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Korcula Yacht Charter

Floating through the Dalmatian archipelago, it’s almost impossible not to play a game of ‘what’s your favourite Croatian island’. Maybe as yacht charter brokers we’re not meant to play favourites, but here’s ours.

The Croatian island of Korcula has a special place in our hearts, charming us shamelessly with its ‘mini-Dubrovnik’ medieval city and wonderful wine culture. Offshore, Korcula’s tiny archipelago lures charter yachts to drop anchor in blue-green coves, and along the heavily indented coastline, breathtaking beaches are backed by shady pines and silvery-green hills of olive and vines.

Aerial view of Korcula town on the Croatian island of Korcula

Of course, Korcula might not be your favourite place to visit on a Croatia yacht charter. We figure there’s only one way to find out, which is why we’ve created this Croatia Yachting Series, focussing in depth on each major Croatian yachting destination so you can make the most of your Dalmatian yacht charter itinerary.

Korcula is the third in our deep-dive series, following Dubrovnik and Mljet. This Mediterranean summer, why not discover your very own favourite destination with a Croatia luxury yacht charter?

Black Corfu, Nazis, and the Game of Empires : The Rich History of Korcula

The history of Korcula is the history of the Great European empires, surging and falling over two millennia, leaving behind the superb melange of culture, cuisine, and architecture that makes Korcula so special to visit.

When the ancient Greeks arrived by boat in the 4th century BC, they would call the island Black Corfu (Melania Corkyra), for the dense pine forest looked like a thick cloak of darkness draped over a mountainous island that reminded them of their own beautiful Corfu. As you approach in your Croatia charter yacht, you may well see what they meant.

Old canon in Korcula, Croatia

After the Greeks, it was the Romans’ turn at ruling Korcula. The Byzantine Empire then had their day, before Venice stepped in, retaining control (on and off) until their empire crumbled in the late 1700s.

Korcula then got passed around in the great game of empires that consumed the 19th century—the Austrians, French, and Russians would all stake their claim, and the British (never ones to resist the heady call of empire-expansion) planted their flag for a brief but productive two years from 1813.

And still the empires came, with control of this quiet, pretty island being shunted between the great powers like a minor prize that never quite settled with its new owners. The Austro Hungarians ruled for a while, then the Italians had a go, before Korcula finally became of part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

That’s a lot of empires, and you can only wonder how the locals felt, as another great power stalked in to assert their rule. You might imagine the villagers started to ignore the word from the top after a while, carrying on about their lives of fishing and farming vines and olives on terraces by the sea.

The walls of Korcula town

But then the Nazis came, and in their wake, the Allied bombers, and nobody could ignore that, as bombs fell heavy on old Korcula town. The damage was restored—you can scarcely credit it now as you walk through the magnificently medieval city—but the game of thrones was not over just yet, with Communist rule and the War of Yugoslavia still to come.

When the dust finally settled in the 1990s, Croatia would become part of the Independent Republic of Croatia. And may it stay that way for many years to come, for it is only fitting that a place as naturally peaceful as Korcula should finally enjoy some peace of its own.

Things to Do on a Yacht Charter on Korcula

Spend a Day Getting Lost in Korcula Town

As you approach Korcula Town by yacht, it rises up above the water like a mini-Dubrovnik, replete with spectacular Venetian architecture and exotic palm trees. A jumble of red-tiled roofs contrast vividly with deliriously blue sea, and the splendid cathedral tower sits tall against a backdrop of mountains. Behind the seafront promenade, narrow cobblestone laneways wind away into the heart of the medieval city, where the streets are set out in an intricate herringbone pattern to break the howling force of the winter winds. What a setting, what a place!

The entrance to Korcula town

Korcula Town is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the Adriatic, rivalling Dubrovnik for its splendour (but not for its crowds.) Sometimes called ‘The Pearl of the Middle Ages’, Korcula Town offers the visitors a great deal to see, including the Renaissance palace adorned with ornate stone lions, the (alleged) House of Marco Polo, and the splendid St Mark’s Cathedral, constructed over three centuries and home to a painting by Tintoretto.

