An unplanned night on the Croatian island of Korcula

Korcula

Korcula - the view from our homestay

The biggest danger of travelling through the Balkans is that you’ll run out of time; there’s just so much to see. Perhaps those who pass through the region as part of an open-ended ‘Grand Tour’ are able to while away the days in one place without a car; we were not so fortunate. Our flight home from Dubrovnik was fast approaching, and having arrived in Split we had to decide how we would make our way down the Adriatic coast. We had two choices: the 4 hour bus ride or a ride on the giant ferries that work this picturesque shoreline. Having spent much of the last two weeks on buses, the boat was always going to win.

Korcula

Korcula

Our ferry arrived in Korcula in the early afternoon, and we soon learned that the boat to Dubrovnik would leave the following lunchtime. That gave us two half days to explore this tiny old city. Accommodation has never been hard to find in this part of the world. When I last passed through Yugoslavia 22 years ago I remember the crowds of ladies standing by the stations offering their rooms, and this tradition lives on. We were soon settled in a homely room overlooking the old city thanks to a cheery lady who saw us resting outside her house, and having gratefully dumped our rucksacks we were off to explore.

The roofs of Korcula

The roofs of Korcula from the tower at the Marco Polo museum

Korcula was once an important Venetian city and the influence of its former rulers is evident wherever you look. You can find the Venetian coat of arms on the town’s important buildings, and town makes a big deal of its links with Marco Polo. You can visit his house and see a small museum that shows the details of his famous voyages, and needless to say you can also buy any manner of Marco Polo related nautical memorabilia.

Korcula - Marco Polo's house

The narrow lanes of Korcula town

It’s easy to consider Korcula as a mini Dubrovnik, and indeed it is similarly pretty with a sea of read roofs and a prominent city wall, although not one that provides a full walking circuit in this case. Unlike Dubrovnik where the city rises up from the central street, the main square in the heart of Korcula town is actually the highest point, meaning Korcula is never likely to suffer the dramatic flooding for which Dubrovnik is renowned.

Looking out toward the Croatian mainland

Looking out toward the Croatian mainland

We circled the walls many times, and at one point while staring out to sea I caught a glimpse of a dolphin, no more than 20 metres from the shore and surfacing for a brief moment. Then it was gone, and despite the two of us sitting patiently on the wall and staring intently for another sighting, no more dolphins were willing to make an appearance for us.

Looking for dolphins

Looking for dolphins

The west end of Korcula town

The west end of Korcula town

While the town of Korcula is tiny, there are ample opportunities to walk around the coastline away from the town walls. A walk along the west end of the town reveals beautiful views of the narrow channel between the island and the Croatian mainland, while to the east are the rocky beaches that are filled with sun worshippers from the main hotels that are found nearby. There is a small hilltop to the west of the town, no more than a 10 minute walk up from the centre yet offering very nice views back over the red roofs.

The town of Korcula at dusk

The town of Korcula at dusk

The restaurants of Korcula offered much the same fare, although the local dishes did tempt us and provided a welcome relief after two weeks of trying (mostly in vain) for something other than pizza and kebabs.

In the end we were very pleased to have taken the long way to Dubrovnik, even though we only stayed in Korcula for one night. It was enough to provide us with a happy memory of staying on a Croatian island, and we can now recommend it as a very worthy place to stop on a trip through this part of the world.

A Korculan speciality

A Korculan speciality (it was delicious but I can't provide any more specific info)

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5 Responses to “An unplanned night on the Croatian island of Korcula”

  1. Great post!!! For some reason as I am planning my RTW trip i feel like Croatia is calling my name. I dont know ANYTHING about it. However with the route I am planning to take if I visit Croatia it wouldnt cause any trouble cus its alont the way. I think Im gonna have to add this to my visit list.

    Great pictures too~

    October 2, 2010 at 12:28 am
  2. Go for it Jaime! I barely saw any of Croatia really (on the map we covered not even a quarter of the country) and I’d like to return to see more. A word of advice: if you’re visiting other parts of the Balkans (particularly Bosnia or Albania) you might find the prices in the tourist hotspots of Croatia relatively high. But that shouldn’t put you off seeing a beautiful country.

    October 2, 2010 at 2:40 pm
  3. srdjana #

    I was first there in the 1980s Yugoslav days and then spent my own unplanned night there – New Year’s Eve 2005 – and only because I missed a ferry to another island. But I ended up in Vela Luka, not Korcula town. I’ve seen most of Croatia and its inhabited islands, but I avoid Hvar town, Korcula town, and Dubrovnik. It’s a great country for finding secret remote spots.

    (I’m not telling :))

    October 5, 2010 at 2:05 am
  4. Thanks. We did land in Vela Luka and I would have liked to explore it further, but bus connections and a lack of time meant that it was not possible. Next time! Sounds like you have great memories of your stay there 🙂

    October 6, 2010 at 8:32 pm
  5. srdjana #

    Sadly, though, I later discovered that it was Split’s 1700th “birthday” – and I missed it.

    I’m building a small cottage on another island near Split, but I’m still kicking myself over that.

    October 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm