The breathtaking town of Korčula lies a labyrinth of cobbled streets, incredible restaurants, wine bars, and eclectic stores.
Korčula is the fabled birthplace of the renowned explorer Marco Polo and is affectionately nicknamed 'Little Dubrovnik' due to its similar architecture and structure in the Old Town. Studded by fortified towers reaching high above the city walls, Korčula Town is one of the most beautiful examples of coastal Dalmatian towns. Culturally rich with a tradition of authentic gastronomy, it is sure to be one of your favourite islands in Croatia.
History of Korčula
Korčula has been inhabited since the dawn of time, or so the locals would have you believe! Still, there is evidence that settlements existed here thousands of years BC. The island population took a turn for the better with the establishment of Greek colonies and subsequent Roman colonisation. Korčula changed hands frequently over the centuries due to its strategic trade and military position. It is located at the mouth of river Neretva and served as a convenient starting point for the interior of the mainland, in addition to being halfway between Greece and the Venetian Republic and close to the Republic of Ragusa. Today, it is the most populated island in Croatia.
Best Way to Get to Korčula
Korčula is well connected to the mainland by passenger and car ferries. There are two main ports on Korčula Island; Korčula Town and Vela Luka. Both locations operate services between Split and Dubrovnik.
If you’re flying into Dubrovnik, there is a daily ferry and two catamaran options to get you to Korčula. The slowest ferry takes approximately 2.5 hours and the quickest option, a catamaran, can take as little as 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The fastest way to travel to Korčula from Split is to take a catamaran to Vela Luka or Korčula Town, which takes between 1 hour and 45 minutes and 2 hours. If you are travelling from Split with your vehicle, you can also catch a car ferry to Vela Luka. Unfortunately there are no car ferries that service Korčula Town, however it is only a 40 minute drive across the island between the two towns. Ferry timetables can be found here.
If you’ve booked an island hopping cruise between Split and Dubrovnik, then it’s likely that the mystical Korčula will be on your itinerary!
Things to do in Korčula Island
1. Go Kayaking
Korčula is home to many sheltered bays and beaches that are perfect to kayak between. Crystal clear waters make a day exploring via kayak both exciting and rewarding, giving you the freedom to discover beaches that are often inaccessible unless you have a boat. There are plenty of kayak rental companies available in Korčula Town, Vela Luka and Lumbarda.
2. Visit Vela Spila Cave
Located above the town of Vela Luka lies Vela Spila; a large open-air domed cave that has been continuously occupied since the last ice age (20,000 years ago). Take a short hike to Pinski Rat hill, sitting approximately 130 meters above sea level, and take in the elliptically shaped cavern that sits 17 meters high and measures approximately 40 meters wide. As one of the most important prehistoric cave dwellings in Europe, this is one cave not to miss!
3. Go Buggying
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of an off road buggy! Get off the beaten track and explore a side of Korčula rarely seen by most visitors. Drive through the vineyards, take in the rugged countryside and pull up alongside the picturesque coastline in a two seater buggy!
4. Taste local wine
The south of Dalmatia is well known for its award winning wines, and the island of Korčula is no exception! Korčula is famous for its exquisite red wines and meticulously tended vineyards – if you’re a wine lover, then a tour of these places will definitely not be amiss. Most of the wines here are home-made, boutique wines produced in small quantities and not available outside the country.
Vineyards near the village of Lumbarda are responsible for producing the renowned wine variety of Grk, found nowhere else on the island, let alone in the country. Take a wine tour and try the native varieties; you can even grab a bike and make an adventure out of it, stopping to try local produce and taste the finest drops your host has to offer. Popular Korčula wineries that offer tastings are Winery Grk, Popic Winery, Bire Winery and Lovric Winery, all located in Lumbarda.
If you’re feeling adventures, you can also pop over to the nearby Peljesac Peninsula to visit some of the largest and oldest wineries in Dalmatia.
