Croatia: Uncovering Elegant Luxury on the Dalmatian Coast
Written by Rebecca Whitlocke
From the king’s palaces to small coastal towns dotted with gardens and neoclassical architecture, the Adriatic is grabbing the world’s attention with a clash of cultures and a slew of countries to discover. Croatia has something for everyone and it’s an easy option to consider if you’re seeking somewhere new to explore.
If you appreciate history, culture, and art you will love the sightseeing influences and historic sights credited to the Greeks, Romans, Slavs, Ottomans, French, and Venetians. If you prefer the appeal of the great outdoors, nature abounds with beautiful beaches, idyllic national parks, and ecologically-diverse forests.
Likewise, the food is closely connected to nature where fresh produce and seafood sing together in an aria of Dalmatian and Mediterranean flavors. You’ll find exceptional world-class restaurants, alongside traditional tavernas serving dishes oozing with authenticity and simplicity. Savor herb-roasted sea bass, giant langoustines, scampi-stuffed figs, truffles with angel-hair pasta or pršut (Croatia’s salt-cured ham), all matched with local wines.
Croatia is claiming a reputation as the hipster’s version of a secret black book; certainly, famous sports personalities and A-list celebrities such as Oprah, Lily Aldrige, Luis Figo and Sergio Ramos along with the well-heeled have taken a shine to claim the Dalmatian Coast as their new south of France or Amalfi Coast.
If you’re looking for both a destination that offers a relaxed pace of life without intrusion, or somewhere to indulge in a heady party-fuelled life of fashionable cocktail bars and beach clubs, Croatia is for you.
The French Riviera and Balearic Islands get all the credit regarding picturesque waterfront towns, elegant hotels and pristine beaches to lounge on, but Croatia ticks all those boxes and is just as accessible.
Flight routings are good with nine international airports in Croatia including Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split, Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Osijek, Brač and Mali Lošinj. The airports at Dubrovnik and in the town of Kaštela that serves arrivals to Split, have flights connecting to many European cities.
Discovering Croatia by boat is a popular choice with many guests opting to start yacht charters in Montenegro and cruising to Split, allured by seeing the coast in serious style. En route, you will see amazing islands, absorb the history, and have the opportunity to sample excellent restaurants and nightlife. “Croatia is becoming the main yachting hotspot of Europe and a place to see and be seen!”, says the owners of ZAND Lifestyle Management and ZAND yachting, Ante Bogdan and Darko Domić.
THE PERFECT 7-DAY YACHT CHARTER ITINERARY IN CROATIA
For a getaway in a league of its own, Croatia is blessed with more than 1000 islands and vast coastline, ensuring visiting superyachts can find an uncrowded anchorage even through busy months.
Here, ZAND yachting suggests a 7-day yacht charter itinerary for everyone who wants an inspiring yachting vacation in Croatia. They are specialists in yacht brokerage, yacht charter in the Adriatic and Mediterranean and they provide a full lifestyle management service, meaning you can get expert advice with endless cruising opportunities.
Day 1: We recommend you start in Porto Montenegro where a luxury limousine will pick you up from the airport and transfer you directly to a yacht chartered by ZAND yachting. Start your journey where you will explore charming Montenegro on your way to Croatia.
Day 2: After a relaxed night on your yacht and arrival in Croatia you will be impressed by the beauty of Dubrovnik. The UNESCO-listed walled city of Dubrovnik is resplendent to visit with medieval ramparts winding past terracotta rooftops. Considered Croatia’s jewel, Dubrovnik is a must-see destination where visitors can dig deeper into Croatia’s history.
Divide your time between taking in the views of the old town Stari Grad, visiting the historic monasteries or walking along the Baroque passageways that form the ideal backdrop for an Adriatic vacation; now particularly recognizable because Game of Thrones was filmed there.
In the evening, be ready to explore Dubrovnik’s citadel walls by private guide, dine by candlelight at Nautika restaurant and dance all night at Revelin club, the best nightclub in the region.
