where a fire show heats things up at 1.30am and the music keeps pumping until 6.

 

Day 5 – Dubrovnik to Trstenik

 

It’s back to swimming off the shores of hidden away beaches today as you wind your way towards Trstenik, home of 103 people and some of the world’s top wine. Take advantage of the slow pace after your time in Dubrovnik - sample the local wine and olive oil at Grgic Vina Winery and relax on this beach, which has its own bar:

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight it’s time for a captain’s dinner aboard the ship, and a long, long happy hour filled with 40kn (£4!) cocktails.  

 

Day 6 – Trstenik to Makarska

 

After another morning of swimming in eye-wateringly clears seas and bobbing around on lilos, dock in local holiday hotspot Makaraska and check out the markets, before heading to the beach and picking up an unexpectedly huge plate of bruscetta and a 7kn icecream in Bounty, the waterfront cafe bar. Make sure you rub the tourist’s breast for good luck.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highlight of your time in Makaraska is likely to be your evening meal – go to Lanterna, order steak, and you’ll feel very, very pleased with your life choices.

 

There are lots of opportunities for a good night out here, and you’ll want to make it a big one since it’s almost your last night. Check out Smile Bar to start your evening, and then see where the night takes you – maybe to Deep, a club in a cave right on the water.

 

Day 7 – Makaraska to Split

 

And then, although you thought it couldn’t happen, it’s all over. Spend a relaxing final day in Split wandering around the ancient city, stopping for a coffee at a cafe ticked into the walls, picking up local delicacies to take home and soaking up the last drops of Adriatic sun. Later, head out for a final seafood dinner to celebrate your last evening and see out Croatia in style. Same time next year...?

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sound good? You can take this exact tour with Contiki Holidays, starting from £715 for eight days. The price includes 7 nights twin share accommodation, port and visitor taxes, orientation and recommendations in all locations by your experienced Contiki guide, 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 2 dinners. Optional activities, such as Dubrovnik kayaking, cost slightly extra. To find out more click here.

 

Follow Contiki on twitter: @contikiuk #noregrets

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