Croatia is chock-full of fascinating destinations, some are madly popular, others a little under the radar, but all are uniquely spectacular. There are sweeping beaches on secluded islands, quaint cafés on hilltop villages, and vineyards in the rolling countryside. All of these deserve a toast. So, if you ask where’s the best place in Croatia to enjoy a glass of wine, we say anywhere and everywhere. And may we add without hesitation, anytime. But to make things a bit easier, we have rounded up five of the best locations and experiences in Croatia to pop a bottle of bubbly. Cheers!
On a Beach in Lokrum
The island of Lokrum is a favorite getaway for those who want to escape the crowd or the sweltering heat of Dubrovnik. Fringed by thick pine trees, lush vegetation, and limestone boulders, the beaches are quieter, more serene and private.
Lokrum is a UNESCO-protected nature and special forest vegetation reserve and is home to a botanical garden that grows Mediterranean flora and 800 species of exotic plants. Nearby is a summer mansion built by Maximilian of Habsburg in the 19th century and Fort Royal, a fortress constructed by the French in 1806. On the southern tip of the island is a small salt lake known as the Dead Sea and connected to the open sea by an underwater passage.
Perhaps, the most famous landmark on the island is the 11th century Benedictine Monastery, which houses a replica of the Iron Throne from the Game of Thrones (Lokrum represents the city of Qarth in the show). In fact, you can even take a Game of Thrones-focused tour of the island. According to 15th-century records, the Benedictine monks cultivated plants and herbs in the estate, including fruits to produce wine.
There are only a couple of cafés and restaurants on the island, but you can bring your own food and drinks. The shaded coves are perfect for relaxing while sipping some chilled wine. Go for a fruity white such as Asti Spumante or a refreshingly crisp variety such as Chardonnay. Better still, check out the local listings.
On a Yacht in Split
The long warm summers, reliable winds and efficient marinas make Split a haven for sailing enthusiasts. While inland Split, with its mishmash of the old and new, is gloriously beautiful, the coastal area, with its sandy coves, pebble beaches and vivid cobalt blue sea waters, is just as gorgeous.
What better way to see the city’s stunning coast than by sailing along its shores on a yacht? Lounge about on the sundeck and enjoy views of the beaches. If you’re the thrill-seeker type, jump into the water for a swim or go on a snorkeling adventure. You can sail to the small island of Čiovo and dock at the historic harbor town of Trigor to explore its renaissance and baroque buildings.
If you ask us, wine and Croatia yacht charter cruises go well together. Imagine opening a bottle of sparkling Sangiovese Rosé to celebrate the sunshine or sipping a glass of fruity red, such as the local Portugizac Plešivica, as you watch the sunset.
In a Cafe in Motovun
If you fancy drinking wine with a view, visit the breathtaking hilltop village of Motovun. The medieval town sits atop a 277-meter mountain overlooking the Mirna River, surrounded by a forest of brown oaks, white poplars, and lowland ash. The area is famous not only for its wildlife but also for its prized black and white truffles. Indeed, the famous truffles are a prime ingredient of many local dishes served by the village’s top restaurants.
For a small sleepy village, there’s much to do and see in Motovun. For a start, go on a hike or bike ride along the Parenzana Trail, a narrow-gauge railroad that links the harbors of Trieste and Poreč to the towns inland. Take a spa break at the Hotel Kaštel, paraglide over the village, walk the ancient fortification walls, or drive past olive groves on a Vespa. In summer, you can experience the week-long Motovun Film Festival. While in autumn, you can participate in truffle hunts during your visit.
Don’t leave Motovun without sampling its most valuable product, truffles. Be sure to choose from the local wine listing because what better way to enjoy local cuisine than by pairing it with local wine? Try Malvazija Istarska, a medium-bodied variety of dry white wine known for its rich aroma, zest and freshness. Or, if you’re craving for some red, sample Teran, recognized for its high acidity and hints of wild berries.
On a Tour of Opatija
A trendy summer retreat in the 19th century, Opatija hosts several Habsburg-era villas, including the opulent Villa Angiolina. The mansion sits on a 3.7-hectare botanical garden and houses the Croatian Tourism Museum. The iconic Lungomare promenade, a 12-km long winding seaside path, links Opatija to the sleepy fishing village of Volosko in the south and the health resort town of Lovran in the north. On the waterfront stands the town’s most famous statue, the Girl with a Seagull. In 2015, Opatija established its own Walk of Fame to honor prominent Croatian personalities, including inventor Nikola Tesla, tennis superstar Goran Ivanišević and writer Tin Ujević.
If you want to get the best out of your luxury Croatia travel, you can learn about the town’s humble beginnings and sudden rise to fame on a private walking tour. Ramble on the coastal promenade, stroll through gorgeous gardens and pass majestic villas and old churches.
If you want to satisfy your gastronomic cravings, Opatija has three Michelin-star restaurants that offer award-winning dishes. But make sure to try the more low-key but equally delicious food served in smaller restaurants, cafés, and street food stalls. As for the wine, go for the locally produced Žlahtina, a dry white made from grapes indigenous to the nearby island of Krk. It pairs well with seafood, particularly oysters, white meat, and sheep’s milk cheese.
The Wineries Around Zagreb
Picturesque villages, fairytale castles and vast vineyards dot the sprawling countryside that surrounds the Croatian capital. Here, you will find a host of family-run wineries producing some of the best blends in the country.
The wine region of Plešivica, located 30 km southwest of Zagreb, grows white varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot blanc and Graševina. If you’re looking for a refreshing sparkling wine, this is the place to go. Southeast of the city, the region of Moslavina cultivates the famous Škrlet, an autochthonous white variety that produces crisp, dry wine with a sweet floral scent.
North from Zagreb, the cultural region of Zagorje does not only have vineyards but also museums, castles and stretches of striking scenery. A little to the east, in the lovely town of Zelina, the native Kraljevina variety is used in making fresh, smooth and subtly aromatic white wines.
If you want to experience authentic homemade food, the charming town of Samobor serves unique culinary treats such as traditional salami, pork with garlic sauce, kremšnita cake, and the iconic Croatian gingerbread hearts.