A Comprehensive Guide to Sailing in Croatia: Routes and Tips

sailing in croatia

If you’ve ever dreamt of sailing in Croatia’s turquoise waters and experiencing the enchanting landscapes and towns lining the Adriatic Sea coast, you’re not alone. Croatia boasts some of the world’s most beautiful coastlines and archipelagos, and sailing is the best way to enjoy it. However, there are a few things to consider before embarking on your adventure on the shimmering Adriatic Sea.

We’ve prepared this comprehensive guide to help you plan your unforgettable Croatian sailing experience, covering everything from the best times to sail in Croatia to the most suitable boats, the locations of marinas, and popular sailing routes in Croatia.

When is the Best Time to Sail to Croatia?

Croatia’s sailing season is from April to September, but the best period to enjoy your Adriatic sailing experience depends on what type of holiday you’re looking for.

May and June: If sailing is your primary interest, Croatia is a place for you during spring and early summer, with light to moderate winds.

July and August: Ideal for those who like smooth waters and perfect for enjoying water sports, swimming, sunbathing, or simply relaxing on your boat with the family.

September and October: Just right to set your sails and trim your jib with prolonged periods of strong winds, which can make sailing challenging but perfect if you’re an experienced sailor.

October to April: Sailing in Croatia during winter is not recommended or even possible for tourists. However, there are still plenty of things to do in Croatia on the mainland during this time.

What Vessel is Best for Your Croatia Sailing Trip?

Sailboats, motorboats, catamarans, and gulets are available for charter in Croatia. Understanding what each type of vessel offers and matching those to the type of sailing experience you want is essential to having the best Croatian sailing trip possible.

Sailboats: Perfect if you plan to spend most of your time on the water meandering along the Adriatic Sea and being comfortable with plenty of room. Sailboats are typically big and have comfortable cabins, equipped with a kitchen and designed for you to lounge around and relax. They consume far less fuel than motorboats as they harness the power of the wind.

Catamarans: Much more stable and faster than a sailboat, with a spacious deck and cockpit, everyone can enjoy their own space. Usually, cabin accommodation is set at the ends of the hulls & an ample lounge space allows you all comfort and privacy from your fellow travelers. Since a catamaran is not tilted more than 5 degrees, it is stable in the water, making it an excellent choice for those with little navigation experience.

Motorboats/Motor Yachts: Ideal if you’re short on time or want to explore every inch of Croatia’s coast, offering the most exciting sailing adventure. You can hire a skipper, or if you have the experience, you can pilot the motorboat for yourself.

Gulets: These have huge, open decks, making dining and relaxing ideal. A gulet is best used to cruise, rather than to sail, due to the maximum cruising time of around 3-4 hours per day.

What Can I Expect on Board?

The sailing experience in Croatia depends on which vessel you choose, from the relatively close-quartered and cozy layouts of small sailboats to the abundance of space and luxury on motor yachts. Lower-end vessels have confined cabins and shared bathrooms, while modern top-class catamarans can be the epitome of sailing luxury, featuring luxurious en-suite rooms and lots of on-deck space to hang out.

In terms of food, you’ll probably have breakfast and lunch on the boat, allowing you to start each day well-fueled and ready to go. Dinners are often enjoyed at local restaurants near your marina, on an island, or on the Croatian mainland. As you explore the destinations on your itinerary, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to buy additional snacks, treats, and drinks in local shops and markets

Croatia’s Marinas: A Guide to Sailing and Moorings

Croatia is home to 50 marinas along the coast, offering over 13,000 sea moorings and several thousand more on the mainland. While many are open year-round, only select marinas serve as charter bases. Travelers can start and end their sailing adventures in Pula, Rovinj, Losinj, Zadar, Sukosan, Biograd, Sibenik, Primosten, Trogir, Kastela, Split, or Dubrovnik, all of which have excellent road and airport access.

