What's the latest in Croatia? This topic has been coming up a lot recently in yachting discussion forums. How does it look at the border? Is a Covid passport required? Are there new boats available in marinas? Which charter companies have gone out of business? We've put together a comprehensive guide that should answer all your questions. We've even interviewed a few sailors who have already experienced this season first-hand.
What can you expect on the way to Croatia by car and at the border checkpoints?
"At the Slovenia-Croatia border in both directions, nobody asked for anything more than an ID card or passport." — "They didn't ask for anything, just ID cards." — "They didn't even open our passports. They just touched them briefly with their hands."
These are the comments of sailors who have already been to sea this year. It is clear that you don't have to worry about Covid certificate checks or vaccinations at border checkpoints. Plus, Croatia is finally expected to join the Schengen area this year, which should eliminate the long queues and checks at the Slovenian-Croatian border completely. However, no specific date has yet been set for when this will happen. Optimists predict by the end of this year but until then, drivers face long waits and delays at the border!
When driving in Croatia, don't forget that the speed limit is 50 km/h in built-up areas, 90 km/h outside built-up areas and 130 km/h on the motorway. Although the new law allows 0.5 per mille of alcohol in the blood, this doesn't apply to motorists who are professional or under the age of 24. However, keep in mind that drinking will always be an aggravating factor if you cause an accident.
Petrol prices in Croatia have risen in line with the rest of Europe, with 95 litres costing 12.80 kunas (€1.75) and diesel costing 13.90 kunas (€1.85). Current prices can be found at tolls.eu or on the Croatian Automobile Club website. There you will also find information about traffic congestion, roadworks, and closures, as well as other useful information for drivers, such as weather reports and the current currency rate.
There are no border delays caused by certificate checks. Only passports and ID cards will be checked by customs officers
YACHTING.COM TIP: You will need a vignette (toll sticker) to pass through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. For the first three countries, it is best to buy a 10-day vignette costing around 10 euros, but for Slovenia you will have to pay a little extra. A 7-day vignette costs from 15–30 euros depending on the type and size of the vehicle. (Prices are current as of 2022).
Covid restrictions in the 2022 season: return to normal
As of 1 May 2022, Croatia has lifted all pandemic measures previously required for entry into the country. You don't need to present a Covid passport anywhere or fill in a questionnaire to enter the country, as was the case last year. It is similar in Slovenia. The slightly stricter Austria still requires a Covid passport, but this does not apply if you are just passing through the country. However, in this case, it is strongly recommended not to hang around anywhere too long — only stop if necessary at petrol stations and continue to your destination. If you are passing through Slovakia or Hungary on your way to Croatia, you will also avoid the Covid restrictions there and you do not have to show proof of infection-free status.
In Croatia itself, it is also no longer compulsory to wear face masks outside, in shops or in restaurants. So you won't encounter them when dealing with documents at the charter company office, nor will anyone give you a stern look if you shop without your face covered. Only in hospitals and social services are you required to wear facemasks.
But bare in mind that airlines are an exception, as the rules are set by them and not by the country you are flying to or from. Ryanair, for example, still requires the wearing of a facemask on board, on the grounds that the aircraft are Polish and therefore adhere to Polish regulations. How much justification there is and how long it will last we don't know, but you'd better take at least one face mask with you.
However, the situation may change during the summer, so we recommend that you also check the official website of your country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs before you leave, or the official EU website, for up-to-date Covid information for Croatia and other countries — what they require when entering the country or using their regular services.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Despite Covid, some things haven't really changed and that's definitely a good thing. For example, if you stay overnight in ACI Marina Piškera, you'll get a free ticket to Kornati National Park with your stay. Otherwise, admission costs between 200 and 500 kunas in high season depending on the length of the boat. A visit to Piškera is worth it if you are sailing in the Kornati area. Check out the current admission fees to Kornati, Mljet and Telascica National Parks.
Safety: boat and marina disinfection
In response to the Covid pandemic, most charter companies and marinas advertise they are contact-free, that they disinfect their boats after each charter, and that 70% of their employees are vaccinated (ACI marinas). The risk of Covid transmission from locals is therefore minimal.
New marinas and jetties in Croatia
Several new marinas, jetties and boat berths are built in Croatia every year. What especially caught our eye this year was ACI Marina Korčula, which just celebrated the grand opening of a new breakwater and ACI Marina Rovinj, which is currently considered one of the most luxurious marinas on the Adriatic (it was even nominated for the 2022 Best Superyacht Marina Award in the Adriatic). If nothing else, it's worth at least dropping by to see some superyachts.
