Croatian Islands A Unique Escape for Beach Lovers
The days of Croatia being Europe’s best-kept secret are long gone. In truth, they may never have been genuine in the first place; Dubrovnik has been a popular getaway for a long time. Stretching lazily down the Adriatic Sea, Croatia’s coastline is well deserving of its ever-growing reputation; it might just be the best in Europe. The blue seas off the Croatian coast feature hundreds of Croatian islands and islets and an incredible range of destinations offering everything from picturesque heritage to unspoiled landscapes via wine, cheese, lace, myth, Marco Polo, and much more.
Croatia’s islands are a European summer getaway unlike any other. If you’re looking for an island bucket list then look no further than Croatia.
These 11 Croatian Islands Are Unique Escapes for Beach Lovers
Hvar is the most popular of Croatia’s islands, and it doesn’t take long to understand why. In many ways, it is a microcosm of everything that makes these islands so spectacular, from its 13th-century defensive walls to the crisp wines that fill hearts and glasses throughout the year. Hvar is all about the picturesque, with its gorgeous beaches and idyllic red-roofed villages coming together to create the ultimate Croatian island summer adventure.
Nightlife? Hvar has some of the best in the country. Hvar is a short ferry ride from Split, another reason why it is so popular with visitors and locals.
Some people claim that Marco Polo was born on Korčula island, and while that debate continues to rage, the island’s appeal is clear. The second-most populous Adriatic island, Korčula is a little wonderland of dense pine forest punctuated by cobblestone villages, grand churches, and medieval architecture, where getting lost is one of the best experiences. It isn’t difficult to imagine a young Marco Polo dreaming of the wider world here. Korčula is two hours by boat from Dubrovnik.
It is impossible to talk about Brač without paying plenty of attention to Croatia’s most famous beach. Zlatni Rat is a unique spot where the shape of the sand changes with the tides and winds, meaning no two trips to the Golden Cape are the same. Brač spreads around the beach and serves up quiet stone houses and stunning views, all at a decidedly slower pace than the nearby mainland.
Brač is famous for its white stone, with many of Dalmatia’s most magnificent buildings (and the White House in Washington D.C., supposedly) built using it. Head to the small village of Pučišća to learn more.
A world away from the busy summer streets of more famous islands, Prvić is a window into the magic of island life. One of Šibenik Bay’s five main islands, Prvić is a tiny strip of land with a gorgeous pine-lined walkway, with no cars in sight and an undeniable sense of serenity all around. Prvić is home to the Faust Vrančić Memorial Centre, a museum that details the life and times of Vrančić, a 16th-century polymath and inventor. Prvić is easily accessible via ferry from Šibenik.
Arguably the most developed of Croatia’s islands, Krk has a different feel to more romantic spots, for better or worse. Sure, it isn’t as picturesque as Hvar, Korčula, Brač, and the rest, but plenty is here for the curious visitor. Krk is one of the oldest towns in the region, and its ruins pay homage to the island’s Roman heritage. The 20th century left its mark on Krk, and the infamous Yugoslav gulag of Goli Otok is a short water taxi away.
Rab is special. Its distinctive four bell towers announce its arrival with grace and pride, while the diversity of its lush landscapes has seen it designated as a geopark. Rab is a curious island of feast and famine, with a barren northeast living side by side with the verdant forest of the southwest. Rab also has a reputation for being a haven of naturism if you are into that sort of thing.
The magic of the Blue Cave has made Vis one of the most common places on any Croatian Island bucket list, but things were very different just a few decades ago. A former military base, Vis was closed to foreigners until 1989, meaning it retains much of its wild splendor today, best enjoyed through the island’s outstanding wines and fish restaurants. The Blue Cave is the highlight, although the cave’s popularity means planning ahead of time is a must.
The southernmost of the Dalmatian islands, Mljet is also one of the most beautiful. Mljet National Park takes up more than a third of its territory, allowing for unspoiled nature and magnificent walks through dense pine forests. There is more to Mljet than magical nature; legend claims that this is the Biblical island of Melita, where the apostle Paul was shipwrecked. Moreover, some suggest that a cave on Mljet is where Odysseus spent seven years with Calypso. No matter your mileage with legendary tales, Mljet is a beautiful expanse of nature at its finest.
Lovers of cheese and lace, Pag is the island for you. Rocks dominate Pag’s landscape, giving it a lunar feel, albeit a lunar feel that comes with all-night parties, a proud history of lacemaking, and some of the best cheese in the region. This small island to the north of Zadar was isolated and inaccessible until the 1960s when the completion of the Pag Bridge gave visitors a route to its sandy beaches, sheep, and small fishing villages.
Lošinj has a proud history of reinvigoration, as people have been coming for rest and recovery since the first health resort opened in 1892. Another pine-covered charmer, Lošinj is home to history, heritage, and health in equal measure, and it also has an excellent reputation for its herbs. Throw in some gorgeous architecture, energetic nightlife, and the occasional dolphin, and you’ve got a summer getaway for the ages.
11. Kornati National Park
Over 100 islands make up Kornati National Park, the largest archipelago in the Adriatic and a curious landscape of barren land and wild myths, accentuated by the cerulean sea that surrounds it all. Supposedly, British King Edward decided to follow his heart rather than obligation after a visit here in 1936, choosing his love for Wallis Simpson over life as King. Yes, Kornati is a place where love feels a little bit stronger. The national park is only accessible via private transport or an official tour.