Sailing & Exploring Croatia on a Crewed Yacht Charter Vacation
We just booked another crewed yacht charter sailing from Split to Dubrovnik in Croatia today for our clients! Our fascination with Croatia started over 20 years ago when we found a very old Roman coin hidden behind a wall covering a fireplace in a historic house we were renovating in downtown Franklin, TN. We identified the coin with its imprint of Emperor Diocletian & set it aside.
Little did we know back then that we would stay in Diocletian's Palace, a Unesco World Heritage Site built in AD305, in Split Croatia! There is so much to see in Croatia, many islands are just now becoming leading destinations and they all surprise & delight with their culinary heritage, their people, and their landscapes. Everything is designed to help you slow down, relax, and savor every moment of your vacation.
Our clients specifically asked for recommended hotels, restaurants and things to do at the beginning in Split and at the end in Dubrovnik for their trip. While we have a lot more insight to share about all the sailing destinations in Croatia, for now we'll simply focus on these two cities at the beginning and of their yacht charter trip.
We love to walk historic cities and therefore prefer to stay in the downtown district if we aren't on a privately crewed yacht charter. We want to be in the middle of everything! Yes, it can be a bit noisy at times with parties going on til the wee hours of the morning but the free white noise app on our phone that reminds us of the generator on our former yacht, we sleep like babies after a long day of exploring!
Important sites within Diocletian’s Palace include the Peristyle (the center of the Palace), the Cardo (one of the main streets through the Palace), and the cellar. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, the cellar is a filming site. Daenerys kept her dragons here when she was in Meereen. There are tours available of the Palace as well as tours specifically for Game of Thrones fans. Just ask your hotel to recommend the best one.
St. Domnius Cathedral is located within Diocletian’s Palace. This is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world, completed in the 7th century AD. For the best view over the city, climb the Bell Tower.
You’ll want to stroll the Riva promenade on the quay in the harbor of Split at sunset. With palm trees, colorful buildings, and views out to the Adriatic Sea, this is a popular place to see and be seen.
Wine: If you never tried wines from Croatia, you are in for a huge surprise! Try them all because you will absolutely love them and you won’t be able to find any of them at your local store when you get back home. When John F. Kennedy was on the island of Korcula, he inquired if he could buy a case or two of their Pošip, Korčula. He was told no, that regardless of his presidency, only 6 bottles at the time were allowed to be purchased. Imagine!
If making the 20-minute trip out to the Putalj Winery does not fit into your plans but you still want to sample Croatian wine, visit the Zinfandel Wine Bar. Located in the Old Town, its a place to experience great food, great wine, and great ambiance. To learn even more, stop in at Paradox for personalized tasting. A sommelier will discuss your preferences, then devise a selection of wines to suit the time of year and your taste. You'll get a broad view of the variety and complexity of Dalmatian wines (their cellar stocks 80 types & 40 varietals by the glass), while they explain production methods. They offer accompanying cheese platters, and in summer have tables on a rooftop terrace.
Food: Knowing how fast excellent chefs can hop from one restaurant to another in a tourist town, our rule of thumb is to follow our noses as well as the guidance of the concierge at our hotel. Apparently, Emperor Diocletian was fond of fish, as are most Dalmatians – in the past, meat was rare, and locals lived mainly on sardines and seasonal vegetables. To try genuinely casual Dalmatian cuisine, visit Konoba Varoš, which serves excellent grilled fresh fish, and octopus prepared ispod peke (slow-cooked under a metal dome, buried in glowing embers). For something more homely, call at Villa Spiza. The menu here changes daily – try for gregada (a fish casserole originating from Hvar). We really enjoyed dining on the terrace at ZOI overlooking the promenade. One of our best meals in Split was at Kinota but recent TripAdvisor reviews make me question whether or not to send clients there.
Drink Coffee with the Locals
Meeting na kavu (for coffee) is a major pastime in Split. Cafes are always full, and you might wonder whether anyone does any work, apart from the waiters. The prime spot is the palm-lined Riva, where tables overlook the Adriatic sea and it's sunny enough to sit out almost all year. In the old town, you can drink your coffee Roman-style at Luxor, sitting on red cushions on the steps of the historic Peristil. (This was fun to do!) Nearby Teak Caffe has tables on a small square, where locals come to gossip and read the morning papers. They also smoke like fiends, so ask to sit inside if you want to get out of the smoking section.
VIDEO of Split:
Split in 4K: https://youtu.be/kb1cOVOZZBE
Suggested 5-star & 4-star hotels in Split:
-Hotel Radisson Blu resort in Split (4 star)
-Le Meridien Lav (5 star) approximately 10 kilometers away from Split.
I think we fell in love with Dubrovnik even before setting foot in Croatia. An ancient, walled medieval city on the Adriatic Sea, filled with world-class restaurants and narrow cobblestoned lanes to explore…what’s not to love?
Things to Do: Walk the Dubrovnik Walls! If you only do one thing, you have to experience walking the Dubrovnik Walls. There is no better way to experience Dubrovnik than to see it from the medieval walls. It takes approximately two hours to walk the entire loop around the city. The views are spectacular the entire way. Highlights include climbing the Minceta Tower and views over the Old Town. Be prepared to take tons of photos!! After your tour on the medieval walls, it is time to wander the streets of the Old Town. The main part of Dubrovnik is compact and easy to walk. The narrow streets are filled with restaurants and small shops, perfect places for pit stops on a leisurely stroll through the city.
