Looking for the best Islands in Croatia? Are you wondering what’s the difference between Hvar and Vis?” Or looking for the best beaches? This post answers those questions and more.
The problem with the islands on the Dalmatian coast isn’t a problem at all. Because any choice is the right choice when it comes to these islands.
But not all islands will align with your travel goals. That is where this post comes to the rescue.
Below we will go over the best islands in Croatia. We will focus on what makes each of these islands different and check out the underrated islands on the coast.
Discover the top beaches and nightlife hotspots. Nature lovers, don’t worry. We cover that as well.
Ok, enough chit chat. Let’s discover the best islands Croatia has to offer.
(known for: Blue lagoon Croatia (Blue Cave), RUINS, Mamma Mia 2)
If you’ve watched Mamma Mia 2, you know Vis. (the primary filming location for the movie). But despite all its movie star fame, Vis has someone stayed out of the clutches of over-tourism. Perhaps, because it’s the furthest island from the mainland. Or the old military base- which kept the public out for decades.
Whatever the reason, Vis is open and ready for you to visit.
The Blue Cave, Vis’s biggest attraction, is unlike anything else in the country. Every day from 11a.m.12 p.m. bright cerulean light floods the cave. It will leave you speechless. The Blue Grotto is an hour sail from Vis, but that is a small price to pay to see this natural wonder.
The island has ruins, groves of olive trees, and empty beaches. Komiža and Vis Town – the two main towns – look like they were pulled straight out of a medieval movie set.
The best part, the locals want more tourism. They want more travelers to come and explore everything their island has to offer.
Vis charming and gorgeous island lives up to its reputation. And I know one thing is for sure; skipping Vis is a mistake.
How often do you stumble on an untouched utopia vying for your time?
Getting to Vis is easy. From Split (a must-visit on the mainland) there are numerous ferries to the island. The journey from Split to Vis takes an hour and a half. Nothing compared how long getting to some of the best islands in Greece takes.
On Wednesdays, there is a ferry from Hvar. And an indirect ferry from Brač once a week.
VIS TRAVEL TIPS
Things to do on Vis Island
(The best Adriatic Beaches, island hopping croatia, croatia beach resorts)
Brač’s a popular stop for Croatian holidays, – although it doesn’t draw the ritzy crowds that Hvar does. It’s the largest of the central Dalmatian islands. Known for its beaches, windsurfing, picturesque views, and olive oil.
Brač is home to the tallest mountain of any island in the Adriatic. From the top of Mt. Vidova Gora, you’re treated to a sweeping panorama of the ocean. And on a clear day, Hvar Island.
The island is a haven for outdoor lovers with scenic hikes, and famous beaches. Zlatini Rat Beach (the Golden horn) is a large pebble beach that’s famous in Croatia. The beach continually narrows until it forms a long-drawn-out point, like a small dog’s tail. CNN travel says this best is the one of the most beautiful spots in Croatia.
The easiest and quickest way to get to Brač is via ferry from Split. Catamarans and ferries go all year, and the journey takes less than an hour.
Brač has a small airport (BOL), but flights are infrequent.
(Known for: best islands in Croatia for Backpackers, beaches, culture, nature)
Krk is popular with travelers. The island is full of resorts, overpriced souvenir stands, and gift shops. Places I try to avoid like my ex-girlfriend. But what draws me to Otok Krk is the culture, climate, and natural scenery.
Krk’s culture has a strong influence on the whole country. And the island’s called the cradle of Croatia.
I will risk being cliche here, but grad Krk has it all.
Ready for good restaurants and nightlife, put on your party clothes and head to Malinska. Or maybe you’re looking for a local experience. Trade resorts for the small settlement of Baška; population 1700.
Worked up the guts to try Spelunking? Well, then venture to Biserujka Cave. Need a peaceful moment? Escape the crowds in nearby Vrbnik.
Krk is also renowned for its bays and beaches. Drazica, Jezevac, Rupa, and Pesja are the most sought-after beaches on Krk.
Krk might seem touristy. But people visit for a reason, and the isle presents you with a wealth of options. And satisfies all the things travelers look for when visiting the best islands in Croatia.
A bridge connects Krk to the mainland. Rijeka airport (RJK) is the closest place to fly. (Ryanair flies here from select airports) Ferries to Krk exist, but limited.
