Croatia sailing holidays: guide for first timers

updated 9/16/2021
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Croatia sailing holidays offer an opportunity to explore the country’s idyllic Adriatic coast. It’s over 2000km long and mixes Roman ruins with sheltered harbours. In places, olive groves rise above ancient fishing villages. There are palm fringed bays backed by sleek resorts. And more than 1000 islands scatter across its waters. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Croatia, your essential guide for visiting Croatia.

It's easy to see why Croatia is one of Europe’s most popular sailing destinations.

Here’s a guide for your first sailing holiday in Croatia.

Where to go on Croatia sailing holidays and for how long

The southern Dalmatian islands are ideal for first time sailing holidays. Most routes here involve round trips from Split or Dubrovnik, so you'll need at least a week. But allow eight days or more for a one-way trip from Split to Dubrovnik (or vice versa).

Dubovica, Hvar, Croatia © Shutterstock

Hvar Island

  • Hvar is family friendly and affordable.
  • The island coastline's defined by pebbly bays and inlets.
  • Vineyards and stone villages scatter the interior.
  • Glamorous Hvar Town is known for chic bars and restaurants.
  • Stari Grad Plain and Start Grad historic centre are World Heritage sites.

Brač Island

  • Brač is Croatia's third-largest island.
  • It can be lively or peaceful, depending on what you want.
  • Towns like Milna are known for laid-back charm.
  • Bol town is home to legendary Zlatni rat beach.
  • Brač's a popular island for windsurfing.


  • Šolta’s one of the more secluded and sleepy islands.
  • It lies close to Split, but off most tourist maps.
  • The village of Stomorska has limited moorings for visiting boats.
  • A good island for walking and cycling.

Sveti Klement Island

  • Car-free Sveti Klement is one of the forested Pakleni Islands.
  • The Pakleni Islands lie south of Hvar.
  • The island group is easily reached from Hvar Town – a popular sailing route.
  • A night in Palmižana harbour also allows you to explore Sveti Klement.

Vis Island

  • Vis is the furthest flung of the Southern Dalmatian Islands.
  • It was cut off from tourists until the early 1990s due to military activity.
  • Famously unspoiled, it's home to the magnificent Blue Cave.
  • Visit the Blue Cave in summer when sunlight bathes its interior in aquamarine light.

Korčula Island

  • Korčula’s known for sandy bays and quiet coves on its southern coast.
  • A good island to add some Adriatic beaches into Croatia sailing holidays.
  • The Adriatic here is wonderfully clear for swimming.
  • Pine forests, vineyards, villages and olive groves fill Korčula’s interior.

Mljet Island

  • One of the largest Southern Dalmatian Islands.
  • Verdant Mljet is popular as a day trip from Dubrovnik.
  • The home of Mljet National Park.
  • An unspoiled and serene island.
  • Bustling Pomena is Mljet’s main village.

Croatia's islands all come with impressive Adriatic views © Eleanor Aldridge

When to go on Croatia sailing holidays

High summer in Croatia is busy, but the weather’s glorious. Expect averages of 26–27°C in July and August, with similar sea temperatures. And you can always look forward to snorkelling, SUP and swimming in the clear, balmy Adriatic.

Croatia's sailing season runs May to the end of September. Pay attention to these dates. Temperatures drop to 15°C in October and many businesses shut up shop for the year in autumn. So if you're tempted by start or end of season deals, you may not get the holiday you envisaged.

Swimming in shallow waters is fun on Croatia sailing holidays © Eleanor Aldridge

How to find a yacht in Croatia

For first time sailing holidays in Croatia it’s a good idea to book a skippered yacht. You’ll learn sailing skills along the way. But you’ll also be free to relax and enjoy the experience.

Expert local skippers are invaluable on first time sailing holidays. They’re able to recommend routes and adjust them to respond to weather changes. Plus, they know the top swimming spots, attractions, restaurants and islands to visit. You could also consider booking a host or hostess to take care of cooking and cleaning.

More experienced sailors can opt for a “bareboat” Croatia sailing charter. Requirements for these vary between operators. But you will need full certification, such as the ICC (International Certificate of Competence).

For tailored Croatia sailing holidays, get in touch and we can connect you with a local expert to plan and book your ideal trip.

Summer sailing in Croatia almost always means great sunsets © Eleanor Aldridge

What to expect on board your yacht

Not all yachts in Croatia are the same. They vary from cosy set-ups to floating paradigms of luxury. However, most companies offer a range of different boats. See what’s available from your chosen operator. And always be realistic about expectations of space and facilities.

At lower prices you’ll find boats smaller and older, with cramped cabins and shared bathrooms. Modern, high-end catamarans offer a different experience. They’re often fitted with plush furnishings, en-suites and extensive deck space.

Solo travellers booking a group trip with budget or youth operators may have to share a cabin, or even a double bed.

Croatia sailing holidays mix sea, beach, forest and mountains © Eleanor Aldridge

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Should you sign up for Yacht Week in Croatia?

You might have seen the glamorous promos for Croatia's Yacht Week. But beware. This mega flotilla trip for moneyed 20-somethings offers the party of a lifetime. However, it’s far from sustainable and doesn’t reflect Croatian culture.

Local sailors have safety concerns about inexperienced Yacht Week skippers. And in the past, some towns have even refused moorings to the boozy crowds.

What to do before and after your sailing holiday

Croatia has something for everyone. So take a few days before or after your sailing holiday to explore the country.

Ready for a trip to Croatia? Check out the snapshot Rough Guide to Croatia. Read more about the best time to go to Croatia, the best places to visit and best things to do in Croatia. For inspiration use the Croatia Itineraries from The Rough Guide to Croatia and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.

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Travel advice for Croatia

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updated 9/16/2021
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