Islands line the entire coast of Croatia, facing the Adriatic Sea. There are about a thousand islands in Croatia including isles, and inlets — all surrounded by crystal blue waters, with some of them uninhabited. Croatia is definitely more than its picturesque old towns, ancient architecture and historic structures, as its islands offer so much to visitors.
Each with a distinct character and landscape, these islands should be part of your itinerary when visiting Croatia. Here are some of the best islands in Croatia to help you figure out where to go.
12 Best Islands In Croatia To Visit
1. Kornati Island
Located just off the Zadar coast and composed of 147 islands in the Zadar archipelago, is the Kornati Islands. It is also called the Kornati National Park and founded primarily to protect and preserve marine life, with most of the islands in it uninhabited.
There was a time when the islands had Roman villas and farms, but at present only had caves and cliffs, therefore preserving its natural rugged beauty. The Kornati is popular among yachters, scuba divers and boat tours, and one of the more unique islands you’ll visit in Croatia.
Phone: +385 (22) 435740
Address: Kornati National Park Butina 2 22243 Murter Croatia
2. Hvar Island
Hvar simply has everything — pristine beaches, gently rolling hills, lush vineyards, trendy restaurants and shops, and a vibrant nightlife. It simply is the perfect island getaway in Croatia and perhaps, the rest of Europe. It is often called as Croatia’s Marbella or St. Tropez, only Hvar has a distinct character that keeps visitors coming back for more.
Aside from its usual holiday spots, Hvar also has charming villages and medieval streets perfect for leisurely strolls, as well as verdant lavender fields you can get lost in. Go here on a day trip or better yet, an entire week. Hvar simply won’t disappoint.
3. Mljet Island
The lovely green island of Mljet, is also home to 5,400 hectares of space that makes up the Mljet National Park. The island is located in the southern part of Croatia, and among its main attractions are the bodies of water in and around it.
There are the Great and Small lakes, small bays and the nearby St. Mary island which is home to a Benedictine monastery. This island is easily accessible by a ferry that originates from Dubrovnik or the Peljesac peninsula, and ideal for hiking, cycling, swimming, and snorkeling.
There are also accommodations available if you want to spend more than a day here, as it’s quite massive and several hours simply won’t be enough to really explore Mljet.
4. Krk Island
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Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Krk is often called the ‘golden island’. This island with a diverse landscape is also the closest to Western Europe. Krk has a barren northern end, while the southern end has bays and beaches.
The inland has ferries fields and rocky hills which are ideal for growing grapes. Krk is also a great spot if you want to go jet skiing, paragliding, scuba diving, and waterskiing. The island has campgrounds and resorts you can stay at if you wish to stay longer.
5. Brac Island, Croatia
Situated near the Split coast, the island of Brac is one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations. A go-to spot for windsurfers and beach lovers, Brac is also known for its stunning beaches such as the Zlatni Rat, which is shaped like a finger extending into the sea.
A day in this island simply won’t be enough as there’s a lot to see and do in Brac. There’s the Dragon’s cave on the island’s southern end, the museum in the Škrip village, and the Vidova Gora Mountain, which is the tallest mountain in the area. You can also enjoy water sports here, or visit caves and pebbled beaches.
6. Pag Island, Croatia
Pag is one of the few islands in Croatia that’s connected to the mainland by a bridge. This arid and rocky area is mostly inhabited by sheep who feed on the island’s grass and wild herbs, which gives the cheese they produce that distinct taste it is known for.
Pag cheese is one of the island’s best products, as well as sea salt and dry Žutica white wine. Pag is also known for its open-air night clubs and summer music festivals along the Zrce beach.
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Located off the coast of Dubrovnik, Elaphiti Islands is the ideal quick getaway if you wanted a respite from the hustle and tourist traffic of the nearby city.
It is made up of islands that mostly have lush, unspoiled landscapes or quiet pristine beaches like Sipan and Lapud. Elaphiti is also home to some of Croatia’s best beaches such as Sunj Bay.
8. Rab Island, Croatia
Located off the northwest coast of Croatia is Rab, which is the most densely wooded among all Croatian islands.
Rab is home to a rich and diverse flora, which includes non-native plants. A lot of these species are found in Komrcar Park, which is also among the island’s best tourist spots. The park is also home to a century-old agave.
The island has more than 300 freshwater springs, making this one of the greenest islands in the Adriatic. Rab is considered as one of the best islands in Croatia at any time of the year as it only gets mild winters and warm summers.
The name Korcula translates to ‘dark Corfu’ which is given by the Greeks because of the island tangled woods and resemblance to Corfu, off the northern coast of Greece.
It is also known as a historical island with Gothic Romanesque architecture and is said to be the birthplace of Marco Polo.
You can even visit the Marco Polo house and museum here. Aside from its rich heritage and history, there are several things to do in Korcula. Korcula is also home to its own crisp white wine which is made from Posip grape.
Cres is a charming island made up mostly of rocky mountains and lush oak and pine forests mixed with quaint medieval villages and port towns.
There are no boutique hotels or luxury resorts here, but you’ll enjoy walking along the cobbled lanes and looking at the well-preserved architecture in Beli and Lubenice villages.
The vibrant port towns of Valun and Cres has sea-facing promenades lined with cafes and shops, while Osor has pretty rose gardens, secret courtyards, and cottages made of stone. Make sure you also buy some of Cres’ famous olive oils which have EU protected status.
The island of Vis is known mostly for Stiniva, which was named as the 2016 best beach in Europe.
A military base up until 1983, Vis is the farthest island from the mainland of Croatia. It is pretty remote and unspoilt, and its most popular beach Stiniva isn’t easily accessible either.
Vis has dramatic cliffs and caves you can explore, as well as a lovely port town with a pretty waterfront promenade. There’s also the fishing village Komiža, with its picturesque stone houses situated on a secluded bay.
Vis may be far from the mainland, but it is still a popular stop for those cruising along the Croatian islands as well as music festival lovers.
12. Dugi Otok
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Dugi Otok means ‘Long Island’, but it’s actually the largest in the northern Dalmatian coast. It is accessible by boat from the mainland and is home to a national park located in its southeastern quarter as well as the Telascica Bay, regarded as one of the best beaches in the Adriatic.
Made up mostly of dramatic cliffs and sandy beaches, Dugi Otok is a haven for trekkers, bikers, scuba divers or simply enjoying the scenic, mostly unspoilt views while enjoying some hearty Croatian dish in one of its quaint restaurants.