The small town of Rovinj has a fairytale atmosphere
One of the newest marinas in Croatia is the Marina Korkyra in Vela Luka on the island of Korčula. This marina has a very interesting modern design, offering over 120 berths with moorings, water and electricity connections, and sanitary facilities. There is also a restaurant using local ingredients served in a contemporary style. The picturesque town of Vela Luka also provides amenities in the form of restaurants, cafes, shops, small supermarkets and everything you could possibly need.
The Adventure Charter company opened the Marina Drage this year in the small bay between Zadar and Šibenik. It is a great base for the most popular sailing destinations, including the Kornati Islands. Marina Drage offers easy access from the motorway or Zadar airport, expert staff and services, and new modern technology, such as a thumbprint reader at the boat access point. Curious about Marina Drage? Take a look below at the range of boats available there.
If you're going to be in the Šibenik area (for example, sailing from the popular Marina Mandalina), head to the island of Prvić. In the town of Sepurine, they've built a new pier where you can take your boat out, stroll the old charming streets in the evening and buy fresh fruit, vegetables or fish at the market in the morning. The museum of Fausto Veranzio, the inventor of the parachute, is fascinating — this brilliant man was not only an inventor but a diplomat, linguist and engineer drawing parallels with the great Leonardo Da Vinci.
The ACI Marina Piškera is not only beautiful and quiet, but you also get free admission to Kornati National Park.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Are you planning to sail to Croatia and still not sure where to head? We have three 7-day sailing itineraries well worth trying. Check out our article: Where to sail in Croatia: find the best sailing route for you and join us for dolphins, snorkelling and the most gorgeous beaches and UNESCO sites.
What to watch out for: unfair ATM rates
This year, you will encounter the so-called ATM scam in Croatia, which is pretty widespread throughout Europe. More specifically these are ATMs offering a very bad exchange rate, around 15 per cent lower than the actual rate, making for a much more expensive trip. This can be usually avoided by selecting the option not to accept their exchange rate (on the display) but we do recommend changing some money in advance Mooring at piers or restaurants often cannot be paid by card and cash is needed.
Also, be careful when refuelling your boat at some petrol stations. They are usually marked in a pilot book (such as 777 harbours and anchorages) with a question mark. We wrote about this in detail in our article: Boat fuel stations in Croatia: beware of unfair practices!
YACHTING.COM TIP: We have selected the 33 most beautiful towns in Croatia (not just for sailors), that should definitely be on your list if you're headed there. On the mainland and the islands, they are perfect spots to discover from the deck of your boat. One day you'll be admiring historical sights and the next, you'll be anchoring in a deserted bay, swimming in the crystal-clear turquoise sea.
New boats in Croatian marinas
Despite the Covid pandemic, charter companies have been buying new boats. So, for all those who want to sail on a boat with that new smell, sleep in a cabin where hardly anyone's slept before, avoid breakdowns, see no scratches, enjoy the latest sails, use a well-functioning modern plotter, autopilot and GPS technology, or simply enjoy the modern design and gadgets afforded from a boat manufactured for 2022, we recommend renting a new boat tagged 2022.
Which boats are they?
- The Bavaria C42
- Elan GT6
- First 53
- Lagoon 42
- And many more, which you can find in our article on top charter innovations in the 2022 season
YACHTING.COM TIP: No matter whether you're a diver, foodie, sightseer, animal lover or nudist, Croatia truly has an island for everyone. With more than 1,000 islands to explore, dotted in coastal waters within easy reach, you won't have to travel long distances. Find out which ones are worth a visit in our article Sailing in Croatia: the 14 best islands to drop anchor.
Want more sailing tips?
Boat charter companies: have they all survived Covid?
What has changed in the charter industry? Who has failed, who has emerged and what are the trends? Of course, we are keeping a close eye on it all to ensure that you, our customers, are assured of reliability and professionalism — not only on our part but especially on the part of the business partners we cooperate with and with whom you will come into contact with on-site, i.e. at the port and in the office when taking over the boat.
Covid has slightly shaken up the charter market. One reliable charter company, Timeless Charter, went out of business. However, we appreciate the fact they were courteous to all clients and reimbursed their money, ensuring that no one lost their deposit or payment. Their fleet of Elan 350 and Elan 50 boats was bought by LM Yachting, one of our established partners. So we assume that the boats will be well taken care of.
A number of small charter companies have also sprung up since Covid. However, as they don't have a track record and at yachting.com, we don't know if they are 100 % reliable, we don't actively market them — we'd rather stick to those partners that we have experience with and know that they can deliver and have boats in good condition. But this year we will wait and see which of the new charter companies survive and build a good reputation.
