SailSterling Essential Croatia
Sailing holidays in Croatia are addictive. Of course, the country wasn’t made specifically for life on board a yacht. But if any country in Europe can give that impression, it’s here; Croatia has over 1,700km of coastline on its mainland and another 4,000km when you add on its thousand-plus islands.
From Roman ruins to vibrant party towns and Robinson Crusoe archipelagos Croatia is an absolute delight and a groaning holiday smorgasbord from which to pick…party all night on Hvar or escape far from everyone in splendid isolation among the Kornati Islands? Not to mention the chance to soak up millennia of history in Split, Dubrovnik and Istria. Throw in an ideal climate, beaches you can only reach by boat and delicious food and wine served in passionately-run family restaurants up and down the country, and you’ll see why people come back to Croatia to sail year after year.
We hope you won’t need a tie while on holiday, but men’s neck ties originate from Croatia. It’s thought they first appeared here in the 17th century when worn by soldiers trying to hide their dirty shirts.
Food and culture highlights
As you’d expect from a country with such a long coastline, there’s plenty of delicious fish to eat in Croatia. However, from inland comes delectable meat, vegetables and fruits, all of which combine to make a brilliantly tasty cuisine. You’ll find the slow-food movement has taken root here with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce and a desire to take life just a bit more leisurely; easily done on a sunny day with an awesome view and another crisp, dry white wine to help ease gently into the afternoon.
Croatian food has to a large degree soaked up ideas and influences from those who have called this land home over the last two thousand years. Menus might feature black risotto – its rice died black by squid ink – or succulently-grilled lamb, mussels steamed in wine, thinly-sliced ham and truffles from Istria.
As for culture, Croatia is a proud independent nation where family is paramount and sport only just behind. You’ll find regional differences for sure, but everyone is proud of their nation and it’s not a good idea to bring up the Balkan history of the 1990s – but, why would you? You’re on holiday!
On the island of Korčula, specifically the fishing village of Lumbarda, you can tour the local wineries that produce the gorgeous dry white Grk wine – the only village in the entire country that grows this grape. While you’re there, join the party every Friday night in summer when the port is taken over by a fish festival. Locals cook their fresh catch for you, which you eat on the beach.
Weather and climate (when to visit)
As with much of the Mediterranean region, you can expect hot, balmy summers, cool and showery winters and shoulder seasons in spring and autumn that bring pleasant sunny days with a chance of rain. In Dubrovnik the thermometer hovers around 30 centigrade in July and August, while even in October the average is a respectable 19 degrees, falling to an average of 13 over the winter. Overall in Croatia May, June and September are great sailing months for their combination of decent weather and fewer crowds.
With its shared border with Italy, it’s perhaps not surprising that this corner of Croatia shares many influences with its northern neighbour – the major Italian city of Trieste is only a few kilometres away.
If you venture inland you’ll find quaint, quiet hilltop villages, but the coast is the star…former leader Marshall Tito agreed, and spent time at his holiday villa on the Brijuni islands when they were ceded to Yugoslavia after WWII.
Elsewhere the city of Rovinj is a jewel and definitely worth exploring, as is Pula with its citadel and Roman amphitheatre.
This Dalmatian city with its magnificently-preserved medieval fortifications was founded in the 7th century and has been attracting visitors ever since – most recently, a new generation lured by its use as the backdrop for the fictional settlement of Kings Landing in the phenomenally-successful TV series Game of Thrones.
These days you don’t have to be a member of the Lannister clan to feel at home here in its narrow, marbled streets or under its terracotta roofs. For a lofty perspective on the compact old town, and a chance to cool off on a hot day, take the cable car up to Mt Srd, some 400m above sea level.
Cruising around the area by yacht will give you a unique nautical perspective as well as the chance to stay one step ahead of the summer crowds and head out to beautiful islands, beaches and national parks.
Roman emperor Diocletian knew a thing or two about a perfect retirement spot after a lifetime of service, choosing Split as the place in which he wanted to spend his final years around the turn of the 3rd century AD.
The ruins of his palace can still be visited today, but they’re just one reason why this buzzy yet, at the same time, laid-back city – the second largest in Croatia – is worth a visit. Another is the myriad number of bars, restaurants and cafes within its old walls which especially come alive on warm summer days, and the chance to meander with an ice cream on balmy evenings along the waterfront.
Look out for the city’s Byzantine, Venetian, Hungarian, Austrian and French heritage that have contributed to its UNESCO World Heritage listing.
There’s a reason the nickname for this archipelago is the Robinson Crusoe islands. There are 140 of them, mostly uninhabited, spread over 300 sq km and all starkly yet beautifully barren. They are perfect for sailing through, taking your time to explore, lapped by brilliant, shimmering blue sea and peppered with shallow inlets where you can moor up and snorkel in the translucent waters. The largest marinas here are on the islands of Piskera and Zut or settle down for sundowners on deck then stay for the night in your own sheltered cove.
"If you want to see paradise on Earth, come to Dubrovnik"
-George Bernard Shaw
Stringent cleaning procedures are already in-place across all boats globally for the well-being of our crew and guests. These will be further enhanced to meet government guidelines in the UK and Italy which are in place in July 2021 in relation to the COVID pandemic. These will include temperature checks prior to boarding; hand-sanitising stations in public areas; additional deep cleans of public areas including decks; social distancing if required. With each catamaran’s capacity at a maximum of 10 people including skipper and chef, if required in August, guests would remain in catamaran bubbles during visits to vineyards and other on-shore activities.