Island of Korčula is one of the most beautiful islands in the Adriatic Sea and a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a true Dalmatian experience. This stunning island is relatively easy to reach from Dubrovnik, and boasts rich history, beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, and friendly people. Whether you are into history, a nature lover, adventurer or simply looking for a relaxing vacation, Island of Korčula will not disappoint.
Korčula’s history is rich and diverse, and can be traced back to the Illyrian era, when the island was inhabited by various Illyrian tribes. These tribes were primarily engaged in farming and fishing, and their way of life was simple and tribal. One of the most notable remains of this era are the stone burial mounds that can still be seen on the island today. Despite the arrival of the Greeks, who established a colony on the island, the Illyrians maintained their separate existence and way of life.
The arrival of the Greeks on Korčula brought about significant changes, particularly in terms of culture and architecture. The island was heavily influenced by Greek culture, as evidenced by the ancient Greek stone tablet called ‘the psephism from Lumbarda’, which is the oldest written document found on the territory of Croatia. The Romans also had a significant impact on Korčula, with the island becoming part of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century BC.
The Venetians arrived on Korčula and began to rule the island on and off for several centuries. During this time, the island thrived, with the construction of important buildings and the development of a distinct culture and architecture. One of the most significant historical documents from this era is the “Statute of the town and the island of Korčula” from 1214, which reveals and explains a great part of Korčula’s cultural and economic history up to the 16th century.
Despite its prosperity, Korčula was not immune to the dangers of Ottoman invasions. The island was located on the fringes of the Venetian state’s territory, and as such, was under constant threat from the Ottomans. However, the people of Korčula were not easily defeated, and they heroically partook in various battles with the Ottomans.
Throughout the 20th century, Korčula began to develop its tourist industry, with the first travellers arriving in the 1920s. Mass tourism started to expand in the 1960s, permanently changing the island’s face from shipyards and stone masonry town to one of hotels, marinas, and restaurants. Today, Korčula is a thriving tourist destination, with a rich history and culture that continues to attract visitors from all over the world.
Tradition and Culture
Each of these civilizations that ruled over Korčula for centuries left their mark on the island’s culture, contributing to the unique blend of traditions and customs that can be witnessed today.
One of the most captivating aspects of Korčula’s cultural heritage is its traditional dances and performances. These artistic expressions have been passed down through generations and continue to be performed by local performing groups.
Perhaps the most famous of Korčula’s traditional dance is the Moreška, a sword dance that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Although not originally a local folk tradition, the Moreška was introduced to Korčula from other Mediterranean countries and symbolizes the battle between Christians and Moors. Today, the Moreška is performed exclusively on the island of Korčula, making it a unique and treasured part of the island’s cultural heritage. Moreška Sword Dance Performance are held at the Korčula Summer Cinema, every Thursday throughout the summer.
Another popular traditional dance on Korčula is the Kumpanija, an old knightly ritual dance performed with long swords. This dance is most performed in the town of Blato but can also be found in other locations on the island, such as Smokvica, Čara, and Pupnat, with slight variations. The Kumpanija is accompanied by dialogue, as well as the playing of the “misnice”, a type of bagpipe, and drums.
The dancers in the Kumpanija are men dressed in elaborate, traditional costumes who perform 18 intricate dance figures. The dance portrays a battle between the domestic army, led by the “Kapitan,” and the enemy forces, commanded by the “Serdar.” At the end of the performance, women dressed in traditional attire join the Kumpanjoli (dancers) to dance the “tanac.”
There is also a similar dance called Mostra, performed in Žrnovo.
The traditional clothing worn by the people of Korčula is an important aspect of the island’s cultural heritage. In the past, villagers would wear national costumes that changed little over the centuries, with everyday clothing being simple and dark coloured. For special occasions and holidays, the island’s inhabitants would dress in finer, more elaborately decorated garments. Today, traditional costumes can still be found in many of the island’s villages and are worn by members of folklore societies who perform traditional songs and dances.
