Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
The global site for cruising sailors
Sections
You are here: Home / Countries / Greece / The best cruising ground: Greece vs Croatia

The best cruising ground: Greece vs Croatia

By Dave Elliott — last modified May 31, 2017 02:20 PM
Australian cruiser, Dave Elliott, of SY Scarlett, spent the Spring and Summer of 2013 cruising Greece and Croatia. Here he gives his thoughts on which country represents the best value for cruisers, for now.

Published: 2013-11-27 00:00:00
Topics: Mediterranean
Countries: Croatia , Greece

Cruising; Greece vs. Croatia in 2013

Scarlett is an Australian Jeanneau 42i; we wintered 2012/13 in Marina di Ragusa in Sicily.

Greece

On April 7th we left Italy and headed towards the Ionian Sea. The 240 mile crossing was mild, on arrival in Greece we found ourselves to be one of the only yachts in the Ionian. From day one and our check in at Argostoli in southern Cephalonia with the port police and customs, everything was easy, hassle free and in-expensive.

The weather in April in the Ionian was perfect, warm days, calm seas and light breezes. Every anchorage was empty, every town quay deserted. There wasn’t even one other yacht in the normally hectic port Fiscardo! We sailed through the inland sea and moved through the Lefkas Canal, to stay at Preveza and then through beautiful Paxos and on to Corfu.

Albania

We left Corfu at the end of May and sailed through Albania. The port of Sarande in southern Albania was a town and country trying to drag itself into the European 21st century, the people and the authorities, helpful and friendly. Yachts were uncommon and they wanted to show us a good time. The markets and the restaurants were inexpensive and good. Albania, it’s not every-day you see a man walking down the footpath with a large brown bear on dog’s lead. Lucky for the bear our little white Maltese was also on lead, he would have had him for sure!

Croatia

From here a 220 mile push through to Cavtat in Southern Croatia. Here we paid for a cruising permit and accommodation tax for three months, which amounted to almost 400 euros or the local currency of 2700 koona. We then went out and anchored in the next bay and some local official came up in a dinghy and tried to take another 10 euro for “Garbage Fee”. I told him to go away and he did, leaving with the quote, ‘We always have trouble with Australians!’

For the next eighty four days and nights we cruised up to Venice and back down again. Venice was great but that's another story. Croatia, well it’s good, but not as good as Greece and I’ll tell you why.

First, what's good about Croatia

  • The beer is cheap and good at a euro a litre. So too is the wine, with reasonable bottled wine at three euros per litre.
  • The food is good and cheap, they must have the best stone fruits in the world. Their markets are great with super produce. The ubiquitous pizza restaurants are great value and good everywhere, other restaurant fair is pretty mundane. Seafood is exorbitant, the resultant fish always the size of a sprat. We wouldn’t use them for bait where I am from!
  • The people are friendly enough, but not as warm and smiling like the Greeks.
  • The sailing is lovely, in blue skies and 30 degrees there was a 12 to 14 knot breeze at 1300 hours every day. The wind stopped to zero every afternoon at 1800 hours. The inland seas of islands made for fabulous sailing and cruising.
  • There was never a ripple at night in coves and inlets, still, quiet and no horrible rolling.
  • Because there are so many anchorages, they were never busy. Even in late July and early August, there were never more than a few other yachts.
  • The charter boats we encountered were well crewed and behaved. There weren’t any crash and bangs by day or night.
  •  

    Now, what we didn't like about Croatia:

  • The water is warmer and clearer in Greece; in fact it’s a lot clearer, cleaner and warmer. In Croatia there are no sandy beaches at all, swimming is just much better in Greece.
  • The Croatian islands are nice, with lots of fine, safe anchorages. However on many of them there aren’t even walking trials. The rocks and thorny brush make an evening walk almost impossible.
  • If there is a town quay you will pay to tie up and the pay demanded is always a minimum of 40 euros. Power and water if you can get it will be extra.
  • The best anchorages have buoys in them; these are also 40 euros a night (more in the national parks). If you anchor within 300 metres of a buoy you must also pay 40 euros. Many anchorages are free, but you never know when a dinghy might arrive and the person inside say, ‘You must pay!’ This normally happens about one hour before sundown, which gives little time to find a safe calm alternative.
  • The marinas are really expensive, you just don’ want to go there. Expensive with limited facilities. An example, Zadar Marina, was happy to charge 100 euro per night, but could not supply a RIB to assist us when we had engine failure and were trying to get into the marina. We had to sail around a horde of ferry boats of all sizes and up to the pen, there wasn’t even a marinero to grab the lines.
  •  

    Conclusion

    There was the general feeling that Croatia was "milking" the cruising sailer (charter boaters included) for every cent they could get. The hand is always out and the face behind it rarely has much of a smile.

    However with careful avoidance of buoyed bays and standing our ground, we were able to anchor for free for all but two nights. This still did not allow one to relax, always wondering if the next boat was some local coming to ask for a wad of koonas.

