A Guide to the Croatian Islands

Also called the country of 1001 islands, Croatia has an impressive number of 1185 islands and islets, out of which only 66 are inhabited. This places the Croatian archipelago on the first position in the Adriatic Sea and on the second one in the Mediterranean, after the one owned by Greece. Each Croatian island comes with its own story and brings a new sample of the country’s culture. Departing from different cities like Rijeka, Opatija, Zadar, Split, Trogir or Dubrovnik, several cruises are available. Choose the cruise that best suits your interests and you will certainly have an unforgettable holiday featured by morning swims in the refreshing Adriatic waters, caves explorations, sightseeing tours of historical towns, biking or hiking adventures, beach relaxation and much more.

Krk Island

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Krk Island Reviews

Croatia’s largest island and connected to the mainland by a bridge, Krk Island offers a wide range of things to do. Located in the north of the country, near Istria Peninsula and Rijeka airport, Krk Island is rightfully known as the “cradle of Croatian culture”.

Indeed, in Baska town, on Krk Island, you can visit St. Lucy Church, whose historical value goes much beyond the exquisite early romantic architectural style it features. One of the first inscriptions using the Glagolitic alphabet – the Baska tablet – was discovered in the church’s paving in 1851. It is also on this island that the old Dalmatian language died out, together with its last speaker, in 1898.

The most important settlements on this island are: Baska, Dobrinj, Krk, Malinska, Omisalj, Punat and Vrbnik. Some of the most interesting things to do on Krk Island include a tour of the Krk old town (whose walls can be admired from the sea), exploring Biserujka cave, hiking in the island’s forest and tasting the special Valomet champagne, whose fermentation procedure includes a storing the steel bottles for a few years among the coral reefs, on the sea bed.

Vis Island

Vis IslandLocated in the Adriatic Sea just off of the coast of Croatia, Vis Island is the furthest island off of the mainland to be inhabited full-time. The seas around the island are filled with blue fish and there are numerous vineyards on the island to explore, every day is a perfect day to grab some ice cream and walk along the famous beach of Srebrna or the other numerous brilliant beaches that are available.

Vis has been off of the tourism radar for decades because of its history. It was militarized for over 50 years after World War II and used as a naval outpost. Visitation for anyone outside of the military was impossible. Today this means visitors also have the chance to explore numerous tunnels and installations that were used during the days when Yugoslavia had control over the island. There are 15 bases in total that are accessible to visitors.

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Vis HotelsVis Island also offers a unique diving experience in St. George’s Bay. One of the military installations built during its five decades of militarization was a submarine depot, which is a tunnel carved into the side of the island.

If you enjoy a nice hike, the summit of Mount Hum is the perfect location to take in a sunrise or sunset. Many of the military tours of the island make this a final stop because it is located near Tito’s Cave, one of the most visited locations on the island. It takes just a minute to walk up in the sometimes chilly twilight to enjoy a memorable vista.

 

For many years, Vis Island was considered forbidden. Now it is a perfect way to enjoy the Adriatic Sea away from the regular tourist locations. Slow down, relax by the sea, and experience the untouched nature that is waiting for you.

Cres Island

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Cres Island Hotels

Located in the Kvarner Bay, in Cres-Losijn archipelago, between the islands of Krk and Losinj, Cres Island is separated from Losijn through an artificial channel built by the Romans. It is a charming island featured by extreme landscape diversity – rich vegetation in the south and rocky cliffs in the north.

The island’s common attractions are Vransko freshwater lake, Saint Ivan beach or the town Lubernica Valun. Important towns on the island are: Cres, Valun, Osor, Zaglav, Martinscica. While Cres is the largest Croatian town on an island, Martinscica is a popular stop with cruising ships because of its protected harbor. Several hiking tours are available from Martinscica, as well as from Cres.

Losinj Island

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Part of the Cres-Losijn archipelago, Losijn is also a large island – the 9th in size in the Adriatic Sea. The island is known for the sea wonderful views it offers and for its waters visited by dolphins. Losinj Island is the perfect choice for all those who want to send a quiet holiday, away from the big cities’ hustle and bustle, and to explore nature in its purest form.

