Visiting Croatia and its islands has always been a dream of ours as we have consistently heard amazing things, especially for the boat cruises that jet you around the islands.
Croatia as a whole was quite expensive, especially when visiting in the peak of the summer season. An average hostel in Dubrovnik/Split can set you back somewhere between 30-45€ for a bed in a mixed dorm.
Before we embarked on our 7 day sailing trip through Croatia we spent a couple of days in the city of Dubrovnik. Over our 10 days in Croatia, we visited 6 cities (Dubrovnik, Mljet, Korcula, Stari Grad, Hvar, Makarska & Split) and each of them is described below with the top things to do and see in each, as well as some restaurant recommendations.
Sail Croatia Video
Below you can view a 5-minute video put together by another guest.
Dubrovnik is a city known for its distinctive Old Town which is enclosed by massive stone walls. You enter through what they call the ‘pile gate’ and you are immediately taken back by the structure of the city. Dubrovnik has a lot of history including a recent war with former Yugoslavia, in the 90s. You can still see some buildings with bullet holes in them.
We stayed at Old Town Beta Hostel right in the centre of the Old Town. Although it was a little difficult to find and up quite a few steep stairs it suited our needs. It was a small, cheap 6-bed hostel privately run by one lady. If you’re looking to splurge, Hotel Dubrovnik Palace is where you’ll find it!
What to do in Dubrovnik
- Take the Dubrovnik Cable Car (Zicara) to SRD Hill from the north end of the old town. This will cost $15 USD and it takes 4 minutes to reach the top for a magnificent view of the city.
- Take a guided walking tour of the famous Dubrovnik City Walls. Entry is $14 USD with or without a guide. You can walk a full circle around the high walls to view the town below. Avoid going right in the middle of the day as it is sweltering hot up there.
- Take a walking tour of the Old Town to learn more about the history of Dubrovnik.
- Any Game of Thrones fans should definitely take part in the Game of Thrones walking tour. Scenes of the television show were filmed here for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th seasons.
- Walk to Banje Beach just outside of the town or if you feel like jumping off some cliffs, find your way to one of the two Buza Bars. Buza means “hole in the wall”. You literally find your way through a hole in the wall and end up on the ocean side. An awesome place to spend the afternoon.
- Eat at many of the hidden alleyway restaurants in town or spend the late evening at club Revelin, but be prepared to pay up for drinks here.
- Have dinner at D’vino Wine Bar, the number 1 restaurant/wine bar in Dubrovnik. It is run by an Aussie. We’re everywhere! We ate here and it was amazing. If you are up for a more substantial meal check out Restaurant Dubrovnik for a mix of Croatian and European foods.
- Eat gelato and lots of it! You will find the best Gelato at Sladoledarna Dubrovnik.
If you’ve only got one day to spend in Dubrovnik, check out this post for how to spend your day.
Sailing the Croatian islands was nothing short of amazing. Stepping onto our boat we felt immediately at home. We had chosen the Premiership purely to have A/C but to be honest we could have done without it.
Our boat was immaculate and was new to the Sail Croatia fleet. It was complete with 36 guests, 32 of them Australians, which to us, wasn’t a surprise. I guess all Aussies have the same idea of a vacation… sun, boats, booze, beaches & repeat.
Our spacious cabin was a real treat, the people on board were even better and waking up to a different Croatian Island every morning topped it all off. Every day we were served breakfast and lunch on board but dinner was up to you as we were stopped in the various ports. The lunches were surprisingly good, ranging from soups to a variety of meats, vegetables + a different dessert each day. Let’s just say we never went hungry.
After spending the night in Dubrovnik we set sail for the small quaint island of Mljet.
Mljet is an unspoilt island that is covered by a dense Mediterranean forest. As Mljet is such a small island, there was not a lot to do. We stopped for a swim break on the way to the island which involved relaxing on our blown up pool toys, jumping off the top deck of the boat and lazing about on board.
What to do in Mljet
Mljet is known for its untouched National Park and super floaty saltwater lakes. A quick 10-minute walk from the port will get you to the National Park that features a huge turquoise lake that looks like a giant crystal clear pool. The two lakes connect through a small passageway in which you can swim between the two. Entry fee is 15€. Inside the park, you can swim, jump off the jetty’s, go snorkelling or rent a bike.
There wasn’t a nightlife scene here so we played a variety of games on board our ship and got to know each other a little better. Don’t forget to stock up on gelato!
Korcula is an island rich in art and culture with many tiny and secluded beaches and bays, small and uninhabited islands and breathtaking views. Korcula is a typical medieval walled city, boasting round defensive towers and clusters of red-roofed houses.
Compared to Mljet, Korcula had a little more to do. Although all of the towns are unique in their own way, almost all of them have the same look and feel, similar to the Greek island villages. In Croatia, they all have an “Old Town” which is typically made up of cobblestone streets, sandstone bricks and guaranteed souvenir shops!
What to do in Korcula
- Walk around the Old Town
- Enjoy a cocktail at Massimo Bar. You enter the bar up a ladder and the drinks are brought up via a pulley system.
- Try a delicious treat at Cukarin Bakery.
- We went on a kayaking tour with everyone from our boat around the island to a secluded beach for snorkelling.
