The Dalmatian coast is the cradle of Dalmatian culture and identity. Its historical importance and wealth of monuments in a relatively small area are unsurpassed.
In a stretch of only 400 kilometers, you can visit an impressive Roman imperial palace built by Emperor Diocletian, walk through the narrow cobbled medieval streets of Trogir, or march through the medieval walls of Dubrovnik like a member of the Lannister family - all this and much more awaits you in this intricate and yet incredibly impressive and immersive mixture of monuments, history, and immaculate natural beauty.
In this text we will give you a brief overview of some of the most important features of the Dalmatian coast, let’s begin!
The Dalmatian coast is generally considered to be a narrow coastal strip stretching for about 400 kilometers from Zadar to Cavtat near Dubrovnik.
The coastline, with its numerous islands and mountains in the hinterland, extends parallel in a northwest-southeast direction, which is known as "Dalmatian coast", formed by the intrusion of the rising post-glacial sea into a relief.
The coastal area is characterized by karst relief, which consists mainly of limestone and dolomite. The entire coastline is perfect for many different types of vacations with a variety of stunningly beautiful beaches, national parks, nature parks, and cities to choose from.
This area is generally divided into rivieras, with smaller coastal and island towns and villages following the major coastal towns. This subdivision is mainly important for tourist purposes. The most important rivieras from north to south are Zadar, Šibenik, Split, Makarska, and Dubrovnik.
Dalmatia is very easy to reach from almost anywhere in the world thanks to numerous airlines offering direct flights to our main cities.
The three largest airports are located in Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik. All three major airports are between 15 and 30 minutes by car from the mentioned cities. It is very easy to find cabs, book private transfers, or take a bus and reach any of the major cities with departures from these airports.
Besides the airports, the ports are also a popular way to reach our coastal cities. The major ports in Zadar, Šibenik, Dubrovnik, and Split are connected to all major dalmatian islands and also to Italy, so you can explore any of our islands with one of the numerous ferry or catamaran lines.
Zadar Riviera is the northernmost Dalmatian Riviera with the city of Zadar as the administrative, regional, tourist, and economic center with a population of about 75000 inhabitants.
Zadar is an ancient city whose name derives from a settlement called Iadera, first mentioned in the 4th century BC. The city with 4 patron saints that also houses the largest Roman forum and boasts over 2500 hours. Take a walk along the famous Kalelarga Street, listen to the music of the waves produced by the Sea Organ, and watch a basketball game in Visnjik Stadium, because Zadar is undoubtedly the Croatian home of basketball although it is worth mentioning that the best Croatian football player of all times Luka Modrić lived in the vicinity of Zadar as a child. Truly a city worth visiting for many different reasons.
Other notable cities that fall under the Zadar Riviera are Nin, Biograd na Moru, Sveti Filip i Jakov, and Novigrad.
A stretch of land about 100 kilometers long, stretching from Rogoznica to the village of Drage is called Šibenik riviera. This is another very popular part of the Croatian coast with the town of Šibenik as its regional center.
Šibenk is known as one of the oldest Croatian towns. The town was founded by King Krešimir in the 11th century with the most beautiful cathedral in Croatia - the Cathedral of St. Jacob. The city has a population of about 35 thousand people. Šibenik bears the title of the most musically talented city in Croatia, the birthplace of many famous Croatian singers. Šibenik was also the first city in the world with a fully functioning electrical grid thanks to Nikola Tesla and his patents used to build the hydroelectric plant on the Krka river. This and much more await those who visit this jewel of north Dalmatia.
Besides Šibenik there are other towns worth visiting including Rogoznica, Vodice, and Tribunj.
The Riviera revolves around the largest city in Dalmatia and the second largest city in Croatia - the city of Split. The riviera stretches for about 50 kilometers from a medieval gem, Trogir, to Omiš.
Split has a population of about 170 thousand inhabitants. The city of Split, which originated from a gigantic palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian, is a 1700-year-old city in the heart of the Dalmatian coast.
In addition to the palace, there are numerous other buildings in the city from the time when Split was under Venetian, French, and Austro-Hungarian rule, so the city offers a perfect blend of the different styles left by each of the aforementioned powers.
Split is a city known for many successful athletes like Goran Ivanišević, Mario Ančić, Ivano Balić, Blanka Vlašić, and many others. There is a sport above all others in Split: football with the football club Hajduk serving as a recognizable symbol of the city with numerous murals visible all through Dalmatia.
All of these athletes trained on the legendary Marjan hill or the so-called „lungs of the city“ a hill that covers about a third of the total surface area of the city with a myriad of trails and tracks as well as beaches ideal for all types of sporting activities.
Besides Split there are other towns worth visiting including Solin, Kaštela, Trogir, and Omiš.
Makarska Riviera stretches from Brela in the west to Graca in the east on a length of 60 km at the foot of the Biokovo Mountain, which is protected as a natural park.
