By Alex Cote
Alex Cote, aka The Mindful Mermaid, visits one of Croatia’s most beautiful islands – Korcula – with camera in hand.
A trip to Dubrovnik is not complete without visiting the enchanting island of Korcula. Often referred to as “mini Dubrovnik”, Korcula is nothing short of an Adriatic masterpiece. The old-world architecture brings you back to Marco Polo’s era. The luminescent shores and lush countryside provide a serene escape. It’s no wonder that Korcula is a top destination for in-the-know travelers.
Whether you’re a beach bum, biker, or wine enthusiast, Korcula is the place to be. After spending a day in Korcula myself, I’ve collected the top attractions for your day-trip or weekend getaway. Here’s my mindful travel guide to this lesser-known paradise.
How to get there:
Korcula is the sixth largest Croatian island, a part of the Dalmatian archipelago along the Adriatic coast. The island is 49 nautical miles away from Dubrovnik and 57 miles away from Split.
You can take a ferry from Split or Dubrovnik with several different boat companies, mainly from May to October. It takes about two hours from Dubrovnik and two and a half from Split. I would recommend taking the earliest ferry, especially if you only plan to stay for one day.
It is important to note that the entire island is called Korcula, but the main part of town, including the Old Town, is called Korcula as well. So while the town of Korcula can be seen in a day, the entire island is over 275 square kilometers and would be better for a weekend.
I personally was only on Korcula for a day, but still didn’t get to see as much of the entire island as I would’ve like. The Old Town area is packed with history, restaurants, and beaches, while the rest of the island is quieter, yet offers a more authentic Korcula experience.
What to do
Explore the Old Town
The minute you step off the ferry, make way for the Old Town, a UNESCO world heritage site. Aimlessly wander the narrow, cobble stone streets.
Notice the orange accents, the overgrown foliage, and sparkling waters shining through side streets. You’ll find a combination of rustic architecture juxtaposing funky street decorations.
Visit the Marco Polo Monuments
It is believed that the renowned traveler and medieval Venetian was born on the island of Korcula. After being captured at the naval battle of Korcula, Marco Polo’s cellmate later produced a book The Travels of Marco Polo, which brought the merchant fame.
You can visit both the Marco Polo museum and his believed house of birth. It’s also interesting seeing the various “original” Marco Polo souvenir shops. However, there is no definite proof he was born on the island, so you’ll have to determine the truth for yourself!
Explore the countryside and Vela Luka
Whether you have a few hours to kill or are visiting for the weekend, I recommend taking the bus to explore the other small towns throughout the island. I didn’t get a chance to explore much of the countryside myself.
However, I was completely captivated by the Vela Luka area. You can find bright colored houses with bold window shades overlooking the scenic harbor. The atmosphere was very relaxed when I was there, and I turned my short visit into an early morning photo-op. You can take a bus from the main town of Korcula.
Experience the outdoors by biking or kayaking
Biking is one the best ways to get around Korcula and immerse yourself in your natural surroundings. You can rent a bike for a few hours for as low as 50 kuna ($7.50) and for one day for 100 kuna ($15). You can also explore the coastline by taking a kayak tour for 300 kuna ($45), every day except Sunday.
Where to eat and drink:
Indulge in the local wineries
Korcula is not covered in vineyards for nothing; the island has been producing wine for centuries. Take a wine tour and taste regional specialties, like Grk and Posip. If you’re short on time, you may visit Wine Bar and Shop 800 within the Old Town, which offers a selection of local wines.
Also, check out Massimo Cocktail Bar atop the Berim Tower, which you get to by climbing a ladder.
Taste authentic cuisine
The number of restaurants in Korcula impressed me. Most restaurants offer a traditional Croatian menu of fresh fish, meat, homemade pasta, and pizza. However, some of the restaurants appeared to be overly priced, not to mention I had terrible service at one of the restaurants we visited (Waiter accidentally spilled food and water all over Domeniko and me. They didn’t even give us a discount!) I really think that was an anomaly for majority of the restaurants in Korcula.
Try Aterina, Filippi restaurant, or Konoba Belin for local cuisine. If you’re looking for cheaper eats on the go, I recommend Silk, an Asian- fusion food truck offering many vegan and gluten-free options.
(photo credit: Alex Cote)