Eno gastronomy of the Korčula island
Korčula is known for its delicious food and wine. The island’s gastronomy is a blend of Mediterranean and Croatian cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh seafood and locally grown produce. If you are a foodie, there are several restaurants on the island that offer traditional cuisine. Couple of the best restaurants on the island are Konoba Mate located in the village of Pupnat, known for its delicious seafood and laid back atmosphere. And Konoba Maha in the village of Žrnovo, a family run restaurant located in the most beautiful and serene spot on the top of the hill amongst typical Dalmatian greenery. Be sure to make reservations to both.
If you are a wine lover, the island has several wineries that offer wine tastings. One of the best wineries on the island is Bire Winery. The winery is located in the village of Smokvica and is known for its delicious white wines. LINK: http://bire.hr
Similar to the rest of Dalmatia, Korčula is famous for fresh sea-food and homemade pasta, as well as some meat dishes. We will name just a few to help you start your Korčula food journey.
Žrnovski makaruli are a staple of Korčula’s cuisine. This is a type of homemade pasta that originates from the village of Žrnovo and is usually served with beef or wild boar stew.
Brodetto is a regional fish dish that is a must-try for seafood lovers visiting Korčula. Made with fresh white or blue fish, juicy tomatoes, parsley, garlic, and white wine, this simple yet flavourful dish is a true culinary masterpiece.
Pašticada is a traditional Croatian dish that has been passed down through generations. The secret to this mouth-watering meal lies in the careful preparation of the beef even before cooking begins. Pašticada is typically served with gnocchi or traditional pasta makaruli.
Grilled fish and seafood is another popular dish throughout whole Dalmatia. With an abundance of fresh fish, squid, and mussels available, the island offers a variety of delicious grilled seafood options, dressed with home-made olive oil and expertly grilled – it’s a taste of Korčula you won’t forget!
Lamb on a spit is Korčula’s specialty that is sure to impress. The whole lamb is cooked for several hours over an open fire, with burning embers. The result is tender, juicy lamb that is bursting with flavour.
Korčula’s most popular events
The island features a whirlwind of festivities that will have you laughing, dancing, and stuffing your face with delightful goodies all the days of your visit.
One of the most popular festivities on Korčula is The Carnival, which typically lasts from mid-January until Ash Wednesday. During this time, the island comes alive with masked balls, known as “maškare,”. These events feature individual masks, comical groups, and performances for children, making them a fun and engaging experience for all ages.
Korčula is home to several patron saint festivals, which are held in honour of the town’s various patron saints. These events typically involve processions, masses, and other religious ceremonies, as well as music, dance, and feasting. Some of the most notable patron saint festivals on Korčula include the festivity of St. Mark, held on April 25th, and the festivity of St. Todor, celebrated on the first Sunday in July.
Given the importance of wine production on Korčula, it comes as no surprise that the island hosts several wine festivals throughout the year. These events celebrate the island’s viticultural heritage and provide an excellent opportunity for locals and visitors alike to sample some of the island’s finest wines. Notable wine festivals on Korčula include the Grk Wine Festival in Lumbarda, held in August, and the Pošip Wine Festival in Čara, which takes place in July.
There’s no better way to kick off your Korčula festivities journey than with a lavish celebration of local delicacies and fine wines at the Spring Food & Wine Festival. Held annually in April, this event gathers the best of Korčula’s gastronomy, showcasing traditional and contemporary Dalmatian cuisine.
In mid-July, Black Island – White wine festival is a tribute to the exquisite wines produced in the region. Held in Korčula town, you’ll find yourself swirling, sniffing, and sipping some of the finest wines in Croatia. The only downside? The inevitable hangover the following day.
Every year in late April, the Marco Polo Challenge Triathlon marks the official opening of the Croatian triathlon season. Open to both licensed competitors and amateur enthusiasts, this event is a true testament to human physical prowess.
