Croatia Tourism: The Top 5 Croatian Islands To Visit in Dalmatia
Looking for Marco Polo's birthplace, origins of The White House, Tito's submarine bases or Henry VIII's lost village? Dalmatian islands have the answers.
With its fabled weather, 1185 islands and stunning scenery, Croatian tourism is becoming more popular, but while the majority of tourists visiting the islands head straight for the beach, there is much more to discover away from the picturesque shores.
Island of Brac - Linking Liverpool Cathedral to The White House in Washington
While many Americans would struggle to locate Croatia on the map, much less wrestle with the pronunciation Brac ("brach"), every schoolchild in this picturesque Dalmatian island knows about the association between their heritage and one of the most famous buildings in the world - The White House in Washington was constructed with Brac stone. The island stone was also used in the construction of Liverpool Cathedral in the UK.
A more recent and certainly more bizarre building association between Brac and America can be found in the Texan town of McKinney, where developer Jeff Blackard is working hard to recreate the main town of Supetar next to a lake in the suburb of the town with hisAdriatica Project.
Island of Korcula - In Search of the Real Marco Polo Birthplace
A major attraction to the island of Korcula is the beautifully preserved old town of the same name, accessible by short ferry crossing from Orebic on the Peljesac Peninsula. A growing attraction is a house in need of upgrading, which has been bought by the local council, who plan to renovate it and turn it into the Marco Polo Museum. For it was in this house that Marco Polo was alleged to have been born, before setting off on his travels, as so many Dalmatians did after him.
Island of Hvar - Lavender, Luxury And a Deserted Royal Village
Famed for its sunshine, lavender and vibrant night life, tourists head to Hvar Town to lap up the sea, sun and sensational party atmosphere, but there is a wealth of diversity on this stunning island. One of the more rewarding excursions is a visit to the abandoned village of Malo Grablje, just a few kilometres out of town, where local property owners are all bound by the same British Royal surname - Tudor. Whether one buys the story of the descendants of Henry VIII or not, a hot conversation in the Tudor-run restaurants in neighbouring Milna is the more than passing resemblance of some of the staff to a notorious womanising king.Judge for yourselves...
Island of Vis - Secret Bases and a 200 Year-Old Cricket Club
Judged by many tourists to be the most beautiful of all the 1185 islands, this tiny island has plenty of historical interest to offer the visitor. Tito used it as a military base and access was restricted until 1991. The submarine bases can be visited today, an interesting insight into Yugoslav naval preparations.
Vis, however, is no stranger to foreigners and if you are looking for a game of cricket while on holiday, Vis might just be the place, as the Vis Cricket Club celebrated its bi-centenary in 2009. Founded by a former shipboy of Lord Nelson, Captain William Hoste founded the Vis Cricket Club in 1809 during his six-year post on Vis. The club is thriving today.
Island of Mljet - Greenest Island on the Adriatic
Mljet is a small but stunning island, known for its green national park, but it too has an association with a famous traveller from the past, according to its official website (spelling corrections have been made):
Through the Centuries it is believed that after the shipwreck that happened in 61.AD on his way to Rome, St. Paul the Apostle landed on the island of Mljet, more specifically on the beach of Saplunara. This story is mentioned in the Bible, chapter 27. and 28. of the Acts of The Apostoles. St. Luke in his Acts of The Apostoles says that St. Paul spent 3 months on the island of Mljet preaching the Gospel. Above Saplunara, in Žara field is the church that people still call St. Paul's Church. The official stamp of the Mljet County from 1850. until 1921. had the figure of St. Paul on it! It is also believed that St. Paul named Saplunara first, after the Latin word «sabulum» which means «sand».
There is plenty to see and do away from the beaches, which is not to say that they should be avoided. One of the attractions of Croatia is its remarkably clean water, but also its great cultural heritage. Something for everyone and, as the Croatian Tourist Board points out in its slogan, the Mediterranean As It Once Was.