(Known for: Good for nightlife, beaches, Cities, weather)
Hvar’s a famous stop for travelers island hopping Croatia. Massive yachts occupy the harbors. Belonging to the super-wealthy and celebrities that frequent the island year-round.
I am neither of those things…yet. But I had a wild time on Hvar, and you can experience the best the island offers on a budget. And I’m not the only budget traveler who thinks this way. As Hvar’s a mecca for tourism on the Dalmatian Coast.
So what is Hvar like? Why are people from various walks of life drawn here?
The sun’s a big reason.
Hvar gets over 2,760 hours of sunlight a year making it the sunniest island in Croatia. The gorgeous Venetian cities of Pjaca, and Trg sv Stjepana are a favorite amongst tourists.
Hvar has lavender fields, turquoise waters, world-class beaches, and rich culture.
The Island’s a major party spot in Croatia. Hvar nightlife gets out of control. Groups of bars and clubs fill the streets and line the shores.
Hvar is small but packs a powerful punch.
There is a lot of Split to Hvar ferry tickets. But a lot of the islands have tickets to get to Hvar. There are also yacht charter Croatia that can take you around the islands.
(Famed for: Landscape, Hikes, Bays, Coastline)
Mljet lies far south on the Dalmatian coast. Mljet isn’t famous for ruins or wild parties. But for the natural landscape, dense forest, and the national park (which covers 1/3 of the enclave). The islands two lakes, Malo Jezero, and Veliko, are well-known swimming spots. The goat cheese and olives produced by Mljet are sought after across the country.
For an island covered in woodlands, that’s not a bad resume.
Abundant in nature, most of the Mljet things to do revolve around being outdoors. Sailing trips, hikes, and remote bays wait there begging for someone to enjoy them. While Mljet National Park is mostly untamed, the islet has small seaside villages. The towns of Pomena, Polace, Sobra, and Saplunara.
Odysseus Cave is one highlight. According to myth, the larger than life Greek hero met a nymph in this cave. Calypso took care of him as he recovered from his injuries.
To get to here take the fast take the boat from Dubrovnik to Mljet. The ferry takes around an hour and twenty minutes. Mljet doesn’t have an airport, but Dubrovnik does (Airport Code: DBV). Other nearby islands have ferries to Mljet.
(Known for: culture, Beaches, Sunsets, Nightlife Bays, Coastline)
Korčula’s gets a lot of tourism. The isle has a long history and interesting culture (check out the sword dancing). Nightlife exists on Korčula, but I always have considered this a great island to recharge.
Korčula Town, is where you’ll want to spend the bulk of your time. Known for seafood, villages, bays, beaches, and picturesque views. Massimo Cocktail Bar, a medieval tower with a bar at the top, is a good place to sip a drink while watching the sunset under the rocky coastline. During peak season the top of the tower gets packed.
There are many reasons to visit Korčula; my favorite is because its the birthplace of Marco Polo. As travelers, we are all trailblazers in our own fashion. I love the thought of our generation of adventurers stopping by his birth home; in some strange way paying homage to the legendary explorer.
There are many Croatian Island ferries to Korcula from Split. And the other islands around Croatia. So flying to Split Airport (SPU) and taking a ferry is the easiest way.
(Great for: Nature, Lakes, Beaches, Peaceful, Epic Coastline, Bays)
Dugi Otok’s larger than any of its neighbors. And the 7th biggest isle in the Adriatic Sea. The name Dugi Otok, speaks to the magnitude of the island. The name means “long island.”
Ok, enough talk about size. Let’s focus on the important stuff. What is Dugi Otok like? And who should visit the island?
Looking to get off the beaten path when Island hopping Croatia? Then Dugi Otok is hard to beat. The pristine coastline – Saharun Beach- has earned the nickname “Croatia’s secret coast.” Sakarun’s downside is the shallow water, and it’s not the best swimming beach; unless you’re traveling with small kids.
Wander outside the villages, and you’ll come upon small vineyards and orchids. Head south to the wild sanctuary of Telascica Nature Park, to experience Mir Lake. A massive saltwater basin that looks like it shouldn’t exist on this planet.
Dugi Otok’s a top choice among the Croatia Islands to escape the crowds, enjoy some quiet, and bask in nature.
Dugi Otok is peaceful, but there are a lot of fun things to do.
