The colors are nearly startling in their intensity. On the Croatian coast, the rich blue of the Adriatic meets the dazzling white of Dalmatia’s rock formations and the deep emerald of the beech and oak forests, softened here and there by the paler green of the olive groves. Further inland, the lakes and waterfalls of Plitvice National Park add their phantasmagorical shades of turquoise. The succession of breathtaking landscapes seems to go on forever. A glass of maraschino, the liqueur made from the local maraška cherries, is the perfect way to toast this region of the Balkans, nestled between Europe and Asia,
to pay homage to its ancient cities, grandes dames whose charm has lasted over the centuries. Like Zadar, which has stood for 3,000 years at the edge of a peninsula hugging the Dalmatian coast. The bombs of World War II could not eradicate all of its ancient heritage: Zadar is home to the largest preserved Roman forum in the Balkans. On the original stone slabs, burnished by time and countless footsteps, stands the Church of Saint Donatus. Today, its round sanctuary, typical of Byzantine architecture, is used as a concert hall devoted to medieval and Renaissance music.
The mixing of genres is omnipresent. It crops up along the city’s cobblestone streets, where Romanesque churches dialogue with edifices from the 15th and 16th centuries. Following the ruins of the medieval wall, we reach the market square, lined with colorful stalls. Heaps of figs bask in the sun’s ripening rays, the air is redolent with the perfume of pressed olive oil, and the local wines appear side by side with the region’s cheeses. The distinctive salty flavor of Paški Sir, a hard sheep’s milk cheese from the island of Pag, comes from the Adriatic sea spray that wafts across the pastures where the ewes graze. At dinnertime, the sweetness of a glass of Prošek creates a perfect harmony of food and wine. But the finale to this recital is to be experienced at the tip of the peninsula, after strolling the Nova Riva seaside walkway. A series of glass plates covers the concrete — solar panels that, after sundown, release the light they have absorbed during the day. This rainbow-colored ballet is accompanied by the eternal rhythm of the sea and the wind filling the hollows at water’s edge, an intriguing musical counterpoint composed by the tides and currents all along the Istrian Peninsula.
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. The contemporary-style Bevanda seems to be placed on the rocks, fully turned towards the sea. This refined hotel has only ten rooms, each bearing the name of a celebrity who visited the town: Gustav Mahler, Isadora Duncan, or even Albert Einstein. Their picture windows open towards large terraces overlooking the Adriatic, offering stunning views of Opatija, Rijeka and the islands in the distance. Designed by Croatian architects and designers, it is built on the site of a regionally renowned restaurant founded several decades ago. Supported by the freshest ingredients of the land and of the sea, Bevanda’s cuisine is based on modern adaptations of traditional Mediterranean recipes. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in town. The tiny town of Zadar, sheltered behind its city walls, at the edge of the Adriatic, exercises its many charms: tiny cobbled roads, ancient ruins and treasures from the Renaissance await the visitor. Hotel Bastion was built in this historic centre, at the tip of the peninsula, on the remains of a former 13th century Venetian mediaeval fortress. The town’s main monuments are very close by, including the sea organs. This charming hotel offers elegant rooms, a cosy bar, a spa which has retained some of the original fortress walls, and a restaurant with delicious Mediterranean cuisine that can also be served on the terrace, in the shade of large parasols. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a vineyard. The superb white stone mansion is a foretaste of the country stay to come: the singing of the crickets, the tranquil beauty of the vines and olive trees, the gentle caress of the sea breeze and an entrancing Mediterranean atmosphere. Merely a handful of guest rooms are available in this heavenly setting guaranteeing a secluded stay at Wine Hotel. This will give you total peace and quiet to soak up the sun beside the pool, stroll through the grounds, or sample the restaurant’s delights: healthy, fragrant Mediterranean cuisine which showcases local ingredients (including home-produced olive oil) served with the property’s own wine. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. People say that the Silk Road started from this island; Korčula has good reason to be proud to be home to Marco Polo's house, a stone’s throw from Lešić Dmitri Palace. The building's history dates back to the 17th century, when the Lešić family, rich property owners and merchants combined a number of semi-detached houses to create a palace worthy of that name. It has been meticulously renovated yet with a touch of contemporary design; its historical character and original layout have been retained and it now offers a small number of independent suites. Each evokes a step in Marco Polo's journey towards China, in a harmonious décor, with top-quality materials. ... Learn moreless