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Setting sail from Venice
Venice is a city like no other, a marble maze of turquoise canals criss-crossed by beautiful bridges, overflowing with palaces, churches and charming little piazzas. No matter how many times you've seen it in photographs, that first glimpse of the Grand Canal will simply take your breath away; it hardly seems credible that such an eye-popping scene could exist outside of a Canaletto painting. Of course Venice is a city that draws big crowds, especially in summer, but don't let this put you off; even the busiest areas are never more than a few steps from a quiet courtyard or a secluded square.
The long, long queues for St Marks might put you off, but just book online in advance for timed entrance and bypass the exhausted tourists.
Rovinj is undoubtedly the highlight of the Istrian coast, a picturesque medieval fishing port with a strong Italian influence discernible in everything from the elegant architecture to the bilingual street signs. A day trip to one of the nearby islands also makes for an enjoyable excursion.
One of the Dalmatian coast’s lesser known cities, Šibenik is notable for its compact medieval centre, UNESCO-listed Gothic-Renaissance cathedral and crumbling fortresses. The nearby islands of Zlarin and Prvić also make for an enjoyable day trip.
Set on a tiny island off the Dalmatian coast, and connected to the mainland by a bridge, Trogir is small but perfectly formed. The town’s appeal lies in its beautiful UNESCO-listed architecture, the legacy of the Venetians who ruled here for almost 400 years.
Of all Croatia’s myriad inhabited islands, Vis is the furthest from the mainland, and was off-limits to tourists for many years, reserved for the Yugoslav military. The resulting lack of development is a big part of the island’s appeal, along with stunning scenery, excellent food and wine, and the attractive little towns of Komiza and Vis Town.
Hvar is the most popular of Croatia’s islands, a ruggedly beautiful place carpeted with lavender fields and dotted with little villages. The island’s capital, Hvar Town, is a charming collection of marble streets arranged around a harbour, and it gets very busy in the summer months.
Draped in vineyards and olive groves, the verdant Croatian island of Korcula is famous for its white wine and is said by some to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. The main settlement, Korcula Town, bears more than a passing resemblance to Dubrovnik, with a historic centre encircled by medieval walls and towers.
Arriving in Dubrovnik
We never fail to be moved when we see the terracotta roofs and honey-golden walls of Dubrovnik, and a stroll around the perfectly preserved old town is a highlight of any visit to the Dalmatian coast. Formerly known as Ragusa, Dubrovnik is a city with a rich, and occasionally troubled, history; the shelling of the city was one of the most shocking images of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, which makes the painstaking restoration of the old town in the years since all the more remarkable. Make sure you take the time to walk around the walls and soak up the views across the rooftops towards Lokrum island, and the deep sapphire of the Adriatic Sea beyond.
The War Photo museum offers a sobering reminder of the conflicts that convulsed the Balkans in the 1990s. It’s not easy viewing, but it does make you appreciate the extraordinary extent to which Dubrovnik has bounced back.
Your home from home
The World’s Best Yacht, Crystal Esprit, offers a completely new Crystal experience, as adventurous or laid back as you please, with just 62 fellow guests.
What we love
We love the translation of everything that is wonderful about Crystal into a completely new environment - a tiny 62 guest yacht that can take you to the most inaccessible, the most exclusive and the most intimate of ports of call for a unique shipboard experience. An affordable way to live the life.
An astonishing 91 International staff
|Style||If you have a taste for the finer things in life, but love the idea of a relaxed and unregimented environment, Crystal Esprit is going to tick all your boxes.|
Total renovation 2015
Tailor-make your trip
Our favourite hotel in Venice
The Metropole is an old favourite for its quieter location and lovely lagoon views.
See more of the Veneto
If you’ve time, take the train to Padova and visit the Scrovegni Chapel.
Our favourite hotel in Dubrovnik
We love the intimate Villa Orsula, with just eight lovely bedrooms and excellent sea views, but if you want to stay in the Old Town itself, the Pucic Palace is the one to go for.
Day trips from Dubrovnik
Make the short trip across the border into Bosnia-Herzegovina and visit the pretty little town of Mostar, with its famous stone bridge over the river Neretva.