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Croatia is one of the top sailing destinations in the Mediterranean, offering countless attractive anchorages, easy sailing conditions, hundreds of wild, uninhabited islands, and a wealth of cities and villages steeped in ancient and medieval history and charming local traditions. The mild, sunny climate in the country's coastal region during the chartering season makes Croatia ideal for yachting and boating, providing sea enthusiasts with a variety of cruising experiences and opportunities for adventure in the long stretches of the Adriatic coastline.
The Adriatic Sea allows easy navigation for most of the sailing season, which lasts from May to October in Croatia. The best time to sail is from late spring to early autumn, when the sea temperature is typically above 20 degrees, averaging around 25 degrees in August, when the water is warmest. The tidal range is quite small in Croatia, only 30 to 60 cm, regardless of atmospheric pressure and winds.
The months of July and August enjoy the benefits of the warmest weather, with up to 13 hours of sunshine and temperatures averaging between 20 and 27 degrees Celsius, with highs reaching around 35 degrees. The coastal region also receives very little rainfall in the summer, with only four days of rain in July and three in August on average.
The spring months are mostly warm, with temperatures between 22 and 28 degrees, mild northwestern winds and occasional showers. The weather typically stays warm until October, when the winds can get stronger and rain more frequent.
The most common wind in the summer is the mistral, a moderate northwestern wind that usually averages at about 10-20 knots, making sailing easy and summer heat more pleasant. The bora, the cold, gusty northern to north-eastern wind typical of the Adriatic region, is frequent in the winter, but only blows for one to three days in the summer. The wind is best avoided as it reaches very high speeds and can cause problems at sea.
The clear waters of the Adriatic make a varied cruising ground that stretches from Istria in the northwest along the Dalmatian coast to Dubrovnik in the southeast.
The country is home to 56 marinas on the coast and islands. The marinas are well-equipped and offer various facilities, including grocery shops, restaurants, bars, parking lots, showers, and laundromats. They are easy to access by ferry or car and the major ones – located in Rijeka, Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik – are also well-connected to the local airports. Other airports receiving international traffic are located in Pula, Brač, and Mali Lošinj.
The Adriatic Croatia International Club (ACI) offers a unique chain of 22 marinas that provide an exceptionally high quality service along the stretch from the island of Umag in the north to Dubrovnik in the south. ACI marinas welcome almost 400,000 boaters each year to some of Croatia’s most popular destinations, including Dubrovnik, Split, Trogir, Zadar, Primošten, Rovinj, Biograd, Pula, Opatija and the islands of Korčula, Brač, Hvar, Rab and the Kornati archipelago.
The diversity of Croatia's long coastline and countless islands makes the country ideal for extended summer holidays. The largest coastal cities – Split, Rijeka, Zadar, Pula, Dubrovnik and Šibenik – offer a vibrant nightlife and a number of cultural events and festivals throughout the year. They are also living showcases of Croatia’s history, with cityscapes that provide stunning glimpses into the country’s rich past.
The historic cores of Dubrovnik, Zadar and Split are walkable works of art, with monumental Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings and structures connected by cobbled old streets and squares. Dubrovnik, the most visited city on the Croatian coast, is known for its otherworldly charm and warm hospitality. The ancient city walls offer spectacular changing vistas of the Old Town, which harbours some of the region’s best known historic sights. Some of the local attractions are accessible only by water. Betina Cave, a secluded pebble beach under a natural cave, is one of the popular getaway spots for those looking for a cool, shaded place to go for a swim during the hot summer days.
Pakleni Islands, just off the coast of Hvar, are another hidden gem accessible only by boat. They draw visitors with their deserted lagoons and sheltered beaches and provide many peaceful spots for underwater fishing, diving and water sports.
Split attracts visitors with its stunning beaches, seafront promenade and one of the most imposing ruins from Roman times, Diocletian’s Palace. The nearby Cathedral of St. Dominus is the world’s oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in its original structure.
Zadar, Dalmatia’s second largest city, offers a wealth of sights that are easy to explore on foot. The historic old centre, medieval churches and Roman ruins, including the pre-Romanesque Church of St. Donat, are within walking distance of the city’s promenade and two unique art installations, the Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun. The Sea Organ is a giant musical instrument played by the sea waves, while the Greeting to the Sun uses solar cells and glass plates to deliver a breathtaking light show at sundown to accompany the music of the waves.
Trogir, Rovinj, Šibenik, Korčula town and many other coastal destinations offer similarly impressive sights, with narrow streets, romantic old balconies and countless historic buildings dotting the skyline.
The largest cities are great places to charter a boat because of their proximity to many of the region’s diverse islands. Some of these islands are near-deserted oases with impeccable beaches and many natural wonders, while others are home to a number of ancient monuments and remnants of the past.
Some of the most attractive anchorages in Croatia are also national parks. The Kornati National Park, which stretches across 89 Kornati islands, is easy to reach from Zadar, Biograd or Šibenik and makes an excellent destination for day trips. Visitors can spend the day hiking, watching wild birds, and navigating the maze of islets and reefs to find a quiet spot for swimming, diving, and snorkeling.
Brijuni National Park, situated in an archipelago consisting of two small islands and 12 islets a short boat ride from Pula, offers a variety of things to explore, including a safari park, archaeological sites with dinosaur footprints, a botanical garden, and remnants of a Roman villa.
Mljet National Park, a popular destination for getaways from Dubrovnik, is known for its two inland salt water lakes, numerous long picturesque paths, and the islet of St. Mary with a 12th century Benedictine monastery.
In addition to these, Croatia has countless other historic towns, idyllic fishing villages and ports, and areas of remarkable natural beauty. A sailing vacation takes you on an adventure of discovering these on some of the best-loved sailing routes in Europe.