The main towns are: Mali Losinj and Veli Losijn. The most interesting things to do on Losinj Island refer to water sports like windsurfing and snorkeling, cave exploration and hiking. However, the island’s hosts an impressive number of churches and convents, as well as Renaissance buildings and ancient ruins, which make an interesting discovery for history and architecture lovers.

Rab Island

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Located on Kvarner Bay, between the islands Krk and Pag and at the bottom of Velebit Mountain, Rab Island is attractive mainly because of its oak woods in the south – one of the most beautiful forests of Mediterranean oak in the world.

It also has well preserved medieval architecture. The main settlements are: Lopar and Rab.

The most interesting things to do on Rab Island are forest trailing and sightseeing.

Pag Island

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Characterized by rocky terrain and poor vegetation, Pag Island is well known for the handicraft activities carried out here – especially the Pag laces.

Another feature this island is reputed for are the sheep and the cheese obtained from their milk (paski sir).

The most important settlements of the island are: Novalja, Pag, Jakisnika and Banjol. Novalja, the biggest resort on the island, has become during the recent years a fashionable destination. It’s called the Croatian Ibiza and this is the perfect place to go if you want to party. Actually Novalja is a village like all the others, but what makes the difference is the Zrce beach located 2 km from the village.

Other things to do on Pag Island include the 15th century Duke’s court, which houses lots of art galleries and Stari Bunari – still functioning wells dating from Roman times.

Dugi Otok Island

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Located in Central Dalmatia, near Zadar Dugi Otok Island is known as the Croatian olive trees orchard (Saljsko Polje = olive forest) and for its bays, the most famous being Sakarun and Telescica. A large island, it presents the advantage of sandy beaches, considering the fact that most beaches in Croatia have a rocky aspect.

The most important settlements on the island are: Halls, Božava, Brbinj, Rava, Luka and Sali. From the latter you can take a cruise and explore the surrounding, less known islands. There are plenty of things to do in and around Sali: sightseeing the landmarks (churches, ancient remains, historical buildings), hiking in Kornati National Park, participating in donkey races or having fun during a local fiesta.

Pasman Island

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Pasman Island Reviews

Located near Zadar, Pasman Island is known for its pure waters (it is considered as the cleanest part of the Adriatic Sea because the sea currents’ direction switches a few times a day), but also for its beautiful sandy beaches such as Mrljane. The most important settlement on Pasman Island is Tkon and this is due to its favored position.

Well connected with the mainland via Pasman canal (which includes ten other islets) and home to a protected wide harbor, Pasman Island benefits from an increasing popularity with local and international tourists who come here to enjoy a quiet vacation in gorgeous natural settings.

Things to do on Pasman Island include hiking through the pristine nature of the southern side, exploring the island’s caves, but also sightseeing as Pasman Island is home to a wide range of historical monuments such as the Benedictine convent on Cokovac hill and the Franciscan convent in Kraj. While exploring the southern half of Pasman Island, you will certainly appreciate the views over the most beautiful archipelago in the Adriatic Sea.

Kornati Archipelago

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Located in Central Dalmatia and made up of 147 small islands and islets, the Kornati archipelago is known for Donji Kornati Park (which includes 89 islands and cliffs), for its rocks and for being a diver’s paradise.

The main settlements are: Korn, Smokvica, Mana, Lavsa. Several legends have circulated along the years on the subject of these beautiful islands. One of them, popularized by George Bernard Shaw, refers to the archipelago’s conception, attributed to God who, allegedly, made the islands using stars’ powder.

Things to do on this magnificent seemingly desert archipelago include nature exploration, landscape admiring, sightseeing remains and landmarks dating back to the 1st century and practicing water sports.

Brac Island

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Brac Island Reviews

Tucked between the islands Split and Hvar, Brac is one of the largest islands in Croatia and the largest in Dalmatia.

It is known for its white rocks (the white stone of Brac), which has been exploited since ancient times, being used in the construction of famous buildings like the White House in Washington, Vienna Parliament or the Reichstag in Berlin.