Taking a ride on the cable car is a must-do if you want an aerial view over Dubrovnik. The views of the city and the Adriatic Coast are spectacular from up here. Like many others, we also recommend dining at the Panorama Restaurant. If you want a table with a view of the city, call ahead for a reservation. Dinner here at sunset is amazing.
Visit Fort Lovrijenac- This ancient fortress is worth a visit for two reasons. Number one, the view of Dubrovnik from here is stunning. And number two, this is a Game of Thrones filming site. Lovrijenac Fortress is where the tournament was held on King Joffrey’s name day. There are a lot of steps if you have creaky knees but there are good stopping places to rest.
Visit the Museum of the War of Independence of Croatia - Take the cable car up to this spot. The views are great although the museum is moldy! We were glad we saw it for the photos of the antiquated guns they used to fight their battles and what the city looked like after the war in 1995. Seeing how they've restored the city today was a very eye-opening experience!
Take a Tour of King’s Landing
If you are a Game of Thrones fan, rejoice. Dubrovnik is King’s Landing. This city is one of the best Game of Thrones filming locations you can visit since so much of the city was featured in the show. St. Dominika Street is where Cersei made her walk of shame. Minceta Tower is used as the House of the Undying and this is where Daenerys recovers her dragons that were stolen from her. Pile Bay is Blackwater Bay, used several times in the Game of Thrones.
Plitvice Lakes National Park Small-Group Day Trip from Split- This is on our "to-do" list for the next time we visit Split!
Wine: To sample Croatian and Montenegrin wine, don’t miss D’Vino Wine Bar. Take a wine flight and try the meat and cheese platters…delicious!
The number one restaurant in Dubrovnik is Nautica, housed in the former Dubrovnik School of Maritime Studies, where it welcomed famous seafarers since as far back as 1881. Today the restaurant serves to preserve the location's rich history, while retaining the noble atmosphere of Dubrovnik's reign as a republic. In 2008. Nautika Restaurant was recognized as the sixth most romantic restaurant in the world by the much respected Condé Nast Traveller magazine. Nautika was honored to host Saint John Paul II on June 6th of 2003. With a location on the sea, many restaurants serve fresh fish and seafood. But you can also find Italian, Vegan, Japanese, and Bosnian restaurants in town. We would visit Dubrovnik again just for the food. For a nice view and great food, try Takenoko Restaurant . Oyster & Sushi Bar Boda was highly recommended but it was not our favorite.
It’s no secret that Dubrovnik can get crazy crowded with cruise ship arrivals. You’ll be there when the height of the seas is over but it may still be busy. Ships have been staggered this year and are severely limited in 2020. In addition to the cameras and counters at every gate, there is now a new app that predicts the number of visitors on any given day and advises on the best times to visit. Give it a try at dubrovnik-visitors.hr/prediction.
After years of living with the cruise ship crowds in St. Thomas, we know how to simply sidestep the crowded areas where the "herd" is at the moment. Go back to the same spot a couple of hours later and the herd will have moved on!
These are the recommended 5-star & 4-star hotels in Dubrovnik by the yacht charter company. The links below are from TripAdvisor so that you can see both the most recent reviews as well as each hotel’s website link.
Videos of Dubrovik:
About Us: Captain Randy & Shelly Tucker We're former Owners & Captain of the Award-winning 72' yacht Three Moons for 18 years. With over 300 charters in our logbook, we currently represent privately crewed Caribbean sailing luxury yacht charters as professional CYBA yacht charter brokers. Recently, we interviewed over 120 catamarans, motor yachts, sailboats, and professional crews. We're happy to promote these yachts offering modern conveniences & unlimited pleasure. What should you expect from a luxury crewed yacht charter in the Caribbean? It's "ALL about you, ALL the time" onboard a privately crewed charter boat! It's surprisingly affordable too! Far away from overcrowded cruise ships, all-inclusive charter yachts allow you to explore some of the Caribbean’s most exclusive areas and delight in the natural, unspoiled beauty of secluded islands, hidden coves, and secret dive sites. Sail to a nearby island every day & snorkel around your own private beaches; enjoy your favorite cocktail while watching the sunset on your own private yacht; indulge yourself with 5-star gourmet cuisine that is prepared with Caribbean flair and served in the most beautiful surroundings you could ever imagine. We love matching the right crew & yacht with you!
6 Reasons Why We are Qualified:
1. As Members of the Charter Yacht Brokers Association, we maintain contact with the yachts to keep abreast of the very latest information on crew/yacht conditions and new yachts entering the arena.
2. We stay on top of local and Federal Government to keep informed about changes in our industry, as well as involving ourselves with the changes in the environment in which we offer charters.
3 We engage in open dialogue with local publications to help keep the government and the public aware of this important industry in our islands.
4. We attend multiple charter yacht industry shows in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, go aboard each of the yachts, meet the crews, attend association meetings and seminars. We'll happily share our notes about changes to the boats and crews and confirm any newly added features and upgrades as well as re-fits to the boat’s decor like new carpets, interior and exterior soft goods & fun new water-toys.
5. As a seasoned charter yacht Owner & Crew, we have access to the "inner circle" and know all the insider facts.
6. We've developed a longtime friendship with vendors of services such as local taxi drivers, ferry companies, good places to stay on land, great restaurants and much more.
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