Where to sail in Croatia: find the best sailing route for you

Where to sail in Croatia: find the best sailing route for you

Are you planning a yachting vacation in Croatia but not sure exactly where to sail? Join us for dolphins, diving, beaches and beautiful UNESCO sites. We've got 3 fantastic 7-day itineraries that are well worth trying out.

Croatia is rightfully known as one of Europe's top sailing regions. With a yachting infrastructure that is second to none, you'll always find a place to anchor at a buoy or berth. Plus, beginners and families with kids will be able to manage the short distances between the islands and towns. But with literally thousands of magical harbours, islands and coves out there to discover, which are the best and how can you fit them into a single week?

Experienced sailors can cover the whole region and can afford to improvise. We always recommend checking out the legendary yachting guide to the Adriatic 777 Harbours and Anchorages, with it's most up-to-date edition published in 2018. And of course, you are all invited to the annual yachting.com 2022 Easter sailing meetup, which is the perfect way to practise and refresh your sailing skills.

Try out one of these three sailing routes this year. They are suitable for everyone from complete beginners to those more advanced sailors and promise pleasant sailing, secluded bays, dolphins, amazing folk traditions and stunning UNESCO sites.

1. Orientation route for new skippers: around Šibenik

A great holiday route for inexperienced crews and families with small kids.

Šibenik Bay is also ideal for your first solo voyage as a skipper. The route will take you to islands that are normally uninhabited but that really come to life in high season. And you definitely won't miss out on local restaurants, shops, sights or museums. It also includes a visit to the famous Krka National Park, and time for a bit of swimming and relaxation between voyages. In this region, you may have to deal with more powerful northerly winds, such as the Sirocco or Bora. 

Day 1: Šibenik → Zlarin

Zlarin is an island famous for processing sea corals. On arrival, head to the port of Luka Zlarin. It is generally well sheltered from the wind (except for the Bora and northerly winds). This is a quiet town with no cars, although you may occasionally hear the choir singing in the local church.   

Day 2: Zlarin → Tijat/Prvić → Tribunj

The town of Tribunj was originally founded on a small island and later spread out to the mainland thanks to the construction of the bridge. Its streets are teeming with history and once the fishermen return from the sea, the harbour transforms into a market. On the way, you can stop of at the deserted island of Tijat or take a dip on the beaches of Prvić

Day 3: Tribunj → Kaprije/Kakan

Kakan is home to the popular Potkučina bay which can get busier at night due to the beach bar. The town of Kaprije on the other island offers quieter evenings. Just watch out for strong northerly and southerly winds here, which pick up power in the waters between the islands.  

A view of the Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik.

The Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik.

Day 4: Kaprije/Kakan → Zmajan

Diving enthusiasts will especially enjoy Zmajan. Hidden along the local coastline you'll discover underwater caves and reefs abundant in marine life. It's possible to anchor in the bays on the south of the island, or practically anywhere else. It shouldn't be too crowded here.  

Day 5: Zmajan → Šibenik

In Šibenik you can enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation, but don't be too quick to head off. Stay around to admire the local architecture. Be sure to visit St. Nicholas Fortress (strikingly reminiscent of Fort Boyard) and St. James Cathedral, both of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.    

Day 6: Šibenik → Skradin + Krka National Park

Skradin is one of the entry points to the Krka National Park. It's particularly interesting for us sailors as you can anchor in the marina and then continue to the famous Skradin waterfalls on a boat cruise. 

Day 7: Skradin → Šibenik

Before returning the boat, treat yourself to the tranquility offered by the surroundings of the river Krka or the streets of Šibenik.

Skradin waterfalls in Krka National Park.

Skradin waterfalls in Krka National Park. Since 2021, however, swimming is prohibited there.

YACHTING.COM TIP: If you've taken your own car and are enjoying one of the islands so much that you want to stay a bit longer, just go for it. You can always visit Skradin and Krka National Park on your way home.  


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2. Sightseeing route: Dubrovnik-Trogir

Moderately demanding sailing route with longer crossings to take in the sights: Dubrovnik → Ston → Korčula → Gradac → Makarska → Omiš → Split → Trogir

The route takes you to popular holiday resorts and little-known harbours, which all have one thing in common - incredible beauty and countless sights to see. As the voyage largely follows the coastline, it can be even be suitable for novice sailors, although the longer crossings can make it a bit more challenging.  

Novice sailors just starting out are often unnecessarily afraid of crossings. These voyages can take a bit more organization and you'll have to sort out separate journeys from your country to the ports you depart from and arrive to. But nowadays more and more yachtsmen and yachtswomen are flying to their destinations by plane. Train and bus connections to Croatia have also been improving. If you are travelling from other parts of Europe there are rail connections to Split, coach (Flixbus being one of the cheapest) can get you to Šibenik, Split and Dubrovnik, and Trogir, Split and Dubrovnik are all just a stone's throw from the airports. No matter what, we will help you organize picking up your boat in one marina and returning to another with the charter company.  

Day 1: Dubrovnik (→ Ston)

Take advantage of the time you'll be carefully inspecting the boat at check-in by dropping the crew off in Dubrovnik's historic centre: one big UNESCO site. Stay overnight in Dubrovnik and retrace the steps of Game of Thrones heroes, or head to the nearby harbour town of Ston, founded on three fortresses connected by immense walls. The region is also infamous for its oyster farming.

YACHTING.COM TIP: If you have the time, extend your week-long voyage with an extra 2 or more days ashore. If you arrive by plane, you can stay in the quiet resort town of Cavtat some 5 km from the airport and get a bus or ferry to Dubrovnik in the morning to take in the sights before check-in. Or similarly at the end of your trip in Split, take an extra day to explore the local sights (such as Solina) and then get the bus or ferry back to Trogir.