Day 3: While you relax after a night enjoying Dubrovnik’s nightlife, your yacht captain will sail toward Mljet. Spend the whole day in untouched nature and beautiful bays. In the afternoon, sail to Korčula where you can join a private tour discovering olive groves and forests. That evening, we recommend dinner at Lešić Dimitri, a Michelin star restaurant serving modern Dalmatian cuisine.
Day 4: Make your way to Vis to explore the Blue Cave, a firm favorite on the cruising map for Croatia. Enter between 11 am and midday to see the sun reflecting on the walls of this unique blue grotto. After marveling at the illuminating blue light, find a calm anchorage to play with your yachts water toys.
Day 5: Hvar is a great base for yachts because of its location with easy accessibility to the Pakleni Islands, a group of islands in front of Hvar. First stop we suggest is to step ashore at Laganini Lounge Bar & Fish House at Palmižana in the bay of Vinogradišće. This wonderful beach bar and restaurant have a great menu of fresh fish, excellent cocktails and a wine list featuring world-class wines and Champagnes.
Spend the evening in Hvar town, sampling the dishes at famous fish restaurant Gariful, sipping on drinks at Hvar’s bars and dancing till late at Pink Champagne nightclub.
Day 6: Enjoy breakfast anchored off the island of Brač ; the beauty is astounding especially Golden Horn Beach which is must see! Cruise onto Pučišća where you will have lunch in our favorite restaurant, Rojen. The food is organic – freshly taken from the garden next to your table – and while the fish is tantalizingly delicious, we recommend the lamb ribs.
Arrive and berth in the center of Split, the second largest city in Croatia and a favorite destination for tourists, superyachts, and celebrities. Split is located in the middle of the Croatian coast, home to most of the largest marinas in the country.
With beginnings that make Split as old as imperial empires, take the opportunity to absorb the history with a private guide who will show you the 4th-century Diocletian Palace which functions as a living labyrinth of the fortified city. Stroll along the Riva waterfront promenade set along the palace’s south-facing wall and buzzing with bars, cafes, and restaurants. When hunger creeps in as you wander Split’s stone courtyards and alleyways, we recommend stopping for a pizza at Bokamorra or a meal at Bokeria, a thriving kitchen and wine bar set in an old hardware store. Afterward, grab a drink in some of the popular bars in the center and conclude your trip with a Champagne sundowner.
Many yachts also start their charters in Split as it’s a gateway to the most popular islands of Korčula, Hvar, and Brač that are just a short cruise away, as is historic Trogir with an old town situated on an island accessible by bridges from the mainland. North of Split, you can find the interesting town of Zadar with the unique Sea Organ, an architectural musical structure where sea waves pulse against organ pipes to create sounds.
Day 7: On your final day, your private limousine will return you to the airport for your departure home.
WHEN TO VISIT CROATIA
The best months of the year to visit Croatia are May, June, and September, when the temperature averages 20°C and there are fewer crowds than in July and August. Peak season is still great because there are many high-profile events such as Ultra Europe staged every year and attracting leading DJ’s.
For keen boaters, yachting season runs from May till October, with September being an optimal time for a sailing vacation or luxury yacht charter with fewer crowds. Winters can be cold, with snow on mountains; January and February are the wettest months.
Croatia is one of those countries you need to research about before you go so you don’t miss the off-the-beaten-path spots. It’s helpful to speak to someone local who knows the Adriatic region and can give advice about the best options for leisure, hospitality, and luxury experiences. Uncovering some of the secrets of Croatia is a joy – where to find the best spa to detox after partying, where to buy handmade Croatian lace for a gift or how to secure the most stunning anchorages without the summertime hordes.
You’ll understand the importance of recommendations when you’re at anchor in Croatia; quiet coves except for one or two yachts, intoxicating views over the sea with the scent of pine, orange and over-ripe figs, and, best of all, silence. It doesn’t get more magical than that.