The Croatian National Tourist Board has divided Croatia into six distinct tourist regions, and Dalmatia is one of these six regions. Dalmatia is also one of Croatia’s four historical regions, alongside Croatia proper, Istria and Slavonia. The name Dalmatia comes from the tribe Dalmatae who lived here during classical antiquity.
Dalmatia is a narrow region stretched along Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast, from the Bay of Kotor in the south up to the island Rab in the north. The hinterland, which is commonly referred to as the Dalmatian Zagora, varies in width from just a few kilometers in the south to 50 km in the north.
The largest cities in Dalmatia are Split, Zadar, Dubrovnik, and Šibenik.
Dalmatia is characterized by a typical Mediterranean climate by the coast and a moderated Mediterranean farther inland. At high elevations in the Dinaric Alps, the climate has more of an inland vibe, with cold and snowy winters and hot and dry summers.
Except for the plains, Dalmatia tend to have nutritionally poor soils, and traditional crops here have been of the type that can handle this, especially olives and grapes.
Split is the most populous city in Dalmatia and the second-most populous one in the whole country. In 1979, it’s historical center was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Roughly half of the old town is within Diocletian’s Palace, an ancient palace and fortification built for the Roman Emperor at the turn of the 4th century AD.
With its strategic location, Split is a connection point that links the Apennine peninsula to the Adriatic Sea and archipelago. Since 1998, it has been the host city for the yearly Croatia Boat Show.
Situated at Meštrovićevo šetalište 18 in Split, the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments is the only museum in the country devoted to Croatian cultural artifacts from the Middle Ages (7th to 15th century AD). This museum is especially good if you are interested in learning more about the early medieval Croatian state (9th to 12th century).
Zadar got its urban structure during Roman times, and then a medieval town developed inside this ancient Roman city, with many churches and some monasteries. Today, Zadar and the surrounding area is mostly associated with leisurely pursuits, such as yachting, hiking and rock climbing.
The Kornati National Park is filled with numerous islands and islets, of which most are uninhabited. The park is named after Kornati, the largest island. You can reach the park via a drawbridge from the mainland. The park administration is located in the town Murter on the island of Murter.
Paklenica National Park
Paklenica National Park is the most visited destination for climbing in Croatia, and the park is also very popular for hiking and watersports.
The park contains over 360 equipped climbing routes, and most climbers can find something suitable here since the routes vary from each other when it comes to factors such as difficulty level and length.
When it comes to hiking, you have over 150 km of trails and paths to explore.
The island of Pag has developed into an infamous party place, with the vibrant nightlife especially centered on the town Novalja and the pebble beach Zrće. During the high season, you can expect a cosmopolitan and hedonistic atmosphere with 24/7 discos and always-open beach bars.
Dubrovnik is a very popular tourist destination, especially for visitors from northern Europe. For more information, go to our article about Dubrovnik on this site.
The city of Šibenik is located in central Dalmatia, where the river Krka flows into the Adriatic Sea. It is Dalmatia’s third-largest city and serves as a portal to a busy yachting region.
Šibenik is home to the Cathedral f St. James, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Several fortresses from the Renaissance period, including St. Nicholas Fortress, surround old Šibenik.
Just a few kilometers northeast of the city of Šibenik, you’ll find the Krka National Park with its waterfalls and monasteries. A popular destination within the park is Skradinski buk, a large natural pool filled with clear water, complete with high waterfalls at one end and cascades at the other.
The Makarska Riviera
The Makarska Riviera is a 60 km stretch of pebbly coastline near the mountain Biokovo, filled with nights clubs, cafés and places where you can rent kayaks and other toys.
Trogir is a harbor town with roughly 11,000 inhabitants. The old city of Trogir, which is an UNESCO World Heritage filled with fascinating architecture, is nestled on a small island between Čiovo Island and the mainland.
The old city of Trogir is one of the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complexes in all of Central Europe. One of its most prominent buildings is the Cathedral of St. Lawrence, built on the foundations of an Early Christian cathedral that was destroyed by the Saracens in 1123. Construction of the new cathedral commenced in 1213 but wasn’t finished until the 1600s.
Hvar is a 68 km long island with over 11,000 residents. Many small fishing and tourism business are located on Hvar. In an average year, Hvar enjoys over 2715 hours of sunshine.
Summertime is one long stretch of cultural activities on Hvar, with numerous concerts and theatrical performances by national and international artists.
A tall east-west ridge of limestone and dolomite dominates Hvar, but there is also plenty of place for a fertile coastal plain. The hillsides are overgrown with pine forest, except for where farmers have cleared to plant their olive trees, fruit orchards and vineyards. Lavender is also grown on Havar. Unlike many other islands in the area, Hvar has many fresh water springs.