Croatia’s stunning islands are nestled in the shimmering turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea and offer an irresistible blend of spectacular scenery, picturesque beaches and a rich history that is etched into every corner of the islands’ ancient coastal towns with their majestic fortresses and terracotta rooftops.
Due to the close proximity of many of the islands, and the well-connected ferry system that effortlessly links the popular islands, it makes Croatia Island Hopping an ideal choice, not limiting your adventure to just one island, but allowing you to explore as many as you choose.
So read on for all the inspiration you need to create your very own bucket list of Croatian islands to visit! Remember, our eShores travel experts can help you craft your ideal holiday, taking charge of all the finer details including ferry tickets and transfers, leaving you with nothing to worry about except relishing the stunning scenery and soaking up the wonderful Croatian island lifestyle.
Our top Croatian islands to visit:
Cres and Lošinj
Hvar: Vibrant and Glamourous
Renowned for its vibrant nightlife, chic restaurants, and elegant yachts, Hvar offers an exclusive experience with an upscale lifestyle that is perfectly complemented by the natural untouched beauty of the island’s landscape of lush lavender fields, vineyards and hidden coves.
Hvar town is the island’s main hub, filled with Venetian architecture, winding alleyways and a bustling harbour. Within the historic centre you will find the picturesque St. Stephen’s Square, the Cathedral of St. Stephen, and the Franciscan Monastery, each offering unique insights into the island’s heritage. For the best view of the town and surrounding islands, head to the Spanish Fortress. Hvar’s coastline is dotted with beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, including Dubovica Beach, which offers an idyllic setting with its backdrop of cliffs and lush greenery and ideal opportunities for snorkelling and swimming. For late night partying on Hvar, there is no shortage of bars and clubs ranging from trendy cocktail bars to stylish beach clubs.
Korčula: A Medieval Masterpiece
Korčula is an island steeped in medieval history and is believed to be the birthplace of the famous explorer Marco Polo.
Lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets, dotted with stone buildings, charming squares and lovely cafes, and soak in the unique ambiance of this ancient town. Important sites to visit include St Mark’s Cathedral and the Marco Polo Museum. Korčula’s fertile landscape makes it one of the top places for the production of Croatian wines, and you can take a tour of the local wineries to learn the local family winemaking traditions and expertise – including tasting the island’s wines such as Grk and Plavac Mali. Korčula is known for its beautiful coastline with a variety of stunning beaches including Vela Przina which is a large and well-known beach in Lumbarda and Pupnatska Luka, a picturesque sheltered bay surrounded by rocky cliffs.
Brač: Beautiful Beaches and Beyond
Brač is the third-largest island in the Adriatic and is most notably known for its picture-postcard Zlatni Rat beach.
Also known as the Golden Horn, Zlatni Rat is often hailed as one of the most beautiful and striking beaches in the world due to its fascinating and ever-changing shape. Stretching over half a kilometre into the sea, the tip of the beach constantly shape shifts due to the of wind, waves, and currents, making it a fascinating spectacle. It’s also a great place for water sports enthusiasts with its shallow and gently sloping seabed and consistent winds that make it ideal for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Situated near Zlatni Rat beach is the charming town of Bol, with its narrow streets, old stone houses, and a lively promenade along the seafront. Take a walk through the town’s historic centre, visit local shops, and enjoy some delicious Dalmatian cuisine in one of the many restaurants. The larger town of Supetar is also a must-visit on Brač and where the main port is located. Supetar offers many cultural attractions including the Church of St. Mary of the Annunciation and the Supetar Olive Oil Museum.
Mljet: A Marvel for nature lovers
Mljet is one of Croatia’s most verdant and unspoiled islands. One of the absolute must-visit places on the island is its magnificent national park, boasting two interconnected lakes known as Veliko Jezero (Large Lake) and Malo Jezero (Small Lake).
These enchanting lakes are linked by a narrow channel. To explore this natural wonder, you can take a boat ride or rent a kayak, allowing you to venture into the heart of the lakes. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to visit St. Mary’s Island, home to a Benedictine monastery dating back to the 12th century. If you prefer, you can stick to dry-land and explore the lakes via the walking and cycling trails that surround the lakes. Another highlight of Mljet is Odysseus’ Cave which can reached by a short boat ride or a walk from the village of Babino Polje. Once inside, you’ll be enthralled by the cave’s interior and crystal-clear waters. For a slice of paradise, make your way to Saplunara, a heavenly, secluded beach nestled in a tranquil bay at the south-eastern end of the island. This idyllic spot boasts a sandy beach with turquoise waters protected from the wind, offering the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun.
Vis: A Secluded Paradise
Vis, the farthest-located island from the Croatian mainland, is a paradise of unspoilt charm and beauty. This is largely due to the fact that the island was off-limits to foreign visitors until the late 1980s due to it being a closed military zone in former Yugoslavia. Vis offers picturesque villages, hidden coves and is also ideally located just a short 15-minute speed boat ride from the uninhabited islet of Biševo, where you can explore the must-see Blue Cave, known as one of Croatia’s most enchanting natural marvels. Here you can enter the cave by a boat tour and experience the display of the sun’s light reflecting off the limestone walls, creating a magical sapphire spectacle.
Krk: The Narrowest Street in the World
Krk, Croatia’s largest island, is often referred to as ‘The Golden Island.’ Krk is connected to the mainland by a bridge, making it easily accessible from various northern Croatian destinations such as Rijeka.
