Croatia Yacht Charter and Sailing Holiday Guide
15 Tips For An Amazing Sailing Vacation In Croatia
With a magnificent coastline, clear waters and splendid beaches, Croatia lures increasing numbers of visitors for sailing vacations each year. But where to go and what to know? Here we give you the inside scoop on Croatia's yachting and boating scene. The islands, over 1,000 of them, are the real selling point—they’re unique in the world. The coastline is relatively unspoiled and has the feel of the French Riviera in the 50s or 60s. It’s still possible to find quiet anchorages, even at the height of the season. Here are some recommendations for planning a great trip.
1. One Week Sailing Holiday In Croatia
We would recommend cruising from Split to Dubrovnik or vice-versa. This allows you to see all of Croatia’s most celebrated islands and the fabulous cities of Split and Dubrovnik. The distances involved are short, so usually there will only be an hour or two of cruising each day and plenty of time to enjoy each destination.
2. Two Week Sailing Holiday In Croatia
It's a good idea to start farther north in Zadar and cruise south to Kotor in neighboring Montenegro. This is a truly fabulous cruise.
Sailing in the Kornati archipelago. "Very beautiful with some gorgeous anchorages," says Alexander Coles. "I would recommend including on any itinerary in northern Croatia."
3. Best Months to Sail in Croatia
The yacht charter season in Croatia starts in May and runs to October. Weather is usually fantastic, with beautiful sunny days. While the sea starts off pretty cold, it gets warm by early July and is at its warmest in late August. The best month of the year to charter in Croatia is September—yachts are 15 to 20 percent cheaper than in July and August. The weather is still amazing, the sea is warm and the crowds have reduced.
4. Sailing Yacht or Motor Yacht Charter?
Sailing yachts are a great option for Croatia. As there is so much to see while covering relatively small distances, I tend to recommend either a sailing yacht or slow, stable motor yachts. Fast motor yachts are not especially popular in the Adriatic. The important thing is that the yacht has a lot of outdoor space and is comfortable at anchor. Yachts in Croatia tend to spend more time at anchor than in ports.
5. Is Sailing Croatia Affordable?
Absolutely! Groups of up to 12 people could charter a small, 40-to-50-foot day boat for €2,500 per day to explore the islands, which is very reasonable.
6. Why Split is a Good Place to Start Your Sailing Holiday
The second largest city in Croatia and in the middle of the Croatian coast, Split is the best place to start a charter as the most famous islands of Korčula, Hvar and Brac are just a short cruise away. Split and the surrounding area are also home to most of the largest marinas in Croatia, so this is where the majority of yachts are based. Split itself is a fabulous city with an amazing history. It is like a living museum, walking around the old city and Diocletian’s Palace. There is an international airport in nearby Kaštela (close to Trogir) with flights to all major European cities.
7. And Why Dubrovnik Is Too
Like Split, Dubrovnik in southern Croatia is also a great place to begin a charter as it, too, is just a short cruise to Croatia’s famous islands. Dubrovnik is one of the most attractive walled cities in the world with beautiful pedestrianized streets to walk around. Take the cable car up the mountain at the back of the city for stunning views over the old town and the coastline. There is an international airport with flights to all major European destinations.
8. In Dubrovnik Don’t Miss
There is a superb restaurant called Nautica on the ramparts of the old city that everyone should visit, as well as an amazing nightclub called Revelin, which is located in a 15th century fortress.
9. Hold Off on Dubrovnik When the Cruise Ships are Docked
Some of these vessels hold 3,000-plus passengers who fill the streets making it ridiculously crowded. A yacht’s captain will know when these ships are in town.
10. Why You Will Want to Sail the Istrian Peninsula and Kvarner Gulf
Istria has an Italian flavor due to its history. Pula, the region’s capital, is a stunning town with a fabulous Roman amphitheater that hosts concerts and events throughout the summer. The surrounding countryside is covered in vineyards producing some great wines; food in this part of Croatia is superb. The seaside town of Rovinj is also beautiful and very worth a visit.
11. Yacht Marinas in Croatia
Chartering a yacht in Croatia is often more about the anchorages than the ports, but I would definitely recommend spending nights in Hvar, Korčula Town, Trogir and Dubrovnik. Berths are relatively easy to obtain, the toughest being Hvar—the St. Tropez of Croatia—in July and August as it’s where everyone wants to be.
12. The Not-to-Miss Beaches
Dubovica on Hvar; Lovrecina and Zlatni Rat on Brac; and Proizd Island near Korčula Island.
13. For Nightlife, Head to Hvar
It’s the center of nightlife with famous clubs and performances by top DJs, but there are also great clubs in Split and Dubrovnik. Those who like to party will not get bored in Croatia. Every August there is a famous music festival called Sonus that takes place on Pag Island and our charter guests often visit.
14. What to Eat and Where in Croatia
The food throughout Croatia is fabulous—lots of fresh fish and Mediterranean flavors, making the most of all the local ingredients. Every region has its specialities and for great food I wouldn’t say one stands out more than the others. In the north, [the cooking] is very influenced by Italy, so lots of pasta and truffles. In the south, there is a strong focus on fresh fish, especially squid, prawns and octopus, as well as amazing, local-cured hams and cheeses. The wine is also superb throughout the country. Ask local residents for their recommendations. Most of the yachts we charter have at least one Croatian crew member who will advise on the local specialities and arrange tours for charter guests to nearby food producers and vineyards. Must-try dishes include Black Risotto made with squid ink, and local roast lamb. The lamb is usually slow-cooked in pits in the ground, often overnight.
15. Yacht Charter Costs in Croatia
The range of charter yachts on offer in Croatia includes something for everyone, from a bareboat 30-foot sailing yacht to huge super-yachts. As far as charter fees are concerned, prices are comparable to other destinations in the Med, but activities ashore, restaurants and ports are, for the most part, a lot less expensive than other charter destinations. You can spend as little as 800€ per week up to 30,000€.
Yacht Charter Enquiries for Croatia
We have a yacht to suit all tastes and budgets within our pool of yacht charter fleets.
Credit: Catherine Sabino
Contributor Forbes Magazine