Sumary of 10 of Croatia’s best crowd-free places in for a:
- Photograph: Master2/Getty ImagesThis small port on Istria’s southwestern coast isn’t exactly off the tourist radar – it’s the departure point for boat trips to the Brijuni Islands national park.
- Photograph: Getty ImagesDugi Otok means “long island” – it straggles along for 43km but is not much more than 4km wide.
- Photograph: Patstock/Getty ImagesThe largest island in the Šibenik archipelago is the easiest to reach, thanks to the little lift bridge at Tisno, a small village that straddles Murter and the mainland.
- Photograph: Ivan Coric/AlamyThe oyster beds of Mali Ston and the peninsula’s hilly vineyards that produce robust plavac mali, dingač and postup reds have turned Pelješac into a foodie magnet.
- This sinuous peninsula that stretches north of Dubrovnik for 90km also has fabulous beaches tucked among its tree-fringed coves and bays.What to doOrebić, the largest settlement, is handy for ferries to Korčula, but there’s also a 15th-century Franciscan monastery, the lovely Trstenica beach and the challenging 961-metre summit of Sveti Ilija looming over the town.The winding main road forming Pelješac’s spine helpfully signposts boutique wineries offering tastings (booked ahead preferably), including Vinarija Bartulović (which also has a cottage to rent), Matuško and Mikulić (which also owns an aparthotel, restaurant and campsite in Orebić).Despite their popularity, the twin villages of Ston and Mali Ston are hard to ignore, with their neat collection of old stone houses, oyster beds, vast saltpans and those magnificent walls that go on for 3km.Where to staySet on the waterfront in Viganj west of Orebić and built of creamy Dalmatian stone, Heritage Boutique Hotel (doubles from €163) has stylish rooms with exposed beams and brick, as well as a seawater pool facing the sea.
- Mimbelli (B&B doubles from €68) on Orebić’s seafront is full of charm, a large stone guesthouse with five colourful rooms (three with a sea view) and an attractive restaurant.Where to eatUnless you really hate oysters, you can’t pass up the chance to sit on the terrace at Bota Šare in Mali Ston’s harbour and treat yourself to a platter (it also does great pasta).