Krk has rugged cliffs, stunning beaches, rolling hills and pretty olive groves. Some of the best beaches on the island include Baška Beach and Vela Luka. Exploring the island’s towns and villages is like stepping back in time, offering visitors a glimpse into Croatia’s fascinating history. One of the must-visit landmarks on the island is the Krk Cathedral, a magnificent Romanesque-Gothic structure that dates back to the 5th century. Additionally, Vrbnik, a charming hilltop village, is renowned for having the narrowest street in the world (at just over 40cm at one point!) and is also famed for its excellent white wine, Vrbnička Žlahtina.
Lastovo: A Star-gazer’s paradise
Lastovo, also known as ‘The Secret Island’ is an off-the-beaten-path island with a small population and limited tourism, perfect for escaping the tourist crowds and immersing yourself in nature for a couple of days. With its stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, hidden coves and lush pine forests, it offers a serene and peaceful retreat. Lastovo is most commonly known though as being a fantastic destination for stargazing. Located far from the glare of city lights and with little light pollution, the skies at night are really something to behold, coming alive with a blanket of stars as night falls.
Elaphiti Islands: Charming and car-free
The Elaphiti Islands is a small archipelago located near Dubrovnik whose name derives from the Greek word ‘elafos’ meaning deer, as the islands were reportedly home to a large deer population in ancient times. Nowadays, the three main islands Koločep, Lopud, and Šipan are home to only 1000 people, with Koločep and Lopud being completely car-free – which should give an indication as to how quiet they are! Lopud is possibly the most popular of the three and full of charming stone houses surrounded by lush gardens and ancient fortresses. Make sure you take in the beautiful sandy beach of Šunj, and also the harbour, where you’ll be greeted by the impressive sea wall and the 30-meter-high bell tower of the 15th-century Franciscan Monastery. Koločep is also a special place to visit – in particular the Blue Cave of Koločep. Whilst it’s not as famous as the Blue Cave of Bisevo, it still offers a breath-taking experience as you enter the large cave and are greeted with the magical blue reflection that is caused by the way sunlight interacts with the water and the cave’s walls. Šipan Island is the largest of the Elaphiti islands and its landscape is filled with olive trees, vineyards, ancient churches and fortresses offering some great snorkelling spots on its coastline. The best way to explore the Elaphiti islands is by renting bikes, kayaks or by enjoying leisurely walks, stumbling across hidden natural gems and indulging in freshly caught seafood in a local tavern.
Rab: Serenity and History
Nicknamed ‘Felix Arba’ or ‘Happy Rab’ by the Romans due to its abundant natural beauty, you will fall in love with this serene northern Croatian island with its secluded beaches, beautiful port, great history and laid-back vibe.
By wandering through the charming streets of the medieval Rab town, you’ll discover a delightful labyrinth of terracotta-roofed mansions and Romanesque churches. The four belltowers of Rab Town offer incredible views of the surrounding area from the top. If it’s stunning beaches you’re looking for, head to the north of the island where you’ll find some of the best on the island. Paradise Beach, known locally as Rajska Plaza, lives up to its name with its beautiful sandy shores and crystal-clear waters. While exploring the island, don’t forget to try the mouth-watering Rapska torta, an almond cake that holds a unique connection to Rab’s history, believed to have originated during Pope Alexander III’s visit in 1177. Also on the island is Komrcar Park, located just a short walk from Rab Town, which is a lush, peaceful park offering an oasis of greenery.
Cres and Lošinj: Double the Beauty
Last but not least, the twin islands of Cres and Lošinj, located southwest of the island of Krk, showcase unspoiled Croatian scenery with lush greenery, azure seas and rugged cliffs, offering peace and tranquillity at every turn. The two islands are connected by a bridge, making it easy to explore both islands in the same trip. Cres, the second-largest Croatian island, is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, home to the griffon vulture, a rare and endangered scavenging bird of prey, and other rare species. Whilst Lošinj is known for its medicinal herbs and aromatic plants, earning the nickname ‘The Island of Vitality’ due to its efforts in sustainability, its climate and rich vegetation, believed to have health benefits. Both islands are the ideal destination for nature lovers with stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches and picturesque villages.
Pakleni Islands: Pristine Beauty
Just off the southwest coast of Hvar lies the Pakleni Islands, an archipelago of uninhabited islands where you’ll find stunning secluded beaches, hidden coves and nature walks.
This group of around 20 islands, islets, and rocks is a natural paradise, offering visitors a diverse range of experiences in a relatively small area. There are plenty of popular walking trails on the islands including the trail on the island of Marinkovac, where you are rewarded with fabulous panoramic views of the surrounding islands and the Adriatic Sea. Located on the island of St. Clement, Palmižana Bay is the most famous and developed area of the Pakleni Islands and is known for its beautiful sandy beach and a unique botanical garden, the Palmižana Meneghello. The garden features an impressive collection of exotic plants and vibrant flowers. Divers and snorkellers will be in their element around the waters of the Pakleni islands, with Vodnjak at the end of the west side of the archipelago considered one of the best places to dive in the country with its vertical reefs covered with densely grown red gorgonians that house a variety of marine life.
With the backdrop of the Adriatic sea at every turn, Croatia’s islands offer a magical holiday, with each island offering a bounty of natural wonders and experiences for you to uncover. From the glamour of Hvar to the serene landscapes of Krk, there’s a perfect island for every taste.
Already packed your suitcase? Let our experienced eShores travel experts help you to curate your very own Croatian adventure! Get in touch with us today, and together we’ll start planning your dream holiday tailored to your exact requirements. Our for more itinerary inspiration, check out our Croatia Multi Centre page.
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