    We arrived back to Corfu in late August, the relief we felt at being back in Greece is hard to over emphasise.  We sailed on through the Corinth Canal and into the Cyclades and the Dodecanese, to finish our 4000nm cruising season in Finike, Turkey.

    Back to Greece meant free town quays, sometimes free water and power, to anchor where you like and happy locals with big smiles. And best of all to a lunch at the ever present harbour side bar of a pitta yeros and a large Mythos for 4.5 euros.

    We did like Croatia, but would we go back, no.

    I know I have banged on a lot about price and money, but when you feel you are constantly the victim of being gouged, it grates the soul. The bottom line is that anything that is good in Croatia is better and cheaper in Greece (well the beer and wine isn’t better or cheaper).

    Is it too good to be true? Probably, the Greek Government have just introduced a cruising tax to start April 1st 2014, which will cost a 42 foot boat 1300 euros per year.

    Dave Elliott
    SY Scarlett

    Share |
    pixtep
    pixtep says:
    May 30, 2017 09:25 PM

    I can absolutely share the "relieve" experience when you enter Greece after cruising in Croatia!
    I had this experience twice, sailing from north adriatic to central Aegean, every time we arrived in Gouvia/Corfu it felt like back to civilization, back home....
    friendly, positive thinking and acting people, and the feeling to be welcome, a feeling I never had in Croatia!

    Manana
    Manana says:
    Oct 17, 2015 06:50 PM

    I just did a long rant about Croatia on the main Croatia page (see http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Croatia/view#1445106914044871).
    We felt the same relief entering Greece. Quirky entry formalities I suppose, but always friendly and genuinely welcoming. The uncertainty of the Bora and mostly poor holding just made it that much more uncomfortable. Yes and waiting for someone to knock on the hull and ask for money. Really we wasted 2 months of cruising by going to Croatia instead of doing more in Greece... Like our much smarter friends did.

    bluewatersailor
    bluewatersailor says:
    Apr 13, 2015 10:32 AM

    For years we have already heard about how much of a rip-off Croatia is, that it's almost impossible to anchor without paying, it saddens me to hear these stories. Yes I agree if you want to use a Marina, harbour wall or mooring buoys in June to Sept you are going to need a very good bank balance, but for anyone to state there is no where to anchor without paying is totally untrue. We spent three months in Croatia in 2014 and our total mooring fees was 30 euros. We were approached three times during our stay by people who were just trying their luck to collect a fee for anchoring, but each time when we confronted them and asked to see official papers they just took off.
    I will finish this by saying this, we are a British boat, our first encounter when we were checking in was with another British boat skipper, who said to me something I will never forget; "Welcome to rip-off Croatia!". I asked him why he said that and his reply was, "I am being charged 40 euros a night with no power or water to stay on this wall". I told him, "We are just over there on anchor and we are not being charged anything".
    Go and enjoy!

    johnno
    johnno says:
    Mar 10, 2015 12:30 PM

    I could not agree more. We've spent 2 seasons in Croatia, 1 season in Greece. Croatia is a Beautiful country, great sailing, but we feel we are "milked" everyday we are cruising there. It's possible to find bays without concessions, but all the best ones ask for hefty mooring fees. We found most the nautical world and maritime officials to be down downright unfriendly.
    The outrageous prices practiced by the Croatian Naval industry is usually not a problem for charterers. This goes from mooring and berthing prices through spare parts.
    We are now ready to leave Croatia and spend another season in Greece before heading back west. Would I go back to Croatia? No.

    glenn.watson
    glenn.watson says:
    May 04, 2014 12:52 PM

    Thank you Dave,
    This is very helpful and I would appreciate any more tips or recommendations for the area.
    We are also based in Australia but take delivery of a new yacht next month in koper, slovenia. I have taken our 3 kids out of school for the term and plan to spend from mid June to late sept sailing the adriatic, nth Ionian and Western med. Our loose plan is to head over to venice first and then spend around one month cruising Croatian Coast, another month in the Ionian, then across to sicily and up western coast of Italy. We need the boat to be at genoa by late September so she can be shipped home to Australia.
    Keen for any tips you or others may have.

    Ptolemy336VV .
    Ptolemy336VV . says:
    Apr 04, 2014 10:40 AM

    Greece is one of the most beautiful countries. Croatia is beautiful too. But Greece has so much more an better of everything.
    Greece has much more cultural, historical and natural diversity.

    -Greece also has much more and MUCH better mountain sceneries. That is because 20% of ALL of europe's MOST prominent mountains (how high a mountain is compared to its lotwest surroundings) lie in Greece. The call them Ultra Peaks(peaks rising more than 1500 meters above the surroundings).
    Greece has 19, Spain has 3, Switzerland has 8, Austria has 12,Croatia has none.

    -Greece has much more of everything. Greece has 16.000 Km of crystal clear beaches, Much more beautiful and greater mountain sceneries, cultural and natural diversities, castles, temples etc. And much better food.
    Regions and Island groups like Chalkidiki, The Cyclades, The Dodecanese, The Eastern Islands, The Sporades, The Ionian Isands, The Peloponnese, Athens, Macedonia and Epirus, every single region has its very own Culture. And many religous sites as well that are so immensely beautiful such as Meteora(incredible) or Athos,(life changing).

