Until relatively recently, the absence of charming and comfortable places to stay meant that the only agreeable way to visit the Dalmatian coast was by boat. Mountains rear dramatically above the Adriatic, an expanse of cobalt blue bordered by aromatic shrubs and dotted with more than 1,000 islands. Here you can rediscover the Mediterranean world of 50 years ago. Many visitors will still wish to spend time afloat, but a new crop of luxury hotels provides a fine choice of pre- or post-cruise options. A spell on land also makes it easy to take escorted tours to places such as the exquisite medieval town of Mostar in Bosnia. An ideal itinerary would contain a mixture of sightseeing and pure relaxation. Split and Dubrovnik merit at least two days each of exploration. Afterward, an excursion to the lovely island of Hvar (reached from Split) and/or rugged Korčula is virtually mandatory.

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