Note: This guide to Korčula is part of my Tour Guide’s Super-Guide to Croatia. Click to see the rest, and for some preliminary Croatia info that would be useful for this guide!
Home of the little walled town, or a ‘mini Dubrovnik’ as many like to call it, Korčula, Croatia is nothing short of charming. With water so clear it almost seems impossible, views of a dramatic cliffy Peninsula, and quiet alleyways of old town teeming with flowers, vines, coral shops, and old venetian blinds, it’s almost like a bit of a fairytale – like many places in Croatia, really. As many of you know I worked as a tour guide on 7 day boat tours of the Croatian islands over the summer, so here I have conjured up all the best recommendations I can – as a real Tour Guide’s city Guide to Korčula!
And, that’s procounced Korch-uh-luh. The little carrot above the letters in Croatian is kinda like adding an -h in english. so š is like sh, č is like ch, ž is like zh… and so on.
You could spend days exploring this lovely little island, or you can explore it and surrounding wine country as a well-rated day trip from Dubrovnik if you don’t have enough time.
Accomodation: Unfortunately as I have always stayed on my boat in the 30-odd times I have been to Korčula, I am not so well-versed in accomodation here. There are a few nice hotels, a great variety of hostels which I have heard are just fine for the budget traveler, and some Airbnb’s, which I always recommend.
Adventure Guide to Korčula
explore the beautiful vine-laden stone streets of Korčula’s old town. You will notice that all the streets on the east side are curved and all the streets on the west are straight – giving the town a fishbone-like shape. This is because, in winter, a very strong wind comes from the east in the winter. Hundreds of years ago, the Korčulans made note of this and made sure to curve the streets in the east so the strong wind couldn’t get through to the center of town, but made sure that the gentle western breeze could get into the town in the summer. How smart is that?!
There are also some museums to visit in the center of old town with all sorts of historical artifacts and island history.
Because Korčula island comes within just 1.2km of the Pelješac peninsula, all the wind blowing between the mainland and the sea gets funneled into a little air tunnel in this area. This makes it perfect for wind surfing! It is quite a spectacle to watch the wind surfers on a good day, there are literally hundreds out on the sea flitting about in every direction. Spend some time watching them do their thing, or try it yourself!
Marco Polo’s Birthplace/Museum
As some legends have it, Korčula is the birthplace of the very famous explorer, Marco Polo. No, not the pool game. Yes, we have all learned that he is an Italian explorer…. but, because Korčula was part of the Venetian Empire during Marco Polo’s (or Marko Polo as they spell it here) time, he still was, well, Italian… Venetian to be exact. Marco Polo is famous for going up from the Adriatic with his father and uncle on a massive, legendary expedition through the silk road in Mongolia, Russia, China, etc lasting twenty-three years. Crazy, huh? So in Korčula you will see him all over the place… gift shops with cute little explorer trinkets, his alleged birth place, and a whole museum dedicated to him which is complete with life-size mannequins doing medieval times things. They’re pretty proud of the fact that he might have been born here! 😛
Watch the Moreška
Korčula is also the birthplace of a traditional sword dance called Moreška (mo- resh- kah). This is a choreographed dance where the performers wear traditional Croatian clothing and dance with swords. The dance was originally meant to reenact the wars that went on here in the 14-1600’s. A tiny history lesson – as I said above, a lot of the Croatian coast was part of the Venetian empire during those years. The Ottoman Turks were also conquesting most of the coast as well, and largely succeeded in the late 15 and early 1600’s. However, when it came time to conquer Korčula, the Korčulans were actually all able to come together from all over the island into the walled old town and fend off the Ottomans. Which, considering how powerful they were at the time, is reeeeeally impressive!!
Explore up the Shore
If you walk around the west side of town, you will see a little stretch of oceanfront with tons of little piers and swimming areas. This is a lovely little place to have a stroll up, have a little swim or picnic, and have a great view of the walled old town from afar!
All of old town, and especially the east (right) side of the walls, are lined with cafe’s. The ones along the water have fantastic views over the Croatian coast!
Shopping + Souvenirs
Right along the front side of the old town walls, you will find tons of little markets selling anything you could wish to buy. These are on the right side of the main staircase entrance to Old Town. If you look around the town you will also see loads of coral jewelry – Korčula is famous for this! There are lots of stores selling extremely intricate and elaborate red, pink, and blue coral jewelry, and also a lot of brushed silver.