One example is World Yachting Charter which was established during the pandemic, offering the popular Elan 40 Impression, Sun Odyssey 40, as well as motorboats such as the Antares 10.80, Merry Fisher 895 and Bali 4.1 catamarans.
YACHTING TIP.COM: Sailors understand how powerful and cruel Croatian winds can be, especially when it comes to the fame Bora or the south to south-easterly Jugo/Sirocco. What to do if they catch you off guard when out on a boat? Find out what to expect and where to find a lee shelter in our articles.
What are the prices in Croatia? How much do marinas and moorings cost?
Prices of goods and services have risen almost everywhere in the world. Croatia and the countries along the coast are no exception. The price increases have affected not only fuel prices but also marina fees, prices in restaurants and other services. You will also pay extra for parking at the piers. In marinas this year, the fee is about 800 kunas and for a pier, you'll be paying about 300 kunas. Of course, it all depends on the location and length of the boat. In particularly exposed places, expect a bit more, for example at Zlarin the pier costs 350 kunas, Tribunj 330, and the town pier in Rogoznica is around 350 for a 50 ft boat.
In some places the price is calculated according to the length of the boat — in Rogoznica it is 30 kunas per metre. So generally the town piers are worth it, where prices are lower and you can refuel, connect to electricity and save significantly compared to the marinas. A crew member at our Easter sailing meet-up had this to say about berthing prices: "According to our skipper, the most significant increase is in anchorage fees. Last year they were about a third lower.".
Restaurant prices in Croatia and the cost of food and drink in shops
In shops, the price level has risen similarly to ours. We are seeing a slight increase in the price of bottled wine, for example, both in shops and restaurants. Here, it will be more cost-effective to have a 'home-made' wine, i.e. a wine made by the winemaker and served to you in a jug. In restaurants, fresh fish is probably the most expensive item. It is not uncommon to find fish for 500 kunas, which is more than 65 euros, and that is already very pricey. On the other hand, the fish and seafood here is excellent. Other types of seafood have also become more expensive: "Before Covid, we used to have octopus salad for around 80 kunas. This year we had a problem finding it under 100 kunas."
The trick to avoiding higher prices is to go deeper into the town centre and not to sail to the first pub on the pier. The more exposed and well-known taverns are logically more expensive than those tucked away in the small streets. Also, the more famous the island or marina, the higher the prices go. Skip the well-known tourist spots like Hvar, Vodice, Biograd and the like and don't be afraid to head to the smaller coves or town wharves. For those who want to save even more money, we recommend a boat with a grill, where you can grill ćevapi (minced meat) or fish from the store to your taste and for significantly less money. However, the classic ćevapi, pljeskavica (meat patty) and grilled squid with blitva (chard) remain similar or have only become very slightly more expensive.
Even traditional Croatian grilled squid has become slightly more expensive
Even more Michelin star restaurants in Croatia
Gastronomy lovers beware! Croatia will boast three new Michelin restaurants from 2021. How about celebrating your wedding anniversary with your sweetheart or a special birthday there? Experience the Adriatic from a different culinary perspective.
Which restaurants have been awarded a new Michelin star in 2021?
- Agli Amici Rovinj using locally produced food from the Mediterranean and Istria
- Alfred Keller in the picturesque village of Mali Losinj on the island of Losinj offers the best Croatian ingredients in a French style
- Nebo at the Hilton Rijeka Costabella Beach Resort & Spa with magnificent views of the town of Opatija and the coast.
Even in Croatia, you can enjoy unique luxury gastronomy
Michelin stars have been retained by these restaurants:
- Draga di Lovrana in Lovran, offering traditional tastes in a new guise
- Boskinac in Novalja on the island of Pag, offering ambitious, magical and exciting cuisine
- Noel is the only Michelin restaurant in Zagreb
Not so much into high-end fine dining? You can still enjoy plenty of exquisite delicacies on the Adriatic. Find out what the local traditional specialities are and what delicacies to sample in our guide to Croatian cuisine. And if you're a wine lover, be sure to try the local domaće vino (house wine). You can find it at every tavern on the mainland and on the islands.
Alternative diets still don't have much choice
Some speciality foods are still complicated to find in Croatia. That's why we recommend all vegetarians, celiacs or raw food aficionados to bring their own flour, bread or vegan cheese on holiday. "As far as the menus are concerned, fish was predominant. What I personally missed were decent vegetarian meals. If you don't have a stir-fry or a simple salad, you have no alternative. At best you're left with pizza places that have some meatless options."
YACHTING.COM TIP: Wondering how to bake bread on a boat? Read our article on baking on a yacht.
Which boat will you sail through Croatia this year?
Despite all the changes, the sea is still beautiful!