These are the Best Islands in Croatia
Mainland Croatia is one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations, attracting tourists and backpackers from all over with its contemporary culture, unspoiled rural countryside, Mediterranean climate, and its more recent claim to fame as a filming location for the television series of Game of Thrones. But venture out into the ocean and you will discover over 1000 beautiful islands of various sizes making up the country’s coastline, providing a range of destinations that offer everything from party towns to idyllic villages, and showcasing some of Croatia’s most stunning landscape.
The coastline of mainland Croatia is around 1800km, looking out over the islands scattered alongside it in the Adriatic Sea. Whilst a lot of these are small and uninhabited, many of the larger, populated islands are ideal for either an extended stay or a short excursion as part of a longer trip.
Croatian island hopping is a very popular way of seeing all that the country’s coast has to offer and allows you to experience the lively culture of the bigger island towns along with the stunning natural beauty of more remote locations. Organised island-hopping cruises are available if you want to avoid having to plan your own route, but it is also possible to travel independently between the islands using public transport.
Every location has something special to offer, and it can be difficult to decide which Croatian island to visit. This guide to the best islands in Croatia has rounded up a selection of popular locations and some quieter, undiscovered gems, and offers a range of different interest points to suit the preferences of every traveller.
Best Croatian Islands for Beaches
Whilst most of the beaches in Croatia are pebbly, Rab is one of the only islands with soft, golden sand along all of its shorelines, and is a perfect place to spend your time relaxing in the Mediterranean sunshine. A popular spot is Rajska beach, also known as Paradise beach, which stretches out from the island for over a kilometre and has a Blue Flag rating for high environmental cleanliness and tourist facilities.
Rab is known for having a milder climate than mainland Croatia, which it owes to three ridges that protect the island from colder winds. As well as its famous beaches, the central old town, also named Rab, is home to many examples of interesting medieval architecture and the remains of the huge walls that used to surround the town.
Brač is one of Croatia’s largest islands and also one of its sunniest, making it a perfect destination for those wanting to spend their time on the beach.
The famous Golden Horn Beach (Zlanti Rat) in the town of Bol on Brač is considered one of the best beaches in all of Croatia, stretching out from the coastline for almost half a kilometre and constantly changing shape with the tides. It is a popular place for water-sports like windsurfing, and also has several hiking and cycling paths.
Most Beautiful Croatian Islands
The popularity of the island of Vis has recently been renewed after it was used in the movie Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, but as the furthest island out from the mainland it remains relatively untouched by tourism, and unparalleled in its beauty.
The Stiniva beach on Vis was named the best beach in Europe in 2016 and is a stunning sheltered spot in a small cove that captures the tranquillity of the island. Nearby to Vis is the Blue Cave of Bisevo, a sea cave that floods with breath-taking blue light at noon every day and is definitely worth seeing if you can make the journey.
The golden island of Zlarin is another undiscovered gem, known for its idyllic natural beauty that has been undisturbed by modernity. No cars are allowed on the island, providing absolute quiet and a slow daily pace that is perfect for a relaxing Croatian honeymoon cruise, for those who are looking for something a bit chilled.
Zlarin has a rich history and culture despite its small size and was famous particularly for harvesting coral. But it is the long, sandy beaches and deep green forests that make the island such a special place; a small oasis of calm away from everything else.
Best Croatian Islands for Families
The appeal of Silba to families is the fact that there are no cars on the island, making it an incredibly safe place for young children. The population of the island is small but very welcoming, making it an ideal location if you want a Croatian holiday away from busy beachfronts and crowds of tourists.
Silba’s landscape is also beautiful, with two beaches on either side of the central town that are perfect for enjoying the sunshine. In the centre of the island’s town is a tower with a spiral staircase that offers wonderful views of the surrounding area and is said to have been built by a sailor watching for his sweetheart to return to him.
Krk is one of the biggest islands in the Adriatic, connected to mainland Croatia by a bridge that makes it the most accessible islands in the country as well as one of the most visited.
The popularity of Krk has meant that it is well equipped for tourism and therefore full of things to see and do with a family. As well as a number of interesting historical sites and buildings to visit, Krk is also home to classic Croatian beaches that are ideal for a day spent beside the sea. There is also a zipline experience on the island that is perfect for families, offering a thrilling experience with incredible views.
Best Croatian Islands Near Dubrovnik
Also known as the Emerald Island, Korčula is known for its dense forests, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. It is also believed to be the birthplace of the great explorer and writer Marco Polo, and the house he was thought to be born in is open to tourists.
