The 9 best Croatian sights: sailing through history

The 9 best Croatian sights: sailing through history

Join us on a voyage to the stunning Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč, St. James Cathedral in Šibenik and the medieval centre of Trogir. Discover the must-see historical sights in Croatia along with handy tips on where to drop anchor.

Yachting in Croatia doesn't have to be all about the sailing. Join us as we explore the beautiful cathedrals, UNESCO-listed medieval towns and a hermitage set into the cliff. Here are 9 sights you shouldn't miss on your voyaging adventure in Croatia and why it's definitely worth heading there in autumn.

Autumn on the Adriatic is the ideal season for all sailing enthusiasts. Advanced sailors will love the weather conditions, long crossings and the rush of adrenaline, whereas beginners will definitely appreciate dropping anchor in emptier harbours. But no matter how much experience you have, all can enjoy the otherwise overcrowded sights and historic town centres during the Indian summer. These 9 places should definitely be on your list.

1. Euphrasian Basilica – Poreč

The Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. Standing on the site of a secret early-Christian oratory (domus ecclesiae), construction began after Edict of Milan agreed to recognize Christianity in 313 AD. The basilica has been restored multiple times and is now the best-preserved architectural monument from the early Byzantine period in both Croatia and the Mediterranean. This monumental basilica is adorned with magnificent mosaics from Emperor Justinian's reign, depicting Christ the Almighty with several apostles on his right and left, as well as other Christian motifs. The octagonal baptistery, the entrance atrium, rare artworks, and hand-carved Gothic pews are also worth seeing.

Eufraziova bazilika

Where to moor in Poreč

There's only so much space in the marina for passing visitors. Many mooring buoys are located outside the marina but there is an unpleasant swell on them in strong winds. However, there is also mooring available (relatively expensive) at the town quay west of the customs pier, with electricity and water. The whole harbour tends to get quite busy and noisy.

2. Episcopal complex – Zadar

At the turn of the 4th and 5th centuries, a large episcopal complex (covering 3 hectares) was built on Zadar's historic centre with the magnificent St Anastasia's Cathedral. And don't miss the Archaeological Museum or the orthodox Church of St. Elias. Zadar offers numerous historical sights that are definitely worth a visit while cruising in Croatia.

Biskupský komplex Zadar

Where to moor in Zadar

Unfortunately, the Zadar marina provides poor service for the money, plus there is very little space at the weekend. Here you will find a repair shop, covered parking and restaurants. Be careful not to get ripped off at the fuel station.

Biskupský komplex Zadar

3. St. James Cathedral – Šibenik

This Gothic-Renaissance cathedral is located in Šibenik's old town. Its date back to the 15th century and since 2000, it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. With a layout in the shape of a cross, it is made entirely of stone (limestone and marble). Probably the most notable feature of the cathedral its frieze of 71 heads on the outer wall at the rear, depicting everyday people from the 15th century.

Katedrála sv. Jakuba

Where to moor in Šibenik 

Berths (without electricity) are accessible at the town quay near the hotels; the fee is half price for stays of up to 4 hours, according to the port authority's price list. Toilets are available at the cathedral (open 7 am–8 pm). Mandalina Marina provides 429 deep water slips and 50 dry berths, but you must have at least three mooring lines. There is a shuttle service (30 HRK/person) or a water taxi (40 HRK/person) to the old town.

Katedrála sv. Jakuba

4. Historical town of Trogir

Trogir was founded in the 3rd century BC by Greek colonists and rose to become an important harbour during the reign of the Romans. Since 1997, Trogir has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site — its most imposing structure is the Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral of St. Lawrence, a triple-naved basilica from the 13th century. Trogir has a wealth of historically significant sites that are well worth seeing..


Where to moor in Trogir

There are two marinas in Trogir – STC Marina Trogir and ACI Marina.

  1. STC Marina Trogir – the marina is still under construction. They plan 285 berths for boats up to 120 m in length.
  2. ACI Marina – has 174 berths and 35 dry berths. Please note that the marina is often crowded, especially from Friday to Saturday noon. From evening to midnight you can take a water taxi from the marina to the old town.