    Oh And to Andrewvik. that is opinion. I dont agree with you about the women.
    I have been to both. 2x Croatia and 7x Greece, and Greek women (and men) are much more beautiful! Greeks are diverse. In Thessaloniki the women where absolutely waterdropping. They where very hot. And in Crete(South Greece) as well they where different from Thessaloniki(North Greece). Cretans are downright beautiful. So no I don't agree with you. Greeks in my opinion have a much more a combination of European and oriental sensualities than Croatians who have more slavic faces. Which I prefer less. Just like in Bosnia, White Russia, slavic people have a bit of russian looking face, which I dont like so much. Less femininity.

    andrewvik
    andrewvik says:
    Dec 03, 2013 07:34 AM

    Dave, pretty accurate portrayal of Croatia. But you missed one critical fact: Croatian girls are immensely hotter than those in Greece.

    Also keep in mind that you conveniently missed the high season in the Ionian, and the countless flotillas of British "sailors," ones that can't really sail but have a charter company employee run around and park all of the boats in each harbor.

    Want a spot in Fiskardo in August? Better get there by 1pm.

    Fair winds!
    Andrew
    www.sailgeja.com

    Countries
    Albania
    Algeria
    American Samoa
    Angola
    Anguilla
    Antarctica
    Antigua & Barbuda
    Argentina
    Aruba
    Ascension Island
    Australia
    Azores
    BIOT (Chagos)
    Bahamas
    Bahrain
    Barbados
    Belgium
    Belize
    Bermuda
    Bonaire
    Bosnia
    Bouvetoya
    Brazil
    British Virgin Islands
    Brunei
    Bulgaria
    Cambodia
    Canada
    Canary Islands
    Cape Verdes
    Cayman Islands
    Channel Islands
    Chile
    China
    Christmas Island
    Cocos Keeling
    Colombia
    Comoros
    Cook Islands
    Costa Rica
    Croatia
    Cuba
    Curacao
    Cyprus
    Denmark
    Djibouti
    Dominica
    Dominican Republic
    East Timor (Timor Leste)
    Easter Island
    Ecuador
    Egypt
    El Salvador
    Eritrea
    Estonia
    Falkland Islands
    Faroe Islands
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Fiji
    Finland
    France
    French Guiana
    French Polynesia
    French Subantarctic Territory
    Galapagos
    Gambia
    Georgia
    Germany
    Gibraltar
    Greece
    Greenland
    Grenada
    Guadeloupe
    Guam
    Guatemala
    Guinea-Bissau
    Guyana
    Haiti
    Hawaii
    Heard, McDonald & Macquarie Islands
    Honduras
    Hong Kong
    Iceland
    India
    Indonesia
    Ireland
    Israel
    Italy
    Ivory Coast
    Jamaica
    Japan
    Jordan
    Juan Fernandez Islands
    Kenya
    Kiribati
    Kuwait
    Latvia
    Lebanon
    Libya
    Lithuania
    Macau
    Madagascar
    Madeira
    Malaysia
    Maldives
    Malta
    Marion & Prince Edward Island
    Marshall Islands
    Martinique
    Mauritania
    Mauritius
    Mayotte
    Mexico
    Monaco
    Montenegro
    Montserrat
    Morocco
    Mozambique
    Myanmar (Burma)
    Namibia
    Nauru
    Netherlands
    New Caledonia
    New Zealand
    New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands
    Nicaragua
    Niue
    Norfolk Island
    Northern Marianas
    Norway
    Oman
    Palau (Belau)
    Panama
    Papua New Guinea
    Peru
    Philippines
    Pitcairn Island
    Poland
    Portugal
    Puerto Rico
    Qatar
    Reunion Island
    Romania
    Russia
    Saba
    Samoa
    Sao Tome and Principe
    Saudi Arabia
    Senegal
    Seychelles
    Sierra Leone
    Singapore
    Sint Maarten
    Slovenia
    Solomon Islands
    Somalia
    South Africa
    South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
    South Korea
    Spain
    Spanish Virgin Islands
    Sri Lanka
    St Barts
    St Helena
    St Kitts & Nevis
    St Lucia
    St Martin
    St Pierre & Miquelon
    St Vincent & the Grenadines
    Statia
    Subantarctic & Southern Ocean Islands
    Sudan
    Suriname
    Sweden
    Syria
    Taiwan
    Tanzania
    Thailand
    Tokelau
    Tonga
    Trinidad & Tobago
    Tristan da Cunha
    Tunisia
    Turkey
    Turks & Caicos
    Tuvalu
    US Virgin Islands
    USA
    Ukraine
    United Arab Emirates
    United Kingdom
    Uruguay
    Vanuatu
    Venezuela
    Vietnam
    Wallis and Futuna
    Yemen
    Add/Update Your Business
    If you would like your business to be listed, or the details are wrong, please update your business