5 Best Destinations for Small Ship Cruises in Croatia

Written by EJ Ray

April 29, 2024
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Embark on an unforgettable adventure with small ship cruises in Croatia. Explore stunning coastlines and hidden gems. Start your journey now!

Croatia is an incredible place to explore on a small ship cruise. Its stunning coastline is dotted with picturesque islands, secluded coves, and historic towns. Small ships can navigate narrow channels and visit hidden gems inaccessible to larger vessels, offering an intimate and authentic experience. Explore charming ports, swim in crystal-clear waters, and discover Croatia’s rich cultural heritage.

Here are the best destinations for small ship cruises in Croatia.

Hvar is an ideal location when small ship cruising in Croatia

Hvar is an ideal location for small ship cruising in Croatia. Photo by Jelena990 via iStock by Getty Images

Mljet

Mljet is a verdant gem nestled in the Adriatic Sea off Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. Known as the “Green Island” for its lush pine forests, vineyards, and tranquil lakes, Mljet is a must-visit destination on any small ship cruise.

The island’s most captivating feature is its National Park, which encompasses two stunning saltwater lakes, Veliko and Malo Jezero (Big and Small Lake). Explore these shimmering lakes by kayak. You can also embark on a boat ride to the picturesque St. Mary’s Island, home to a 12th-century Benedictine monastery.

bay of village prozurska luka on Mljet islands, Croatia

Mljet offers beautiful coastlines, making it ideal for small ship cruising. Photo by JimmyLung via iStock by Getty Images

Mljet’s natural beauty doesn’t end with its lakes. The island is also home to pristine beaches and scenic hiking trails. If you’re feeling adventurous, trek through Mljet’s untouched wilderness, discovering ancient ruins, panoramic viewpoints, and diverse flora and fauna.

Mljet also boasts a rich history dating back to Greek and Roman times, with archaeological sites scattered across the island. Visit charming villages like Polače and Pomena, offering a glimpse into traditional island life, complete with quaint stone houses and waterfront tavernas serving fresh seafood delicacies.

Korčula  

Korčula is a captivating island destination with a rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. The Korcula town, dubbed “Little Dubrovnik” for its medieval charm and fortified walls, is a fun place to stroll around, with its maze of narrow alleyways, ancient buildings, and picturesque squares. Explore its well-preserved architecture, including the birthplace of famed explorer Marco Polo.

Korčula’s coastline boasts secluded beaches, hidden coves, and crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Small ship cruises offer the opportunity to anchor in remote bays and access the island’s untouched natural beauty inaccessible to larger vessels.

View from the tower of the church of St. Marco of the medieval town of Korcula, Croatia, Dalmatian coast. The Statute of Korčula was first drafted in 1214. Birthplace of famous navigator Marco Polo.

The medieval town of Korčula is an idyllic location for small ship cruising in Croatia. Photo by florin1961 via iStock by Getty Images

Korčula is also known for its vineyards, olive groves, and quaint villages, where you can sample local wines, olive oils, and delectable traditional cuisine. Korčula’s wine-growing tradition dates back centuries, with indigenous grape varieties thriving in its fertile soils. You can learn more about this by booking a vineyard tour.

For a dose of history, Korčula has ancient ruins, medieval churches, and archaeological sites waiting for you to explore. These provide insight into the island’s storied past. Cultural events, such as traditional Moreska sword dances and summer festivals, showcase the island’s vibrant heritage and community spirit.

Split

Nestled on the Dalmatian Coast, Split will delight you with its ancient history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking scenery, making it a must-visit destination on a small ship cruise in Croatia. At the heart of the city lies Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most impressive Roman ruins in the world. Wander through its labyrinthine streets, marvel at its grand architecture, and soak in the atmosphere of this living museum.

Saint Domnius Bell Tower, Split, Croatia

Saint Domnius Bell Tower, Split, Croatia. Photo by Luc Rousseau via iStock by Getty Images

Beyond the palace walls, Split offers a wealth of attractions, including bustling markets, charming cafes, and bustling waterfront promenades. Learn about the city’s rich history at the Archaeological Museum, climb to the top of Marjan Hill for panoramic views, or relax on the sun-drenched beaches along the Adriatic coast.

