Split and Central Dalmatia Feature
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The shores of Central Dalmatia abound with spectacular architecture, bearing witness to its rich and complex history. There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the region: Diocletian's Roman Palace in Split; the old town of Trogir with its 13th-century Romanesque cathedral; and in Sibenik the 16th-century Gothic-Renaissance cathedral. Fortunately, many historic centers have been listed and protected, saving them from the ravages of modern development.
Everyone loves the romantic image of escaping to an island, and in Central Dalmatia there are plenty to choose from. The two that stand out are Hvar and Vis. Hvar is probably Croatia's hippest island, pulling gossip column-worthy celebrities, would-be artists, politicians, and nudists. The main resort, Hvar Town, seems to have it all: beautifully preserved Venetian-style architecture, stylish modern hotels, classy seafood restaurants, and a sophisticated nightlife. In contrast, distant Vis remains free of commercial development. Closed to foreigners until 1989 (during the Tito years it was a Yugoslav naval base), it is now very "in" with the yachting crowd, who appreciate its unspoiled nature, tumbledown stone cottages, and rustic eateries.
The best beaches and the cleanest water for swimming are on the islands. Croatia's most stunning beach has to be Zlatni Rat, a cape made up of fine shingle, close to the village of Bol on the island of Brac. If you want to enjoy it at its best, try to avoid peak season, when it becomes very crowded. Close to Hvar Town lie the Pakleni Otoci (Pakleni Islands), a group of tiny, unpopulated islets with pine woods and indented coasts offering secluded pebble beaches for bathing. Taxi boats relay visitors back and forth from Hvar Town to the most accessible spots.
Central Dalmatia is probably Croatia's top region for sailing, thanks to the myriad islands and well-equipped marinas. Split is the main charter base, with dozens of companies keeping boats there. Other well-equipped marinas in the region can be found in Trogir, Skradin, and Vodice on the mainland, and Palmizana, Vrboska, and Milna on the islands.
In the Cetina Valley, near Omis, the River Cetina has cut a high-sided canyon between the mountains of Mosor and Biokovo, with a series of rapids sided by sheer-faced cliffs, making this one of the country's major spots for rafting and rock climbing. A short distance farther down the coast, Biokovo Mountain, behind Makarska, is a nature park and home to rare animals such as chamois goats and mouflon sheep, which thrive on the scanty pastures and bare limestone rocks. On the island of Brac, Zlatna Rat offers good conditions for windsurfing, whereas the mountain of Vidova Gora is popular for hiking and mountain biking.
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