Held in early May, Wild Asparagus Day is a tribute to a delicious wild plant that grows in Korčula’s nearby fields, and the rest of the Croatian coast as well. This unique event takes place in Korčula Plokata (main square in Korčula town), where students prepare mouth-watering asparagus dishes. For those with a sweet tooth, traditional Korčula cakes and pastries are also on the menu.
Taking place in ancient Korčula town, the International Marco Polo Art Festival is a must-visit event for art enthusiasts. Held annually in early June, the festival features a selection of motion picture, music, and fine arts. With Korčula being the historical birthplace of Marco Polo, this cultural celebration aims to make the town an attractive destination for those who value dialogue and learning from cultural differences.
The Flavours of Korčula products fair takes place every Wednesday in June from 5 PM to 9 PM at Trg Kralja Tomislava square (Rotonda green market) in the center of Korčula town. This delightful event offers a variety of traditional island products, from mouth-watering cheeses to decadent desserts.
Who says you can only celebrate the New Year on December 31st? On June 30th, the streets of Korčula town come alive with a traditional carnival parade, the Half New Year Masquerade Celebration. This colourful event attracts a large number of guests, so make sure to don your most creative costume and join in the festivities!
For lovers of classical music, Korčula is the place to be in July. Every Tuesday, from 9 PM to 9:30 PM, the cathedral of St. Marcus concerts will transport you to another era.
If jazz music is more your jam, then the Korkyra Jazz Festival has got you covered. Held in early August, this two-night event features some of Croatia’s best jazz musicians, from trad jazz to contemporary jazz fusion.
Held in mid-August, Lost in the Renaissance is an open-air theatre event in Korčula old town. With charming medieval town walls and fortresses as a backdrop, you’ll be treated to performances that are a perfect blend of old-world charm and modern entertainment.
From late August to mid-September, the Korkyra Baroque Festival brings the magic of Baroque music to life. With concerts held in historic venues in and around Korčula town, this unique event creates a synergy that will leave you spellbound.
Outdoor Activities on the island of Korčula
Korčula is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The island’s rugged terrain and stunning landscapes make it an ideal destination for biking, hiking, windsurfing, kayaking, and diving.
If you are a biking enthusiast, the island has several biking trails that offer breath-taking views of the Adriatic Sea. The trails vary in difficulty, so whether you are a beginner or an expert, there is a trail for you. Hiking is another popular activity on Korčula.
The island has several hiking trails that lead to picturesque villages, secluded coves, and stunning viewpoints. One of the best hikes on the island is the hike to the top of Mount Hum. The hike is challenging, but the views from the top are well worth the effort.
For water sports enthusiasts, Korčula offers an array of activities, including windsurfing, kayaking, and diving. The island’s crystal clear waters offer the perfect conditions for windsurfing and kayaking. If you are looking for an underwater adventure, the island has several diving centres that offer guided tours of the island’s coral reefs and shipwrecks.
Beaches on Korčula
Korčula has some of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia. The island’s beaches are known for their crystal clear waters, white sand, and stunning views. If you are looking for a day in the sun, there are several beaches to choose from.
One of the most popular beaches on the island is Vela Pržina. The beach is located in Lumbarda and is known for its white sand and crystal clear waters. The beach is perfect for families with children, as the water is shallow and calm.
Another popular beach on the island is Pupnatska Luka. The beach is located on the southern coast of the island and is known for its turquoise waters and stunning views. The beach is perfect for snorkelling and swimming.
Other popular pebble or sandy beaches around the island include Prižba, Zavalatica, Bačva, Orlanduša, Pavja Luja, and they all have restaurants and bars on the beach or very close to it, and are ideal for a full day escape. Be sure to have cash with you when visiting because many of the venues don’t accept debit nor credit cards. To see our selection of best Korčula’s beaches, click here.
Korčula is home to several unique villages, each with its own culture and history. If you want to experience the island’s culture and lifestyle, village hopping is a must-do activity.