Day 2: Dubrovnik/Ston → Korčula

The town of Korčula on the island of the same name is sometimes referred to as a mini Dubrovnik and its beauty really is second to none. Add to that lively local traditions, wine, olives and beautiful diving spots, you'll know right away why you headed there. 

Day 3: Korčula → Gradac 

Gradac will be your first port of call on the Makarska Riviera. A small popular resort with famously beautiful pebble beaches and a modest harbour for smaller boats and yachts, it boasts a record number of sunny days a year and the remains of a Roman settlement.

A view of Dubrovnik harbour from the old city walls.

View of Dubrovnik harbour from the old city walls.

Day 4: Gradac → Makarska/Brela/Brač

Take a well-deserved rest on the sunny beaches of the Makarska Riviera. The seaside and spa resort of Makarska is perfect but if you're looking for something a little quieter, sail a little further afield to Brela. You can also turn off to the eastern coast of Brač and enjoy the solitude of bays with their unassuming beaches. 

Day 5: Makarska/Brela/Brač → Omiš

Omiš is a quiet town with a surprisingly rich history, nestled in the shadow of a majestic mountain gorge. Here you can admire historical buildings and town palaces as well as the remains of the Starigrad Fortress and Mirabella Fortress.    

Day 6: Omiš → Split (+ Solin)

The entire old town of Split is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It would take weeks to get around all the sights there, so do your research beforehand. But if you want to see even more, add Solin, a town adjacent to Split from the north, to your itinerary. With its numerous ancient and medieval excavations, it is one of Croatia's most important architectural areas.    

7. Split (+ Solin) → Trogir

Your journey will end with the UNESCO sites of Trogir. Its historic centre is also listed as a cultural heritage site and is rightfully one of the most visited towns in Dalmatia (although the proximity of the airport may play a role in this).

Ancient ruins of the city of Salona in present-day Solin.

Ancient ruins of the city of Salona in present-day Solin.

YACHTING.COM TIP: If you're at the helm, why not schedule 14 days on a yacht? In the first week, take this route in the opposite direction, from Trogir or Split to Dubrovnik. Then, in the second, do a tour of the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, returning again to Dubrovnik. If you're worried that your crew won't manage another week on board, know that on longer charters, you can replace the crew after a week. We'll be happy to arrange longer charters, crossings and even crew changes with the charter company.


3. A sailing vacation with everything: a larger island tour from Pula

More advanced route with longer sailing for those who love nature and privacy: Pula → Susak → Silba/Premuda → Rab → Krk → Cres → Pula

This route is a perfect blend of lively harbours rich in culture, unspoilt countryside and deserted bays. It is primarily for more advanced sailors who are not afraid of longer voyages away from the mainland and who like to anchor in a bay as well as at a buoy or berth. Each island here is something special and you'll also be in one of Croatia's infamous wine regions. 

Day 1: Pula 

Pula is a vibrant city, one of the largest in Croatia, where ancient and modern meet. The Romans left behind a number of stunning ancient monuments, most notably the fortification ruins and an amphitheatre where gladiator battles used to take place. 

Day 2: Pula → Susak

The island of Susak is small but still packed full of sights and unusually for Croatia, it has sandy beaches. The local inhabitantsthe Susak people, have a distinct culture even extending to their dialect. Those of them who emigrated before communism and their descendants return every year for a festival that celebrates their origins and sense of community. On these days, you can see women in beautiful, colourful traditional costumes.    

Day 3: Susak → Silba/Premuda

The islands of Premuda and Silba are adjacent to each other. Premuda is particularly famous among divers who head to a rock formation known as the Cathedral with its underwater caves full of life. In contrast, the peaceful and idyllic Silba has the reputation of being the island of love.

The island of Cres with its pristine waters, beaches and nature.

Don't miss the island of Cres if you want to visit one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.

Day 4: Silba/Premuda → Rab

The number of sandy beaches on the island of Rab breaks records in the Adriatic. Not only that, these beaches are breathtaking. This island is a haven for sailors, water sports enthusiasts and (beware!) nudists. The town of Rab itself will also satisfy your sightseeing needs.   

Day 5: Rab → Krk

One of the largest islands in the Adriatic, Krk has everything you could possible from a holiday: beach resorts, preserved ancient Croatian architecture and a tradition of wine and olive oil production. You can anchor virtually anywhere but Punat is a classic spot, and the local bay is graced by the islet of Košljun with a Franciscan monastery.

Day 6: Krk → Cres 

The island of Cres will delight all true nature lovers. Supplying the entire island with fresh water, the protected Lake Vrana is absolutely pristine. On the island you will find two ornithological reserves where the rare griffon vulture nests. The waters around Cres and the neighbouring island of Losinj are also a protected sanctuary for bottlenose dolphins. The beach of Lubenice in the emerald bay of Sv. Ivan is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. 

Day 7: Cres → Pula

You are at your final destination. Return your boat, and wander the streets of Pula for a few hours before heading home.

The amphitheatre in Pula was built in the Romanesque period and was used for gladiator fights.

The amphitheatre in Pula was built in the Romanesque period and was used for gladiator battles.

YACHTING.COM TIP: When sailing with small children, we recommend taking a route on the opposite side, along the western coast of Istria (Pula, Brijuni, Rovinj, Vrsar, Poreč, Novigrad). It isn't demanding, with short crossings, ancient towns and beautiful beaches.

Boat holidays in Croatia are in our heart. Get in touch, we'll be happy to plan one for you.