Croatia is a small Central European and Mediterranean country, and it is certainly known for its beautiful nature and coast, and one of the most fascinating facts is it has more than 1000 islands! Every island hides a unique story, old Dalmatian houses, stone-patted streets, and beautiful cuisine, but one of the most interesting islands is surely Korčula.
This is a guest post from Ana Cerovski, an experienced writer for restaurants and wineries at KitchenToast. She loves to photograph and travel, especially to Korčula which is her second home and the best inspiration for new recipes and flavors.
Perfect Climate & Untouched Nature
Korčula, known as Kurzel in old German, Curzola in Italian, and Corcyra Nigra in Latin, is situated in the southern part of the country – in the region called Dalmatia. Korčula is the sixth biggest island of Croatia, it has a Mediterranean climate, and it is covered with beautiful Mediterranean flora and pine forests. Thanks to the mild and suitable climate, the island presents a perfect place for agriculture and growing vines.
Korčula seduces with its timeless beauty, untouched nature, and rural villages, and it is considered one of Croatia’s most treasured islands. It offers relaxation (known as fjaka) and quietness, the beauty of nature and history, simple but rich in flavors traditional cuisine, indigenous wines, beautiful beaches, and crystal-clear sea. Quite perfect for a vacation getaway!
Delicious Local Cuisine
Life on the island is simple and modest, and those are the basis of Korčula’s cuisine – the Mediterranean diet is simple, but it is certainly rich in flavors and aromas.
The basic ingredient is the fish, and it can be prepared in numerous ways – brodetto (fish soup or stew), grilled fish (known as gradele), fish na lešo, risotto, pasta, salad, salted fish, cooked or baked, the possibilities are endless. Besides the fish, people there love to prepare lamb and goat, as well as local vegetables and fruit which were and are a part of everyday diet.
When it comes to sweets, housewives on the island love to prepare cukarini, klasuni, krokant, kotonjata, kroštule, fritule, and more. One of the most famous recipes from Korčula is for lumblija. This is an aromatic sweet bread that is prepared only on this island and only in two towns of the island – Blato and Vela Luka. The legend says that the recipe dates to Napoleon’s occupation.
Then, the French soldier-baker and a young local girl fell in love. When the time of the departure of the French army has come, the baker and girl needed to say goodbye. The baker gave her the bread and said to her N’oublie pas (don’t forget me). Since she didn’t speak French, she heard lumblija, and from then until now, the bread is prepared in honor of those who are missed.
When visiting the island, some of the must-try dishes and desserts are certainly lešada (cooked fish), popara (soup made of a couple of fishes, wine, potatoes, olive oil, and garlic), žrnovski makaruni (traditional pasta), kotonjata (quince jelly), and lumblija.
Thanks to the already mentioned perfect climate, the island has a millennial tradition of making amazing wines. They have distinct personalities, unique aromas, and that beautiful complexity of flavors which simply seduces everyone’s palate. Korčula’s wines are known for their extremely fine acids which are actually quite unusual for warm climates. But due to that, the wines are fresh, delicious, and tasty, and they are perfect in the combination with local cuisine.
Pošip, Rukatac, and Grk are white autochthonous grape varieties that are characterized by their interesting flavors and beautiful aromas.
- Pošip is the first Croatian wine with a protected geographical origin, and it has a nice golden yellow color, while its flavors are full and distinct.
- Rukatac or Maraština is a dry wine that is perfect in the combination with seafood, while Grk, oh, this wine is so unique thanks to its herbal nuances with a slightly bitter finish.
- Grk needs to be tasted at least once in a lifetime.
Besides the beautiful palette of white wines, Korčula also has one of the most famous red wines called Plavac mali, also known as pagadebit. It is light with a touch of soft and sophisticated flavors.
Local Restaurants & Taverns
It is hard to talk about delicious food and wines with such interesting flavors and aromas, without mentioning some of the must-visit restaurants!
In Vela Luka, which is located on the western part of the island, restaurants Pod Bore, Casablanca, and Lučica have beautiful menus rich in seafood dishes. Calamari, risotto with shells and seafood, mussels prepared on buzara, sea bream, and more are just a small part of their offer. The dishes are rich in flavors and aromas, and they are prepared with a touch of local olive oil and wines.
Tavern Zvorinovik is located in the southwestern part of the island in the bay of Karbuni. The chefs prepare classic and traditional Mediterranean recipes such as škampi na buzaru, fish salad, and grilled fish. Oh, and not to mention the beautiful view of the Adriatic – what more could you ask for!
Pupnat is the smallest and the oldest place on the island and there, you can find a tavern called Mate. The tavern is a small and intimate family place, and it offers old traditional recipes such as smoked ham, pašticada, pasta with fennel, and more. A lot more.
The restaurant Atrij Žrnovo is located in a small town Žrnovo. It is obvious which dish you need to try there – žrnovski makaruni with beef and tomato sauce! Besides that, the chef prepares delicious pizzas, barbecue, and seafood!
When it comes to the town of Korčula, there are a couple of restaurants which are a must – Korkyra, Marco Polo, Skver, Mirakul, and more! The restaurants have a beautiful selection of Meditteranenan flavors and aromas accompanied by local wines!
How to get to Korčula island
Now, you’re wondering how to get to the island? Well, there are a couple of arrival routes. You can take a ferry from Split, and you can choose 2 destinations on the island – Prigradica on the northwestern side or Vela Lula. Besides Split, you can catch a ferry from peninsula Pelješac to Dominče on Korčula. The ride on a ferry from Split lasts around 2 hours and 45 minutes, while from Pelješac, it lasts around 15 minutes.
All the mentioned ferries are suitable for cars. In case you don’t own a car, you can take a catamaran in Split, and you’ll be in Vela Luka for 2 hours and 20 minutes. You would be a bit faster than that, but catamaran stops in Hvar too.
Beaches on Korčula island
When it comes to the recommendations about the beaches because hey, that’s one of the main reasons for visiting in the summer, the island has many coves and hidden beaches. Sandy Lumbarda, hidden Pupnatska Luka, the attractive beach called Žal in Prižba, Žitna in Zavalatica, Bačva in Pupnat, and Vaja in Račišće are often referred to as must-visit beaches. They are beautiful and surrounded by untouched nature and the crystal sea. But since the island has numerous coves, there is always a chance of finding a new beach just for yourself.
One more thing needs to be mentioned – the island of Proizd. This small island is located 15 minutes away from Vela Luka and it is considered to have one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia.
So much to say about the island of Korčula and yet, I still feel like no words are worthy enough to describe this island, its beauty, and amazing gastronomy. But then again, maybe not all of Korčula should be described – maybe you should discover some of its beauties by yourself.
Connect with the guest author Ana Cerovski on Kitchen Toast.