Mediterranean Delights: Sailing in Croatia I
The Mediterranean is one of the World’s most popular sailing destinations – the cradle of Western Civilization is still famous for it’s cultural and archaeological diversity. In this series, I try to introduce different destinations in the Med, starting with the Northern Adriatic Sea and Croatia.
The two most popular destinations in the World for yacht cruising are the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. They correspond with the two “biggest” markets for independent cruise travelers, the US and Europe. This is pretty much where most of the World’s boat owner’s live, and therefore, the infrastructure supporting cruiser yachts is generally very well-developed.
This is certainly true for Croatia. It is one of Europe’s most fashionable and booming sailing destinations, with thousands of beautiful islands, an amazing diversity in nature and maritime life, and millennia of vibrant history – alongside with great food, wine and very accessible sailing routes.
Sailing, Wine, History
The Mediterranean has been popular with cruisers for a long time, especially with European ones. The reason why I am starting this series with Croatia is, that I have done my first offshore sailing in this country, a long time ago when it was still part of Yugoslavia. Since then, the infrastructure of the coastal regions has improved tremendously, yet the positive sides of Croatia have luckily remained unchanged. There’s just a few more tourists these days, but complaining about them is probably not a nice thing to do if you are a tourist yourself.
Croatia has been strongly influenced by a variety of cultures. You won’t find a many remains of the Neolithic settlers, but many of the coastal towns were founded by Illyrian tribes. These towns were later taken over by the Romans, who ruled today’s Croatia for centuries. Later the influence of the Venetian reign became predominant, which tightly controlled all of the Northern Adriatic Sea’s coast during the Middle Ages.
In the 19th century, Croatia was part of the Austrian (later Austrian-Hungarian) Empire. The Austrians were more favored than Italians or Serbs, the other dominant ethnicities in the region. They built railways, fortified the coast and expanded the port of Trieste and later Pula, which became Austria’s main Navy Port. After World War I, Croatia became part of the Serbian – Croatian - Slovenian Kingdom and after troublesome and bloody years during WWII, part of communist Yugoslavia.
Croatia's offers for beginners and pros
That much about the history – it’s only a brief overview anyway. I just wanted to outline it, since cruising in the Adriatic Sea will allow you to explore much more European history than you might expect at the first glance. One thing that makes Croatia appealing for American cruisers is that it is not part of the European Currency Union yet, meaning that strong Euro rates won’t harm your budget as much as they might in Spain, France, Greece or Italy. In that sense, Croatia makes a great backup-option for years with strong currency fluctuations.
What are the sailing highlights of Croatia? To start in the very North, I’d like to begin with Italy, actually: Venice is easily accessible and the Lidos can be very charming. Especially if you are in Italy for the first time, Venice is almost a must for cultural reasons, but also because it has left its imprint on many towns down the Croatian coast. From Venice, you can then go eastwards and within a few hours you will be near Trieste.
Continue with “Sailing in Croatia Part II”