Seafood Feasts and Fantastic Vistas along the Dalmatian Coastline

View over the Split harbor at sunset

Split, Croatia:

After leaving Bosnia, my journey has taken me back into Croatia to enjoy some of the glorious Dalmatian coastline, which is said to be home to some of the most stunning scenary in Eastern Europe.  My first stop was Croatia’s second city of Split: a somewhat gritty, blue-collar type of place, but one in which it is possible to experience the Croatian lifestyle without the same degree of mass tourism that has invaded much of the rest of the country (though the tourism industry still is pretty small compared to that of many cities in Western Europe).

The most popular spot in Split is undoubtedly the waterfront promenade, of whose cafes and restaurants seem to be perpetually packed, but the city is also home to the UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Palace, quite a few open-air markets, a series of beaches running along the coast to the south of the city, and even a few hiking paths in the surrounding hills and peninsulas.  Plus, being a coastal town, the seafood is both bountiful and exceedingly fresh.  Here are a few of the sights you’ll likely encounter in a stroll around town:

The town of Split, as seen from a hillside nearby (a moderate hike away, but well worth the effort)

The streets and alleyways inside Diocletian’s Palace, which is now home to dozens of cafes, boutiques, and restaurants

The Cathedral within Diocletian’s Palace, rising to make its own mark on the city’s skyline

The Waterfront Promenade lit up at night

One of a string of beaches that work their way south along the coast from the city center

Along the waterfront and flanking the corners of Diocletian’s Palace, you’ll find a series of open-air markets selling everything from clothing and jewelry down to perfume and knock-off DVD’s.  Much to my pleasure, however, there were a few excellent food markets dotting these largely merchandise-dominated shopping plazas — and where the food markets are is also where I’ll be:

Veggies and Fresh Herbs for sale

Dried beans of various varieties

The smell emanating from this Fish Market was…potent…to say the least

…but the seafood looked great. For example, I could have been perfectly content to mow through a handful of these beautiful anchioves

And no stay in a coastal fishing town would be complete without at least one over-the-top seafood feast:

Sadly, I actually did finish everything you see in front of you here

After my time in Split came to an end, it was time to head south, but before diving into the next destination, I wanted to take a minute or two to talk about the drive along the coast.  I don’t speak about it much in this blog, but anyone following my trip closely will understand that I’ve spent a significant time simply observing the scenary pass by out of bus and train windows over the last few months.  And though I am one of the few weird ones who actually enjoys these rides, even the most staunch travel-day-detractor will have to admit that the bus ride along Croatia’s coast has to be one of the most awe-inspiring rides in all of Europe.  Taking pictures through the bus window can be a bit trying at times — with the glare on the windows, the constantly shifting bus, etc. — but here are a few of my best efforts:

Dubrovnik, Croatia:

The completion of the bus ride wasn’t a sad affair, however, as at the end of the line was the crown jewel of the Croatian coast: the thousand-year-old city of Dubrovnik.  The highlight is the walled old town — which, incidentally, is another UNESCO sight — but there are plenty of delights to be found on the surrounding islands and within the hillsides looking down upon the city, including plenty of trekking, rafting, kayaking, and even horseback riding.

Though Dubrovnik can supposedly be quite packed during the peak of tourist season, coming during the off season (as I did) yielded the perfect combination of relaxed, uncongested streets and still beautiful weather — though anything involving swimming would probably be a bit chilly by this time of year.  The city itself, which was developed as a critical site in the East-West mercantile trade routes within the Adriatic Sea and an important port during the crusades, is now populated with endless cafes, fine-dining restaurants, and boutique shops, making it the perfect sight to wile away a few days simply strolling around.  And that’s not even saying much of how long one can sit back and merely marvel at the beauty of the surroundings:

The walled city of Dubrovnik

The skyline of the city

The old city as seen from atop the hillside

When first entering the walled portion of the city through the Pile Gate, you’ll be confronted with the Placa, a pedestrian boulevard with any number of tiny streets and alleys shooting off to both sides

For roughly $15, you walk around the entire city from atop the walls, an experience I’d highly recommend if you don’t mind a few steps

