Croatia, Slovenia, and Albania boast an abundance of sheltered gems
Lined with white stone and deep-green pine, the coastline of the Adriatic Sea is one of the most extraordinary in the Mediterranean. Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania, and Italy offer seafaring travelers stretches of waterways nestled with distinctive cities, alluring beaches, and commanding panoramic views. Beyond marquee destinations such as Venice, Dubrovnik, and Kotor the Adriatic offers curious travelers lesser-known slips of land that promise what the Dalmatians call fjaka, loosely translated as a laid-back mood of utter contentment.
Discover the top 5 Adriatic coastal retreats:
Along one of the most well-protected natural harbors on the Croatian coast sits the beautiful town of Sibenik. Few ships have the ability to navigate into the harbor through a channel that is, in parts, less than 500 feet wide. This perfectly appointed destination features notable ways to lose oneself: Marvel at St. James Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stroll the old town’s narrow streets that lead to beautiful squares boasting modern shops backdropped by the stylish architecture of bygone centuries. Or, for an afternoon adventure, discover nearby Krka National Park, with its numerous waterfalls and cascades.
Of the more than 1,000 islands along the Croatian coastline, dubbed “the Pearl of the Adriatic,” Krk stands out for its heady mix of walled monasteries, Romanesque churches, and tiny fishing villages. Taverns dish up local specialties such as Kvarner shrimp—the perfect indulgence after walking or cycling the abundant paths that follow the underground caverns of Biserujka Cave.
Hvar and Vis, Croatia
Croatia’s best-guarded secret, Hvar wraps around a sheltered harbor defined by a paved piazza and breathtaking baroque cathedral. Stroll along the palm-lined waterfront promenade and up to the hilltop castle, then wander through cobblestone alleys lined with shabby chic seafood restaurants and boutiques displaying handmade trinkets and designer clothing.
Rising from the glorious Adriatic, isolated Vis is visited mainly by yachters, who moor up in its small town to feast on fresh fish. The ancient Greeks settled Vis in the 4th century BC, attracted by the island’s fertile fields and sheltered bays.
Perched on a tiny piece of land jutting into the sea, Piran may just be Slovenia’s most beautiful coastal town. Part of the Venetian Empire from the late 13th to 18th centuries, Piran is known for its vibrant main square, Venetian-style bell tower, medieval walls, and access to quiet beaches, roosted on the corner of a shallow peninsula jutting out toward the Adriatic.
A resort on the Albanian Riviera sandwiched between the Ionian Sea and sprawling olive groves, Sarande sits within a horseshoe-shaped bay, edged by beaches and a promenade. See the archaeological remains of a 5th-century synagogue, later an early Christian Basilica, where intricate floor mosaics can be spied. The 16th-century Lekuresi Castle rules the hilltop above the town, and Butrint National Park, a 500-acre UNESCO-awarded Roman archeological site, is well within reach.
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