Beaches in Croatia offer a range from golden bays to dramatic peninsulas. They stretch along the coastline between northern Rijeka and Dubrovnik in the south. Not to mention the several seductive shorelines sit on the southerly Dalmatian coast. But where to begin? Start with our rundown of the best beaches in Croatia.
The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to Croatia, your essential guide for visiting Croatia.
Susak is one of our top 10 Croatian islands for getaways. It’s tiny, composed mainly of sand and reached by ferry from Mali Losinj on Cres. As Cres itself is some distance from the mainland, the journey to Susak takes time which only adds to the island's connoisseur appeal.
Spiaza is the main beach on Susak. A moon-grey crescent, edged with shallow seas, it spreads out from Susak village and if you want to swim, be prepared to wade out a bit for deep enough water. Bok bay is another sandy beach further to the east, it's always quieter than Spiaza because of the walk to get there.
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If your perfect beach is long, sandy and stretches to the horizon, then head for Nin, 15km from Zadar. Nin’s Kraljičina plaža has two beach bars and little else, apart from mesmerising views of the Velebit mountains.
Don’t be alarmed to see sludge covered bathers here, the reedy area behind Kraljičina plaža is rich in peloid mud, thought to be a natural treatment for muscle and joint pain. Take a look at another 6 reasons why you should visit Zadar Croatia.
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If Kraljičina plaža leaves you wanting more, think about taking a full day boat trip from Zadar to Sakarun Beach.
There's no denying Bačvice beach plays an important role in the lives of almost everyone who calls Split home. It's a shallow bay of sand and shingle, popular with families and a café-packed pleasure pavilion to the east makes it quite a buzzy social hub too.
However, Bačvice is definitely the most famous of all as the home of picigin — the uniquely Dalmatian game involving much leaping around to stop a small ball from hitting the water. It's hard to describe the passion for picigin in Split, so just head for the beach and see for yourself.
If you want to experience the Dalmatian coast from a whole different perspective, then this tailor-made sailing Croatia trip is for you! Hop aboard a beautiful cruiser and sail along some of Croatia's most stunning islands.
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If you want to escape the city for a few hours, take a half-day Blue Lagoon and three islands boat trip from Split.
Lovrečina Bay is one of several beaches on Brač which delivers on the hype. It's just four kilometres east of Postira and sets its soft, sandy shores and translucent waters against a haunting backdrop of graceful medieval ruins and ancient olive groves.
Parking at the beach is very limited so despite the loveliness it's never as crowded as it should be. If Brač puts you in the mood for a spot of voyaging, start with a look at Island-hopping in Croatia: a practical guide.
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Brač Island is ethereally lovely as the sun goes down, see for yourself on a three hour sunset kayaking expedition with local guides.
Hvar Town has a global reputation for Renaissance grandeur, celebrity glamour, chic bars and dazzling nightlife. It's also on our things to do in Croatia: the ultimate list. However, if you want good beaches our advice is to head out of town.
You’ll find several fine coves and bays to the east but the most attractive by far is Uvala Dubovica, a broad pebbly beach near a historic manor house. The shallow seas here make it a top pick for families, although in high season it also attracts yachts and motorboats.
Uvala Dubovica isn’t the easiest beach to reach which tends to reduce crowds. Parking on the main road is limited to only 50 vehicles, so don’t drive. Instead, rent a bike or scooter in Hvar town and have some fun beach-hopping along the coast.
Grebišće is absolutely perfect for smooth paddling, thanks to its sandy seabed and you’ll find it just 4km east of Jelsa on the Sućuraj road, after a short walk through Grebišće campsite.
It’s a narrow beach with little shade although that doesn't deter visitors to this lovely, shallow and sandy bay. If it gets too hot, the local campsite café serves drinks and snacks and there's often a summer beach bar on Grebišće itself.
On this tailor-made active trip to authentic Hvar you will meet an entirely different Hvar, discover its hidden corners, learn about the local food and wine production and day-to-day life of a typical island family. Easy hikes will allow you to experience the island with a local, through many vineyards, olive groves and dense pine forests.
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You need to go sailing at least a little on Hvar, so why not book a Blue and Green Cave day tour from the island?
What are the best beaches in Croatia known for? The answer these days is likely to be Zlatni Rat, close to Bol on the island of Brač, which is now one of the country's most photographed beaches.
Iconic images of this silvery tongue of shingle stretching out into vivid turquoise waters are instantly recognisable the world over so the beach does attract crowds during summer. Don't let that put you off, it's still a compelling place to visit and you may actually find it hard to leave.