There are many things to see and do on Korčula, including visiting the Gothic-Renaissance San Marco Cathedral, investigating the huge Vela Spila prehistoric cave, or taking a trip to the small nearby islands of Proizd and Osjak, which are perfect for swimming.
Mljet is very close to the city of Dubrovnik, and its small size makes it a great place to visit for a day trip.
A third of the island is made up of a national park, which has a range of different hiking trails and two saltwater lakes, Veliko and Malo Jezero, which are popular swimming spots. The ancient hero Odysseus is said to have taken refuge in a cave on the southern coast of Mljet, and the spot is now famous and can be visited by tourists.
Best Croatian Islands for Hiking
Cres is one of the largest and hilliest islands in the Adriatic, providing a variety of routes for those who enjoy hiking. The island is also popular with cyclists, and whilst not as touristy as some of the other islands Cres has a lovely selection of beaches, churches, and other interesting architecture.
The island is also close by to Krk, Maki Losinj, and Rijeka, making it a perfect day trip spot if you are hopping from place to place on your holiday.
Hvar is one of the most popular places in Croatia to visit, and whilst the main town is known for its party atmosphere, the rest of the island offers peace and quiet as well as an impressive cultural heritage. The island was occupied by the Venetians in the 15th and 16th centuries, which have left it with stunning architecture as well as the gorgeous landscape that makes a perfect location for long walks.
Ideal hiking routes include ascending to Sveti Nikola, the highest peak on the island, or taking a trip to visit the lavender fields that Hvar is famous for.
Best Croatian Islands Near Split
Čiovo is a popular holiday destination because of its proximity to Split and is connected to the mainland by a bridge that makes it incredibly easy to get to.
The island is perfect for a relaxing break, with sweeping beaches for swimming and sunbathing and many upscale hotels. There are a number of medieval buildings on Čiovo if you are looking to do some sightseeing and plenty of restaurants and shops in every town.
The small island of Šolta is also close by to Split and offers respite from the crowded tourist areas of the mainland city. It is a great place for sporting activities, with routes for both hiking and cycling across the island, and sea kayaking or scuba diving available to try in some areas.
Best Croatian Islands for Couples
Dugi Otok means ‘long island’ in Croatian and is one of the countries less-visited islands, making it a perfect romantic destination.
The island’s natural landscape is perfect for exploring without being disturbed by crowds, and its stunning coastline makes for breath-taking views in every direction. Even in the summer months, Dugi Otok remains a quiet and secluded place that is ideal for couples seeking a break together away from everything else.
The private island of Obojan is entirely devoted to being an adults-only glamping destination; perfect for a relaxing and romantic getaway. The resort offers beaches, spa treatments, outdoor activities such as sea kayaking and yoga, and opportunities to experience cuisine from all over the world.
Best Croatian Islands for Snorkelling
The Kornati archipelago is a collection of over 140 islands, best visited on a day excursion from nearby Dugi Otok. Many of the islands are a part of the Kornati National Park, protecting the beautiful blue water and numerous coves that make it a perfect place for snorkelling.
Another collection of islands, Brijuni is an archipelago that makes up one of Croatia’s national parks and has been protected from fishing since 1983. This is one of the reasons the islands are so ideal for snorkelling; they have the best-preserved seabed of anywhere else on the coast.
An underwater trail has been created for snorkellers in Verige Bay, which offers the chance to explore archaeological ruins beneath the water as well as the marine environment.
Best Croatian Island for Food
Whilst the island of Pag is well known for its party atmosphere and numerous festivals, it is also home to the award-winning Paški cheese, made from the milk of a unique breed of sheep. The lamb on the island is equally exceptional and can be enjoyed whilst appreciating its unique, pale-pink, rocky hills that make up the landscape.
Whether you are travelling with a family, longing for rural tranquillity, or seeking a romantic getaway, the Croatian islands truly have something to offer everyone. The clear blue waters and deep green landscapes of every island feel like paradise, and no matter the length or location of your stay you are guaranteed an unforgettable trip.
How many islands are there in Croatia?
There are 1244 islands overall on the coast of Croatia, 48 of which are currently inhabited.
What is the weather like on the Croatian islands?
Croatia has a typically Mediterranean climate, with warm and dry summers on the islands and cooler winters that can be quite wet.
What currency is used on the Croatian Islands?
The Croatian currency is the Kuna. Euros are unlikely to be accepted on any of the islands.