Written by Peregrine Travel Centre Team Member Adriana.
If you’re after a relaxing, fun and breathtaking experience – sailing around the beautiful coast of Croatia is for you! It seems to be a popular travel option, with most people trying to fit this amazing experience into their European itinerary, and there’s good reason why.
I spent 8 days sailing Croatia this time last year, on board Contiki’s Croatia Island Escape, and it was an absolute highlight of my trip. Beginning in Split and making our way through Makarska, Korcula, Dubrovnik, Trstenik, Hvar and back to Split, this group tour was a great way to experience the very best of the Dalmatian Coast! The beautiful coastline views, soaking in the sun on the top deck and bobbing away in the Mediterranean – what else could you want.
I’ve written about the benefits of a group tour – here’s why I think you should set sail around the Croatian coast!
Set sail and relax
The best part about a sailing adventure is once you are on board all you have to worry about is relaxing and enjoying the moment. The itinerary is sorted, the Captain, crew and tour leader have everything else under control and you get to sit back, make some new friends and enjoy the week on the ocean. A typical day on board started with breakfast being served in the dining area from 7am-8am, breakfast was optional so if you wanted to sleep in and skip it you could. Then you could make your way to the top deck and have a lay in the sun or read a book, around 11am the ship would come to a stop and the bell would sound for swim time (see point 4 for more on this great part of the day), 12:30 we’d all be back on board and set sail again before lunch is served in the dining room. Around 3pm we’d get another opportunity for swim time before we’d pull up to the port of our new city to explore. After being given an overview of the city we would get free time in the afternoon to look around before making our way to somewhere local for dinner. Travellers then have the choice to do whatever they please, those that want to go back on board the ship to rest or sleep can and those that want to go out and enjoy the nightlife can at their own leisure and just have to make sure they are back on board before departure the next morning. In the morning you would wake up to the ship already sailing off towards the next port.
Most of the ports were walking distance from the city, so it was all easily accessible and not a problem to get to and from the ship. Of course, the days would change slightly, depending on how long the cruising time was. Some days we would arrive at places earlier in the day and that would change the schedule, but everything is communicated to you daily by your team leader.
Another great bonus of sailing is you don’t have to lug your suitcase around from hotel to hotel. Bring it on the ship to your room and that’s where it stays the whole week!
Delicious local food (of course)
No holiday is complete without trying some of the local delicacies and Croatia is no exception. Having such great access to the coast, fresh seafood is delicious, inexpensive and readily available. My personal favourite, trying the delicious mussels right on the sand at the beach! They are also famous for their meat dishes, with tasty cevapcici on many menu’s. Another of my favourite was a snack called a Burek, which is basically a meat filled pastry – delicious, especially fresh and hot out of the oven from one of the local bakeries.
Amazing sites and history – and not just for Games of Thrones Fans
Now I don’t watch Game of Thrones (shock horror I know), but along the way through Dubrovnik we were pointed out some of the many sites used throughout the series. The city of Dubrovnik doubles as King’s Landing in the series so there are lots of locations for fans to get a glimpse of something from the hit show. There are even many Game of Thrones tours you can go on in Dubrovnik for all the hard-core fans. Game of Thrones aside, Croatia is a country with a rich and diverse history. Like much of Europe, there are plenty of historic sites, ruins and cobblestone paths to get lost down and plenty to learn about along the way. One of the most fascinating for me was the Dubrovnik City Walls, spanning almost 2,000m long and surrounding the magnificent old city. They were built to protect the city and its people. I highly recommend paying to do the walk along the walls, there are amazing views of the coast and the red roofs of the city will take your breath away.
This is exactly what it says – the boat will come to a stop, a bell will ring and everyone can jump off and hang out in the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea. For those crazy enough to do so they can jump off the very top of the ship, but for those wanting a more smoother entry the boat has stairs at the back where you can calmly walk in at your own pace. There’s something to be said for grabbing a donut floaty and hanging out in the middle of the crystal blue seas with often no one else in sight.
Great nightlife and cool bars
Whether you are a big fan of partying all night long or prefer a quiet drink watching the sunset, Croatia has something for everyone. The ship usually pulled into port early afternoon and then wouldn’t depart until around 6am the next morning, so there is plenty of time to explore a city, find somewhere great for dinner and then find somewhere to have a relaxing drink before the night is over. We went to nightclubs inside caves, a bar on the edge of a cliff face, a beachfront day club and a cocktail bar on top of a tower in Korcula where you had to climb a ladder to get to the top (and the drinks were transported from the bottom of the tower to the top using a pulley system) – just to name a few!
Croatia has so much to offer and it’s definitely on my list of places to return too one day. Although I only got to see the highlights, I felt like sailing from port to port was a great way to relax and fit in as much as possible over the course of a week. We spent a couple of extra nights in Split beforehand as well, so we could explore a little more. A sailing/ cruising tour is an amazing way to travel, why not include it in your next adventure!
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