Historické město Trogir

More destinations and places to visit:

5. Diocletian's Palace – Split

This magnificent palace was named after the Roman emperor Diocletian who had it built in the 4th century. The entire city of Split grew around this palace, and currently boasts a population of 3,000 people. Like most Croatian monuments, Diocletian's Palace was built mainly of limestone blocks and this unique historic structure was rightly added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

Diokleciánův palác

Where to moor in Split

As the ACI Marina is frequently crowded from Friday to Saturday midday (due to crew changes) and boat loading and unloading is fairly frantic, we recommend visiting Split during the week. Anchoring is also forbidden in the western part of the harbour bay (with a possible fine of 1100 HRK) and mooring at the harbour promenade is quite expensive: 890 HRK – without electricity and water. Short-term parking is tolerated outside the high season and is free of charge.


6. Blaca Hermitage in the cliffs – Brač 

The 16th-century Blaca Hermitage built into the cliff face is rightly recognised as a cultural and historical landmark of exceptional value, yet, due to its inaccessibility, it is not that well known. The monastery has evolved over the years, and today houses a rich library with valuable astronomical prints, an archive, a printing house, and a museum of weapons and clocks. The observatory, with its huge telescope, which was the largest in Croatia for many years, is also worth a look.


Where to moor on the island of Brač

You can anchor in Blaca bay (on the island of Brač), from there a hiking trail leads up to the hermitage – about 45 minutes on a marked trail. When anchoring, be careful of the rocky seabed (anchors can get stuck). If possible, you should paddle ashore. Occasionally there are buoys, but these are mostly for cruise ships.

Skalní klášter Blaca

7. Vibrant and charming Hvar

The picturesque old town of Hvar is a bustling resort and evenings are rarely quiet. Located on the island of the same name, Hvar is full of significant historical sites. The fortress on the hill rising high above offers magnificent views of the entire town. Be sure not to leave out a visit to the 16th-century Venetian fortifications, St. Stephen's Cathedral and the Gothic-Renaissance church of St. Mark.


Where to moor in Hvar

Anchoring in the harbour is becoming increasingly restricted. And occasionally, even in light south-easterly to westerly winds, a dangerous swell can form there. If you moor up in the morning and stay overnight, you'll have to pay an additional 200 HRK for the day. There are sanitary facilities along the eastern quay (toilet 7 HRK, shower 40 HRK).

8. The historical island of Korčula

Korčula is a town located on the island of the same name. If you are interested in history and revel in places shrouded in mystery, Korčula is just for you. Like Hvar, Korčula, the hometown of Marco Polo, is brimming with historical monuments, such as St. Mark's Cathedral, the 15th-century Franciscan monastery or the palace of the former Venetian governors. Korčula is also well-known for its law of 1214 — the first in the world to ban slavery.


Where to moor on Korčula

Dock at the town's waterfront with no moorings, electricity or water. However, it won't provide shelter from the Bora, strong northwesterly winds and storm surges. With AC Marina, you'll often find that a berth is only available via the more expensive online booking. And there is a powerful swell on the outside of the marina when ferries arrive and during the Boras so it's a good idea to keep a sufficient distance from the pier here and to securely tighten the mooring line.

9. Dubrovnik – the most beautiful city on the Adriatic

This port city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 and has a population of roughly 50,000 people, 5,000 of whom reside in the old town. Like every other major Croatian city, Dubrovnik features a number of significant sites, including the 15th-century Roland Column (Orlando Column), the Baroque St. Blaise Church, the Sponza Palace, which houses a 16th-century bell tower, and the Prince's Palace. Dubrovnik is a must-see destination with a unique atmosphere and is a real piece of history.

Dubrovnik - historické město

Where to moor in Dubrovnik

The best time to arrive in Dubrovnik is early in the morning. You can moor at the ACI Marina or at Port Gruž, although it is pretty noisy.

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