There are over 1000 islands in Croatia that vary greatly in size, population and character. The smallest of them, Smokvica Vela, with only one square kilometer of land, is completely unpopulated, whereas the largest one, Cres, has the population of 3184 inhabitants. Some are known for its vibrant night life and summer activities, while others offer secluded beaches to anyone wishing for a peaceful vacation. What all of them have in common is crystal blue sea, wonderful climate and long stretches of beach. Below is a selection of 10 of the most beautiful Croatian islands everyone should visit at some point in their lives.
Susak is a small island on the northern Adriatic coast with less than 200 locals, no roads and only one village. The distinct yellow dust this chunk of land is made of, a dialect only 200 people on the planet fully understand and the fact that it is practically impossible to find only contribute to the island’s mystic presence. Reaching it by boat can be quite an adventure, as well as finding accommodation. But all of it is worth the effort. Prepare to be amazed by the endless sandy beaches, ochre-colored cliffs and picturesque hiking trails. Yet what makes this island truly unique is its ability to make anybody feel like they are the only person in the world.
The island of Krk is the biggest and northernmost island in the Adriatic Sea. It is also the most accessible, diverse and, consequently, the most visited island in Croatia. It offers everything from historic towns to rural villages, where the authentic spirit of the old world is still present, crowded city beaches and secluded bays, night bars, as well as family friendly restaurants.
The island of Pag is the fifth-largest Croatian island and the one with the longest coastline. This North Dalmatian island has also become known as Croatia’s party island, due to Zrce beach with its legendary Hideout Festival and many other summer events. However, Pag is an island with two very distinct faces. One is the face of the multiple music festivals during the summer and the other is the world of roughly eight thousand inhabitants, who live on this island all four seasons of the year. Visitors can catch a glimpse of their world when they visit the market in the town of Pag, where even in the summer, locals sell the beautiful handmade lace and sheep cheese, both of which are indigenous to the island.
Cres is the same size as Krk, which makes it one of the two largest Croatian islands. It is located in the northern part of the Adriatic Sea and is accessible by drawbridge. Most of the island is still fairly undeveloped, which makes it perfect for an adventurous vacation. Its largest town, also called Cres, is a must-see for all lovers of Venetian architecture. Another sight worth visiting is the strikingly beautiful ancient mountain village of Lubenice, which offers a great view of the sea and neighboring islands. Cres is also well known for Lake Vrana, its only fresh water source, which is also one of the deepest fresh water lakes in Eastern Europe, reaching 50 meters below the sea level.
The island of Lastovo is part of the island municipality Lastovo, consisting of 46 islands, which have in total the population of 792 people. Needless to say, this makes Lastovo an ideal place for a truly peaceful getaway. In addition to its picturesque shores, deep, clear sea and unspoiled nature, Lastovo is also known for its delicious local specialties, high quality wine and great sailing.
The island of Rab is one of the islands in the Kvarner archipelago in the northern part of the Croatian Adriatic Sea. It is mostly known for its seemingly endless sandy beaches and the medieval town of Rab, with its four distinct white bell towers. It is perfect for a low-key getaway, long walks on the beach and swimming in the ocean.
Mljet is the southernmost Croatian island, known for its National Park, with its two beautiful inland salt-water lakes and lush Mediterranean vegetation. There is even a 12th century Benedictine monastery on a tiny island within the larger one of the two lakes. The island is perfect for exploring the many hidden paths through the forest, swimming and sunbathing on its secluded beaches, biking and canoeing. It is also the home of the legendary Cave of Ulysses.
Vis is the farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland, but totally worth the long ferry ride from Split. Despite its beautiful pebbled beaches, crystal blue sea and mouth-watering local delicacies, the island is still surprisingly peaceful and void of tourists. Definitely worth visiting while it still has most of its old-Mediterranean charm. Among foodies, this island is mostly known for its tiny fishing villages and an abundance of sea foods, along with its local white wine and many wineries.
Hvar is located amidst the islands of Brac, Vis and Korcula. It differs from most of the other Dalmatian islands in the fact that is has an abundance of fresh water springs, pine forests, vineyards and fields. Due to its gorgeous Venetian-style architecture, beautiful beaches, pleasant weather and the hottest nightlife on the Croatian coast, Hvar has turned into one of the most popular tourist spots on the Mediterranean coast for celebrities, backpackers and families alike.
Korcula is the sixth largest Adriatic island and belongs to the central Dalmatian archipelago. Due to its rich history, most notably the 15th century, when the island was part of the prosperous Republic of Venice, Korcula’s Old Town can best be described as Venice in the heart of Dalmatia. Saint Mark’s Cathedral in the town center, narrow cobbled streets and ancient stone buildings make the island’s historic connections more than obvious to any traveler. The island of Korcula is best known for the sapphire-blue waters, picturesque rocky beaches and the legend of Marco Polo, who, according to one of many theories, was born in a building in the very center of the Old Town.