Hvar Town has become the party capital of the Adriatic. This is due in large part to Carpe Diem Bar and Lounge, a longstanding outdoor-indoor spot (pictured) whose afternoon après-beach scene often spirals into an all-night dance party. It's on the international DJ circuit, and sees a beautiful crowd of Europeans in their 20s and 30s who know one another from other global hot spots—"Brigitte, didn't I see you last week in St. Tropez?" (385-21-742-369; www.carpe-diem-hvar.com).
A few other nightlife spots lack Carpe Diem's following but stand out as fun places to let loose after a beach day. In Split, Puls 2 is one of a cadre of modish cafe-bars inside Diocletian's Palace. Locals and tourists mix under the stars drinking the best local beer, Karlovačko (1 Buvinina; no phone). In Bol, on the island of Brač, the action is at Hotel Kaštil's Varadero Cocktail Bar, an open-air nightspot with good DJs for when you're up dancing and comfortable wicker furniture for when you're not (385-21-635-996; www.kastil.hr). In Korčula Town, one of the coolest bars you'll ever experience is Massimo. It's actually part of the ancient fortified seaside wall: You climb a ladder to the crenellated tower, which looks over the water and town; bartenders serve drinks via a pulley system (385-20-715-073).
Tel: 385 91 589 4936
As beguiling as Old Town is, nothing within the walls lives up to Buza, which means "hole in the wall." The entrance is just a gap in the ramparts near Saint Ignatius Church—look for a sign that reads, "Cold drinks with the most beautiful view," or ask a local. What you'll discover: café tables on tiered rock outcroppings over the Adriatic; a sound track of Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Croatian instrumentals mixed with the crashing surf; and nothing but cerulean water on the horizon. (You might end up at the competing Buza bar nearby, but no matter—it also clings to the outer walls and has an equally impressive view, albeit from a lower perch, closer to the lapping water.)
Tel: 385 20 412 220
This thumping beach club just ten minutes east of Ploče Gate is the spot for sunning with cocktails, goofing off on surf skis, and talking your way onto private speedboats. The dance floor gets going to pop and disco until about 3 am. Playboy and MTV have all held parties (and after-parties) here, though regular folks will fit in just finemost people are here simply to see and be seen. And, of course, to be seen being seen.
Sv. Dominika 2
Tel: 385 20 322 222
A veritable maze of rooms, terraces, and intimate nooks, this waterside restaurant/nightclub/bar complex hosts nightly themed parties (hip-hop, belly dancing, Studio 54) and staged shows, including a Coyote Ugly performance complete with bar-top dancers. The twenty- to forty-something crowd sips beer and rakija, a local grappa, then hits the dance floor.
8 Frana Supila
Tel: 385 20 323 766
Dubrovnik's cutting edge artists have found a home at Lazareti, a collective housed in an ancient stone building overlooking the old port. It was once the city's quarantine for ill travelers, and the small cells have been converted into art spaces and studios, though most visitors come for the eponymous dance club. House and techno DJs from Holland and England fly in to spin on summer weekends, making this about as au courant as Old Dubrovnik can get.
4 Pred Dvorom
Tel: 385 91 333 0601
Once named Hemingway Bar (and still called that by most locals), this laid-back lounge serves Lasko beer and perfectly good cocktails. Don't bother looking for a table inside, as Nonenina has a serious lack of indoor real estate. Grab a wicker chair out on the terracethat's where the real action takes place, anyway. With a view of the Rector's Palace and the Cathedral Treasury, it's the perfect spot to check out the djir (evening promenade). Start your night here just before sunset, as the neighborhood kids finish up their final soccer game on the polished marble square below.
Buniceva poljana 2
Tel: 385 20 323 476
Since it's virtually impossible to wander Old Town and not walk by Troubadour, with its alfresco live bands and legion of chairs, it's no surprise that it's both pricey and a bit touristy. But those chairs and folks sipping beer do look tempting. Dixieland jazz bands (and sometimes Marco, the owner) set up outside or in front of the bar, and appreciative patrons regularly get up and dance. Show up by 9:30 if you want a chair.