5. Hike Mt Hum
The dominant Hum Hill is found to the west of Vela Luka, sitting 376 meters above sea level, overlooking the beautiful bay of this town. If you’re feeling energetic, the short hike should take approximately an hour and a half, and will reward you with a 19th Century Austro-Hungarian fortress and impressive views out across the town and bay.
6. Watch the Moreska Sword Dance
If you’re on the island in the month of July or August, don’t miss out on the traditional Moreska Sword Dance. Teams of red and black weave an intricate story of love and war right in front of your eyes. There is dancing, singing, and sword fighting – and the sword fighting is the real deal! This dance was danced all over the Mediterranean in the past but today it can only be seen on Korčula Island, where they have been nurturing this tradition for over 400 years!
The show plays twice a week and is sold out most of the time, so make sure you book your tickets well in advance and come at least an hour early to get a good seat!
Top Bars in Korčula
Whilst Korčula is not a well known party destination like its Croatian cousin Hvar, there are still places tucked into the cobbled streets serving award winning wine, delicious cocktails and dancefloors reserved for boogieing the night away!
Massimo Cocktail Bar
You simply can’t say you went to Korčula if you didn’t have a cocktail at Massimo Cocktail Bar! It’s easy to miss this tiny bar situated on half of a 15th Century fortified turret if you’re not in the know! Climb up the wooden ladder to Zakerjan tower and be welcomed with panoramic views of Korčula and Peljašac peninsula, watching sunsets whilst getting your cocktail delivered via a pulley system. This setting is pretty close to perfection!
Dos Locos is a popular bar just outside of the Old Town walls serving up an array of drinks and a fun atmosphere for dancing. The bar has an indoor area, bar and DJ booth, as well as tables outside that spill into the alley creating a street party vibe.
Cocktail Bar Privi Zal Lumbarda
Thatched huts perched right on the pebbled waterfront are as inviting as they come at this beachside cocktail bar in Lumbarda! Pull up a stool and take in the incredible turquoise water in front of you whilst enjoying a cold drink.
Where to eat in Korčula
Korcula is a culinary delight renowned for its authentic Dalmatian cuisine, fresh seafood and high quality meat and wine. With an array of restaurants lining the waterfront, tucked into the Old Town alleys or situated on picturesque hills, you’ll be hard pressed to find a location or menu that’s not your flavour!
If you’re looking for an authentic Dalmatian experience, look no further than Konoba Belin! Homemade macaroni, slow cooked peka and traditional rakija, Konoba Belin cannot be missed if you want a taste of traditional Croatian cuisine. Our Elegance and Explorer Cruise guests will visit this restaurant as a part of their cruise, taking in an authentic dining experience that our guests rave about for years to come!
Wine Bar Bokar
Wine Bar Bokar is located in Korčula Old Town and specialises in local cheese, salted fish, smoked ham and of course, wine tasting. Tucked away down a cobblestone alley, this wine bar oozes charm and romance.
Specialising in seafood and a Dalmatian menu with mediterranean flair, Aterina is perfect if you’re looking to taste high quality local seafood and experience exceptional service.
Old Town Attractions
Korčula Old Town is possibly the most popular historical center in Dalmatia, excluding Dubrovnik of course. Packed with history and culture, its stone walls were built over two centuries ago and the incredible fish-bone structure of Old Town has to be seen to be believed! The old central Plaza exudes richness and charm and is surrounded by beautiful medieval and renaissance buildings that immediately transport you to another lifetime.
Walk the Old Town Streets
Korčula Old Town was built in a fishbone structure, originally developed to ensure the winding alleys and cobblestone streets stayed cool during the warm summer months. These days we have the original architects to thank for their incredible Old Town layout which allows visitors to experience a labyrinth of shops, restaurants and bars within the Old Town walls. Enjoy walking through the Old Town streets and when you’ve had enough of exploring, find one of the numerous bars or restaurants in the Old Town to relax and unwind. The prices are reasonable and the food is absolutely delicious!
