Croatia is one of those destinations you have to visit for yourself to truly understand its beauty. Once you arrive, you’re smitten for life. But don’t take our word for it.
By no means was she the last one who was left breathless by the magnificent city. Nor will she be the last. But beyond the towering medieval walls, the Croatian coast has so much more to offer.
The combined coastline of Croatia spans 5,835 kilometers (over 3,600 miles). It’ also the most indented one in the Mediterranean. That means, most of its length belongs to the 1246 islands which dot the Adriatic Sea.
It’s safe to say, that immersing yourself in island life while visiting one of the best-known secrets in Europe is integral to your whole experience.
So, if you want to embark to the Adriatic this summer make sure to include at least one island in your Croatia travel itinerary. But which one?
That’s why you’re here. To help you choose an island for your next break in Croatia, we hope our pick of incredible you-have-to-see-them-to-believe islands will inspire you this summer.
But gorgeous weather isn’t the only reason tourists flock to the town of Hvar in peak season. Easy access of its harbor makes it a hub for yacht owners crisscrossing the Mediterranean, so most holidaymakers use it as a base for visiting other sites across the Adriatic.
One thing everyone who comes here agree on is the pristine waters surrounding the island. Tourists can choose to see and be seen at beaches near the town like Banj, Mekicevica or Maslinica, or go exploring the island by car and uncover secluded gems like Dubovica, Piscena or Sveta Nedjelja (St. Sunday).
But the sun, sea, and sand isn’t the only thing Hvar has on offer. If you hunger for an authentic island experience, venture inland. Among the olive groves and lavender fields, you can find timeless taverns (called konoba) in lonely villages, which still serves a plateful of traditional tastes, sites, and sounds.
So, if you find yourself here, don’t hold your own. Instead, start off your island exploration with a trip to Rab Town. This 15th-century palace of stone and sun-drenched orange rooftops is an atmospheric playground full of picture-perfect sites, where each tiny side-street is a place for something new to see, hear, taste and discover.
Some of the truly memorable sites in-town include the churches of St Andrew and St Christopher, scaling the Great Bell Tower (Veli Zvonik), a cool beer at the San Antonio bar, and a delicious meal at the 200-year-old Santa Maria restaurant.
Outside its main town, Rab is a lush natural paradise full of parks and old forests, at places like Kalifront, which definitely deserve your attention and a picnic.
But like any sunny location, people come here for the crystal blue sea and sandy beaches. Rajska Plaza (Paradise Beach), in particular, draws locals and tourists alike to its pine-fringed shore.
More daring beach hunters will venture away from the regular spots on Rab, as they won’t want to miss the chance of visiting some of many hidden coves and naturist beaches in search of adventure.
As soon as you set foot on its captivating shores, you will understand why the magic of this island has enchanted visitors since it was first settled in ancient times.
Korcula is a strikingly beautiful island, marked by opposition and contrast. In the north, the coast is flat, accessible and covered in pebble beaches along its entire length.
To the south, on the other hand, steep cliffs uncover peaceful sandy inlets and tranquil coves. There you’ll find Pupnatska Luka – arguably the most stunning piece of beach real estate on the island.
And inland, a backdrop of dark pine forests for as long as the eye can see. It’s what inspired Ancient Greek sailors to name the island Korkyra Melaina (Black Corfu).
Where there is no forest, the island reveals romantic villages, honey farms, olive groves, and fruit orchards. So, when you sit down to eat at any family-owned establishment outside the main town, you can be sure all the food was locally sourced, either from land or the sea.
And just like the landscape, the town of Korcula is an enchanting place all on its own. Dubbed “Little Dubrovnik”, the medieval stone squares, houses, churches and towers will call you back in time to get lost in its narrow corridors, cozy cafes and small shops.
Unlike its neighbors (Vis, Hvar or Korcula), Brac has little to offer when it comes to picturesque towns or lush inland vegetation. But what it lacks in major towns and forest paths, it makes up for with the sheer number of beaches.
From white cliffs and pebbles to golden sand, the beaches on Brac make it hard for you to remain anchored to just one location. Instead, tourists visiting the island opt for a more mobile vacation, traveling from one dreamy coastal village to the next, in search of the next place to swim and enjoy the sun.
A real beach bonanza, most of the beaches on Brac are not only some of the best on the entire coast, but frequently feature on postcards, like the infamous Zlatni Rat beach near Bol, Dragon’s Cave, Supetar, Postira or Punte Rata.
Apart from that, tourists spend their time hiking up Vidova Gora or taking the time to lay back and interact with the colorful locals. So, you might want to brush up on your Croatian before you go.
But in recent years, Vis has boomed its way into a comeback. In 2018, it even landed a role as a temporary home to the cast and crew of Mama Mia 2 Here We Go Again. So, once again it’s on the tourist map of Croatia. And it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to overlook this fabulous gem in the Adriatic Sea.
Tourists who arrive at Vis are overwhelmed by the beauty of its pebble beaches. Most of them, like Stiniva Beach, lie in-between high cliffs or hidden in coves.
Inland, Vis bares the remnants of its past as an army base during the time of Yugoslavia. So most of it is covered by sparse vegetation, olive groves, and towering hills.
Despite its drawbacks, Vis attracts hundreds to the Town of Vis and Komiza, the other major town on the island. The lack of capacity means the island is pricier than the rest, but for a bit extra you will definitely avoid major crowds and enjoy a quiet break from reality on this getaway in the middle of the sea.
Look beyond the coast for your next adventure in Croatia, because an immersive experience awaits. With more than a thousand islands to choose from, the Adriatic Sea might hold the key to a new discovery.
And if you don’t know where to begin, we can help. Contact us and we can help you choose the right tours in Croatia and plan your custom trip for you from booking and departure to arrival and until it's time to hit the beach.
By Igor Resiti