Even though it’s a destination enjoyed by celebrities like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Cruise – even the Emperor Diocletian had a summer home there centuries ago – Croatia hasn’t quite reached the point of popularity like some of its European neighbors.
And this is a great thing when the result is exclusive resorts and boundless opportunity for quiet relaxation away from the commotion of typical beach destinations.
However, sand and sea isn’t the only draw to this laid-back country; its rich cultural history, sprawling vineyards, and thousands of islands, makes it one of the most under-the-radar indulgent places to visit.
Here’s a glimpse into some of the best parts of Croatia.
Hotel Dubrovnik Palace
Dubrovnik, known as the “jewel of the Adriatic,” is one of the most spectacular centuries-old walled cities that exist in the world today.
Packed with tourists during the summer months, the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace – located close to, but outside of town – is a must-stay place when visiting the city.
Only a 7-minute drive to the Old Town, the 308-room luxury hotel offers ridiculous views of the Adriatic Sea from your plush king-size bed or private outdoor balcony.
If you’re like me and really value your spa time while on vacation, you will love this place.
After an anti-stress Cocoon treatment where my entire body was scrubbed with sea salt and lavender oils and massaged by two people simultaneously, I headed to the sauna to detox for 30 minutes.
That’s followed by a dip into the freshwater infinity pool, before catching the sunset and sipping on a glass of champagne, outstretched on a comfy canvas chaise lounge. Trying to use words to describe the romanticism of this experience doesn’t do it justice – you just have to feel it for yourself.
When you can pull yourself out of the spa oasis, other perks of the Hotel Palace Dubrovnik include a private beach, its own scuba diving center, a tennis court, and a jogging path to stay active during your stay. This place is all-around fantastic.
Wine tasting and tour of Grgić winery
If you’ve ever had Grgich Hills wine from the Napa Valley, you’ll be delighted to know that there is a winery about a 90-minute drive north of Dubrovnik owned by the same winemaker, Miljenko “Mike” Grgić (or Grgich as spelled in the U.S.).
The difference between the wines produced in Napa Valley and Croatia is simply the ground in which the grapes were grown; the wineries both produce wine from the same type of grape – Posip and Plavac Mali – except the Grgich Hills grapes grow in Napa Valley, and the Grgić Winery grapes grow on the Pelješac peninsula.
One of the few wineries that provide ocean views as good as its award-winning wine, Grgić has small tasting rooms so you can have a unique, personalized experience. If you want to get more involved in the wine process aside from tasting it, Grgić can accommodate that for you as well. Just get ready to get your feet dirty!
Island Hopping on Your Yacht
With more than 1,200 islands, much of Croatia can’t be seen by staying on the mainland. And what better way to check out the other sun-drenched parts of the country than by boat?
Chartering your own yacht gives you the flexibility to be on your own schedule, and change course to other islands as you please.
Many yachts available for charter come with scuba diving and waterskiing equipment if you want to incorporate some activity into your schedule. The must-visit Croatian islands include Hvar, Mljet, Korćula, and Brać.
Aside from their natural pebble beaches, they all offer activities that include hiking, biking, and of course – wine tasting.
Contributed by Liz Deranja