As a freelance travel writer specialising in the Balkans, I’ve written about Croatia for the travel sections of the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent, and EasyJet Traveller magazine. I'm author of the Footprint Croatia guidebook, Thomas Cook Publication’s CitySpots Split, and the Dalmatia chapters of Fodor’s Croatia & Slovenia. I also review special places to stay in Croatia for i-escape.com.
Originally from the Yorkshire Dales, I lived 6 years in Split, on the Dalmatian coast, before moving to Greece, where I’m now based. While living in Split, I travelled extensively throughout Dalmatia, and discovered some of the region’s most authentic eateries and bars, with the help of local friends. I’ve sailed around the pine-scented Dalmatian islands (my favourite are Vis and Hvar), climbed the rugged peaks of Biokovo and Mosor, and swum below the waterfalls in Krka National Park. I’ve been wine tasting on Pelješac, Korčula, Brač, Hvar and Vis, and I’m pretty sure I know Dalmatia’s best nudist beaches (though if you find one I’ve missed, I’d love to hear about it). I never tire of roaming through the centuries-old stone streets of Split and Dubrovnik, and I return to Croatia several times each year, both for work and pleasure.
Where I always grab a glass of wine - Ghetto Club in Split. Combine evening drinks with an art exhibition at this multi-level bar-gallery centring on a lovely stone courtyard, lit with flaming torches on summer evenings.
My favourite dining spot – Konoba Humac in the semi-abandoned village of Humac on Hvar. A back-to-basics ode to Dalmatia – a windswept hilltop, tumbledown stone cottages and bird’s eye views over the sea and islands. Still no electricity here, so everything is cooked over glowing charcoal.
Best for people watching – The harbourfront in Hvar Town. Sailing boats moored up along the quay, sun-tanned visitors fresh from the beach, locals scurrying home with their shopping, honeymooners and palm trees. Best at sunset.
My favourite stroll – Marjan in Split. Take the stone steps up through the fishermen’s quarter of Varoš, then follow the gravelled footpath that leads the length of the peninsular to Bene, almost 3km away. Fragrant pinewoods and dense Mediterranean planting to your right, stunning sea views to your left.
Where to be seen – Stepping out of the Lesić Dimitri Palace hotel in Korčula Town. Nonchalantly dangling your keys, just to make sure everyone appreciates that you’re staying there.
The most breathtaking view – From the peak of Vidova Gora on the south coast of Brač. Bracing mountain air and dizzying views down onto Zlatni Rat beach and the tiny village of Bol below.
The best spot for some peace and quiet – On a sailing boat. With the engine switched off.
Shopaholics beware! – Designer boutiques stocking clothes and shoes (mainly from Italy) are gradually occupying the centuries-old stone palazzi in the historic centres of Dubrovnik and Split. Leave your credit card at home if you don’t want to succumb.
Best new attraction – Dubrovnik cable car. Whizzes you up from just outside the old town to the peak of Mount Srdj (405m) in only 3 minutes. Opened in July 2010.
Don’t leave without... swimming naked in the Adriatic. Naturism is accepted in Dalmatia on designated beaches, so you can finally get that all-over tan.
My expert information
Medieval monuments and contemporary design
The island’s main attraction is Korčula old town, a lovely tiny fortified medieval settlement made up of romantic cobbled alleys and proud Venetian-era stone buildings. In the heart of the old town, the ultra-trendy but extremely expensive Lesic Dimitri Palace is another perfect reason to come here, if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford it.Read more...
The Pearl of the Adriatic
Wayward English poet, Lord Byron, once referred to Dubrovnik as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. Two centuries later, this magnificent walled city is still mesmerising foreign travellers. With its stunning location, backed by mountains and jutting out into the turquoise blue sea, and its noble Baroque architecture, it is one of the grand European cities that everyone should visit at least once, which it why it's also a popular port of call for cruise ships sailing the Mediterranean.Read more...
Escaping to the islands
Islands in general hold a mystical attraction that nobody can quite explain – a sort of romantic ideal, each one a world of its own, where you might find something extraordinary. So what a feeling it is to jump aboard a white-and-blue Jadrolinija ferry, bound for one of Dalmatia’s glorious islands: trendy Hvar with its lavender fields, Brac with its lovely Zlatni Rat beach, or Korcula, the supposed birthplace of epic explorer Marco Polo.Read more...