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Approached by water taxi from Vela Luka, Proizd looks like an average Adriatic islet, but its mix of pine and maquis hides an amazing secret. Proizd is actually one of Croatia's top sunbathing spots thanks to a trio of dramatic beaches comprised of sloping slabs shelving into clear seas.
Each beach is a natural sun trap and spots on the rocks are prized, although all three are very popular with skinny dippers too. So if you're a sun worshipper and asking Split or Dubrovnik: where should you go first? Proizd might push you in Dubrovnik's direction.
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As one of Croatia's 5 best honeymoon destinations, Dubrovnik does romance very well and the delightful 50 minute ferry crossing from the city to Lopud Island is proof of that. It's a passenger-only ferry and Lopud is car-free, so after your romantic sail you can expect a bit of a hike to get to the beach.
But Šunj Bay is worth the effort. A graceful crescent of fine shingle and sand strung between rocky promontories, it's simply beautiful and completely unspoiled. Although after your trek, you'll be pleased to find there's a casual beach bar here.
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It's hard to imagine having enough of the best beaches in Croatia, but if you need a breather a guided walking tour of Dubrovnik Old Town is perfect. Also read our guide to the best things to do in Dubrovnik and find some interesting ideas for your holiday here.
Looking for a beach with a post-apocalyptic tinge? Try Kupari south of Dubrovnik where a holiday resort for the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army was shelled during the 1991–95 war and the remains of the derelict hotels can still be seen to this day.
Don't worry, it's not all gloom and doom as Kupari is also home to one of the best beaches in Croatia where fine shingle and sand crescent contrasts starkly with the ruined buildings.
Please don't go exploring, the hotels are unprotected, potentially quite dangerous and definitely not on our list of where to stay in Dubrovnik.
San Marino stretches around a vast expanse of sand known as Veli Mel (mel being an archaic word for “beach”, although it’s also referred to hereabouts as Rajska plaža – “Paradise Beach”). The beach is backed by cafés and restaurants and packed with families from June to September. The bay on which Veli Mel is situated is unusually shallow, and you can paddle almost all the way to an islet about 500m offshore.
There’s a sequence of smaller, progressively less crowded, sandy beaches beyond the headlands to the north, beginning with Livačina Bay, followed by the predominantly naturist Kaštelina Bay slightly further up.
Some 43km long and at no point more than 4.5km wide, Dugi otok (Long Island) is the largest and arguably the most beautiful of the Zadar archipelago islands. With fewer than two thousand inhabitants, it boasts a wilder and more dramatic landscape than any of its neighbours, with sheer cliffs on its western side and a rugged, indented coastline.
One of the local attractions here is Sakarun beach which is known thanks to its crystal-clear turquoise waters, soft white sand, and pine trees that provide natural shade. The beach is relatively secluded and visitors can reach it by car or by boat. Sakarun beach is surrounded by lush Mediterranean vegetation and offers stunning views of the Adriatic Sea.
Enjoy sun, sea, and sand on this full-day catamaran trip to Sakarun Beach from Zadar.
Lying at the foot of the Biokovo mountains south of Omiš, the Makarska Riviera is Dalmatia’s most package-tourist-saturated stretch of coast. However, it has much to offer independent travellers too, most notably its long pebble beaches and rugged unspoilt hinterland.
Punta Rata Beach is a stunning beach located in the town of Brela, along the Makarska Riviera. One of the most iconic features of Punta Rata Beach is the Brela Stone, a large rock formation rising from the sea just off the beach.
Discover Croatia, with its fascinating history and glistening Adriatic coast. Your tailor-made trip to highlights of Croatia begins in the capital, Zagreb, before moving on to Split, via the stunning Plitvice Lakes. Continue to the beautiful Hvar Island, before ending your trip in dazzling Dubrovnik, 'the Pearl of the Adriatic'.
The town of Makarska, roughly in the middle of the region, has the most to offer year-round, is a good base from which to tackle the ascent of the Biokovo range, and offers boisterous nightlife in the summer peak season.
The other famous beach in Makarska Riviera is naturist-friendly Nugal, an enticing stretch of pebble squeezed between red-streaked cliffs 3km southeast of town. To get there, head to the eastern end of Makarska’s Riva and pick up the marked trails leading up into the woods.
Join a tour of Biokovo Nature Park, to discover the mountain's beauty. Experience its newest attraction, a glass platform called Skywalk.
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