All I wanted from vacation this summer was peace. Peace bathed in sea, sun and good food. I started looking for the ideal location back in January and was somewhat surprised by the prices. But I was persistent, there was no filter except that we have accommodation with access to the sea, without the need to go to public beaches, in some relatively unknown place without crowds and a busy rhythm.
I combed the entire Croatian coast until I found my oasis on one of the most beautiful Croatian islands – Korcula. The island is also sprinkled with Greek, beautiful beaches, stone fairy-tale streets and endless vineyards. But the most important thing – the island of peace.
Writing this, I remembered the summer of 2018 when we decided to visit Mali Lošinj and then we took accommodation for 7 days in a hotel with half board. Although Lošinj is beautiful, I regretted staying in the hotel on the third day. Everything is at your fingertips, meals in the hotel, the beach right below the hotel, the promenade next to the hotel, you don’t have to leave the complex anywhere and accordingly we didn’t try any other restaurant and we were too lazy to look for other options when we had everything there. The summary of that annual was nice but boring for me. We never took a hotel for a vacation on the Adriatic coast again.
But that’s why I was really looking forward to this accommodation on Korcula. For accommodation, we chose a small place on the southwest coast of the island, Prižba. The coast of this part of the island is mostly rocky, with numerous coves and bays, with only a few pebble beaches. The rocky coast is suitable for sunbathing, and most holiday homes have concrete piers and steps in front for easier access to the sea. It is important to note that parts of the coast or beaches in Croatia are not privately owned, so visitors can access all these concrete piers without restrictions. The coast of Prižba is very interesting and indented, with many beautiful coves, several islets and two small peninsulas, Ratak and Prišćapac. From our accommodation, there was a view of the islets of Stupa, Crklica, Sridnjak, which actually protect the coast of Prižba from the strong southerly winds that blow during the winter.
In terms of facilities, Prižba has two restaurants, a local shop, a small public beach Veli Žal and a beach bar. So nothing pompous or big, that’s why we did a big grocery shopping in Korčula before our arrival, and everything we needed we would buy in a small local store where you can find mostly local products. As someone who is a foodie, loves food and loves to cook, it totally blew my mind.
With so little content, crowds are a foreign concept in this picturesque town. Peace will await you there. And peace is exactly what I’ve needed in recent weeks. We came here exclusively to rest, enjoy food, fine wine and, as time permits, visit several interesting places.
As we arrived in Prižba in the early evening hours, we were tired and hungry after a whole day’s travel. As soon as we left our things, we got ready and went to the restaurant that was close to us and had good reviews – restaurant Čerin. It is one of a total of only two restaurants that were within walking distance and we didn’t even think too much about it. However, what happened is that when we arrived, they didn’t receive us because the restaurant only works on reservations.
By then I was getting quite nervous, and I just wanted to eat. I believe you are familiar with that feeling.
We were left with one more option, the Paradiso restaurant, which we didn’t really have a great desire to go to because the reviews were divided, people were on the one hand very disappointed and on the other delighted, but what’s there is – either that or we’ll go make sandwiches at home .
Walking, we came along some kind of path to the address where it is written that there is a restaurant, and we found ourselves in front of someone’s house. Nothing was clear to us. A man with a dog came out and asked us what we were looking for. We told him that we would like to have something to eat, to which he replied that he did not intend to work tonight and that he (also) works on reservations. We had already reconciled that there was nothing for dinner today and told him that in that case we would come another day. But the man must have taken pity and decided to do something for us. We go inside, pass through the yard, and we still don’t understand anything. This is someone’s house, where is the restaurant, are the thoughts that keep going through my head and my expectations are not high.
We enter the yard and see this. Several tables with large benches, figs, olives, lamps, a huge oven. We sit down, the man carries everything – plates, coasters, utensils, glasses. He serves us as if we were his guest who came to his home.
What is this really about? Namely, this restaurant, called Paradiso, operates as part of OPG Padovan, and is owned by Anton Padovan. In addition to being the owner, he is also a waiter, cook and everything he needs. His wife helps him with cooking. What is really the most important of all is that all the basic ingredients are homemade. Homemade olive oil, wine, potatoes, fresh fish he gets from local fishermen, squid he catches himself and much more. On a total area of 12,000 ha, the man has an olive grove, figs, potatoes, this beautiful yard full of white cats. This is a whole experience, which I wouldn’t call just an ordinary dinner in a “restaurant”.
