A honeymoon in the Mediterranean is the stuff of dreams: What's better than staying in a beautiful villa hotel perched above azure waters, dining on succulent seafood dishes while you watch the sunset, and venturing out on the water in search of hidden islands and once-in-a-lifetime adventures?
Honeymoon hot spots like Santorini, Capri, and Saint Tropez lure travelers with picture-perfect scenes of fine dining and luxury hotels. While those types of experiences are truly extraordinary, they may end up costing you similarly extraordinary sums.
Thankfully, there’s another option for a Mediterranean honeymoon that’s glamorous, delicious, adventurous—and it clocks in at about half the price. Why not set your sights on the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea and visit Croatia instead? From cozy Relais & Châteaux properties on remote islands to private palaces in Dubrovnik, Croatia is full of one-of-a-kind romantic accommodations.
Couples can visit vineyards and dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, get lost in the winding streets of ancient stone villages, or rent a boat to visit uninhabited islands and ultra-hip beach clubs. The best part? These insanely luxurious experiences cost a fraction of what they might in the Greek Islands, the Amalfi Coast, or the Cote D’Azur. With affordable restaurants, hotels, and experiences, Croatia is the luxurious Mediterranean honeymoon you can actually afford.
Croatia is full of spectacular places to stay, from luxury resorts to off-the-beaten-path accommodations. It’s a honeymooner’s paradise, with each hotel more romantic than the last.
For the panache and amenities of a grand European property, look no further than Adriatic Luxury Resorts’ Hotel Excelsior. Just a short walk from Dubrovnik’s old town, the palatial hotel is a prime spot for those wanting a resort experience in a prime location. Stylish, modern rooms with balconies overlooking the Adriatic offer a sumptuous experience for couples looking to relax with all the creature comforts. Plus, the hotel—arguably one of the best in Croatia—costs just half of what an equally luxurious waterfront hotel in Positano or Cap Ferrat would.
In the mood for something more intimate for your honeymoon? Villa Orsula has just 13 rooms in a gorgeous converted villa with a fabulous restaurant and bar onsite.
And, why not switch things up with a rustic—yet utterly romantic—farm stay at a vineyard in the southernmost part of the country? For just €70, you can spend the night in this cozy cottage with a natural pool tucked away amongst the grapevines.
In the ancient cobblestoned towns of Split and Dubrovnik, it’s hard to find a restaurant that’s NOT romantic. There’s magic around every corner, with surprising and transformative dining experiences hidden in plain sight. In Dubrovnik, Michelin-starred Restaurant 360 is as worthy of a visit for the food as for the location. Through an unadorned door in the castle wall, you’ll follow a set of stairs over a glassed-in modern kitchen to the top of the ramparts, where a chic bar and restaurant gives you an unbelievable view of the city along with craft cocktails and dishes that wow the senses with molecular gastronomy. The tasting menu here is one of the more expensive dining experiences in the country, but at under €150 per person, you’ll be amazed at the endless creativity and enchanting flavors of dishes that highlight Croatia's unique culinary traditions.
But, not every meal has to be Michelin-starred to be special. With the abundance of the sea and Croatia’s farms, it’s hard to find a bad meal here. Balance your budget-busting gastronomic experiences with simple yet impressive crudos, pizzas, salads, pastas, and more at any of the sidewalk bistros or town square cafes you stumble upon during your trip.
Croatia is home to ancient cities like Split and Dubrovnik that offer endless opportunities for visitors. The best way to discover these cities? Tracking down some of the hidden bars. The winding stone alleyways of Dubrovnik—made famous by Game of Thrones—are imbued with a sense of adventure and possibility. For the ultimate local adventure, put your phone away and use your senses to try and find cozy wine bars like D’Vino and hip cocktail joints like Buzz Bar and Bard.
In Split, you’ll find one of the coolest bars in the country inside Diocletian’s Palace. Luxor Bar is situated in the ruins of the palace of the ancient roman emperor—possibly the most historically significant place you’ll ever get to enjoy a negroni.
While Croatia’s mainland is full of wine, adventure, ancient cities, and more, some of the most romantic places in the country are the hardest to get to. The island of Korcula—birthplace of Marco Polo and the beginning of the Silk Road—is a must-see destination in Croatia, with a tiny village full of cobblestone pathways. Stay at the historic Lesic Dimitri Palace to feel like you’ve gone back in time—and don’t miss the Michelin-starred restaurant where you can dine alfresco with a view of the sea. On the quiet island of Vis, you can stay at the enchanting Hotel San Giorgio for under €150 while you explore the island’s hidden beaches. Lastovo is one of the most remote islands in Croatia, but the journey there is worth it for quaint €50 bed and breakfasts, incredible scenery, and simple—yet delicious—beachfront restaurants.
Luxe Beach Clubs
Island-hopping is key to any Croatian honeymoon. While a liveaboard sailboat is a great option for adventurous couples, those who prefer hotel accommodations and have a fear of seasickness can still get in on the fun with day trips to some of the prettiest islands in the Mediterranean, like Vrnik. The ultra low-key Vrnik Arts Club—which once hosted Beyoncé—is a great place to spend an afternoon eating fresh seafood and drinking cold rosé.
Bowa, on the island of Šipan, is a divinely chic seafood paradise. Secluded, romantic, and incredibly luxurious, a day at the beach club starts with lunch (either in the open-air dining room or at one of the private cabanas) and continues on through the afternoon while you lounge on the rocky beach and take frequent dips in the perfectly crisp blue water.
For those who want something that’s not quite elegant or quiet, Moro Beach Bar on Stupe is where you’ll find the action. A DJ perched on the rocks above the beach plays dance tunes while the open-air bar below supplies an endless stream of aperol spritzes. Visit right before sunset for the best people watching and partying. If a boat trip isn’t in your honeymoon budget, no worries—you can still experience the magic of Croatian’s infinitely cool beach clubs at places on the mainland like Buza, Banje Beach, and Copacabana Beach.
Honeymoons are a time to eat, drink, and unwind while celebrating your new beginnings as a couple. But, for those who need to do something while on vacation, Croatia is teeming with activities. Plitvice National Park—though crowded—is one of the most beautiful places in the country, with deep blue lakes and lush waterfalls. Active couples can organize a day-long hiking trip from Split.
For those whose activities lean more towards gastronomy, there are endless opportunities to discover Croatia beyond the beaches, from oyster tasting at Bota Sare Oyster Farm to wine tasting at Saints Hills Vinaria or taking a cooking lesson at Kameni Dvori.
Getting There in Style
Croatia has become an even more affordable destination with new direct flights from Delta and United that can get you there for as little as $600 each. With what you’re saving on hotels and restaurants, why not splurge for business class? On United’s Polaris Business Class, getting there is a breeze—nighttime flights depart from Newark Airport and land in Dubrovnik the next morning, making it possible to beat jet lag and get a full night’s sleep on the eight-hour flight. Plus, the travel ready center makes it easy to upload your paperwork—tests, vaccinations, and passenger locator forms—in order to breeze through customs when you land. While travel to Croatia from the United States used to require at least one layover, these new direct flights can even be cheaper than a flight to Rome, Nice, or Athens.
For extra savings, consider visiting in the “off season” when hotel prices are slashed and flights are cheaper. Restaurants, bars, and beach clubs in hot spots stay open well into the fall and the water is warm and swimmable through October. The best part? You’ll have this honeymoon paradise to yourselves.