Best Islands In Croatia: Island Hopping The Croatian Coast
Croatia is known as “the land of a thousand islands,” and you can probably guess why! The coast of Croatia is lined with more than 1,200 islands, islets, and natural reefs. With the largest charter boat fleet in the entire world calling the shores of Croatia home, it’s no wonder the many islands in Croatia are a top destination for water-centric nature lovers.
Unique natural landscapes, pristine waters, and dozens more nearby islands to choose from? A few days on these Croatian islands sounds like absolute heaven!
These beautiful islands are sure to check a few boxes on your travel bucket list.
Best Islands In Croatia To Visit
Of the 1000+ islands in Croatia, only 48 of them are actually populated. This means TONS of opportunities to get away from it all and enjoy unspoiled island hopping to some of the most gorgeous beaches along the Adriatic Sea.
There seem to be so many, how do you know which are the BEST islands in Croatia? Fear not, explorers. We’ve got you covered with the top Croatian islands to add to your island-hopping itinerary.
1. The Island Of Krk
The Island of Krk is the largest island on Croatia’s coastline and is easily accessed for a day trip by a bridge connecting it to the mainland city of Rijeka. The bustling island is full of restaurants, shops, beachfront bars and cafes, and plenty of places to stay.
If you’re looking for sandy beaches on the island of Krk, don’t miss a chance to visit Sveti Marek beach in Risika. The close-by parking makes it easy to bring everything you need for a full beach day of soaking up the sun.
Visitors from northern Croatia flock to Krk to explore the island’s history, visit its many beaches (the best of which are in Baska), and stay for any traveler’s budget with accommodations ranging from luxury hotels to camping resorts — even some right on the beach!
2. The Island Of Murter
Connected to Croatia’s mainland by a bridge, the island of Murter is one of the most popular on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. The old town of Murter is full of historic charm, dotted with stone houses, historic churches, and cute shops. There are plenty of taverns and restaurants to choose from, all taking pride in serving fresh, local ingredients.
The best beaches on the island can be found on the southern tip, which is protected from the wind and has less rocky shores than northern beaches.
Kornati Islands National Park is just one of the incredible destinations on Murter. It’s made up of almost 100 uninhabited islands and serves as a popular destination for boat trips to drop anchor and enjoy the warm waters in one of the many secluded bays.
3. Vis Island
The farthest inhabited island of the Croatian mainland, the small island of Vis is home to quaint fishing villages, cute cafes and restaurants, and renowned grape and olive groves. The island’s most famous local wine is the white variety called Vugava. You can try it at nearly any restaurant in Vis Town, where you’ll also find a number of accommodation options from boutique hotels to cute Air BnB stays.
Stiniva Beach has been named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by European travel experts, and it’s no wonder why once you see it. The rocky cliffs reaching above gorgeous blue-green waters and picturesque pebble beaches form a secluded paradise.
4. Cres Island
Cres is one of the northern islands in Croatia, and can easily be reached by a ferry ride from mainland Rijeka or from the island of Krk for either a day trip or a few days’ stay. There’s plenty to keep you busy on the island and in Cres Town, the biggest town on the island and full of winding streets and quaint houses with history and culture around every corner.
Lubenice is another main town on the island of Cres, sitting 382 meters above sea level atop a series of dramatic cliffs. Here you’ll find Lubenice Beach, sometimes known as Sveti Ivan or Saint John’s Beach, famous for its crystal clear water and pristine pebble beaches, and is surrounded by stunning sea cliffs.
5. Hvar Island
Hvar Town is the main port on the island of Hvar, with easy access to the mainland, boat excursions to the nearby Pakleni Islands, and lots of other places to island hop just a ferry ride away. Popular beaches on Hvar include Dubovica Beach (complete with a beach bar) and Pokonji Dol Beach, close to Hvar Town, and epic views from beachfront accommodations.
Hvar is known as one of the most popular islands in Croatia and has a reputation for being a pretty big party island. The nightlife in Hvar attracts dancers and party-goers to its many nightclubs, cocktail bars, and beach clubs. If you’re looking for a night on the town and to party ’til sunrise, Hvar’s got what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a more chill experience on the island, step into the Renaissance era and check out tours of the Hvar Cathedral. Stroll through the Palmižana Botanical Garden in Hvar Town and take in the scents of lush palm plants, pines, lavender fields, and fragrant flowers.
