The popularity of Croatia with tourists has been constantly increasing since peace was restored to the country in the mid-1990s. Today, its long hot summers, historical cities, and stunning coastlines have made it one of the must-see European destinations.
Visitors have flocked from all over the world to explore the picturesque towns, green countryside, and beautiful beaches Croatia offers. Since the epic fantasy series Game of Thrones chose the walled city of Dubrovnik for filming, interest has only increased.
It’s easy for tourists to fly into any of the several inspiring cities which line the nation’s Adriatic coast. What many visitors don’t consider, however, is Croatia is a country best explored from the sea.
Croatia is a long and narrow country, and its coastline is rich with inlets, outlying islands, hidden coves, and caves. Most of its major cities and picturesque towns sit on the cliffs and by the bays along the Adriatic Sea.
This, combined with calm waters and a bathing season from April to September, makes Croatia the perfect yacht charter destination. Here is a guide to the best places to charter a yacht for an unforgettable summer visit to Croatia.
When is the best time to go?
May marks the traditional start of Croatia’s yacht charter season which continues right through to the end of September. The water is cold for the first couple of months but usually warms up nicely by the start of July.
Most years the water, and the weather, stays pleasantly warm and calm until October marks the beginning of autumn. Croatian summers offer consistent long sunny days, and the deck of a boat is the perfect place to spend them.
Tip: The best month to charter a yacht in Croatia is September. Hire prices can be 20 percent lower than July and August, the seas are quieter, and the weather remains excellent.
Where is the best place to begin?
Yachts can be chartered from all along the Croatian coast, so the choice is always yours. The best place to charter your yacht will depend on how long you have and what you want to see.
The major coastal cities of Split and Dubrovnik will often be the first places mentioned when you seek sailing recommendations. They are separated by 200 km of the Dalmation coast and many of Croatia’s more notable islands and inlets.
For sailors with only a week or first-time visitors to Croatia, this is undoubtedly the best place to begin. The sailing is easy and Split and Dubrovnik are both remarkable cities with international airports and bookend any cruise perfectly.
Split and its historic old town is ideally located for exploring the major islands of Korčula, Hvar and Brac. The city also offers most of the largest marinas in Croatia meaning there is a huge selection of yachts available.
Dubrovnik, aside from being a mecca for Game of Thrones fans, is one of the world’s most beautiful walled cities. Its pedestrian streets are home to incredible restaurants and its mountain can be accessed by cable car for stunning views.
Tip: Time your visit to Dubrovnik carefully and ask your charter company or captain for advice. The city is a major cruise port, and these huge vessels bring big crowds to the streets when they dock.
A two-week cruise gives time to explore 750 km of Adriatic coastline from Zadar to Croatia’s southern border. Once in the south, a visit to the walled city of Kotor in neighbouring Montenegro is also highly recommended.
Try the north
An alternative cruising location is in the north of Croatia around the Istrian peninsula and Kvarner Gulf. This region bears a heavy Italian influence and the city of Pula hosts summer concerts in its historic Roman amphitheatre.
The local countryside is home to many of Croatia’s best vineyards and has a reputation for incredible dining. Indulging in the treats of this lush section of coastline is an ideal way to spend the hours between cruising.
Tip: For a picturesque seaside town, try calling into Rovinj. Sitting on the coast just 40 km from Istria, Rovinj is famous for its romantic charm, colourful streets, and glorious sunsets.
Go island hopping
The beauty of a yacht charter holiday is the easy ability to move between any cluster of islands. Croatia has over a thousand islands and there are some clear highlights to pick out.
Hvar is the glamorous island, often known as the St. Tropez of Croatia. Historical Korcula, or “Little Dubrovnik”, is the birthplace of Marco Polo and home to stunning Gothic-renaissance architecture.
The Elaphiti Islands, including the traffic-free Lopud Island, offer a quieter retreat and some of Croatia’s best beaches. Mljet is a blissfully quiet national park island, while Brac is a great all-rounder with beaches, bars, and cobbled streets.
It all sounds amazing. How do I make it happen for me?
Chartering a yacht has never been easier and in Croatia it can be surprisingly affordable. Costs can be as little as €100 per person per day, which is comparable with many hotel prices in Croatia.