There are many different swimming spots around the old town. There’s a little beach down the coast a bit where you can also rent stand-up paddle boards (right past the end of the old town marina – south of old town. Next to Hotel Marko Polo), and there are lots of staircases on the east side of old town that lead right down to cute little places to swim.
Sunset Guide to Korčula
Tramonto/West side of old town
If you perch yourself anywhere along the west side of Old town (on the left after you enter the main gate) you will be perfectly situated to see a gorgeous sunset over the sea. One of my favorite restaurants in Korčula (which I will go into below) just so happens to have a perfect view of the sunset and one of the best steaks I have ever had!
The most iconic part of Korčula’s old town is the bell tower directly in the middle of the small hill the old town is situated upon. For just about 20 Kuna you can climb up this extremely narrow stairwell (only fit for one-way traffic, so make sure you wait until the light is green!) to stand at the highest point int the city with panoramic views of the blue Adriatic and mountainous Pelješac peninsula. Watch the sun set right over the sea from up here, it’s a beautiful sight!
The Croatians have a thing for making party venues out of ancient ruins, for some reason! Massimo’s is a 14th century fortress-turned-cocktail bar, with all sorts of amazing cocktails that they make two floors down and use a pulley system to get them up to the roof. Oh yeah, and you have to climb a ladder to get up to the top. This might not be the day to wear a skirt!
Food Guide to Korčula
Best iced coffee (frappe) I have had. Really. With the best view! I think they would rather you buy their cocktails or food but I go for the coffee.
Pošip is the name of a dry white wine produced locally on the island. You can grab a glass pretty much anywhere; make sure to try it!
Home of my favorite steak in Croatia.. hell, I think my favorite steak in the world. I used to get it every week and still not get tired of it! It’s called the beefsteak tramonto, and its a steak cooked medium rare in a sour cream, caper, and brandy sauce serves with fries, Croatian Ajvar sauce, and grilled veg. To Die. For. They also have fantastic pasta and gnocchi (seafood gnocchi or 4 cheese gnocchi – yes!) great meat and seafood. Oh, and an entire pizza menu. It’s the best.
Kavana No. 1
New in the sumemr of 2017, Kavana No. 1 turned into the place to be for dinner and a view in Korcula. You must climb a bit of a hill to get there, but trust me, the views (and food) are worth it. They have a special dish here called peka which you must pre-order so they can slow-cook four types of meat for 2-3 hours before it is served with potatoes, salad, and grilled veg.
Creperia Sempre Ditto
This indulgent little place is a new (as in July 2016) Creperie right next to Dos Locos Bar. And it is absolutely fantastic. I got the ham and cheese crepe with tomato paste, and it came out absolutely perfectly crispy on the outside with oozey cheese and perfectly spiced. I also got a banana nutella and cookie crepe (a different week don’t worry 😉 ). Go there.
Taken at Kavana No. 1
Nightlife Guide to Korčula:
There is a lot of live music in Korčula – I don’t get to see much of it because I am always in the same places each week with my groups, but I do know of it! If you wander around old town at night, it really comes to life. There town lights up at night, and there are loads of restaurants and bars and places to get a drink or two.
Dos Locos No 1. Bar
Dos Locos is owned by the same company as Kavana No 1, creating a nice monopoly on the place. Dos Locos #1 is a nice massive bar with great aircon and music, and two stripper poles inside that have seen a lot in their time from drunk Aussies coming through on the boats 😛 There are three rooms, lots of cocktails, and a sound system and lights fit for a club.
Deja Vu Bar
Deja Vu is an outdoor bar just across from the bus station in Korčula. It’s nice for enjoying a few bevvies in the open summer air, and listening to music as well.
Now, is that not the best name for a club, ever?! leaving from Korčula’s main bus station, which also happens to be right across from Dos Locos #1 and Deja Vu, you can find lots of free party vans shuttling people up to Boogie Jungle starting around 12:30/1am. The ride up is free (about 5-7 minutes), and entry is 50 kuna. ‘Boogie’ is one of my favorite clubs of the route – I always end up having the best time there. There is fast food for you to munch on on the way out, and taxi’s back to town or to the port should be no more than 50 kuna per car, or 10 kuna per person in bigger vans. Don’t let them jip you!
Where to Go From Korčula:
Check my Tour Guide’s Super- Guide to Croatia for some inspo on where to go from Korčula, or how to plan a day trip here from any of a few locations.
Dubrovnik is a must-see in Croatia, and is a short ferry away. See my Super Guide to Dubrovnik here!
Hvar is also a short ferry ride away. See My Super-Guide to Hvar Island here!