The town of Makarska is the largest town on the Riviera with about 14000 inhabitants. The town has an impressive malacological museum, numerous beaches, hotels, and restaurants, as well as sports and recreational facilities, and lies on the foothills of the towering mountain Biokovo, whose peak (St. Ilija) is 1762 meters high.
Other notable towns that fall under this riviera are Brela, Baška Voda, Tučepi, Gradac, and Drvenik.
Dubrovnik riviera stretches for about 20km between the towns with the city of Dubrovnik serving as an administrative, cultural, and tourist center of the riviera.
The Old Town of Dubrovnik with its uniquely preserved medieval walls has been on the World Heritage List UNESCO since 1979, and the city itself is a favorite place for many members of the international jet set and has been used as a filming location for numerous movies and series, especially Game of Thrones.
The best way to describe Dubrovnik would be to use a line uttered by the famous George Bernard Shaw that said: 'Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik”
Besides Dubrovnik, there are other cities worth visiting on this Riviera including Ston and Cavtat.
Every major riviera mentioned in the previous section has something to offer, almost every town has at least a few monuments that provide fascinating insights into the turbulent historical events to which the entire Dalmatian coast was exposed.
Castles, fortresses, palaces, and archeological sites dating back to ancient times are interwoven with fascinating stories that the authors of the monuments and these buildings tried to convey.
On the Dalmatian coast, there are numerous sites under the protection of UNESCO. The sites are clear examples of the influences of foreign powers and authorities in some of the most important Dalmatian cities.
Going from south to north, we must mention the Old Town of Dubrovnik with its medieval walls and numerous Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance edifices. Although a terrible fire that devastated the city destroyed a large part of the infrastructure, the renovation works carried out were able to restore the splendor of this truly unique medieval site.
Further north we come across another UNESCO site, a real imperial palace of Emperor Diocletian from the 4th century AD with an area of about 30000 square meters, an amazing jewel of Roman architecture with remains of temples, vaulted halls, and much more a nucleus from which the city of Split was born.
We continue to Šibenik to visit the breathtaking Cathedral of St. Jacob in Šibenik, built over a hundred years, in the 15th and 16th centuries. The most important builders of the cathedral are Juraj Dalmatinac and Nikola Florentinac, who built it in a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles.
Venice had a great influence on much of the Dalmatian coast for many centuries and built defensive fortifications in Split, Šibenik, and Zadar, visible by towers, which were used primarily for defensive purposes, as Venice fought seven different wars against the Ottomans and therefore had to fortify its possessions at that time.
All along the coast there are numerous events, some traditional and others modern.
Some of the more notable traditional events are the feast of St. Blasius celebrated in Dubrovnik on February 3rd, and the feast of St. Dominus celebrated in Split every year on May 7th.The Summer Festival in Dubrovnik, Split Summer festival and the Diocletian's Days Festival in Split are also noteworthy.
The city of Zadar hosts its traditional Chess Tournament every year while the International Medieval Fair is held annually in Šibenik.
Each coastal town and city no matter the size has a longstanding fishing tradition which is the reason why they hold various Fishermen's nights in the course of the summer.
Modern festivals and events also play a major role in attracting visitors from all over the world. An event in Split that certainly has to be emphasized is the Croatia Boat Show held every year. For the fans of electronic music, the famous Ultra music festival in Split as well as numerous festivals of a similar nature in Novalja (Zrce beach) and Tisno are certainly something that every party lover will mark in their calendars.
Then there are sporting events such as the Wing for Life race in Zadar or the famous regattas in Vis (Viška Regatta) and Split (Mrdujska Regatta) and a Salsa Beach Splash festival in Šibenik.
Last but not least, for all lovers of the seventh art, the Mediterranean Film Festival in Split offers a wide and interesting selection of films ideal for all movie buffs.
The Dalmatian coast is famous for its breathtaking natural beauty.
Interwoven with the rivers Zrmanja, Cetina, Neretva, and Krka, enveloped by a karstic relief with mighty and towering mountains such as Biokovo, Velebit, Mosor, Kozjak, which form a memorable backdrop to many coastal towns in Dalmatia. In these fearsome mountains, you can find amazing caves, such as Vranjača Cave, which are a true geomorphological phenomenon.
Even amid all this beauty, some parts simply stand out for their impossibly magnificent surroundings and are classified as either natural or national parks. Krka National Park near Šibenik is famous for its spectacular waterfalls. Biokovo Nature Park, which offers the best views, and finally Vransko Jezero Nature Park, the largest lake in Croatia and one of the biggest marsh areas considered a refuge for many endangered bird species.
The richness of content one can find all through the Dalmatian coastline is nothing short of astounding from the marvelous natural beauty to ancient monuments coupled with riveting history and a wide array of different cultural and entertaining festivals and events that make the Dalmatian Coast an ideal vacation destination for guests of all types and interests.
Everyone can find something for themselves!