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Croatia was for decades one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Things changed with the perils of the 1990s, when Croatia declared independence from the former Yugoslavia and a civil war ensued. Fifteen years on, Croatia is regaining its reputation as one of Europe’s best-kept tourist secrets, largely due to its unspoiled, magnificent coastline and countless islands that dot its side of the Adriatic Sea. Croatia’s recent growth and advance in terms of European integration means that tourists are returning to this warm Mediterranean country in ever-greater numbers.

Paradoxically, it is precisely Croatia’s unfortunate recent past that has enabled it to stand out from other Mediterranean destinations and attract curious visitors. Namely, a decade without much tourist development has preserved Croatia’s coastline and islands, while other countries engaged in unbridled construction. As a result, sailing along the Croatian coastline provides a unique perspective on the “old” Mediterranean, unspoiled by the tourist industry. From uninhabited islets to the medieval city of Dubrovnik, sailing around Croatia certainly makes for an unforgettable holiday.

Whether you are going with a group of friends or with your family, this sailing adventure will be fun, safe and affordable, even if you have no particular sailing knowledge or experience. Sailing courses are available for both initiates and veterans. There are a number of sailing schools that issue internationally recognised certificates upon successful completion of a course. The price of a one-week course depends on a number of factors and there are many different discount packages available for families and couples. If you are fortunate enough to have your own boat, the schools generally provide tuition at a much lower rate.

Chartering a yacht, on your own or with the aid of a skipper, is another possibility. Although this sounds like something only the filthy rich can afford, the reality is quite different. A week on a 35 foot long yacht will cost you around € 1,000 (£ 900). Naturally, there are other much more luxurious options. If you have the means and are looking to splash out, expect to pay around € 55,000 (£ 50,000) for a week on board a 90 foot long yacht. Keep in mind that the length of the boat is only one factor you should consider when booking your holidays. You might be interested in visiting a specific location, so study the details of the itinerary and choose the one that suits you most. Many travel companies offer all-inclusive packages that might save you time and money when booking flight tickets, accommodation, meals, etc.

Rovinj, CroatiaA typical sailing itinerary will start from the northern city of Split, which boasts an international airport, and include some of the best known Dalmatian islands, such as Hvar, Brac, Kor?ula and Vis. In addition to historical attractions, all Dalmatian islands feature crystal-clear waters and astounding natural beauty. Nature lovers should it make it a point to choose an itinerary that includes the island of Mljet, which boasts a national park with amazing forests and an inland sea. History and culture enthusiasts will adore the island of Hvar, whose capital Stari Grad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of Europe’s oldest cities.

With so many islands, you will only get a taste of the hidden treasures of the Croatian coastline. Yet, even this will be enough to turn Croatia into your new favourite holiday destination. If you are interested in or curious about sailing, there is no need to search for distant locations. There is a place in the heart of Europe that has preserved its history and beautiful natural landscape and is waiting to be rediscovered.

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