There are 1,244 beautiful islands to choose from. Where will you go?
Croatia boasts a whopping 1,244 islands, each one teeming with natural beauty and distinct character. Incredible? Oh, you bet. However, the sheer volume of water-locked gems can make the thought of planning overwhelming. But, don’t worry—we’ve done the legwork, so your Croatia trip will be smooth sailing.
A state-maintained paved road traverses Dugi Otok, splintering off at points to allow vehicles to visit the glimmering coastline, resort towns, vineyards, and fruit orchards. To the north, Sakarun Beach has white sand (a rarity in Croatia, where rocks are the norm) and shallow, crystalline water. Don’t sleep on the southern portion of this uniquely shaped island—or risk missing the majesty of Telašćica Bay.
Home to just 300 permanent residents, Zlarin remains a refuge of peace, quiet, and unspoiled splendor. This itsy-bitsy treasure features a lone village with narrow lanes, old stone buildings, and a handful of shops selling coral trinkets. Its harbor shelters small boats and welcomes the occasional catamaran carrying passengers from nearby Sibenik. What’s noticeably absent? Cars, traffic lights, and the sounds of honking horns. That’s because folks get around on foot or ride golf carts.
Five nautical miles southwest of Komiza (the low-key port town on Vis) lies Biševo, a remote speck in the vast sea, tracing its roots back to prehistoric times. Ancient highlights include the remains of the Benedictine monastery and the Church of Saint Sylvester. By far the most electrifying sight? The otherworldly Blue Cave (Modra Spilja), which elicits references to Capri’s famous Grotta Azzurra.
Brač is deservedly in the running for the title of most gobsmackingly gorgeous Croatian island. You’ve undoubtedly seen aerial images of Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape) on postcards and in guidebooks. Touted as the most beautiful beach in Croatia, its pebbly shores seem to crawl towards the Hvar Channel. Next up, turn your attention to Vidova Gora, the highest peak in the Adriatic. Remember to factor in the allure of Pučišća and Supetar.
It’s not hard to fall in love with Lopud. You’d need to actively try to resist the charms of car-free roads, idyllic beaches, and botanical gardens. Pulling into the harbor, the glorious 15th-century Franciscan Monastery catches your eye. As you edge closer, a picturesque crescent of waterfront restaurants, souvenir shops, and gleeful vacationers comes into focus. There’s also a little khaki-colored swath of sand. Though the real showstopper, Šunj, is a 25-minute walk away.
An off-the-beaten-path destination with a wonderfully remote ambiance, fragrant citrus orchards, and far fewer tourists than its neighbors, Vis earns top billing in our book (aka it’s certainly worth the long ferry ride). At a minimum, we’d advise visiting the main town of Vis. You’ll find ancient ruins, Renaissance churches, and an archaeological museum in an Austrian fortress. Have an extra day? Head to Komiza to admire the historic fishing port
If we were handing out awards for verdancy, Mljet would win. Croatia’s greenest island is cloaked in dense pine forests, grapevines, and olive groves. Adding to the list of prized natural attractions? Two salt lakes, Veliko and Malo Jezero. A Benedictine monastery sits on a small islet in the former. Mljet also offers enticing snorkeling opportunities thanks to clear tides and an abundance of marine life.
INSIDER TIPMljet is a nice day trip from Dubrovnik.
Situated off the coast of Split and easily reachable by ferry or speedboat, Šolta dazzles holidaymakers with near-empty pebble beaches, salty breezes, and family-run farms. It’s a great place to taste handcrafted olive oil and indigenous wine. Of course, no sojourn to Solta would be complete without checking out the shipwreck of an abandoned wooden boat and sipping a freshly made mojito in Necujam Bay.
Pag doesn’t resemble the rest of Dalmatia. Barren expanses make way to jagged peaks and the occasional patch of shrubs. Its unusual lunar landscape seems more like the set of some futuristic science fiction flick as opposed to a Croatian island. Consider a quad bike excursion to get the lay of the rocky land. Besides peeping spellbinding surroundings, curious travelers with a penchant for adventure should trek to the mysterious Pag Triangle.
This fabled party hub has so much more going for it than bars, lounges, and nightclubs. Sun-splashed Hvar showcases a sparkling marina filled with envy-inducing yachts and heritage-rich landmarks. The hilltop Spanish Fortress is a resplendent spot to soak in the panoramas of Hvar and the neighboring Pakleni Islands. Be sure to carve out a few hours for Stari Grad, one of the oldest and most enchanting settlements in all of Europe.
Connected to the mainland by a toll bridge, Krk is Croatia’s largest island. There’s definitely no shortage of delightful things to see and do. The varied terrain means you can slather yourself in mineral-rich mud at Soline Bay, tour vineyards, traipse through pine forests, and test your acrophobia on the jaw-dropping limestone cliffs of Vrbnik—all before lunch. Why not spend the afternoon drinking crisp Žlahtina at a lovely sea-view restaurant?