The menu is printed on ordinary A4 paper, the invoice is printed by hand, and Mate Mišo Kovač plays for you. And even if you are the only guests that evening, like us, it couldn’t be more romantic.
We tried excellent pošip, fish, squid, shrimp, dessert, homemade brandy. I’ll just say it’s the best fish I’ve ever eaten. Moments like this are the most precious for me. You go somewhere, where you are treated as a person, not as a number or another guest, where you hear some interesting stories, talk to the locals about life, try fresh local food, eat under a fig tree in the rain and don’t get angry because you probably will experience once in a lifetime.
The morning dawned. I had breakfast, drank coffee and rushed to the beach. The accommodation had a small concrete jetty right across the street, with a few sunbeds, two umbrellas and the cleanest sea I’ve ever seen. When I went down, I saw that every next house has the same concept, a concrete jetty in front of the house where mostly only the hosts bathe and where there are no other tourists. The sea was like oil in the morning, and swimming through this turquoise blue was therapeutic to say the least.
Afterwards, I would go back to reading a book, solving crosswords, and around noon it would be lunch time. I cooked according to a good old seafood recipe: lunch for two days. Most of them were risotto in many ways, and everything would end with a glass of good pošip, because we are on vacation after all.
In the afternoon, the wind would start to blow, the sea would be rough and the waves would crash against the rocks. That sound would act like therapy on the mind, and watching seagulls in the distance and some crosswords would shorten the time spent on the beach.
If your journey will take you to Prižba, use the evening for a walk. The sunsets here were special. I must say that even though we had the most beautiful view from the terrace of the neighboring islands, I couldn’t resist a walk around the place. I could not look at these sunsets, the peace and forest of the sea. I went around the whole place in exactly half an hour’s walk, and the scenes were incredibly beautiful. On the first walk, I couldn’t turn off the camera on my cell phone because everything was so beautiful, and the other few times I walked without my cell phone. Only the sea and me. Disconnecting from the virtual world and connecting with nature and what is in front of you right now is a privilege that I always try to use.
After a few days at a leisurely pace, we wanted some hustle and bustle and decided to head to Korčula. However, before Korčula itself, the trip first took him to Žrnovo to the bistro La Tache. We came there for a reason, because we wanted to try the traditional Korčula dish – Žrnovo macaroons. In addition to having a wonderful environment surrounded by trees and natural shade, the food and wine offer are excellent. Essentially, Žrnov macaroons are a special type of pasta that is made by hand and wrapped around wooden sticks to get this characteristic shape. As for the sauce, a good beef stew is usually the safest and best option. And if macaroons win you over, every year a special tribute to macaroons is given as part of the traditional Žrnovska macaroonade, where you can get to know the whole process and enjoy the flavors at the same time.
What is certain is that eating in a restaurant on Korčula is not a very favorable experience. If you want to eat homemade and of good quality, you will have to spend a little more money for that. But all that aside, I think that on Korčula I truly enjoyed the gastronomic offer on our coast for the first time.
After Žrnovo, we were greeted by beautiful Korčula. If you are on an island, and you need to visit only one place, then let it be the city of Korčula. This city is so beautiful that it takes you away. In it, you simply have to take a peek into every kala and yard, and the best way to get around it is to let it guide you. The old city walls hide narrow streets, stone houses and churches built in the Gothic-Renaissance style. In short, you won’t be storing your camera.
We visited Korčula twice, at different times of the day, and what I can recommend is that you definitely do the tour in the early evening when the heat has dropped a bit, and even then you will be able to enjoy the wonderful sunset and scenes that only a romantic movie can offer you.
Among the places that will catch your eye will surely be the church of St. Brand. As one of the most beautiful symbols of Korčula, it is the first thing you see when you enter the town. From the bell tower of the cathedral there is a view of the old town of Korčula as well as a view of the entire Korčula archipelago. Thanks to its exceptional acoustics, the cathedral is today a favorite place for holding classical music concerts.
However, Korčula is also best known as the place where, according to certain inscriptions, Marco Polo, the world’s greatest traveler, explorer and travel writer from the 13th century, was born. Thus, near the cathedral of St. Marko also has his birth house, which also houses the interesting Marco Polo Museum, and there is a tower on top of the house that you can climb.