Marinas in Croatia: A Region-by-Region Breakdown

Istria region: ACI Rovinj – ACI Umag – ACI Pula – ACI Pomer

Kvarner region: ACI Opatija – ACI Cres – ACI Supetarska Draga – ACI Rab – ACI Šimuni

Northern Dalmatia: ACI Žut – ACI Piškera – ACI Jezera – ACI Vodice – ACI Skradin

Central Dalmatia: ACI Trogir – ACI Split – ACI Milna Brač island – ACI Vrboska Hvar island – ACI Palmižana

Southern Dalmatia: ACI Korčula – ACI Slano – ACI Dubrovnik

All boaters, including tourist boat owners and users, must pre-pay this nautical tourist tax and carry the confirmation on board throughout their Croatian sailing trip. The amount of the tax is determined based on either the vessel’s length or the number of people on board (i.e., tourist tax per person per night). Travelers can find all the details about the tourist tax for boaters on the Croatian National Tourist Board’s website.

Top Sailing Routes in Croatia

Kornati Islands Sailing Route

This section of Croatia’s Adriatic coast has the most extensive concentration of marinas, making it a favorite among those wishing to sail Croatia. With its indented coastline, numerous islands, and perfect wind conditions, the Kornati islands sailing route offers many opportunities to explore Croatia’s rich history.

Islands: Pašman, Pag, Ugljan, Dugi Otok, Ist, Iž, Murter, among others

National Parks: Kornati Islands National Park and Plitvice Lakes National Park

Closest towns: Zadar, Šibenik, and Long Island Pag

Split Sailing Route

Split is one of Croatia’s most popular destinations, boasting many hidden bays and stunning islands. Some must-see destinations in the area are:

Islands: Hvar, Vis, and Brač

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Trogir and Diocletian’s Palace

Dubrovnik Sailing Route

Dubrovnik is a top Croatian destination located in the South of Dalmatia. It is sure to capture your heart with its breathtaking scenery and cultural landmarks.

Sailing Croatia Itinerary Option 3: 7 Days Roundtrip From Dubrovnik

For those who want to explore the southern part of Croatia, a week-long sailing trip starting and ending in Dubrovnik is an excellent choice. Here is an itinerary suggestion for a seven-day roundtrip from Dubrovnik.

Day 1: Dubrovnik – Sipan

After a thorough check of the boat and a safety briefing, set sail towards Sipan, the largest island in the Elafiti archipelago, located just a few miles northwest of Dubrovnik. This tranquil island is known for its greenery, picturesque bays, and numerous churches, and is a great starting point for your sailing adventure.

Day 2: Sipan – Korcula

On the second day, set sail towards Korcula, one of the most beautiful Croatian islands known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, dense forests, and secluded beaches. Explore the charming old town of Korcula, visit the birthplace of Marco Polo, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of this lively island.

Day 3: Korcula – Lastovo

From Korcula, head towards Lastovo, a secluded island that is part of the Lastovo archipelago nature park, known for its unique flora and fauna and crystal-clear waters. Spend the day exploring the island’s nature, swimming, and relaxing in one of the numerous bays.

Day 4: Lastovo – Mljet

On the fourth day, sail towards the island of Mljet, known as the greenest island in the Adriatic. This island is a paradise for nature lovers, and it’s home to one of Croatia’s eight national parks, where you can explore saltwater lakes, dense forests, and stunning coastline.

Day 5: Mljet – Dubrovnik

After spending the night in Mljet, head back towards Dubrovnik and explore the Elafiti archipelago on your way back. Stop at Lopud, one of the most beautiful islands in the archipelago, known for its sandy beaches, historic monuments, and charming restaurants.

Day 6: Dubrovnik – Ston

On the sixth day, sail towards Ston, a small town known for its historic walls and saltworks. The town’s walls are considered the longest fortification system in Europe, and you can climb them to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area.

Day 7: Ston – Dubrovnik

On the last day of your sailing adventure, sail back to Dubrovnik and spend the day exploring the city’s many attractions. Walk the historic walls of the old town, visit the famous Stradun street, and enjoy the city’s vibrant atmosphere before returning to the marina.

Final Thoughts

Croatia is an ideal destination for sailing enthusiasts, with its beautiful coastline, numerous islands, and charming towns. Whether you’re looking for a week-long adventure or a shorter trip, Croatia has something to offer every sailor. Consider one of the suggested itineraries or create your own, and enjoy the beauty of the Adriatic Sea on your next sailing holiday.

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