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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Dalmatian Coast And Islands

Dalmatian Coast and Islands, Croatia

With its spectacular scenery, historic culture and glorious Mediterranean climate, holidays to Croatia are fast becoming Europe's top destination – and the Dalmatian Coast brings you the best of all of them. The region has one of the most outstanding stretches of coastline anywhere in the world. You'll find picturesque beaches set against the soaring Dinaric Alps surrounding a myriad of islands in the clearest waters in the Mediterranean. Head inland and you'll find miles of stunning natural landscape, as well as beautifully preserved charming cities.

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Captured in time

Delve into the fascinating history of this region as you wander along stone walls, marvel at medieval villages and admire the centuries-old buildings. Zadar has a wealth of Venetian architecture and Roman ruins set inside city walls. Or head down to Split, the region's largest city, and home to Roman Emperor Diocletian's Palace built in the 3rd century.

Nestled in southern Croatia is cultural capital Dubrovnik, one of the most perfectly preserved Renaissance towns in the world. Wander through the gates and turrets of ancient city walls onto narrow streets packed with churches and baroque buildings.

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Scenic beauty

The stunning natural beauty of this region is captured in a variety of landscapes. Catch breathtaking views on Marjan Hill in Split or reach for the white peaks of Biokovo, Dalmatia's largest mountain. Enjoy nature up close, exploring the Plitvice Lakes, with its tumbling waterfalls, lakes and forests home to a huge diversity of wildlife.

The Paklenica National Park has peaks with stunning views and forest gorges with canyons carved into the southern slopes of the Velebit Mountains. Discover the rich marine ecosystem in the islands, inlets and reefs of the Kornati and Krka National Parks, the latter boasting spectacular waterfalls in which you can take a dip.

A beach for everyone

Finding a beautiful beach along the Dalmatian Coast is easy, for example the awesome Zlatni Rat Beach on Brac Island. But there are thousands of pretty white-pebble beaches as well as sandy shores, with dramatic views, such as the Queen's Beach near Zadar with mesmerising views of the Velebit Mountains across the water.

Bacvice Beach in Split is a wide shallow bay with a family-friendly atmosphere and buzzing social vibe. While the pretty old town of Brela on the Makarska Riviera has a string of the best beaches in Europe, including the Blue Flag Punta Rata Beach.

Croatian cuisine

With its amazing seafood, fantastic wine, olive oil grown in the hilltop groves, and delicious fresh seafood, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in France or Italy. From oysters and crab to octopus and lobster, you'll also love local dishes such as jirice ­(tiny deep-fried fish) not forgetting the region's trademark dish: squid-ink risotto.

Cheese is a famous local produce – try the delicious Livanjski Sir made on Hvar, or Paski Sir from Pag Island. And Dalmatian's own smoked ham, prsut, is believed by many to be superior to its Italian rival, Parma ham. Rustic Croatian classics with a hint of Italian influence to inventive modern cuisine can be found in many waterfront eateries called konobas on the beach shores and at the many open-air restaurants.

Island-hopping

No Dalmatian coast holiday would be complete without exploring its islands. There are more than 1,000 of them, easily reached by boat and covered in olive groves, lavender fields and charming white-stone villages – current hotspots include Korcula Island. Reputedly the birthplace of the explorer Marco Polo, this island is covered by a thick blanket of forest with an ancient medieval-walled town in the centre.

Family-friendly Brac Island is a great choice for parasailing and windsurfing. And for a spot of glitz, visit Hvar island – once governed by a Venetian magistrate, the Italian influence can be seen all over the island with its Renaissance-style cathedral and maze of tiny medieval streets known as kala. And don't miss the tiny Elaphiti Islands in the south, set in a line each with inlets, caves and harbours serving fresh seafood.

With arguably some of the best scenery in Europe, bountiful beaches, unspoilt nature and ancient Roman ruins, you can expect all this and more on your Dalmatian Coast holiday.