Written by: Stephanie Haynes

Historically, Vela Luka is quite a modern town by Croatian standards, with settlement only really beginning in the early 19th century. But don’t be fooled by its youth, the area surrounding Vela Luka is rich in archaeological discoveries, and untouched nature as well as being a treasure-trove of Dalmatian culture, music and art. A visit to Vela Luka is a glimpse into an authentic Dalmatia of days past.

On the western end of island Korcula, only a stone’s throw from neighbouring island Vis, sits the quiet town of Vela Luka.Tucked away in a wide bay, hence the name Vela Luka which translates to “Big Port”, what the town lacks in medieval walls it makes up for in calm, character, and quirkiness. A welcome respite from the tourist throng of better-known Korcula town, Vela Luka boasts a collection of seafront restaurants, historic artefacts, artsy pursuits, and of course stunning scenery.

Thing to do in Vela Luka

Head for the Hills on this Incredible Hike

There’s an easy way, and a not-so-easy way, to the top of Mount Hum, which overlooks Vela Luka and its spectacular bay. A paved road leads straight to the top which is great for cyclists, but for avid hikers there is also a winding, rocky trail, passing through olive groves and forests, taking about 1.5 hours to summit. Atop Mt Hum sits the ruins of a Hapsburg-era fortress, and from up here, you can see why they bothered. Perfect for a golden hour photo shoot, with unrivalled views of Vela Luka below, look to the south and you can even make out tiny Lastovo, with the figure of Hvar looming to the north. By all accounts the hike is well worth the sweat, and is a great excuse for an ice-cream once you’ve made your way back down.

Go Exploring for Cavemen

No trip to Vela Luka is complete without visiting the famous Vela Spila, which roughly translates to “Big Cave”. It is home to incredible archaeological discoveries dating back to the Stone Age, including pottery and human remains. From the riva, blue mountaineering markers guide the way through Vela Luka’s maze of backstreets. A short, but demanding 30 minute uphill walk later and the limestone cave opens up to you. With ongoing excavations, information plaques, and natural light spilling in through two large openings at the top, this is a cave that even the most claustrophobic can enjoy. If caves aren’t your cup of tea, the trail is still well worth the hike, with a stunning view to the west of Vela Luka’s bay and a prime position for a fiery sunset.

Take an Island Boat Trip

Just a short speedboat ride from town is paradise on earth, in the form of the small island Proizd. Glassy turquoise water and white pebbled beaches make this virtually untouched hidden gem the perfect beach-day getaway. With four different beaches, from pebbles and gorgeous white stone slabs perfect for sunbathing to a popular nudist beach for the brave, there’s something for everyone on Proizd. Lovers should also go exploring to find the “kissing spot” mosaic, perfect for that Insta-shot #holidaywithbae.

Arts + Crafts Abound!

Follow your feet and you’ll find that Vela Luka’s locals are artsy and ambitious, with their current attempt to break the world record for “World’s Longest Mosaic Street”. On the main street you will find the sidewalk adorned with stone mosaic depictions of animals, nature, and life by the sea. Local artists host almost daily free workshops where visitors to Vela Luka can learn more about the mosaic craft, and even have the chance to get hands-on in creating their own mosaic design, which will then be placed in the sidewalk permanently. Talk about leaving an impression!

For a more sit-back, relax, sip on a glass of wine arts experience, simply keep an ear out for the soothing song of local singers. Vela Luka is the home of klapa music, a form of a capella singing, and a must-hear when in Dalmatia. Locals perform in groups, and sing about all things Dalmatian - the sea, olives, love, and of course, wine.

Explore Vela Luka on Foot

Join the locals in their favourite pastime, a stroll along the riva, and see this sleepy town comes alive as the sun sets. A stark contrast to its lazy summer days, in the early evening Vela Luka becomes a hive of activity. Locals welcome you into their tiny shops for olive oil tastings, cosy konobas tucked in the main square grill up the catch of the day, and even the town’s museum, the Centre for Culture runs evening hours in the summer.