by Jane Archer, The Daily Telegraph, January 5, 2017
For more general advice on booking a holiday in Croatia, see our Croatia summer holidays guide . Our guide features expert recommendations for beach, villa, culture, food and drinkand activity holidays.
1. The classic Croatia cruise
Immerse yourself in the beauty of Croatia’s entire coastline on an 8-day Best of Croatia cruise with Ponant. Although the trip departs and ends in Venice for convenience, the itinerary covers all the island hopping, thriving cities and secluded beaches you could wish for.
You’ll call at Pula, Split, Hvar, Korcula and Dubrovnik along the way, and wind your way through the picturesque islands of the Dalmatian Coast. This is a great trip for first-time visitors to Croatia, or novice cruisers tempted by the turquoise waters, calm conditions, and luxurious vessels that Ponant use on this itinerary.
Ponant ( ponant.com ), from £2,700 per person. Various departure dates, from May to September 2017.
2. The grand tour
It’s easy to blur the lines between the western and eastern Mediterranean and Viking does this with its Empires of the Mediterranean cruise around the region in the middle. Venice is the start-point for a 10-night spring voyage with several intriguing stops. There’s fine architecture among the cobbled old-town lanes in Koper, Slovenia, and Zadar, Croatia. Dubrovnik is a highlight, then comes the scenic sailing into the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro.
Zadar, CroatiaCredit: alamy
Crossing into Greek waters, the mid-sized ship visits Corfu – verdant in spring – and Katakolon, close to Olympia where the Games began in 776BC. Spectacular Santorini, the remains of a volcano, is followed by an overnight stay in Athens.
Viking Cruises ( vikingcruises.co.uk ), from £3,290 per person. Various departure dates in March and April 2017.
3. The crowd-free option
Kvarner Bay, towards the northern tip of Croatia’s coastline, remains refreshingly free of cruising crowds – even during the summer months. “Perfumed gardens, uninhabited islands, champagne from the sea and dolphins,” recalled our cruise correspondant Julia Mora in her account of her round-trip from Opatija.
Revel in the seclusion of Kvarner Bay
“Over cocktails on deck we all agreed that this cruise was ticking all the boxes: hidden coves, islands and a dramatic coastline; fabulous opportunities for swimming; superb restaurants on shore serving everything from pizza to lobster; pretty villages and monuments – and no crowds to spoil any of it. Bliss.”
eWaterways ( ewaterways.co.uk ), from £482 per person. Various departure dates, from April to October 2017.
4. Croatia’s best cruise for cyclists
Combine invigorating cycling trips with leisurely island hopping on a 7-night National Parks of Dalmatia cruise with Freedom Treks. If you’re keen to explore the wilds of the coast north of Split, this trip is the way to do it – as our cruise correspondent Adam Ruck found when he took to two wheels in August 2016 : “Most of our rides are on empty little roads through open country with big sea views and mixed veg: olive groves, vineyards, prickly herbal scrub; Mediterranean scents in the air and myriad butterflies on the wing.”
Travelling on board Melody, a stylish 42-metre cruiser with just 15 cabins and a handful of crew, is a pleasing antithesis to the large vessels which often ply these waters. “She turns heads in a small island port among the fishing boats and flotilla holiday yachts, and we are proud to belong to her,” said Ruck.
Freedom Treks ( freedomtreks.co.uk ), from £815 per person. Various departure dates, from April to October 2017.
5. North Dalmatia by gulet
Done Dubrovnik? Seen Split? Peter Sommer is showcasing Croatia’s less-visited cultural heritage on a new eight-day cruise of north Dalmatia by traditional gulet. Led by an award-winning archaeologist, Dr Helena Tomas, you visit a Croatia that, though quieter, is central to understanding the nation’s story.
Life on board a traditional gulet
The first port of call is Skradin to visit Roman ruins and lovely waterfalls in the Krka National Park. Following days cruise to historic Zadar, a cats-cradle of Roman, Byzantine and Venetian Gothic that’s the colour of old ivory and drenched in brilliant Adriatic light; Nin, the medieval cradle of nascent Croatia; and the ethereally beautiful Kornati islands, created, said George Bernard Shaw, from God’s tears, stars and breath.
The Unesco-listed Renaissance cathedral of Sibenik then the lovely small town of Trogir round things off. Everywhere are sparkling seascapes and opportunities to swim.
Peter Sommer ( petersommer.com ), from £3,395 per person. Departs 16 Sept 2017.
This article was written by Jane Archer from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.