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Cruising in Croatia – how to choose where to go

Before 2020 I was all set to host a tour that included a Croatia cruise. I was so excited as I hadn’t been there before… But sadly it got cancelled (you know why!) so instead I commissioned this post to help answer your questions about how to choose where to cruise in Croatia.

Island hopping in Croatia is one of the best things you can do, but there are over 700 islands so choosing where to go on your Croatia cruise is hard!

But don’t stress, I’ve broken it down into three main areas.

Dining out on Ivana Racica Street, Zagreb
Dining out on Ivana Racica Street, Zagreb

Croatia is known for its beautiful islands, coves and a good dollop of Dalmatian history, and it attracts tourists looking for unique ways to spend their vacation on land and sea.

Most tourists, when thinking about their Croatian wish-list, want to experience the sea as much as they can and ‘yay’ in Croatia you can do exactly that with Split Sea Tours

So, read on and discover the information you might need to help you decide where to start your Croatia cruise, where to fly into, then pack your bags – we’re taking you on a cruise around the Adriatic!

Before cruising the Croatian coast…

Tank tops, flip flops, t-shirts and sun dresses – packed? Your wardrobe is good to go. Now let’s talk about some other things you might want to know.

Oh, and if you need help with packing, jump here to my free printable packing list and save yourself any worries that you’ll leave things behind.

Decide where to go in Croatia

So you’ve Googled Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, but there’s just so many choices along the Dalmatian Coast, right? Don’t worry, we’ll split it up depending on location to make your cruise decision easier.

Croatia map featuring Pula, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik
Croatia map featuring Pula, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik

Istria and Kvarner

If your ideal cruise includes undiscovered, non-crowded and isolated places, head out to the peninsula of Istria

This post covers 15 best places to visit in Istria if you have more time and maybe can stay for a few days.

The most significant part of the Northern Adriatic, Istria has so much to offer – from the city of Pula and its Roman amphitheatre, all the way to its popular Kvarner islands, such as Krk, Cres and Rab (and many others), as its not-so-popular/crowded islands, such as Unije, Ilovik and Susak.

Rovinj on the Istrian Peninsula, Croatia
The famous promenade of Rovinj on the Istrian Peninsula

Northern Dalmatia

Lashings of culture, heritage, nature and beaches – this is what you get when you travel to the Northern Dalmatian coast.

Zadar, Šibenik and Split, being the three biggest cities in this part of Croatia, are probably going to be the starting point for your cruise. 

Here thousands of islands and islets hide unseen beauty that you really must visit to believe it!  

Split, Croatia
Split is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Southern Dalmatia

Even if you haven’t heard of any of the destinations mentioned above, there’s a big chance you’ve heard of Dubrovnik, listed as #1 of the 10 most charming old towns in Europe.

It has a rich and turbulent history, an archipelago that will leave you speechless, and being that Dubrovnik is home to Croatia’s elite with a stunning old town, this part of Dalmatia is the most popular among tourists

For anyone who wants to take their cruise to the next level and feel like they’re part of something big, this is where you can achieve it!

Old own Dubrovnik, Croatia
The landscape of old own Dubrovnik

The Croatian cruise

As we have said before, there’s a lot of options to choose from. The Croatian coast is one of the most rugged in Europe, so it won’t be possible to visit everything. 

Which ever cruise you decide to take, make sure avoid these 11 things NOT to do on a cruise, so you can enjoy exploring and learning and soaking up all that Croatia has to offer.

Cruises are mostly organized as we categorized it above – Istra and Kvarner, Northern Dalmatia and Southern Dalmatia. Every cruise has something special, but make sure you get to visit everything you’ve planned on visiting.

Hidden gems in Croatia

Popular destinations and well-known attractions are for everybody, but if you want to explore the nooks and crannies, beaches and waterfalls, and feel more than you see, Croatia’s hidden gems are what you’ll want to find.

waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes
Spectacular bridge walk across the waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes

Hidden gems in Istria and Kvarner

Vrbnik, a small town on Krk island, is going to blow your mind with its vineyards and panoramic views, not to mention its long 900-year-old history!

On the island of Cres, you can continue your amazing experience. The settlements of Beli and Lubenice are cultural and historical centres, offering you a view from the hill, the most magical one on the Adriatic!

Finally, climbing to the very top of Mali Lošinj will leave an eternal stamp on your visit, as it allows you to enjoy Providenca, an amazing viewpoint you don’t want to miss!

Finding a place to eat in Pula, Istria, Croatia
Finding a place to eat in Pula, Istria

Hidden gems on the Northern and Southern Dalmatian coast

If it’s your first time visiting Dalmatia, you just can’t prepare for the beauty you’re about to see. Every island has a story to tell, so wherever you go, you won’t be disappointed. 

Koločep, Lokrum and Lopud island are just a few from the Dubrovnik area where you can recharge your batteries and enjoy life to the fullest! 

From Split to Zadar, you can explore Korčula, Hvar, Brač, Primošten, Trogir, Vis, Dugi Otok, Skradin are just a few hot spots for satisfying your hidden gem need!

Trogir, Croatia
Trogir, Croatia

Cruise options in Croatia

Options like sailing with your own boat, renting a boat or going on some of the shorter boat trips will allow you to make your own plans according to all your wishes.

You can rent a boat in Dubrovnik or any other city you’re staying in, go on amazing boat tours from Šibenik or take a sea transfer from Zadar to many of its archipelago’s islands!

Croatia FAQs

Do I need a visa for Croatia?

Visiting Croatia is very simple as the majority of tourists don’t need a visa to enter the country. American, Canadian, New Zealand, Australian and British tourists, you’re safe to come on in. Only South African guests need to apply for a Schengen visa.

What’s the weather like in Croatia?

As the Dalmatian coast is known for its Mediterranean climate, prepare yourself for the temperatures up to 40°C (low 90˚s) during summer.

Autumn and winters can get cold, so make sure you pack warm clothes, as it can also get windy sometimes. Temperatures can get as low as 5˚C (41˚F) which I suppose isn’t cold like snowing-cold.

Krk National Park

What is the currency in Croatia?

HRK – Croatian Kuna (Kn). 1 Euro is worth around 7.5 Kn, depending on exchange rate. 1 USD is around 6.2 Kn.

When is the best time to visit Croatia?

The best time to visit Croatia depends on what you fancy doing. If you want to swim in the crystal clear sea and lay around on the beaches, then late spring, summer and early autumn are the time you should take this trip.

During the cooler months you can enjoy other parts of Croatia, for example, inland, and get better deals too.

Which airport should I fly into?

Airports in Croatia are located in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Pula, Brač and Mali Lošinj. Choose the one closest to your wanted destination!

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!