The Ultimate Croatia Sailing Guide

6 Croatia Sailing Itineraries & 10 Places Not to Miss

Croatia: A Fantasy of Balmy Days by Warm Sapphire Waters in the Shade of Ancient Walled Towns

Our Croatia Sailing Guide to the Alluring Dalmatian Coastline

Croatia’s coast is speckled with dozens of magnificent islands that range from tiny, verdant and unpopulated to massive and arid, sporting ancient towns and villages.  Island hopping is very common and certainly the finest way to explore the Croatian coast.
5 Things Everyone Should do:
  • Lay under the warm Croatian sun.
  • Dive into the crystal clear waters.
  • Get lost in one or more of the 1244 islands
  • Sail to the Blue Caves
  • Visit picturesque villages and taste their traditional products – olive, fig, grape, cheese, wine.
Whatever you choose to do, you should, of course, do it your way – but the very best way of all… by Sailing.
Traditional port in Croatia

The World’s Number One Yacht Charter Destination

The Jewel in Europe’s Crown

The Gem of the Adriatic. Despite being one of Europe’s most famous places to visit and the world’s premier sailing destination, Croatia doesn’t feel like a place that has been thoroughly worked over by the tourist industry. Blessed with a wealth of natural riches, Croatia boasts almost 2000km of rocky, indented shore, and more than a thousand islands, many blanketed in luxuriant vegetation.

Something for Everyone. Even during the heavily visited months of July and August there are still enough off-the-beaten-track islands, quiet coves, and stone-built fishing villages to make you feel as if you’re visiting Europe at its most unspoiled. There’s plenty in the way of urbane glamour too, with swanky hotels, yacht-filled harbours and cocktail bars aplenty – especially in Split, Dubrovnik, and Hvar.

Climate and Weather

Warm, Mild; Typically Mediterranean

General. Croatia’s climate follows two patterns: Mediterranean on the coast, with warm summers and mild winters, and continental inland – slightly hotter during the summer, and extremely cold in winter, with average daily temperatures barely scraping freezing from December to February.

High Season. July and August are  peak season in the Adriatic and a great time to sail in Croatia. Peak-season daytime temperatures can soar, however, sailing in coastal breezes will be more than comfortable for those Sunseekers.  If you do prefer cool’er’ temperatures and less crowded marinas, then June or September (even May or October), will be perfect for you. Just off season see the temperatures fall from their peak and sees less pressure on facilities.

The Autumn is a good alternative time to enjoy the islands such as Istria and the national park areas like the Plitvice Lakes and the River Krka, when the woodland colours produced by the mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees are at their best.

Spring. Think early, by mid-March the amazing season is well into its stride: warm, dry weather makes it a great time to go sailing, cycling, hiking or touring the cultural sights.  In southern Dalmatia, the sea might be warm enough to swim comfortably in by mid to late May.

Check out our cycling and gourmet sailing trips in Croatia

Waterfall in the Plitvice lakes national park
Waterfall in the Plitvice lakes National ParkRainbow colours in Early Spring
The Medieval Town of Motovun, Croatia
The Medieval Town of Motovun, CroatiaAmazing Autumn View

Recommended Cities and Islands to Visit

The best spots revealed in our Croatia Sailing Guide

1. Split

A living, breathing monument.

Take your time to visit the ancient city’s core with walls and buildings older than 1700 years.  Some parts of the palace, including the sphinx and columns, date back even further at some 3500 years old. The inhabitants became collectors of the passing ages, as was the palace’s original owner- the emperor Diocletian; the city is full of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, medieval, Romanesque, Gothic, and neoclassic traces.

Today, Split is a modern city with plenty to offer visitors – from fancy restaurants and great pizzerias to simple taverns, from big shopping centers to cozy  shops, from a big green market on the eastern end to the fish market on the western end of the palace. Enjoy historic tours and classic opera and ballet performances to electromusic festivals and great sporting events.

Not to miss:
  • A guided tour. The best way to get acquainted with the city.
  • Pizzeria Galija. The best pizza in town.
  • A walk to Marjan. The wonderful view of the city and the surroundings will be a sufficient reward for your effort.
Split, Croatia
SplitCombine history with entertainment
Vodice, Kornati Archipelago
The stunning VodiceTranquility in the Kornati National Park

2. The Kornati Archipelago

God’s masterpiece

According to a legend, the Kornati Archipelago is a God’s masterpiece. G B Shaw’s interpretation of this legend:

On the last day of created God desired to crown his work and thus created the Kornati islands out of his tears, breath and stars.