Visit Korčula Town Museum
Set some time aside to explore the Korčula Town Museum; a 3 story building built between the 15th and 16th century that is located in the Old Town. The museum details the fascinating history of Korčula through the ages, taking you on a journey from ship building to art, archeology, furniture and everything in between!
Discover Marco Polo's Home
Marco Polo, the famous explorer, is said to have been born in Korčula Town. Although historians differ on this, if you ask the locals they will simply point you in the direction of his birth house – it’s a done deal for them.
You can take a guided tour of the house and learn details you would be hard-pressed to uncover yourself – the guides are knowledgeable and friendly and ensure you get the most out of your visit. Take a look around the restored house and peer out the window to the horizon before you – something that the great explorer himself surely did, if this is indeed where he was born!
Climb to the top of St. Mark’s Cathedral
Set in the heart of the Old Town, this 15th century Gothic Renaissance style church was built from Korčula’s very own limestone and sits on one of the highest points on the peninsula. As one of Dalmatia’s most exceptional examples of church architecture, this building was built by local masters and craftsmen of stonemasonry and is extremely symbolic to the people of Korčula.
Where to stay in Korčula?
Korčula has a wide range of accommodation options ranging from hostels with shared dorm rooms to guesthouses and luxury high-end hotels. Whether you’re looking to stay in Korčula Town, Vela Luka, Lumbarda or in the countryside, we recommend using an accommodation search engine, such as Airbnb.
Explore Korčula’s Towns
Vela Luka is located on the western side of Korčula Island and is the quieter cousin of Korčula Town. The name Vela Luka translates to ‘big harbour’ and the town lies in a deep sheltered bay, lined with small coves. The town dates back to prehistoric times and archaeological artefacts can be found at the town's cultural centre. Vela Luka has a strong agricultural background, particularly in olive growing, from which its olive oil is widely used and recommended by locals. If you’re looking for a relaxing day trip from Korčula Town, Vela Luka is well worth the trip, with a handful of restaurants and shops dotted along the quiet harbour. Check out our guide to Vela Luka here.
Lumbarda is a small village that sits on the Eastern side of Korčula in a beautiful sheltered bay. This picturesque village is said to be one of the oldest settlements on the island and is home to incredible beaches, turquoise water and impressive vineyards atop lush green hills. One of Lumbarda’s claims to fame is their two sandy beaches, a welcome reprieve to those not in favour of Croatia's pebbly beaches! Take a taxi or get active on a bicycle for the 6 kilometer journey between Korčula Town and Lumbarda for a day of exploring and relaxing!
Visit Korčula’s Best Beaches
This beautiful beach literally translates to Big Sandy Beach and can be found just 1.5 kilometers from the centre of Lumbarda village. Vela Przina features a long narrow strip of sand that slopes into the sea and is very popular during the summer months, mostly thanks to being one of only two sandy beaches on the island.
What Bilin Zal lacks in size it makes up for with impressive views (some may say the best on the island) out over the Peljesac Peninsula. This picturesque beach is accessible by foot from Vela Przina (approximately 2 kilometers) or the centre of Lumbarda (a short 1 kilometer stroll). Enjoy the views from the beach or head to the adjacent konoba for a cold drink on the beachfront terrace.
You’ll need to hire a scooter or taxi to get to this beautiful beach, located on the south coast of Korčula Island, approximately 15 kilometers from Korčula Town. The short journey is worth the effort, with spectacular views across the sea to Lastovo Island and beyond. This pretty pebbled beach is perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
Located 1 kilometer north of the village of Racisce, Vaja Beach is a small pebbled beach that leads to the most incredible azure water. This isolated beach looks like something straight out of a romance novel; a pebbled beach, water that is every shade of blue and a few dotted pine trees perfectly placed to offer respite from the summer sun. You can access this beach by climbing down a steep tarmac slope, so make sure you wear appropriate shoes!
Korcula is a mystical island that is perfect for relaxing, unwinding and exploring! Filled with impressive architecture, authentic gastronomy and beautiful beaches,you're spoilt for choice when visiting the birthplace of Marco Polo!