Between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula lies the Adriatic Sea. This offshoot of the Mediterranean is the basis for some of Europe’s loveliest beaches, particularly on the eastern shores. Starting with Slovenia in the north, the eastern Adriatic coastline includes a long stretch of Croatia before ending with Montenegro and Albania. These beaches of the eastern Adriatic range from sandy to pebbled and from family-friendly to nudist, making for a diverse selection of beautiful shores.
The Slovene coast, though less than 50km long, offers a wonderful resort town known as Portoroz, which actually translates to “Port of Roses.” Part of the city of Piran, the Portoroz resort area is known not only for its natural sandy beach but also for its casino, lush hotels, relaxing spas, and active seafront. In addition to sunbathing and swimming in the Adriatic, visitors can also enjoy fishing, sailing, and windsurfing. Because Slovenia is such a tiny country, picturesque Portoroz is only a short drive from the capital of Ljubljana. Of all the former Yugoslav republics, Slovenia is the most stable and well-developed, which means that its infrastructure supports tourism well. If you want a robust beach vacation with a dizzying array of recreation options, Portoroz is perfect. Be warned, though, that the crowds are huge during the peak summer season. Visit Portoroz online at www.portoroz.si/EN.
Croatia claims the largest stretch of the eastern Adriatic coast. With hundreds of beaches, from large public strips to small private nooks, Croatia truly does have a spot on the shore for everyone. The country is now safe and stable, so there’s no need to worry about unrest affecting your beachgoing.
With an array of greenery as a backdrop (including lavender fields which scent the air), the Dubovica beach on the island of Hvar is a pebbled place for reflection. The surrounding village is relatively quiet and unassuming, with a rustic feel. If you crave a coastal getaway without the fanfare of a traditional beach, the Dubovica beach is a great showcase for the azure waters of the eastern Adriatic. Few services are offered because the area is not overly commercialized. Accordingly, this is a better beach for adults without children who want to make a day trip.
Northwest of Hvar Island is the unique Zlatni Rat beach on Brac Island. Translating to “Golden Horn,” one look at the beach will explain its name. Rather than a simple strip, Zlatni Rat is actually forms point that extends out into the blue sea, like a languid ray of a sandy starfish that doubles the length of the beachfront. The unique shape of the golden horn beach and its popularity with international travelers make the town of Bol a healthy-sized tourist area, but the atmosphere is still less carnival-esque than Slovenia’s Portoroz. The emphasis here is really the gorgeous sandy beach. Some basic information is available at www.zlatni-rat.hr/EN.
Near the historic city of Dubrovnik in the extreme southern tip of Croatia, you’ll find two small but notable nudist beaches. Occupying the eastern part of its own island, the nudist beach of Lokrum is a rocky (not sandy) beach with a botanical garden nearby. If just sunbathing in your birthday suit is not enough, visit the Mlini nudist beach, where you can also dine in a nude restaurant.
A better-known nudist resort area is Valalta, near the town of Rovinj. At the other end of the Croatian coast from the Dubrovnik beaches, Valalta is a northern playground for naturists featuring a clothing-free campsite and a number of restaurants. There is even a local brewery where you can enjoy beer in the buff. For a resort that caters to a back-to-nature clientele, the sandy beach is, ironically, manmade.
The grand daddy of all nude beaches in Croatia, though, is Koversada. In the same Istrian region as Valalta, Koversada has more of a town feel, with so many nude services offered that it’s really about naturist culture, not just skinny dipping at the beach. Koversada’s beach has both pebbled and sandy areas from which you can venture into the clear blue waters of the eastern Adriatic.
If you want to enjoy the Istrian coast of northern Croatia without going bare, you may feel more comfortable at the Maslinica beach near the town of Rabac. Well-developed for tourism, there are excellent hotels and a variety of beach options. The coastline here is diverse enough to provide not just strip-like beaches but also nooks and coves conducive to paddle-boating.
Currently in a loose partnership with Serbia, the Republic of Montenegro enjoys a splendid position on the eastern Adriatic shore. For now, the travel situation remains safe, as no immediate split from Serbia is yet planned and any future unrest is unlikely to affect the shore.
Well-regarded Jaz beach on Montenegro’s north shore is almost a kilometer long, with a separate nudist area. With hills and a nearby river adding to the local beauty, this is a simple pebble beach with an understated quality that makes it relaxing. It feels less like a balmy beach and more like a mountain resort with a clear lake, except that the “lake” is the grand Adriatic Sea.
A red-roofed collection of buildings will welcome travelers to a beach with reddish sand at Petrovac. Snorkeling and diving are popular here, as are boating, swimming, and sunbathing. Featuring a well-manicured promenade with charming restaurants, Petrovac is a picturesque place to spend a few days alternating between beachfront attractions and historic sites in the old town.
The least accessible of the countries on the eastern Adriatic coast, Albania has a limited infrastructure for tourists and a somewhat gloomier feeling when it comes to recreation. That said, if you’re already in Albania for a more educationally oriented trip tracking the history and culture of this repressed country, a summer stop at a beach may be welcome.
The port town of Durres features a notable sandy beach without most of the fanfare of other Adriatic tourist spots. You’ll see plenty of locals and residents who’ve taken a bus from the capital of Tirana. If you want a basic beach with a more exotic landscape (like the round military bunkers that dot the area), visit Durres. Oh, and because Albania is a more conservative country, you may not want to sunbathe in the nude here!