View from tower in Korcula town

You could easily spend a happy afternoon exploring the museums and historical sites of Korcula Town, but if you’re in the mood for shopping, Korcula Town has some gorgeous boutiques, including Mamina and Electric Ladyland Design, while those with a sweet tooth simply must try the pastry delicacies at boutique patisserie, Cukarin.

View over Korcula town

If you’d like to stretch your legs, the short hike up to St Anthony’s Hill affords a spectacular view across Korcula Town and the sparkling Adriatic, but if a pampering session is more to your taste, the best spa in town is set in a baroque 18th century palace at the 5-star Lesic Dimitri Palace Hotel, and who can argue with that?

Enjoy Korcula Town’s bourgeoning bar and dining scene

As the sun starts to fall in the sky, take an early evening stroll along the bustling seafront promenade, where bars and cafes sit under the palm trees. For a sunset drink, you might climb to the top of a 15th century tower to drink cocktails under the turrets at Massimo, or lounge about in style at Maksimilijan Garden Lounge and Beach Bar, arguably Korcula’s first beach club and favoured by a glamorous crowd.

Restaurant table in Korcula, Croatia

For dinner, you could take a romantic table on the terrace at LD Restaurant at Lesic Dimitri Palace and dine on a seafood platter washed down with some local Pošip wine. Alternatively, Filippi Restaurant showcases the best oysters and produce of the region, along with a very decent selection of Korcula’s unique wines.

If the dance floor is calling your name after dinner, Boogie Jungle is Korcula’s first real nightclub. (And yes, it really is called that. We’ll put it down to the locals being new at this kind of thing.) Apart from the dire name, it’s a pretty cool venue, with multiple ‘ranch-style’ buildings and VIP terraces sprawling across a hillside outside town, where you can dance under the palms to an international DJ’ line-up.

Pick a beach, any beach!

Korcula is blessed with many beaches, including two sandy ones at lovely Lumbarda—somewhat of a rarity in Croatia. However, we find the smooth pebbly beaches to be just as beautiful, and even more so when the pebbles create that startling clarity of water that sand beaches often fail to match.

Girl swimming on the Croatian island of Korcula

The list of great beaches and coves on Korcula is seriously impressive. Drop anchor off Pupnatska Beach, where a deep turquoise bay is fringed with forest and there’s a restaurant and bar on the beach. Gorgeous Vaja Beach has bright white pebbles and royal blue water, while at Bakva Beach, the smooth rock hills slope away into a bottle green sea, and the difficult access makes this a beach best visited on your charter yacht. Remote Samograd Beach is found at the bottom of a steep slope of olive groves, while Zitna is another blissful place to laze away a summer’s day.

Boat on beach in Korcula, Croatia

Offshore, Korcula is blessed with a tiny archipelago of around 20 islets that are scattered like jewels across the crystal clear sea. Prazo is an unforgettable highlight for sunbathing on the steep rock slides, Vrnik is perfect for snorkelling, and Badija has a 14th century monastery, roaming deer, and pretty little coves among the pines.

Alternatively, if you want to take the short cruise across from Korcula to the Peljesac Peninsula on the mainland, Kobas Bay is superb, made even better by Luka’s Tavern serving up drinks on the beach.

Immerse yourself in Lumbarda’s food and wine culture

The seaside village of Lumbarda is a special place (and not just because of its sandy beaches.) A surviving stone tablet from the 4th century BC shows it was the site of the Greek colony in ancient times, with the Greeks leaving behind the Grk vine that is still cultivated here (and only here) today.

That’s one of the unique qualities of Korcula: some of the dry white wines you’ll find here are made nowhere else on earth, and are produced in such small quantities you rarely find them off the island.

