Croatia is the best of the Western Mediterranean and Eastern Mediterranean combined, situated between ancient powers that have left their successive marks on the region. Stunning fortress cities rest beside wondrous blue seas, and intangible cultural treasures such as festivals and food become even more refined as they are passed down from one generation to the next.
There are so many options for a holiday in Croatia, however, a luxury yacht charter along the Adriatic is a popular way to take in multiple destinations while making the most of travel time with entertainment on board. These top 10 luxury yacht charter destinations in Croatia include some of the greatest natural wonders and cultural treasures that the country has to offer while leaving ample time to snorkel and sunbathe in idyllic surroundings.
Dubrovnik & the Elafiti Islands
If you haven’t been to Dubrovnik, this coastal city should be top of your list. Its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has been awarded for good reason, as anyone will find on a trip to the Old Town along the waterfront. Walkthrough Pile Gate to be greeted by the impressive Franciscan Monastery, then a jaunt down the esplanade leads to gelaterias and art galleries. These are nestled around the Rector’s Palace and The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the latter hosting art from Titian and other masters.
The Walls of Dubrovnik has several forts, but it’s the views out over the deep sapphire waters of the Adriatic that will arrest your interest. Once you’ve had your fill of the past, the present calls with fantastic cafes, shops and bars to keep you entertained through the day and long into the night.
In contrast to Dubrovnik, the Elafiti Islands of Koločep, Lopud and Šipan have very little to offer – the perfect contrast to the bustling city. Visit beach bars, hike island trails and then savour the serenity of having nothing else to command your attention so that you can focus fully on loved ones and your own interests.
Lastovo & Mljet
These two islands are side by side and underdeveloped to preserve their wild beauty. Lastovo is an Archipelago Nature Park with sea caves and coral reefs that call out to be explored by Scuba divers, and dolphins and whales are just some of the iconic wildlife to be spotted in the region.
The western side of Mljet has hiking and biking trails to viewpoints, coastal towns with Roman ruins, an open-air theatre and plenty of bays for water sports and quiet nights under the stars.
After hours of kayaking, snorkelling and other water sports, guests can take a well-earned rest and sunbathe on board their charter yacht or on one of the sandy beaches while the crew see to all drinks and meals.
Believed to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, Korčula town is a collection of picturesque labyrinthine streets that lead to boutiques, galleries, museums and bars for a whirlwind tour followed by refreshments. Once you’ve seen the sights, cruise off to one of the beautiful beaches along the southern side of the island for watersports, beachside barbeques and warm pools to rest weary feet.
If you’re looking for a party, you’ll find it on Hvar. Beautiful Hvar Town epitomises the Croatian coastline with white-walled buildings topped by bright orange terracotta tiles. A short walk around town will take you to the Franciscan monastery, the baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Episcopal Museum, which houses religious treasures and sparkling gold. Take your choice of the upscale restaurants and bars along the waterfront, and dance to the latest beats here or along the beaches at sunset.
Leave the coast and head inland to discover the heart of Hvar in the Stari Grad Plain, where the rolling countryside is dotted with ancient Greek and Roman ruins, olive groves, orchards, lavender fields and vineyards between the hamlets and villages that you encounter along your route.
The compact and picturesque Old Town has attracted many an artist, as trendy bars and cafes coexist with millennia-old buildings. Indulge your senses with a hop between the present and the past, discovering the excesses of bygone times in the Duke’s Palace and the ornate beauty of the Cathedral of St. Anastasia. Zadar is well-positioned as a launching pad into the Kornati Archipelago Nature Park, allowing you the opportunity to update your wardrobe and pick up some souvenirs before heading off into the wilderness.
Kornati Archipelago & National Park
Luxury yacht charters excel at exploring archipelagos at your own pace, and the Kornati National Park is a top spot for watersports such as swimming, snorkelling and Scuba diving. The incredible soft corals, red gorgonians and reefs are spellbinding enough as they are, yet the FRANCESCA wreck is perhaps the most impressive, covered in corals while still recognisable as the majestic vessel she once was. Vibrant nudibranchs and starfish will vie for your attention, while octopus and scorpionfish will do their best to avoid attracting your gaze.
Above the clear blue water, the karst limestone cliffs create curious surroundings, topped by forts, lighthouses and other solitary marks of civilisation on these 89 car-free uninhabited islands. Be sure to have your waterproof camera at the ready to capture the scenery above and below the sea.
Vis & Biševo
Vis is a much-loved destination for luxury yacht charters because of its clear blue waters and winding coastline that creates one tranquil cove after another. The waters over at Budikovak Island are particularly striking for their glassy blue appearance, creating a heavenly setting at sunrise and sunset.
Biševo is not to be left out when you’re in the area because of its otherworldly Blue Grotto, where the cave walls and water both take on a glowing blue hue.
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Split & Klis
Another treasure along the Dalmatian Coast, Split has preserved its past while adding contemporary culture to the mix – and a thriving bar, club and festival scene keeps things lively after sundown. The Diocletian Palace is the star attraction and claims rightful status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcasing exceptional Roman architecture. Several galleries and museums are within walking distance – including a Game of Thrones Museum with weapons and outfits from the show.
A short journey into the mountains above Split will take you to the small town of Klis, where the mountain fortress controls the pass and looks out over the bay. There are remnants of an Ottoman past to be found in Klis, most notably the mosque in the fortress – one of only three in Croatia from the period that remains.
Leave the rest of the world behind and reconnect with nature on Cres, an island covered in dense forest with a winding coastline that offers up myriad bays and beaches for private parties along the shore. Kayak and paddleboard to coastal caves, snorkel in lagoons and soak up the sunshine for as long as you desire.
Across Kvarner Bay, Rijeka and Opatija are ready to entertain and amaze with unusual museums and beautiful Habsburg era architecture from the region’s previous heyday as a 19th Century holiday spot.
Pula, National Park Brijuni & Cape Kamenjak
Nestled between verdant wilderness near the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula, Pula is most well-known for its ancient Roman amphitheatre, ‘the Arena’, where the Pula Film Festival takes place annually.
Monasteries, fortresses and temples all surround the 17th Century fortress built atop a hill overlooking the harbour, along with the more contemporary attraction of Zerostrasse, an art gallery in what was once early 20th Century war bunkers under the city streets. Cafes and restaurants will tempt you inside with aromatic treats before you cruise off to see the natural splendour surrounding Pula.
Cape Kamenjak to the south is a picturesque heathland with walking tracks and pebble beaches that descend into clear seas, while National Park Brijuni is highly regarded for its excellent snorkelling and Scuba diving sites, including wrecks from WWI. Both locations offer quiet anchorages to wind down at the end of the day and dine onboard under the stars.
Trina Howes is a Director of CharterWorld America. CharterWorld is a luxury private yacht charter company that creates outstanding vacations with excellent yachts at amazing prices – worldwide.