One of the most picturesque villages on the island is Lumbarda. The village is known for its white sand beaches and excellent wine. The village is also home to several art galleries and studios. Another unique village on the island is Smokvica. The village is known for its delicious white wines and traditional stone houses. The village is also home to several cultural events, including the annual Smokvica Summer Festival. Visit to Blato is a must-do since it is one of the largest and oldest establishments on the island, famous for the production of extraordinary olive oil. Vela Luka is the largest town on the island and definitely worth paying a visit to.
Korčula has a vibrant nightlife, with numerous bars to choose from. If you are looking for a fancier night out, than one of the best options is Massimo Cocktail Bar, located in the heart of the town of Korčula. and is known for its delicious cocktails and stunning views of the Adriatic Sea.
Another cool option is Pinjac (Bistro La Tache) that is very casual with laid-back atmosphere and delicious pub food.
If you feel like partying inside, that The Jungle Club might be a good option.
Best thing to do is to walk around and just feel the vibe, choose on spot.
Museums on Korčula
Korčula has a rich cultural history, and there are several museums on the island that showcase the island’s heritage. If you want to learn about the island’s history and culture, visiting a museum is a must-do activity.
One of the best museums on the island is the Korčula Town Museum. The museum is located in the heart of Korčula Town and showcases the island’s cultural heritage, including its art, music, and architecture.
Another museum worth visiting is the Marco Polo Museum. The museum is located in the house where Marco Polo was born and showcases the famous explorer’s life and travels.
Tours on Korčula
If you want to experience all that Korčula has to offer, taking a guided tour is a good choice and there is many of them available that showcase the island’s natural beauty, culture, and history.
Besides the town of Korčula, a visit to Vela Luka and Blato is an absolute must.
Vela Luka is a lively coastal town renowned for its beautiful beaches and thriving cultural scene. This bustling destination offers a range of activities, from sunbathing on pristine shores to discovering the town’s bars and numerous events.
The main attraction in Vela Luka is its gorgeous beach, perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters. The beach is surrounded by fragrant pine woods, providing an idyllic backdrop for a relaxing day by the sea.
Another significant thing to see near Vela Luka is Vela Spila cave just on the southern side of Pinski Rat Mountain. This prehistoric archaeological cave is one of Europe’s most valuable findings that boasts evidence of ancient communities that lived and utilized the cave for daily life and burial practices.
Blato is a charming and picturesque village located in the heart of the island of Korčula. The village dates back to the 14th century, and it’s characterized by beautiful stone houses and narrow streets that reveal a unique blend of architecture.
Walking through Blato Korčula is like traveling back in time, you can feel the authentic atmosphere of a small community that has preserved its heritage over time.
One of the things that make Blato Korčula so special is its gastronomy. The village is known for its delicious cuisine that combines Mediterranean and Dalmatian flavours. You can taste traditional dishes like lamb with rosemary, fish stew, or pasta with black cuttlefish ink, all made with fresh local ingredients.
Blato Korčula cherishes culture and traditions which can be seen through numerous events and festivities such as The Blato Summer Festival that takes place each summer from mid-July to mid-august.
One of the best things to do is to go island hopping. There are several truly magnificent small islands around Korčula, and these are real hidden gems. We recommend the following three.
This charming island is known for its pristine beaches and lush greenery. Visitors often come to Badija for swimming, sports, or leisurely walks, making it an ideal getaway from the main island.
Next on your island-hopping adventure is Vrnik, where you can immerse yourself in history by exploring the abandoned medieval stone quarry. This unique destination offers a fascinating insight into the island’s past while enjoying the serene atmosphere. Boats regularly run from Vela Luka, providing easy access to this captivating islet.
Another must-visit nearby island is Proizd, boasting stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. This island is the perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkelling, offering a peaceful escape, especially fitted for couples looking for some peace and quiet.
Getting to Korčula Island
Korčula Island is easily accessible by ferry or catamaran from the city of Dubrovnik or Split. The island is also well-connected by bus and car, with many rental car companies that offer affordable rates. If you are traveling from abroad, the nearest airport is Dubrovnik Airport, which is located about 120 kilometres from Korčula Island. For more info on Korčula visit their tourist board website.
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