The archipelago consists of 150 islands of which 89 are part of the National Park. Thousands of visitors are attracted every year by the National Park Kornati and the Nature Park Telascica.

 Not to miss:
  • The Monumental Cliffs. Located on the southern side of Dugi Otok are cliffs that go up to 160m of height and collapse down to 85 m of depth.
  • The Many Restaurants. – In and around the National Park with charming views of the bays where they are situated.

3. Murter

The Fishermen’s Island

You simply can not escape the extraordinary beauty of this small island of the 18 square km that will cast a spell on you. Inhabited by Kornati proprietors, the inhabitants of this island are mostly fishermen, seamen, boat builders, shepherds and olive farmers. A picturesque destination that you shouldn’t miss.

Not to miss:
  • Sandy Beaches. Located on the southern side of the island.
  • Betina. – Birthplace of the wooden shipbuilding in Croatia.
Murter, Croatia
MurterSwim in the blue green waters
Brac Island, Croatia
Brac IslandExquisite natural beauty

4. Brac

World Renown Exquisite beaches

According to an urban legend, the stone from Brac was used to build the White House.

It is no myth that the stone is top-quality and appreciated amongst experts and beyond. Yacht Charterers and Visitors alike tend to  prefer to marvel at the world’s famous beach Zlatni Rat in Bol, or the excellent wine and olive oil produced on the slopes of the highest mountain of Croatian islands – Vidva Gora.

Not to miss:

Cheese. Taste delicious lamb and sheep milk cheese

Blaca Desert. Blaca got the epithet of a desert not because of geographical features, but because of the hermit monks that inhabited the locality for centuries. Anchor your ship well and hike away! Go to the eastern side of the cove where hermits were lodged. These monks found refuge here from the Ottoman intrusions on the coast during the 15th century.

They founded an entire town with its own sustainable and self-sufficient economy that ensured their survival for centuries. Once cultivated fields, olive groves, stables, beehives and greenhouses and a library with one of the richest collections of astronomy books in the early 20th century testify of their successful history.

Wine. A sip of excellent red wine Stina

Watersports. Kite – and Windsurfing in Bol

5. Hvar

The ‘it’-place to be seen

Hvar Town lies at the foot of steep cliffs, dominated by an old fortress overlooking its historic buildings and the bay opening in front of it, with a view of the nearby Pakleni Islands. It’s certainly an impressive sight to behold, either if you have ventured up to the fortress or taking it in from the bay while sipping a cold beer on your yacht.

Hvar is also well known for its vibrant nightlife and for a good reason. You can find some of the best bars, restaurants, and clubs in Dalmatia here. There is something different for everyone.

As you may well imagine Hvar Town does become very busy in the summer season, notably during July and August. It’s very much a case of the early bird gets the worm here, with the quay reserved for yachts filling up early. However, you can do what we did, and anchor off in the harbour, though at times this also becomes very full.

Not to miss:

Wine tasting. Enjoy in Sv. Nedjelja vineyards – Plavac mali.

The Pakleni Islands. We recommend anchoring on the south side of St Clement if the weather allows it, which is the biggest island of the Pakleni islands archipelago, situated just across the city of Hvar. Otherwise, you can use Marina Palmizana on the north side of the same island. There is a boat taxi to the city of Hvar every 30 minutes. That is definitely better than anchoring in the port of Hvar which is not very safe and open to all other traffic. St Clement belongs to the family Menenghello that has grown a charming botanical garden. A nice walk through this beautiful paradise and a visit to one of the Meneghello restaurants – either the beach bar TOTO’s or the Meneghello Palmizana – is a must.

Nightlife. Clubbing at Carpe Diem in Hvar

Scedro – an island ideal for a one day relaxing on your way from Hvar to Korcula. It offers numerous of calm bays and piers surrounded by rich vegetation.

Hvar, Croatia
The picturesque HvarKnown both for its natural beauty and nightlife
The blue cave in Vis
VisThe amazing blue cave

6. Vis

Mystery and Philosophy

Due to the isolation during Tito’s Yugoslavia, the island has a philosophy of “Life is easy; people are complicated”. The tunnels, bunkers and remnants of armies passed make an incredible contrast to the tranquil vineyards, the olive plantations, the stone houses and the magnificent scenery.