Weathered and Worn Roof Tiles give the city both character and a nice splash of color

Whereas the old town is truly a sight to behold, the entire surrounding peninsula isn’t without its own moments of beauty:

View over a small harbor

When I see a path, it takes every ounce of strength I have inside me not to immediately start hiking it — though I usually still lose out to the temptation

Houses and hotels hemmed into the hillside

When I first ventured into the walled city of Dubrovnik, I was confronted by one of the most welcomed sights that I can imagine (for me at least): not of a picturesque medieval town nor grand vistas of mountains juxtaposed against the azure-blue waters, but that of a food-and-wine festival currently in progress.  They must have known I was coming.

A pretty comical scene quickly ensued, however, after I asked about how the whole festival worked.  The nice lady working the reception told me that you have to buy tickets for food and wine, and then you can redeem them at any of the 40-plus booths that local restaurants and hotels had set up.  I immediately ordered 4 food tickets and 3 wine tickets, for which she handed me 4 plates, 4 sets of silverware, and 3 wine glasses — clearly assuming I had others waiting in the wings to help me.  When I handed all but 1 set back saying this was all for me, her mouth about hit the floor.  Similar to a instance from a previous post, she must not have following my travels as of late:

Restaurants and vendors serving their specialties along the Placa

A few decorations at what turned out to be a pretty high-class affair

Lignji Sa Slanutkom — which, after tasting, I figured out was a seafood-packed polenta served with greens stewed in a fish broth

A delicious mussel risotto that was almost more mussel than risotto

And finally, to be true to my “Seafood Feasts” title, I’ll go ahead an include a few other shots of some of the fantastic cuisine that I was able to enjoy while visiting the Dalmation coastline:

Marinated Anchioves and the local Pivo (beer)

Orange, Ginger, and Carrot soup served with a glass of locally-made Blackberry Wine

Last but not least: a close-up view of a plate of grilled baby octupus

The last week spent in Split and Dubrovnik has truly been a delight — reminding me of why it is that I’m traveling the world in the first place — and certainly will go down as one of the highlights of my trip.  For now, the time to move on has unfortunately come, though I’ve heard I’ve got a lot to look forward to in my next destination: The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro.  Until then, Zivjeli from Croatia!

About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

8 Responses to “Seafood Feasts and Fantastic Vistas along the Dalmatian Coastline”

  1. The pictures are so beautiful in this post. I am so glad
    you are getting your fill of fish – it all looks so good.

  2. Croatia is TERRIFIC. We fell in love with it 4 years ago and the only reason we haven’t visited in the past 2 was our 6 month trips to NYC. Dubrovnik is amazing, we really enjoy visiting it in the summer and winter too (we spent the New Years Eve in 2009 there). Lovely pictures you have here … I’d also recommend the Oliva pizzeria (somewhere near the Rector’s Palace). Wonderful pizza.

    We usually spend our vacations in Cavtat (16 km south from Dubrovnik). It’s a small fishing village with some amazing views too .. phew . I really miss those places

  3. Funny, my friend from Dubrovnik is here with me in West Virginia. She said that you may have identified the food incorrectly, but it was very apparent you were enjoying yourself!

    • With the food being served at the Food Festival, I was largely guessing on what things were, as there were very few labels — so I’m not surprised if I may have misidentified something. If she knows the correct names for some of the dishes I showed above, let me know and I’ll make sure to correct them. Thanks!

  4. The area looks absolutely beautiful!
    But I still don’t like seafood. I’ll try to find cevapcici there as well.

  5. Thank you for this beautiful post and collection of photos from the Adriatic. I haven’t visited Croatia in three years and it was nice to be able to recall some memories of my time in Dubrovnik and Split. Glad to know that you enjoyed your time there!

    • I’m glad both that you enjoyed the photos and that they were able to bring back good memories from your previous trip, as well! I’ve been on the road now for over 8 months, and I still have to say that my time spent on the Dalmatian Coastline is still one of the highlights (especially Dubrovnik). It is just stunningly beautiful. Thanks again for reading!

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