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This northern corner of the Adriatic is a holiday playground for Italy and eastern Europe, with much tourist development and a lively café life. Italian is widely spoken, and many towns have kept their old Italian character. Marinas and harbours are closely spaced making day sailing easy. Before departure from Slovenia for Croatia, non-EU passport holders should have their passports stamped to prove they have left the Schengen zone. Entry into Croatia is closely controlled, and yachts should report to the first available port of entry to obtain a cruise permits. Our Croatian country data page describes the (very clear) regulations, which should be adhered to.
Winds. The very strong bora winds are a regular occurrence in this region. See "The Adriatic".
Yacht Support. The widest range of repair facilities are available around Trieste, Italy, and Monfalcone is a very popular wintering location. Within season, Croatian repair facilities are often taken up by the demands of local charter fleets.
Essential References. "777" lists ports and marinas in Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro, and is used by most charter companies. "888" is a German language update. Imray's adriatic pilot (Trevor and Dinah Thompson, 5th ed 2008) is a suitable pilot guide which also covers anchorages.
Anchorages. Big attractions of the area are the many hundreds of anchorages, the majority free of charge. For taste of what's available, see this Google Map. Fairly expensive mooring concessions are also granted - listed through the links provided in the "moorings" paragraph of our Croatia rules and regulations page. Anchoring is not permitted close to most of these franchises, so if you still use paper charts, you may wish to mark them up!
Given the vast range of facilities in this area, only a small selection of places are described. A favoured layup area is Italy, in one of the yards at Montfalcone, north of Trieste, close to an airport.
This friendly EU country (Schengen, Euro zone, the lot, and a robust economy) has just 10nm of coast line on the north coast of the Istrian peninsula. Make a point of visiting Ljubljana, the capital. Four towns have marinas with a reasonable range of services. All four are ports of entry (Izola - summer only).
Koper is a major Adriatic port with accompanying industrial buildings, but a crumbly and attractive old Venetian centre. The marina is very small and crowded with limited manoeuvring space.
Izola is ancient (once an island) with narrow mediaeval streets to explore and a large marina.
Piran is an Italian style town with narrow alleys and streets and a good value small marina. Anchoring is possible 1nm south off a sugar factory.
Portorož couldn't be more different; a dense cluster of resort hotels busy with tourists. It has a large marina.
Croatia starts at the west of the triangular Istrian peninsula. Entering Croatia from the north you must make your first stop at a port of entry: Umag, Novigrad (summer only), Porec, Rovinj or Pula. Large hotels and big camp sites dot this rocky coast, tamed with yet more concrete to create bathing platforms. Luckily, development hasn't invaded the charming Italian style towns. Many restaurants in this region offer pleasant service and food, above the rather dull average for Croatian towns further south. Places worth a visit include:
Porec - an attractive old town with a 6th century basilica, which is a UNESCO Word Heritage Site. It has little space for visiting yachts and at times may be easier to visit by bus or taxi from elsewhere.
Rovinj - was a mediaeval port, Italian style with attractive cobbled piazzas, a busy cafe culture and mazes of narrow alleyways. It has a large marina and anchoring is possible in appropriate conditions.
Access to the Brijuni islands (a national park) is restricted and they may be best visited by local boat from Rovinj. This surprising and rather well groomed mix of zoo, arboretum, golf course and presidential palace can be inspected by a circuit on a little tourist train.
Pula - the largest city on the peninsula, is a "must visit", with Roman monuments, and buildings dating from centuries of Venetian control. It is well served by marinas and anchorages, and is a base for many yacht charters, with good yacht support, suitable for wintering ashore or afloat. ACI Pula marina is just west of the city, overlooked by a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, and has no hard. Veruda marina is large capacity, and has a hard in its own well sheltered inlet about a mile south of the city centre. Several inlets further SW are popular anchorages. ACI Pomer marina, with a small hard, is 4nm SE of the city. It's in a long inlet with many branches good for anchoring. The airport 5nm north Pomer has international flights.
U. Kanalic (U. Soline) - East of Veruda - a very large anchorage with all-round shelter.
The Kvarner gulf, with the major town of Rijeka at its head, is where the bora blows at its strongest (particularly in the Velebitski Kanal). The northern coasts of the islands of Cres, Krk, Rab and especially Pag show this strongly; brown and bare with the vegetation burned off by salt spray. The locality is also infamous for periods of violent thunderstorms. However, the western and southern parts of these islands are rich with anchorages and small attractive old fishing villages, a welcome escape from the mass tourism of Istria. The gulf is popular with charter companies, who fly their clients either into Pula, or the airport at the north end of Krk. Places worth a visit are:
Opatija, a charming town, once the playground of the crowned heads of Europe. A faded elegance is fast being restored to its former glory. A good ACI marina is a short and extremely picturesque cliff walk from the town centre. Good restaurants, coffee houses, shops.
The fortified medieval town of Cres - contrasts strongly with the marina below.
Southern Cres & Losinj - many quiet anchorages.
Tree covered Losinj with busy Mali Losinj (port of enry).
The old village of Punat on Krk - a little overwhelmed by tourists. See the monastery at Košljun island in Punat harbour, and the anchorage just NW of the landing pier (good bora shelter).
The mediaeval town of Rab, a gem.
Real sandy beaches in the north western corner of Rab, at Loper, a rarity in the Adriatic.
Reviewed Jun 2016