As I mentioned above, we returned to Korcula once again, but this time for an interesting excursion, which is a visit to the islet of Badija. Badija is not an ordinary island, because it is inhabited by fallow deer. Every time a new ship docks, they run happily because they already know what awaits them. You can win them over with some apples or carrots, but be sure to be careful when feeding them because their horns are really big.
In addition to fallow deer, this small island also has a large Franciscan monastery. Made of white stone, in a real Dalmatian gyre, the beautifully landscaped surroundings are ideal for a short walk, while for a small fee you can also go inside.
You can get to Badija by taking a taxi boat from the waterfront in the town of Korčula, but also from Lumbarda. There are several of them, and whichever one you choose, you won’t go wrong. They go very often, and the ride takes about 15 minutes. The price of transportation is €10 per person. It is recommended to come early in the morning because later the deer retire, and my guess is that this is because they are already quite full and become disinterested in visitors.
We only came here for a short visit, after which we headed back to Korčula for lunch. You can spend the whole day here, although for me personally the beach is right next to the pier and it’s not that big and that’s where most of the people are concentrated. But if you want peace, I believe you can find your own cove for swimming. The island is small, has a lot of pine forest and natural shade, so it is suitable for a whole day’s stay. It is advisable to bring something to drink and eat because there is only one cafe-restaurant on the island where the prices are quite high.
If you’re not going to stay for a swim, just an hour’s stay there is enough and you’ve seen everything. Maybe I said too much. In any case, I think this islet is worth a visit, because it is easily accessible, different and close to Korčula, so you can visit it as well.
After visiting Badija, we decided to look for a restaurant for lunch. In other words, while still in Zagreb, we decided that we would go to Pepper&Choco for lunch. Although I had heard praises for that restaurant, when I tasted their food, everything was clear to me. But back to the concept.
Pepper&Choco is divided into two parts: the outdoor one, which is located on the square itself, where there are a dozen tables under umbrellas, and the indoor, air-conditioned one, with a capacity of about 40 seats, which is actually a backup option in case of bad weather.
You can come here for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner and whatever you choose, you won’t regret it. We had lunch and dinner here and were delighted both times. All the dishes are more or less known by name, but what you get on the plate for most dishes is the so-called deconstruction. For example if you order a pavlova cake, you will get it broken into its component parts and you can assemble your own bite. We ate black tagliatelle stuffed with prawns and black risotto with homemade Pag curd cheese, while for dessert we ordered fig-walnut and chocolate and pistachio cake. I could write now until I pass out about this wonderful experience we had, but I will stop. And yes, if you have space, the menu should include fish salad and homemade ice cream, believe me, I know what I’m talking about. The knowledge and love for food in this restaurant is felt in absolutely every segment.
After beautiful Korčula, we headed to Smokvica, a small picturesque village surrounded by olive groves and vineyards crossed by hiking and biking trails. As I already mentioned at the beginning that Korčula is famous for growing vines, we decided that Smokvica will be the place where we will taste the wines and enjoy the view of the vineyards. Smokvica is the home of the famous Pošip white wine, and in addition to the variety of the same name, other, mostly white grape varieties are grown here, of which, after Pošip, the most famous is rukatac.
As for the wineries, we were told that no matter which one we entered we would not be disappointed, but we still decided on the Toreta winery. We took a tasting, ordered a plate with homemade prosciutto and cheese and enjoyed the view of the endless vineyards. Among other things, the Toreta winery offers a wonderful semi-sweet Principessa wine, which unfortunately you can try and buy only at the winery.
Before going to one of the wineries, we strongly recommend that you stop by the church, which you cannot miss. Located in the center of town, with interesting facades, paved with beautiful white stone and overlooking the Smokvice vineyards, it is a real little gem. In addition to Smokvica, for wine tasting you can also go to Lumbard, which has its own autochthonous white wine – the famous Grk, and thus try another variety that is characteristic of the island of Korčula.
Thanks to its beautiful nature, beaches with turquoise clear sea, famous Korčula wine, fresh and home-made food, Korčula is among the most attractive Croatian tourist destinations for a reason. If you ask me, so far this island is personally the most beautiful on our coast and considering our short one-week stay, I have a great desire to return here.
For a lot more about Korcula and other exotic destinations, visit my Instagram page @brbljavisanjar. If you are interested in more, feel free to contact me, I will be happy to help you plan your adventure.