The best cruising ground: Greece vs Croatia

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 9 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Cruising; Greece vs. Croatia in 2013

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


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 inexpensive.

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.


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!


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 a great value and good everywhere, another 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 an 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.


There was the general feeling that Croatia was “milking” the cruising sailor (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 overemphasise.  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 sidebar 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 aren’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

Related to the following Cruising Resources: ,

You must Login or Register to submit comments.

  1. December 11, 2018 at 1:16 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Thanks for the info, the hassle and costs to go and be around Croatia are absolutely not worth it, definitely scratched off my list.

    S/V LeFreak

  2. December 11, 2018 at 1:15 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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!

  3. December 11, 2018 at 1:15 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    I just did a long rant about Croatia on the main Croatia page (see

    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.

  4. December 11, 2018 at 1:15 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 nowhere to anchor without paying is totally untrue.

    We spent three months in Croatia in 2014 and our total mooring fees were 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!

  5. December 11, 2018 at 1:15 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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” every day 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 practised 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.

  6. December 11, 2018 at 1:15 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 the 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.

  7. December 11, 2018 at 1:14 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 lowest 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 Islands, The Peloponnese, Athens, Macedonia and Epirus, every single region has its very own Culture.

    And many religious sites as well that are so immensely beautiful such as Meteora(incredible) or Athos,(life-changing). Oh And to Andrewvik. that is opinion. I don’t 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 water dropping. They were very hot.

    And in Crete(South Greece) as well they were 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 don’t like so much. Less femininity.

  8. December 11, 2018 at 1:14 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 harbour.

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

    Fair winds!