Do not miss:
  • The Blue Cave. On the nearby island of Bisevo.
  • The Green Cave. On the nearby island of Ravnik.
  • A dinner at Kut-Lucality.  In Vis – all restaurants offer excellent fresh fish.
  • Lobster in a restaurant in Komiza. Not to be missed.
  • Vugava Wine.  White or Plovac red wine.
  • Diving. There are  sites – over 20 of them, reflect the turbulent military past of the island; sunken merchant ships from the Greek and Roman period, but also from more modern times as well as submarines and planes.

7. Korcula

An Island of Legends and Myths

Many ancient Greek myths can be connected to this island; the legend of Cadmus and Harmony, the legend of Kerkyra, the legend of Antenor and the most famous one – Korcula as the hometown of Marco Polo.

Rich in vineyards, olive groves and small villages, and harbouring a glorious old town, the island of Korčula is the sixth-largest Adriatic island, stretching nearly 47km in length. The dense woods led the original Greek settlers to call the island Korkyra Melaina (Black Korčula). Quiet coves and small sandy beaches dot the steep southern coast while the northern shore is flatter and more pebbly.

Tradition is alive and kicking on Korčula, with age-old religious ceremonies, folk music and dances still being performed to an ever-growing influx of tourists. Oenophiles will adore sampling its wine. Arguably the best of all Croatian whites is produced frompošip grapes, which are only grown here and to a lesser extent on the Pelješac Peninsula. The grk grape, cultivated around Lumbarda, also produces quality dry white wine.

No to miss:
  • Marco Polo. Visit his birthplace with scenes from his life.
  • Moreska. – A knight’s dance with swords with a romantic storyline
  • Wine tasting. Posip, Grk and Plavac Mali.
Korcula Island
Korcula IslandThe greenest island in Croatia
Mljet Island in Croatia
Mljet IslandOne of the most seductive Adriatic Islands

8. Mljet

The green island

According to a legend, the nymph Calypso kept Odysseus prisoner here for seven years and Mljet is a candidate for taking the role of the island Ogygia from Homer’s Odyssey. The western part of the island was declared a National Park because of the two lakes connected to the sea, the rich vegetation, and the forest wildlife.

Mljet is well known for its white and red wine, olives and goat’s cheese. Mljet is indeed s unspoilt island that is covered by a dense Mediterranean forest. The sea around the island is rich in fish and marine life. Mljet is also well known for it’s two salted lakes – Veliko and Malo Jezero that are located at the north end of the island.

Do not miss:

  • Odysseus’s cave near the reef Ogiran
  • Saplunara – a beautiful sandy beach
  • Pomena – the best natural harbour in the Adriatic

9. Elaphite Islands

The Deer Islands

The favourite summer residence of the citizens of Dubrovnik with numerous of villas, convents, churches, towers, exotic vegetationa and sandy beaches scattered mostly on the three biggest islands: Lolocep, Lopud and Sipan – the biggest and the most populated island with many olive plantations and vineyards.

Do not miss:

 

Kod Marka – a restaurant in the harbour of Sipan that also offers free moorings to their guests.

Sipan, Elaphite Islands
Elaphite IslandsThe amazing Sipan
Dubrovnik at sunset
The historical DubrovnikA stunning sunset view

10. Dubrovnik

A Tourist Mecca

What’s not to love about history and legends surrounding you on every step; romantic sunsets, charming restaurants, and shops on every corner; excellent artistic performances during summer nights, the cosmopolitan spirit of people strolling along Stradun?

Dubrovnik was always a very popular destination in Croatia. Nowadays, people visit it for other reasons – the hit fantasy series Game of Thrones was filmed here. Serving as King’s Landing setting because of the impressive walls and towers that have defended the city for centuries, Dubrovnik is now even more highlighted on the tourist map of the world.

Not to miss:

Lokrum. Lovers’ island and a monument of landscape architecture

Arboretum in Trsteno.  Exotic plants, Neptune’s fountain and another Game of Throne’s setting.

The best deals in Croatia in summer 2016

From early May to late September, check out some of the best deals in Croatia

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