Clare Baranowski lingers in Solta and Dubrovnik
Hidden among pine groves and fruit-laden fig trees, Croatia's Dalmatian coast glitters beneath warm Mediterranean sunshine. But these serene turquoise waters are not the only side of Croatia. If you move inland from the tiny harbours, orchestral crickets and whitewashed stone churches, there is another face to this beautiful country.
I first found it stepping through the grand arch of Dubrovnik. Globally known for its war-torn past, the historic city has rebuilt itself with a bohemian edge. Music from buskers resonates around the cobbled streets, entertaining those sampling freshly-caught seafood in quaint outdoor cafes.
These alfresco eateries are interspersed with pop-up artisan jewellery and art stalls that line the city walls and plazas. The pink hue of the stone creates an undeniably rose-tinted environment, but the country's turbulent history is still remembered on maps showing the bombed and restored areas of Dubrovnik’s historic heart.
Dubrovnik is a city of music, staging regular open air concerts on balmy summer evenings. It’s also home to some of the best bakeries in Croatia and a walled walkway, which lets you look over the city's architectural wonders.
Another place to gain a unique perspective into Croatia is the Adriatic. Island hopping is the perfect way to do this, and skimming past the coast on the deck of a boat gives an altogether different view, especially when everything is lit up at sunset.
These waters may be calm and serene, but there’s plenty of adventure to be had. Windsurfers, paddle boarders, divers and kite surfers ride the waves, and it’s easy to arrange watersports lessons or a boat trip to some exotic sounding place. You can even learn to sail here if you have time.
Start your Croatian trip in style at Martinis Marchi, on the island of Solta. This contemporary castle hideaway boasts beautiful views of the harbour town Maslinica, so you can recline on the deck of a yacht with a gelato in hand (or a glass of very palatable Croatian wine) and watch the dazzling Dalmatian coast glide past.