In Croatia, limbs of land stretch into the Adriatic ocean, laced by a coastline that seems fresh from a fairytale. But this coast isn’t just home to beautiful beaches. Most of the Croatia World Heritage sites sit along the water’s edge, making this country perfect for exploring by yacht. In fact, whether it’s a fractional yacht, privately-owned or charter vessel, there’s no better way to explore Croatia’s UNESCO hotspots than from the deck of your luxury vessel. Discover five must-visit sites below.
The very best of the Croatia World Heritage sites…
1. The old city of Dubrovnik
Cut into cliffs that tumble into the azure ocean beneath it, the city of Dubrovnik tells a thousand tales. Luckily, its old city offers infinite ways to uncover them. Scale the infamous ancient wall that protected the city for centuries. Climb up to Srđ – once an important battleground during the war in the 1990s, now a viewpoint offering heart-snaring views of the old town and the Adriatic. Dive into its Renaissance palaces, Baroque cathedrals and Romanesque monasteries. And take some time to wander the cobbled streets that snake through one of the most enchanting Croatia World Heritage sites.
2. Diocletian’s Palace, Split
Built in the 4th-century AD by Roman emperor Diocletian, his palace is now one of the most impressive Roman buildings in the world. Once a royal residence and military fortress, the 30,000 square-metre structure acts as the nucleus of the city of Split, brimming with bars, restaurants and boutiques. Its appeal lies in its impeccably-preserved features – think towering marble columns with Corinthian capitals. Sphinxes shipped from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. And its 3,000 inhabitants bustling beneath it all, going about their daily lives.
3. St James’ Cathedral
Watching over the Dalmatian coast sits the product of a spectacular collaboration between three cultures (Northern Italy, Dalmatia, and Tuscany) from the 15th and 16th centuries. At St James’ Cathedral, the transition from Gothic to Renaissance architecture materialises before your eyes. From elaborate ceilings typical of the Gothic style to the all-stone construction, complete with 74 carved heads lining the facade. This Croatia World Heritage site is crammed with hidden treasures inside and out, and is easily accessible by yacht.
While cities like Dubrovnik and Split are a must-see, be sure to take a trip to the lesser-known yet equally-beautiful towns, like Trogir. Here, you can experience Croatia at a more relaxed pace. This island is connected to the mainland by bridge, but feels a world away from the buzzing cities across the water. Despite its size, the tiny UNESCO town has an impressive collection of Romanesque and Renaissance buildings, complete with museums, castles and the Venetian masterpiece, St Lawrence’s Cathedral.
5. Stari Grad Plain
In this ancient and unique landscape, time stands still. Colonised by the Greeks in 4th century BC, Stari Grad Plain retains the same geometric land division it had at the time of its colonisation. The sea has fed this fertile land for over 24 centuries, and to this day it’s famous for its grapes and olives. What’s more, it’s just a stone’s skim away from neighbouring town Hvar, a glitzy seaside spot where sailboats brush shoulders with luxury yachts. Where 13th-century walls wrap around streets paved with marble. And where visitors flock for a taste of the high life and pulsating nightlife. So when you’ve had your culture fix in Stari Grad, head to Hvar for decadence on a different scale.
Each crevice of Croatia’s deep-cut coastline has borne witness to centuries of battles and important historical events. And when you explore the Croatia World Heritage sites by yacht, you uncover the tales of this country’s coast, witnessing the past immortalised.