At a Glance
Dalmatia. The southern coastal region of Croatia on the Adriatic Sea. Waves crash against this charismatic coastline, as they have done for thousands of years, before it was ever the home of idyllic towns and cities such as Split, Bol and Solin. Central Dalmatia is - as you may have already guessed - the region that covers the central bulk of this coastal segment of Croatia. And it happens to be absolutely beautiful, deeply personable and steeped in history.If you're lucky enough to be based in a Central Dalmatian resort, you really are spoilt for choice. Mountains push up against the back of the region, soaring into the air and creating awe-inspiring vistas. Spectacular lakes stretch for miles to see, while cities buzz with excitement. Meanwhile, there are islands to explore that have a veritable life of their own, apart from the mainland. To help you get your bearings, here is your all-encompassing guide to Central Dalmatian.
Transportation varies around Central Dalmatia depending upon where you're staying, but as long as you're near Split, you can't go far wrong. The city really has it together in terms of getting around, with bright yellow buses that you can't miss. Route 37 goes to Kastela and to Split airport every 30 minutes, making it one of the most useful ones to memorise. Another one worth knowing is route 60, which goes from the Green Market all the way to Omis.Most central Dalmatian resorts are reachable by bus from either central Split or directly from the airport, although you will need to check in advance which route to take. Asking your hotel is usually the best approach. If you value a bit of privacy and independence, however, taxis and hire cars are available, although don't expect either to be particularly cheap. If you're staying on one of the central Dalmatian islands, it's possible to get a bus directly from the airport to the ferry port, which is a huge time saver.
Eating and Drinking
Food in Central Dalmatia follows the same rules as the rest of Croatia. While many of the meals are understated, this certainly doesn't make them boring. Freshly picked ingredients from the verdant green vegetables to the succulent meat help to liven things up considerably, as well as expert use of cooking techniques.Restaurant-wise, you'll find yourself well served in any of the resort towns, with an excellent share of both traditional Croatian restaurants and universally liked eateries providing wares such as pizza, pasta and chips - just in case you've got picky children.
When it comes to shopping in Central Dalmatia, you have a few options. The fabulous boutiques that line the side streets of Hvar City are well worth a peruse, and you can spend hours in the markets seeking out handcrafted goods and freshly made foodstuffs. However, Hvar is one of the most expensive towns in Croatia, so you may find it necessary to limit your time here lest you overstretch your budget. Bol is also a worthwhile place to spend your cash, as is Split, but other resorts may find you wanting in the way of decent shopping centres. Not to worry, however, as transport links to Split are generally excellent.
Things to See and Do
Undoubtedly the biggest draw of Central Dalmatia is its spectacular beaches, which have enough beauty to charm anyone. Shimmering turquoise waters fringed with glorious white sand, surrounded by extraordinary mountains or thick forests. The coastline here is undeniably stunning, and you'll definitely want to spend a few hours soaking up the sun. Best of all, there's no such thing as private beach in Croatia. So feel free to walk along until you find a patch of sand you like the look of and flop down. For particularly idyllic spots of coastline, it's worth checking out Brela, which is absolutely gorgeous with its miniature white pebbles.But it's not all about lounging about and splashing in the waves. Croatia has a fascinating history and it would be a crying shame if you were to visit without discovering at least a little. First, there are the beautiful buildings of Split, which look for all the world as though they have just emerged from a fantasy novel. Then there is the Paris church of St Peter that stands at Supetar, alongside an extensive graveyard. Baska Voda, Bol, Hvar and Stari Grad also offer unique slices of history.
Once again, it's Split that comes up trumps here. Despite a rather sleepy appearance, this is no small town when it comes to partying. As the sun goes down, the streets come alight with colour and music, as the city's most beautiful artefacts are illuminated in dramatic shades of red, yellow and green. But there's etiquette to be observed here - start your evening late with dinner at 9pm before moving to the bars at 11pm for a cheeky few. It isn't customary to start dancing until 1am, when Western Europeans are generally thinking about packing up and going home.If you're looking for an earlier evening experience, it is best to stick to the smaller resort towns, such as Solin, Trogir, Seget Donji and Makarska. These are generally populated by tourists who will be drinking from 8pm onwards, ensuring you can get to bed early for a day of sunbathing in the morning!
Local festivals and events tend to congregate around Split rather than the smaller resorts, although island locations such as Hvar and Bol often have separate calendars of events that generally see influxes of tourists rushing to one or both of the islands at least once a year. Music festivals, traditional celebrations, extraordinary feasts - during the summer periods, hardly a week goes by without one. For this reason, it's best to ask at reception upon checking in whether there's something happening that's worth attending.