Dugi Otok is close to Zadar. And depending on the season 2 -3 car ferries a day go between Zadar and Brbinj port. Another ferry route, to the eastern part of the island, goes year-round.
Both zadar dugi otok katamaran journeys take around an hour and twenty minutes. There are also a lot of zadar to dugi otok day trip you can book.
(Perfect for: camping, local life, beaches)
Lošinj and Cres were once the same island until the Roman Era when locals dug a canal to separate them.
What’s funny about Lošinj is that they’ve labeled the towns backward. Veli Lošinj, which means Great Lošinj is a tiny little hamlet. While Mali Lošinj – Small Lošinj – is much bigger with around 6,000 people. This is where you’ll find most of the taverns, live music, cafes, restaurants, and bars.
Venture to Kvarnerić, the western coast of the enclave, and you have a good chance of seeing dolphins.
The island has an abundance of beaches, bay, and inlets for travelers to seek out. Plus, these islands get almost the same amount of sunshine as Hvar.
Lošinj welcomes tourists with open arms, and there are a bunch of hotels, hostels, and campsites on the isle.
You can only reach Lošinj by boat, ferry, or bus. There is a passenger boat from Rijeka to Losinj, with a stop in Cres..
(Known For: Best sandy beaches in Croatia, coastline, Vrnik swimming)
Badija’s, a small island, and part of the Korčula Archipelago. Famed around Croatia for having a couple of the best beaches in the country. Most of the beaches are pebble and shingle beaches. With clear blue-green water, and a few impressive swimming spots.
Other than the coastline, the notable site is a Franciscan Monastery begun in the 14th-century. They built the monastery in a peculiar mix of Gothic and Dalmatian style. Hiking in the thick pine forest that blankets the isle is a day well spent.
Badija stands out from the other places in this post because no one lives on the island. Rather the isle is a day trip from Korčula.
But Badija remains unspoiled; holds a sense of serenity unlike anywhere else. Traveling to Badija should be on your Korčula itinerary.
Note: there is a cafe on Badija that offers a small selection of foods and refreshments. No other shops/ restaurants exist on the island, so bring some snacks and drinks.
The best way to reach the island of Badija is by a day trip from Korcula.
(Known for: Best sandy beaches in Croatia, coastline, Vrnik swimming)
The Kornati archipelago; a densely populated group of islands in the northern coast of Dalmatia. (140 islands in a 115 square miles)
To visit Kornati you have to book a tour. Full of stunning scenery, it’s a perfect example of the diverse nature Croatia offers. The terrain’s rugged with cliffs and caves, grottoes and forest.
The best thing to do is sail the coastline, delving into the several inlets and bays in the kornati national park.
Travelers can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and hiking. Which gives you a front seat to the phenomena found on the isle and access to the ruins of a former fortress.
A handful of hotels (not budget-friendly) are the only option for extending your stay.
The only way to get there is to find the best Kornati island tour. Because Kornati island sailing is the only way to reach the isle.
(Known For: local Life, Best Croatian Islands for Beaches, Churches)
Silba’s close to Lošinj. The island’s biggest claim to fame is the lack of cars. Yep, Silba’s a pedestrian island. During the summer months, people don’t even ride their bikes. Making it a smart choice for families.
Size is another appeal of the isle. With a population of 300, the locals embrace tourism. At the end of your visit, you’ll feel you have joined a tight-knit family. The main village, Silba town, sits on the narrow point. Two beaches sit on either side of town.
The most popular waterfronts on the enclave are Šotorišće and Dobre. Šotorišće Beach, on the east side of Silba Town, is a soft sandy beach. Dobre Vode is a pebble beach an hour hike from town. Known for beautiful beaches and coves; perfect for a swim and layout.
Sitting in the city center is the wild-looking tower, Marinić Tower (sometimes called Toreta or the Tower of Love). From the top, you get a sweeping view of Silba Town and the surrounding landscape.
Being so small, you might think Silba doesn’t offer a lot. But Silba has a surprising amount of things that tourists enjoy.
The best way to get to Silba is from Zadar. But there are ferries from Lošinj and Venice as well. The neighboring islands of Olib, Krijal, Ist, Mali Losinj, and Premuda also serve Silba’s port.
(Known for: landscape, monasteries, upscale hotels, old towns, and markets)
Čiovo’s a stark contrast to Silba. A heavily visited enclave everything feels geared towards tourism. Maybe because a bridge connects it to Trogir.
