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Places

Croatia’s best beaches

Croatia boasts a beach for everyone. Whether you’re in search of stunning nature, plentiful watersports opportunities or simply somewhere to be pampered, you’ll find it all on the Dalmatian coast. Here’s our guide to Croatia’s best beaches.

Croatia has become a popular summer seaside destination, and Dalmatia in the south is definitely the most beguiling region. Near the historic port cities of Dubrovnik and Split (both UNESCO World Heritage sites) you’ll find a host of beaches to cater for all tastes. The Dalmatian coast is rocky and indented, with peaceful bays concealing charming pebble beaches, often backed by fragrant pinewoods. And then there are the blissful islands, wild and unspoilt, where you might well spot dolphins. Sandy beaches are few and far between, but we have included a couple here.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s most Instagrammed beach

Directly outside the city’s medieval walls, Banje is Dubrovnik’s most alluring beach – think sunbeds shaded by big white parasols stand in rows on a swathe of fine pebbles, with views of the fortifications and Lokrum islet across the water. Above the beach there’s a lounge bar on a wooden deck with a resident DJ, and a restaurant serving Creative Mediterranean fare. During daytime, waiters and masseurs attend to sunbathers. After dark, lit by candles and torch flames, Banje makes a super romantic venue for a party or wedding reception.

Banje beach

Banje beach, Ulica Frana Supila, Dubrovnik

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Photo: Silverland Kayak

Low-key family beach with sea kayaking near Dubrovnik

At Srebreno Bay, 9km southeast of Dubrovnik, the Sheraton manages a neat pebble beach, hiring sunbeds and parasols. From here, a 2km meandering promenade leads to the sleepy village of Mlini, where a quaint church and cottages draped in pink bougainvillea center on a fishing harbor. Along the way you’ll pass a string of pebble beaches, giving onto calm shallow sea that’s ideal for kids, plus several informal cafes. To explore the coast further, join a sea-kayaking tour with Srebreno-based Silverland (silverland.hr). Srebreno is served by regular boats from Dubrovnik’s old harbor (30 minutes) and local bus.

Srebreno Bay

Srebreno Bay, Srebreno, Dubrovnik

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Photo: Shutterstock

Escapist sandy bay on a car-free islet near Dubrovnik

Discover a jewel! Sandy beaches are notoriously rare in Croatia, but there is one near Dubrovnik – Sunj on Lopud, part of the Elafiti archipelago. A 320m crescent of sand, it gives onto warm shallow water with a soft seabed, making it ideal for kids. Several beach bars rent out sunbeds, and in the woods above Sunj, Bindo (bindolopud.com) serves BBQ fare in a garden with hammocks. To reach Sunj, take a one-hour Jadrolinija ferry ride from Dubrovnik’s Gruz port. From Lopud Town, it’s a 2km hike across the islet, through lush Mediterranean vegetation, to the beach. Golf-buggy rides are also available.

Sunj beach

Sunj beach, Lopud, Dubrovni

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Gourmet delights with cabanas and bathing

If you want to really splash out, reserve a rustic-chic wooden cabana at BOWA in a hidden turquoise bay on Sipan. An oasis of peace and understated luxury, the rocky coast is backed by pinewoods and centers on a terrace shaded by awnings, a small pebble beach and five cabanas. The owner cultivates oysters in Ston and is a big-game fishing enthusiast – expect treats such as fresh oysters with samphire, and swordfish tartar with arugula. Most guests arrive aboard private yachts specifically to lunch and swim here. Alternatively, BOWA run speedboat transfers from Brecine some 22km northwest of Dubrovnik.

Bowa

Vrbova Bay, Sipan Island

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Split

Go local at Split’s town beach

Do like the locals! This historic beach is Split’s oldest official bathing venue. The city’s residents have been swimming at Bacvice since 1919, when the first changing cabins were built. An arc of smooth brown sand backed by tamarisk trees, it gives onto warm shallow water – you can wade far from the coast and it’s still only knee-deep. Hardier locals bathe here all year round, and play an unusual ball game in the shallows, unique to Split, called picigin. Above the beach, the old-fashioned Zbirac café rents out sunbeds and serves coffee and chilled beers. Bacvice is a roughly 10-minute walk east of Split’s old town.

Bacvice Beach

Photo: Ivan Ivanisevic

The full-service beach experience

In Dalmatia, the mistral is a gentle cooling breeze that blows off the sea on summer afternoons. Managed by the 5-star Radisson Blu Resort, this beach has over 200 sunbeds (waiter service and towels provided) on a swathe of pebbles and a wooden deck built into the rocks. The Mistral bar-restaurant serves salads and Dalmatian seafood, plus excellent cocktails – try the Radisson Ginger Fizz (gin, elderflower, lemon and ginger). Expect music ranging from nu disco to jazz house and deep house. It has views of Brac and Solta islands across the water and lies 3km east of Split’s old town.

Mistral Beach Club

Put Trstenika, Split

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Croatia’s most photographed beach

Featured on picture postcards for decades, Zlatni Rat in Bol is Croatia’s most recognizable beach. An unusual geographical phenomenon, the pebble spit juts out into the sea, perpendicular to the coast. Lapped by translucent blue sea, it has sunbeds, fast-food kiosks and water-sports facilities that include pedalos for hire, tube-rides and water-skiing, plus a green-and-yellow inflatable Aquapark for kids. To reach it, take a one-hour Jadrolinija catamaran ride from Split to Bol, and from there it’s a lovely 15-minute walk along a tree-lined waterside promenade. Along the way, you’ll also pass an excellent windsurfing school and scuba-diving center.

Zlatni Rat

Bol, island of Brac

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Get back to nature at Nugal

Wild and isolated, Nugal lies a glorious 40-minute hike from Makarska harbor, which is some 64km southeast of Split. The lovely coastal path is shaded by pinewoods and studded with agaves and cacti. On arrival, you’ll see FKK (from German, Freikörperkultur) painted on a rock, meaning this is an official nudist bathing area. Backed by steep rocky cliffs and a cluster of pine trees, Nugal looks onto crystal clear sea. It is a tad chilly, due to underground freshwater springs which rise here. Be sure to wear good walking shoes, bring water (there are no facilities), sun cream and a roll-up beach mat.

Nugal

Makarska

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