On the ramparts of its 12th-century citadel, contented tourists look out over shimmering seas and terracotta roofs, taking in the scent of orange and over-ripe figs; below them, men in pressed linen jackets savour espressos in the shade of bougainvillaea. In the evening, the sound of jazz and clinking wine glasses drifts down from rooftop bars as little yachts return to harbour with cargoes of bikini-clad beauties.
Croatia is known for its rustic charm; but in the past 10 years, since Italians crowned the Croatian coast their new Amalfi and the English discovered that the Adriatic coast is as beautiful as the South of France (without quite the same financial sting or crowds), it has become increasingly sophisticated. Alongside the faded traditional hotels there are now a handful of slick little bars, gastronomic restaurants and hip hotels packed with savvy visitors from Tokyo, New York and beyond. The food, thanks to the quality of local ingredients, is astoundingly good and the most delicious thing to eat on this coast is fish.
Not that eating and drinking are the only things to do on this popular Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. Tanning on the pebble beaches, exploring ancient cities and partying are taken just as seriously.
And rather wonderfully for those who like their luxuries, such activities can now be experienced in considerable style, hence the influx of celebrities: Beyoncé (who dined at Gil’s), Tom Cruise (who stayed on a little island off Dubrovnik), Princess Caroline of Monaco, Eva Longoria, Kevin Spacey and Gwyneth Paltrow (all spotted eating out in Hvar).