I’m not trying to give Čiovo Island a hard time. Just beware you’re entering a tourist trap. Visitors love the medieval monastery, churches, and fortresses. Some sites date back between the 14th -16th centuries. Latine, Okrug Gornji, and Arbanija are quaint villages worth a visit.
Čiovo is an excellent home base for day trips to lagoons, waterfalls, and caves.
None of that piques your interest? Known for upscale hotels, local markets, and the historic town, it’s a perfect place to pamper yourself.
We are talking about the Dalmation Coast. So epic swimming beaches are a given.
Čiovo Islands a worthwhile stop along the coast of Croatia.
Utilizing the bridge from Trogir to Ciovo is the easiest way to get to the island. If you are flying into Split, there is airport transportation to Čiovo. Which is only a few miles away. There are also local boats to the island from Split Harbor.
(Known For: for Nightlife, Best Sandy Beaches in Croatia, Wine, Food)
Pag’s medieval streets and old fishing villages seem unmoved by time. The Gothic cathedral and white stony roads are the highlights of the island. Pag’s famed for the local cuisine and wine. Namely the lamb, žutica white wine, and herb brandy.
The island’s landscape differs from the rest of the country. Dramatic peaks and rock formations tower over the island. Vast chunks of the scenery will make you double-check Google maps. Just to make sure you didn’t take a wrong turn and end up on the moon.
If you are looking for resorts and parties, then add Pag to your itinerary. The town of Novalja, the best place for nightlife, is the tourist’s epic center of the isle. And the spot for beaches, clubs, hotels, and resorts.
Most of the coasts on Pag are soft and sandy, which are another powerful draw for visitors. (Since a lot of the shores in Croatia are pebble beaches).
Crazy landscape, good nightlife, resorts, bluffs, sandy beaches, and small villages. What else do you need?
Traveling to Pag
Getting to Pag is simple. The island is connected to the mainland by a small bridge. And you can easily drive or catch a bus from Zadar and Rijeka.
There are also ferries and catamaran options from the mainland and other islands.
(Known For: Charming Cities, Fun Festivals, Day Trips)
Rab, one of the most visited and best islands in Croatia. Travelers love Rab for the wild landscape (we now classify the island as a geopark).
The vibrant culture is another reason tourists flock to Rab. The traditional cities are charming. And have a deep Mediterranean vibe to them.
Wandering the narrow streets and gothic alleyways, you’ll run into tall towers, well-preserved Roman monuments, and unique architecture.
Rab’s crowded during the summer, and there’s a lot going on across the isles. The nightlife booming. The beach bars full. Clubs packed. There are music festivals and art exhibitions. The biggest celebration is St. Christopher’s Fest; a medieval festival celebrated in July. A Knight Tournament, food, and shopping are highlights of the festival.
The beaches are on par with all the other islands on this list.
Rab’s surrounded by fantastic day trips. You can travel to the otherworldly Plitvice Lakes or use Rab as a launching off point to see new islands like Krk and Losinj.
Getting to RaB
The easiest way to get to Rab is from Rijeka. There are also ferries and catamarans from the mainland and other islands.
(Known For: Charming Cities, Fun Festivals, Day Trips)
Sveti Klement (referred to as Palmižana) is a natural paradise.
It lies in the Adriatic Sea below Hvar Croatia.
Palmižana’s perfect for travelers wanting to trade the craziness of Hvar for a relaxing place to lie low.
The island prefers tranquility to traffic. Hiking trails instead of clubs. And secluded bays to tourist beaches. Sveti Klement’s landscape is filled with pine forest and sandy coves.
The island has some of the best small beach towns in Croatia. The most beautiful part of the island is Palmizana Hamlet.
This village gathers the beauty of Sveti Klement in one area.
Other communities on the islands have gardens, seaside cafes, nature hikes, and restaurants.
And since the island’s a short ride from Hvar, you can check off two of the best islands in Croatia back-to-back.
Getting to From Hvar to Sveti Klement
The easiest and quickest way to get to Palmižana is from Hvar. There are water taxis that can carry you to the island for cheap. You can also travel by boat from Split, Rijeka, Zadar, or Dubrovnik.
(Known for: Natural Paradise, best small beach towns in Croatia, Hiking, Forest)