The most interesting attractions of the island are: Dragon’s Cave, Cave Nerežiške Kopacina and a few artificial lakes. The most important settlements on the island are: Bol, Supetar, Milne, Sumartin.

Hvar Island

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Hvar Island Reviews

Situated in Central Dalmatia, between the islands Brac and Korcula, Hvar Island is known as the sunniest island in the country (2700 hours of sunshine a year). This feature turns it into a top tourist destination, especially that you can get a discount if it rains and you are accommodated for free in case it snows.

The island is famous for its rich cultures of lavender, rosemary, sage, marjoram and thyme, which provide this strip of land with charming appearance and scent.

The most important settlements on the island are: Hvar (with its picturesque harbor and medieval landmarks such as St Stephen’s Square, St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Franciscan Monastery), Jelsa (with its baroque medieval church), Stari Grad (that stands on the site of the Greek city Pharos) and Vrboska.

Sports enthusiasts will also appreciate the wide range of things to do on Hvar Island: trekking, walking, biking, snorkeling, diving, wind surfing and much more.

Korcula Island

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Korcula Island Reviews

Framed by the islands Hvar and Mljet, Korcula is the birth place of the famous seafarer Marco Polo. If the vegetation on Pag is very poor, on Korcula it is very lush. Forests are very thick and gained for the island the name of Black Korcula. Its inhabitants are very skillful stone sculptors.

The island also boasts with its wine and wine based products as well as with the still preserved cultural heritage, visible in events such as the Moreska bravery games or on the city’s medieval walls. The most important settlements of the island are: Korcula, Vela Luka, Zrnovo, Brna Pupnat, Cara and Račišće.

The old town of Korcula, with its stone buildings and towers, has kept its original appearance and charms the visitors by its beauty. The city was created according to a very ingenious plan and its streets are like a fish bone. The backbone is the main avenue that passes in front of the cathedral and from it start other lanes that go towards the sea on the two sides of the main boulevard. The lanes on the west side are straight and let in a breeze that cools the city during the summer, while the east side streets are curved in order not let the cold wind get into the town during winter.

You will enter the old town by a magnificent staircase of the 19th century, at the top of which there is a square tower – the great tower of Revelin. By passing this gate you arrive in the main street, leading to St. Mark’s Cathedral. Note the beautiful window facade, the fantastic images such as dragons or mermaids on the sculpted frieze, the clock with its gold and black ball showing the different phases of the moon and the lions on each side of the central portal, one supported by Adam, the other by Eve.

Upon entering the cathedral take a look at the sculptures above the four columns, each one representing one gospel: the bull for St. Luke, the eagle for St. John, the lion for St. Mark and St. Matthew for the man. On the right side, you can admire weapons on the wall. They were offered as thanks for naval victories. The cathedral may seem larger once you are inside because it is actually connected to the chapel of St. Roch.

Lokrum Island

Lokrum IslandSituated in the close proximity of the Croatian city Dubrovnik, Lokrum Island has enchanted many important figures along the history. Richard the Lionhearted donated a large amount of money to the Benedictine monastery built here in the 11th century, whose ruins can be visited while spending your holiday on this paradise.

A green gem surrounded by turquoise waters, Lokrum Island is a popular tourist destination because it is easily reached from the main land. Besides its magnificent beaches, tourists find here an exquisite Botanical garden with palm trees and exotic plant species. The thick forests can be a cooling oasis after a few hours on the beach.

Uglijan Island

Located very close to the island of Pasman, Uglijan is known as the Green Island because of its rich Mediterranean vegetation: pines, olive trees, vines, fig trees, macchia. Sightseeing opportunities on Uglijan Island include a 1st century Christian basilica, a Franciscan monastery, the ruins of a mausoleum and of a Roman villa, but the main things to do on Uglijan Island refer to sunbathing, swimming, practicing water sports and trailing the forest.

Prvic Island

Located between Vodice and Sibenik, Prvic Island is very close to the main land. It has a well-represented traditional Dalmatian style, with stone houses. The interesting thing is that it is traffic and noise free, because there are no cars on the island.