Which is why you simply must visit the local wineries in the Lumbarda region, which grow both Grk and the other local grape, Pošip. As you head up into the hills to the winemarking villages of Cara and Smokvica, you’ll discover Korcula’s quieter interior, where terraces of vines cling to the slopes, and traditional wineries open their cellar doors to thirsty travellers.

Vineyard in Korcula, Croatia

A great example of Grk, a refreshing dry white wine, is to be found at the cellar door of Frano Milina Bire, while Jurica Sain in Cara makes an exceptional Pošip white wine called Sveti Ivan. The excellent Zure Winery is the biggest on the island, and represents a splendid selection of Grk, Pošip and other blends. Zure winery also has a restaurant, which is a splendid opportunity to try the delicious Dalmatian specialty, octopus buzara.

While you’re around Cara, the Agrotourisme Konopica is another lunch option for a rustic feast of slow-cooked meats at an alfresco table surrounded by olive and pine trees.

If you’d prefer to head back to Lumbarda for lunch, we thoroughly recommend a meal on the waterfront terrace at Konoba More, where the deliciously meaty lobster pasta is a genuine treat. And if you’re passing through Lumbarda on a Friday afternoon, you can enjoy the bustling local fish festival, where a bonfire is often lit on the beach as the evening wears on.

Follow the legend of Marco Polo

Korcula is rumoured to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, and the question must be how on earth he left this breathtaking place, looking back from his ship and no doubt wondering if he would return from his travels to far-off lands.

But then of course, the Venetians might have a thing or two to say about Korcula claiming their most famous son as their own, and the matter of Marco Polo’s birthplace remains in dispute (and is likely to remain so for eternity!)

Marco Polo house in Korcula

But if you ask the locals of Korcula, they display a stiff certainty about the matter, proudly pointing you to his house in Korcula Town with not a shadow of a doubt that the world’s most famous explorer hailed from this gentle island. One can’t help but hope that it’s true.

Regardless, the Marco Polo House (now a museum) you see today is from the 17th century rather than the 13th and is only said to be rebuilt on the original site of Marco Polo’s birthplace…but the view from the top of the building across Korcula is still worth the admission fee.

Watch ancient sword dances and summer festivals

Despite (or perhaps because of) its tumultuous history of outside rulers, Korcula has held on strong to its traditions, such as the three types of sword dances that are still performed on the island. Originally brought in from Spain in the 17th century and once a common tradition across Dalmatia, Korcula is the only place in the Mediterranean where these sword dances not only continue, but are a fiercely proud facet of Korculan identity.

The high intensity Moreska sword dance is performed in Korcula Town and depicts the battle of good and evil between two groups of soldiers in order to win back the King’s fiancée. Outside Korcula Town, there are different sword dances, such as the Kumpanija and Mostra dances performed in Cara, Pupnat, and Zrnov.

Moreska sword dancing in Korcula

Korcula is also an increasingly popular destination for summer festivals in Croatia, with yachts visiting for the Korcula Jazz Festival in August, and the Korcula Baroque Music Festival in September, which attracts high-calibre international and Croatian performers.

With so much to see and do, it’s not hard to see why Korcula wins the Bespoke Yacht Charter vote as our favourite Croatian Island.

At least, it wins it for the moment.

For in Croatia, with so much beauty and history to bewitch you, these allegiances can be fickle, changing day by day as you drop anchor in yet another Adriatic paradise of crystal clear coves and ancient villages.

Your favourite might be Korcula, or it might be Dubrovnik, or it might be the next island in our Croatia Yachting Series, the glamorous, lavender-scented island of Hvar.

For more information about planning your dream Croatia yacht charter, contact Bespoke Yacht Charter, who create tailored yacht charter itineraries expressly based on your holiday tastes:

This article was written by Jo Morgan – Jo is a freelance writer for yachts and travel, offering targeted feature articles, content marketing, blogs and press releases for the yachting and travel industries.

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