6. Korcula Island
Korčula is another island off of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, full of greenery and home to a dense pine forest and tons of vegetation. Nearly 65% of the island is covered in plant life! Olive trees and rolling vineyards also add to the beauty of this island.
Korcula Town is located on the eastern side of the island and serves as the main hub for going to and from mainland Croatia.
One of the most famous and secluded beaches in Croatia is Pupnatska Luca. This pebble-dotted, mostly-sandy beach is on the southern coast of the island and boasts calm, crystal-clear waters and unbelievable views across the water to the island of Lastovo.
7. Mljet Island
One of the greenest islands in all of southern Croatia, Mljet Island is a great place to explore for nature lovers. Outdoor activities are everywhere in this charming coastal paradise, and Mljet is definitely one of the best Croatian islands to get your body moving.
Mljet National Park is home to two saltwater lakes with some of the best beaches for swimming and sunbathing in all of Croatia’s islands since the water in these lakes stays slightly warmer than the surrounding seas. Views of the lakes can be had by taking a hike up several surrounding hills.
There are several well-marked trails surrounding the lakes that are popular for walking, running, and cycling. Bike rentals are available in the villages of Pomena and Polace on the island, and you can rent a sea kayak or paddleboard at Mali Most — the point where both lakes are connected by a narrow canal.
8. Brac Island
Coming in hot as the third largest island on Croatia’s coastline, Brac is one of the best islands to visit if you’re looking for an active itinerary and everything you need in one place. With opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, sea kayaking, boating, and scuba diving, you’re sure to find your perfect outdoor adventure on the island of Brac.
Zlatni Rat or Golden Horn is the most famous beach on the Island of Brac, and certainly one of the most famous in the entire Adriatic Sea. Located on the southern tip of the island in the old town of Bol, this area offers world-class scuba diving, surfing, beachfront cafes, jet-ski rentals, beach volleyball, and every activity you can imagine a top-destination resort town ought to offer.
9. Elaphiti Islands
These idyllic islands are perfect for getting away from the crowds and experiencing uninterrupted luxury on the warm beaches and quaint towns of the Elaphiti Islands.
The main islands that can be visited in Elaphiti are Šipan, Lopud, and Koločep. Ferry lines run daily between all of the islands from Dubrovnik as does a daily catamaran boat. For islands this exclusive, best believe there’s always the option of chartering a private boat, too.
Boating is definitely a top activity among these islands, and lots of private boat owners will drop anchor from their yachts in the calm inlets of the Elaphitis. Hop aboard a private speedboat for a tour of the caves hidden among the coves of the island’s shores.
The restaurants in the small towns of Sipan and Lopud are known for some of the freshest seafood in all of Croatia, infused with other unique, local ingredients and paired with exquisite local wines.
Croatia According to Explorer Chicks
Here’s what other Explorer Chicks had to say about their Croatia adventure!
“I’m SO glad we went to Vis! Definitely one of the best islands in Croatia.” – Amy R., Explorer Chick
“My favorite place. See you there 😉 !” – Anne B., Explorer Chick
“Simply put, BEST. TRIP. EVER.” – Shannon J., Explorer Chick
“Croatia was a life-changing trip where everyone felt supported and loved while challenging themselves in a safe, judgment-free environment.” – Christina B., Explorer Chick
Ready to Explore Croatia?
Add these epic Croatian islands to your Croatian adventure itinerary, and book your Croatia tour with Explore Chick today! You’ll cycle through olive groves, vineyards, and landscapes that will take your breath away. Spend your evening sampling local truffles, wine, and mouth-watering cuisine. Witness waterfalls in Plitvice Lakes National Park and hike around the stunning emerald pools fed by the park’s mighty rivers.
Leave the planning to us for your Croatian adventure, all you have to do is say YES!
Meet the Writer
April is an adventure lover and freelance writer based in New England, with a passion for public lands, wild places, and all things outdoors. She loves camping in any form and spends as many weekends as she can hiking New Hampshire’s highest peaks, or road-tripping with her sweet dog Marley. If not in the mountains, you can find her planning her next expedition or caring for one of her far-too-many-houseplants.
Favorite outdoor adventure: National Parks Hiking and Road Trips!
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