Korčula, birthplace of the renowned traveller, Marco Polo, is a compact jewel of Venetian architecture surrounded by the clear blue waters of the Pelješac channel.
Korčula town, alongside Dubrovnik, is one of the Adriatic towns which hits the news from time to time with reports of rich, famous and notable types who buy up old town properties for heart-stopping sums. There is good reason for this – the tiny, almost circular old town occupying a rocky promontory is one of the most perfectly preserved and most romantic historic towns you’ll ever see with many opportunities for shutterbugs. It doesn't take long to wander through the atmospheric streets, where you’ll come across gothic details and balconies that make you feel like you’ve entered a Slavic version of Romeo and Juliet. Pay attention to the hidden architectural delights, such as relief figures on the Cathedral of St. Mark and, as rumor has it, the interestingly sculpted menu of an old brothel near the main entrance. Visit the town museum and the local galleries within a casual morning stroll.
Many of the historical sights and landmarks are just a stone throw from the main square and you’ll be bedazzled by the amount of history and culture that surrounds you. Take for instance the Tower of Marco Polo, believed to be the house in which the great world traveller and writer was born, whilst there head up to the tower for some breathtaking panoramic views of the island. There is also a Marco Polo Museum which reflects on his life through seven vast and deep scenes which bring to life his amazing adventures. The Abbey Treasury of St. Mark is in the heart of the main-square and features reliquaries, artworks, liturgical vestments and manuscripts with some dating as far back as the 12th century. The Icon Gallery features artworks of Byzantine paintings on wood and most of which were brought across by island sailors from the 13th to 17th century. Ahoy to the naval ancestors! The Revelin Tower with its descending steps is a majestic site in itself whilst the Maximilian Vanka Gallery hosts his astute paintings and portraits for which he is most known for. And that’s just a snapshot of Korčula with more to do and see. All in all, it's well worth a few days' stay and is a perfect place to recharge your batteries.
One of the other most prominent features of the island is its folk tradition which includes the Moreška, a dance with swords, which you can witness during the summer months (Mondays and Thursdays in July and August, Thursdays in June and September, starting at 21:00), heralded by drumbeats as a parade of citizens in historical costume passes through prior to the performance.
With such material, Korčula has a long tradition of tourism and is one of the more commercialised of Croatia’s Adriatic towns, so the town itself gets pretty busy during high season. But this is a relatively large island, there are plenty of other places to explore and get away from it all. As with any island, the perfect way to explore is to rent a scooter or bicycle from any of the tourist agencies in town. Head towards the village of Lumbarda where you'll find picturesque vineyards. You must try the Grk wine, only produced in the surrounding area, and said to have been brought from ancient Greece after the fall of Troy. Wander the stone streets of the old village and feel miles and centuries away from everything else. Other destinations for wine connoisseurs are the villages of Čara and Smokvica, these two island gems also add to the agricultural pallet as they are known for the top quality white wine known as Pošip, considered to be one of the most prestigious wines of the Croatian south.