Small ship cruises provide a unique perspective of Split, allowing you to admire the city’s stunning skyline from the water and access hidden coves and secluded islands nearby. From Split, embark on day trips to nearby destinations such as the islands of Brač, Hvar, and Vis, each offering unique charm and attractions.

Hvar

Hvar is a mesmerizing island in the Adriatic Sea, boasting natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. Known as the “Queen of the Dalmatian Islands,” it boasts a stunning coastline adorned with secluded coves, crystal-clear waters, and pristine beaches.

Aerial view at Hvar town in Southern Croatia, famous luxury travel destination in Europe, Mediterranean.

Hvar in Southern Croatia is a luxury travel destination, ideal for small ship cruising vacations. Photo by Dreamer4787 via iStock by Getty Images

One of Hvar’s highlights is its charming old town, a maze of narrow alleys, historic buildings, and bustling squares. Wander through its ancient streets, admire the Venetian architecture, and discover hidden gems around every corner. The town’s iconic sights include the 13th-century Hvar Cathedral, the imposing Fortica fortress offering panoramic views of the city and surrounding islands, and the picturesque St. Stephen’s Square, lined with cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops.

Venture into the island’s lush interior, dotted with vineyards, olive groves, and lavender fields, creating a picturesque backdrop for hiking. Hvar’s rich history dates back centuries, with influences from Greek, Roman, Venetian, and Austrian civilizations evident in its architecture and cultural heritage. Explore ancient ruins, medieval churches, and historic landmarks, gaining insight into the island’s storied past.

Small ship cruises offer an ideal way to experience Hvar. You can admire its stunning coastline, anchor in secluded bays, and access hidden treasures inaccessible to larger vessels. From Hvar, embark on day trips to nearby islands like Vis, Brač, and Korčula, each offering unique charm and attractions.

Dubrovnik

Also called the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik is a mesmerizing city along Croatia’s southern coast, captivating visitors with its stunning scenery, rich history, and cultural heritage. Encircled by ancient walls and overlooking the azure waters of the Adriatic Sea, it boasts a picturesque setting that has earned it UNESCO World Heritage status. Many cruises set sail from Dubrovnik, making it an ideal starting point for your Croatia cruise holidays, where you can begin your adventure.

The historic Old Town of Dubrovnik is a fun place to stroll around, with its maze of narrow streets, charming squares, and centuries-old buildings. Visit the marble-paved Stradun, Dubrovnik’s main thoroughfare, to admire the elegant architecture and explore iconic landmarks such as the Rector’s Palace, Sponza Palace, and the Cathedral of the Assumption.

Croatia

Small ship cruising lets you check out the best parts of Croatia, including the scenic city of Dubrovnik. Photo by SCStock via iStock by Getty Images

Dubrovnik’s city walls, dating back to the medieval period, offer panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscapes, providing a glimpse into its storied past. Small ship cruises offer a unique way of exploring Dubrovnik, allowing your boat to access secluded bays nearby.

Beyond its historic charm, Dubrovnik offers cultural experiences, including museums, galleries, and theatres showcasing the city’s vibrant arts scene. Food and wine enthusiasts will delight in Dubrovnik’s culinary offerings, with its seafood restaurants, lively markets, and local delicacies.

The Best of Small Ship Cruises in Croatia

Explore the stunning coastlines, visit charming islands, and immerse yourself in this Mediterranean gem’s rich history and culture when you book small ship cruises in Croatia. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, these cruises offer a unique and intimate way to discover the beauty of Croatia. So set sail and create memories that will last a lifetime. We invite you to explore Wander With Wonder for more of our favorite small ship cruises.

Written by EJ Ray

EJ Ray is a traveler at heart. It is part of her soul and she loves to share her travels through her words. She has traveled the world, seeking great food, wine, and experiences. EJ was born in the Eastern US but has lived across the country and in Europe and Mexico. She also took to the road for a while, exploring from her RV. EJ always seeks the next great sip, bite, and adventure.

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