The old city is surrounded by walls, and the streets are arranged in a herringbone pattern allowing free circulation of air but protecting against strong winds. Korcula is tightly built on a promontory that guards the narrow sound between the island and the mainland. Building outside the walls was forbidden until the 18th century, and the wooden drawbridge was only replaced in 1863. All of Korčula's narrow streets are stepped with the notable exception of the street running alongside the southeastern wall. The street is called the Street of Thoughts as one did not have to worry about the steps.
The devout Catholic inhabitants of Korčula keep alive old folk church ceremonies and a weapon dance, the Moreška, which dates back to the middle ages Originally danced only on special occasions, in modern times there are performances twice a week for tourists.
Korčula, like other islands and many coastal cities in Dalmatia, also displays a dual Latin-Slav culture which developed from the late Roman era to the emergence of the modern Croatian state. Until the late 19th century, Italians made up the vast majority of the population of Korčula town while the rest of the island was almost completely inhabited by Croatians. The island therefore possesses a distinct Adriatic or Mediterranean cultural personality which sets it apart from the mountainous Dalmatian hinterland and continental Croatia further north.