- Head out on a buggy through the Vineyards of Korcula, make sure to wear clothes you don’t care to get filthy! A recommended company for many different outdoor tours are the Korcula Experts.
- If you’re after nightlife, head to Dos Locos for pre-drinks and pole dancing before heading to the club Jungle Boogy. This was one of our favourite nights out.
- Eat gelato, lots of it!
Hvar is located off the Dalmatian coast and it lies lying between the islands of Brač (we took a day trip here from Split), Vis and Korčula. This was by far the most expensive island of them all. It was also the most crowded. There were over 12 docked yachts there from Sail Croatia along with the usual summer crowd. A lot of Italians flock here for their August vacations. You could definitely tell this is a popular holiday destination for all types of people.
What to do in Hvar
- Climb up the stairs to the Spanjola (fortress) to enjoy the views of Hvar.
- Explore the main Piazza (square), which is the largest of them all in the Dalmatia.
- Visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral at the end of the Piazza.
- Take your pick with the many waterfront restaurants but be wary of the price tags.
- There are also frequent water taxis that go to the Pakleni Islands that run every half hour or so.
- For those who like to party, head to Hula Hula bar in the afternoon. It is a 15-minute walk around the headland from town.
TIP: If you want to go, go early. We were told wrong information and by the time we arrived it was so outrageously busy you could barely move. The party starts here between 5-6pm.
- If you don’t make it to Hula Hula bar, Nautica Bar kicks off around 11 pm but they have happy hour from 5-10pm. Awesome bar but it gets crowded late.
- End the night at Pink Champagne club or Carpe Diem club (must take a water taxi to Carpe Diem)
- Eat gelato, lots of it!
Stari Grad is one of the oldest towns in Europe. It is located on the northern side of the island of Hvar. The most ancient part of Stari Grad stands within the UNESCO Protected World Heritage Site. Although a beautiful relaxed island, it was similar to Mljet in the aspect of it being quiet. For us, it was a much-needed break from the constant partying on the boat and it prepared us for our final ‘pirate’ night out the next night.
What to do in Stari Grad
- Take a wine tour
- Explore the old streets
- Rent a bike and ride towards the countryside to see the UNESCO protected vineyards
- Eat gelato, lots of it!
Makarska is known for its sandy beach, which is almost 2 kilometres long. The streets lining the beach are filled with pine trees and surrounded by hotels, markets, gelato shops, and restaurants. Makarska is located below the mountain of Biokovo. The beach, however, was outrageously crowded, you could barely get a spot.
It was our second last night on the boat and everyone was already dreading the departure date but it was time to dress up as pirates/sailors for the pirate party. We’ve never seen so many boats docked in a port before and we knew where they would all be heading later in the evening… Deep Cave Club.
What to do in Makarska
- Explore the marketplace alongside the beach to pick up a costume or if you aren’t involved in the pirate dress ups then you can find many other souvenirs and clothes at the markets.
- Hire a jet-ski or go parasailing
- Drive to the top of the Nature Park Biokovo to view the amazing scenery. Roads can be tricky so its best to take a tour to the top.
- Pay for a 30-minute use on the inflatable water park situated on the main beach of Makarska
- Although we didn’t do it, there is the possibility to go on a ‘discovery dive’ at a nearby beach
- Head off to Deep Cave Club around 11 pm for the pirate party. This night was another one of our favourite nights out. The club is directly on the beach and the bar is in a “cave”. The drinks are reasonably priced and the party goes on until the wee hours of the morning.
- Eat gelato, lots of it!
Split is built in, on and around a Roman Palace by the name of ‘Diocletian’s Palace’. You will find white stone walls filled with galleries, shops, bars, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants.
Arriving into Split was somewhat upsetting, as we knew our sailing trip was over, although we had did have one of our best weeks yet. We parted ways with 28 people but stayed with another 2 couples that we had grown close to on board. We chose to share an Airbnb with one couple (cancelling our already booked hostel that was close to $60 more expensive!). The apartment was a 10-minute walk from the Old Town and one of our favourite apartment stays so far.
What to do in Split
- Grab a coffee or cocktail on the main promenade to people watch
- One evening we sat on the stairs in the square under the Palace and picked up a beer from the grocery store. Usually, someone is playing music and it’s a really pretty place to hang out.
- Take an organised walking tour around the Palace and the main square of Split
- Head inside the Cathedral of St Domnius
- Walk along Marmontova street for shopping.
- Visit The Green Market. You can find fresh vegetables and fruits according to the season, and domestic products like cheese, Rakija, wine, olive oil & in the small streets surrounding the market you have shops full of souvenirs, cheap clothes, bags, sunglasses.
- Visit Brac’- another beautiful island. If you’re there, take the extra 35-minute taxi ride to Zlatni Rat beach. It’s worth it!
- Did we mention to eat gelato & lots of it!
If anyone is considering visiting the Croatian islands, whether it be 1, 2, or all of them, sailing them is the perfect way to do so. You can sit back and relax and know you won’t be disappointed.
We can highly recommend the company we went with Sail Croatia. They have boats and fleets for all budgets so check them out but be prepared to spend the week with a bunch of Aussies! 😉
Married days survived: 145