Croatia is undoubtedly the ultimate sailing gateway. Where are the most beautiful places? I will say that wherever you decide to go, you will certainly not be disappointed. Of course, there are top sailing destinations and I will tell you about them in this article. Sightseeing from the boat, gives you a unique opportunity to see the beauty spots impossible to notice from the land. Sailing in Croatia is, in my opinion, the best way to see the most beautiful parts of the country. Firstly I will take you to Mljet, Makarska, Split and Hvar. Ahoj adventure!
If you have at least a week of vacation, I highly recommend taking a boat trip. To sail on the beautiful Adriatic waters, that surround the southern coast of Croatia is an unforgettable experience! The coast is called the Dalmatian coast. The name comes from the historical name of the Dalmatian land, which in turn originates from the peoples of these territories, the Dalmatians. As a curiosity, I will say that the famous dog breed, Dalmatian, also comes from Croatia.
Where is Croatia located? Certainly, on the bucket list of many travellers. It doesn’t surprise me at all! Returning to geography, I would like to mention that sailing the Dalmatian coast is truly delightful, mainly because of its form. It owes it to geological processes and the occurrence of mountains rising parallel to the shoreline. Numerous islands and peninsulas, created as a result of flooding the mountains, provide a perfect sailing experience.
If you look at the map, you’ll see that the Croatian coast is riddled with islands of various sizes and shapes. It is worth mentioning that Croatia has 1 244 islands. Thus it has the most numerous archipelagos in the Adriatic Sea. Of course, most of them are islands not exceeding 1km². Nevertheless, over 50 islands are inhabited. During 7 days I visited 4 islands: Hvar, Korcula, Mljet and Sipan. Believe me, these are real gems on the Adriatic! While sailing, I’ve also visited beautiful port cities: Makarska, Split and well known to all Dubrovnik. Ready for an adventure?
I start my journey in Dubrovnik, but I’ll tell you later about this wonderful city, don’t worry! It is September and that makes for the best time to visit Croatia. The weather is still good and the tourists are down to a manageable level. From Dubrovnik, we sail off towards the island of Mljet. Mljet, what a sweet name! In fact, the word is derived from Ancient Greek and means honey or honey island.
If you are a lover of nature, this is the perfect place for you! It is the greenest island in Croatia, in 72% covered by the forests. In addition, there is the Mljet National Park, which can be explored in various ways: canoe, bicycle or on foot. Simply perfect for an outdoors attractions.
Unfortunately, we arrived at this beautiful island late in the afternoon, which is why I didn’t fully benefit from the potential of this green oasis. However, I fully enjoyed the wonderful sunset in the magical port of Mljet. After what I saw, I fully agree with the statement in the Lonely Planet guidebook, which describes Mljet as the most seductive island in the Adriatic. The colours speak for themselves.
From Mljet, we sail along the Dalmatian coast, to moor in the extraordinary port of Makarska. This city is called the Croatian Riviera due to the coast which is surrounded by the Dinaric mountains and a large number of tourists. It is ultra popular region. Not only because of the presence of beautiful beaches, but also strongly developed nightlife. The music club located in the natural cave is extremely favoured, all-over Croatia. Often famous DJ’s come to play there. This place makes a great impression. I love caves, but rather not crowded ones. Decide to go for an evening walk around the city.
Like all of Croatia, also Makarska has been influenced by many nations over the years. This is evident in the beautiful architecture of the city. In the old town, somewhat hidden by the houses surrounding it, there is a small church of St. Mark. Narrow streets and the longest of them called Kalalarga reflect from the square. Kalalarga Street is the so-called heart of the city and a place where all important events take place. All the streets have traces of baroque architecture, which gives the city even more charm.
I wander these charming streets. Almost around every corner, someone plays the guitar and someone else sings. I sit down in one of the pubs. Hot air carries around carefree conversations, laughter and summer evening buzz. I hear the glasses tapping. Someone lights a cigarette. At the table next to me, the man flirtatiously leans over to his woman and whispers something in her ear. It’s all to the sound of a beautiful melody played on the guitar. Unfortunately, I did not take the phone with me then, so I don’t have any photos from that evening. Only beautiful memories, of a warm September evening in Makarska.
How do you plan a trip around Croatia? Certainly, don’t forget to visit Split. It is the largest city in Croatia right after the capital city of Zagreb. But this is not a reason to visit. Split has a real summer vibe! You can walk along the promenade, studded with palm trees and crowded with tanned people. Although, when you go deep into the city, you’ll see the remains of an ancient imperial palace! Not just any palace. Diocletian Palace once belonged to the Roman Emperor himself!
Nowadays, former corridors and chambers of the Diocletian palace, blended into the buildings of the centre of Split. I walk through the street and think that thousands of years ago the Roman emperor himself could have walked this way. Incredible! The palace undergrounds are even more inspiring. As a curiosity, I will say that they were used in the well-known series Game of Thrones as the seat of Daenerys Targaryen and as a place where dragons lived!
In some places, the ruins of the palace are very well preserved. I ramble the streets of the former Diocletian’s palace, passing by the sphinx sculptures along the way. They were brought from Egypt at the special request of the emperor.
Finally, I get to a place that makes me sigh with delight. It is a palace courtyard, surrounded by very well preserved, granite columns in the Corinthian style. It looks majestic! Currently, evening concerts take place at this place. Nearby restaurants use this attractive space to serve heavenly expensive drinks.
I sit on the stairs under one of the columns and breath the air of a thousand years of history. Listening to the live music I watch the couple dancing in the middle of the square. The time has stopped. I am sitting in the ruins of an ancient imperial palace. In the heart of bustling Split. Mighty marble walls standstill and it seems that they will stand for a very long time. The harmony prevails.
Time to take the boat off the mainland. Today, the direction is Hvar! One of the sunniest places in Croatia. Everyone will find something for themselves here. Enthusiasts of entertainment will be delighted by the glamorous and entertaining vibe. Lovers of history and culture will appreciate the magnificent architecture. In addition, the city of Hvar itself is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Nature lovers will be enchanted by the unearthly landscape. Numerous hills, turquoise waters, lavender fields, an impressive long shoreline with lots of beautiful small islands scattered around.
As a nature lover, I would like to tell you about the northern part of the island and the picturesque vineyard. The vineyard is located on the Stari Grad plain, on a farm inland. There are fields of lavender, vines and gardens with organically produced food around. This place is called Hora Hvar and is worth a visit. Not only because of its authenticity, but also delicious wine. It is made from grapes that are grown exclusively on the island, according to a tradition cultivated for thousands of years.
I am walking in this idyllic scenery with a glass of wine in my hand. A joyful donkey runs around me, throwing his head amusingly. The red soil blends in perfectly with green vines. It is hot and the sweet smell of lavender floats is in the air. You can completely lose yourself in this peaceful silence.
With a blink of an eye, I led you through the first 4 days of my sailing journey. In the second part, I will tell you about an island where Marco Polo was born, a sleepy village on the most peaceful island – Sipan and finally, dreamy Dubrovnik! Which I don’t need to introduce. Keep an eye out for my next post!