The Croatian Adriatic is one of Europe's most compelling seascapes. And it's something of an island-hopper’s paradise. Considering a trip? Find what you need to know about island hopping in Croatia here.
The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Croatia, your essential guide for visiting Croatia.
This depends on which airport you fly into. The city of Split has the largest number of incoming flights. Split’s airport is around 20km northwest of town between Kaštela and Trogir. An airport shuttle bus run by Pleso prijevoz drops passengers at Split bus station.
Alternatively, the #37 Trogir–Split bus passes along the main road some 200m in front of the airport, terminating at the suburban bus station on Domovinskog rata, a 20min walk north of the centre.
Split is also the Adriatic's largest ferry port. Serves many popular islands. And has crossings to Šolta, Hvar, Brač, Korčula and Vis.
Dubrovnik is another useful gateway for island hopping in Croatia. Catamaran services to Mljet, Lastovo, Korčula and Hvar sail from here. It's also a good choice to travel on a ferry. The ferry terminal is located 4km west of the Old Town in Gruž harbour. Most ferry services are run by Jadrolinija (ticket office opposite the ferry quay).
Catamarans to Šipan, Sobra, Polače, Korčula and Lastovo are operated by TP Line (tickets sold online or from the booth on the ferry quay). Tickets for the Dubrovnik-Mljet-Korčula-Hvar-Brač-Split catamaran run by Krilo Jet (April– Oct) are sold by Avansa Travel.
The northern city of Rijeka is another entry point. This offers sailings to islands in the Kvarner Gulf. Catamarans dock at the passenger terminal on the south side of Rijeka harbour. Tickets can be bought at Jadrolinija in the passenger terminal.
You can consider the north Dalmatian port of Zadar as the option for an island hopping in Croatia. It has ferries to several other laid-back island getaways. Every inhabited island is connected by some kind of regular local ferry or catamaran, with Zadar and Šibenik serving as the main passenger ports. In Zadar tours of Telašćica Bay and the Kornati islands are offered by excursion boats lining the quay beside the footbridge.
Another main passenger port is located in Sibenik. There are four daily departures (two on Sun) to the islands of Zlarin and Prvić from Sibenik. Tickets can be bought from the Jadrolinija office on the waterfront at Obala Franje Tuđmana.
You will find some more tips about travelling in Croatia in our list of 10 tips for first-time travellers.
Jadrolinija car ferries serve the main islands. And state-owned Jadrolinija provides transport for locals as well. Passenger-only catamarans are faster but more expensive. Both Jadrolinija and Krilo Jet operate catamaran services.
A multitude of ferry services link the Croatian mainland with the Adriatic islands. Most of them are run by Jadrolinija, the main state ferry firm, although private operators (such as the Krilo catamaran fleet) are beginning to offer competition.
All ferries, apart from simple shuttle services, will have a buffet where you can buy a full range of drinks, although food may consist of crisps and nuts, so it’s best to bring your own picnic if you’re likely to get hungry.
Short hops to islands close to the mainland – such as Brestova to Porozina on Cres, Stinica to Mišnjak on Rab, or Orebić to Dominće on Korčula – are handled by simple roll-on-roll-off ferries, which either operate a shuttle service or run fairly frequently – every hour or so.
European Coastal Airline seaplanes offer another option for Croatia island hopping. They fly from Pula, Rijeka and Split to Lošinj, Hvar, Korčula and Lastovo.
The obvious attraction of flying is the time it saves: the plane journey from Zagreb to Dubrovnik takes an hour, compared to a whole day to get there overland. Croatia Airlines operates domestic services between Zagreb and Pula (1 daily), Split (summer 4 daily; winter 3 daily), Zadar (summer 2 daily; winter 1 daily) and Dubrovnik (summer 3 daily; winter 2 daily).
The price of flights vary enormously according to time of year and how far in advance you are booking – Zagreb– Dubrovnik can cost as little as 300Kn/€40 if booking online, outside peak periods; otherwise expect to pay three times this amount.
Motorsailer cruises on the Adriatic coast are increasingly popular. Prices vary widely according to the size of craft. Dalmatia start at around £800 for seven days. To learn the rudiments of sailing, you can arrange a one-week beginner’s course – prices start at around £800 per person.
The cheapest seven-day holiday in an eight-berth yacht is typically £700–800 per person (rising to £900–1000 in a two-berth yacht), depending on the season. Prices rise steeply for fancier yachts. You can also charter a smallish three- to four-berth bareboat yacht for upwards of £900 a week, while prices for larger craft can run into thousands; a skipper will cost around £200 a day extra.
If you want to experience the Dalmatian coast from a whole different perspective, then this trip is for you! With our tailor-made tour hop aboard a beautiful cruiser and sail along some of Croatia's most stunning islands.
Island hopping in Croatia is possible year round. However, some ferry sailings might be more limited in winter. And certain routes only operate during summer. Look out for summer timetables. These offer a full range of sailing options. Summer timetables normally cover June to September.
July and August can be hot in Croatia. Ideal if you're splashing around in the Adriatic. But exhausting weather for urban sightseeing, hiking or cycling. Popular catamaran sailings often sell out in high season. So getting stranded during your trip is a possibility. Costs for everything are highest in midsummer. So late spring or early autumn travel are almost always better value.
Island hopping is inseparable from a beach holiday. Find attractive beach options in our guide to the best beaches of Croatia.
Split to Dubrovnik is the most popular Croatia island hopping itinerary. Go via Brač, Hvar and Korčula for easiest travel. This is also a good route to see the best of Dalmatia.
A number of ferries sail from Split to Supetar on Brač. There are 7–13 ferries a day from Split to Supetar (50min), plus daily catamarans from Split to Bol (1hr 10min) and a weekly service to Milna on the western side of the island.
Travel across Brač to famous Zlatni Rat beach at Bol. There is a daily catamaran from Bol to Jelsa (25min) and a weekly catamaran from Milna to Hvar Town (June–Sept Tues only; 1hr). Once on Hvar, catch a bus from Jelsa to Hvar Town for its mix of Renaissance architecture and cocktail-fuelled nights.
For another seductive blend of past and present, cross by catamaran from Hvar Town to Korčula. Krilo Jet catamarans run from Hvar Town to Korčula Town (1–2 daily; 1hr 25min), and a daily Jadrolinija catamaran runs from Hvar Town to Vela Luka (1 daily; 1hr).
Then from Korčula, sail or take a bus to Dubrovnik. Either journey is a spectacular end to your trip. Also, approaching from Korčula or Orebić, in addition to the Split-Hvar-Korčula-Mljet-Dubrovnik catamaran, you can reach Mljet on the regular hydrofoil excursions (arriving at either Polače or Pomena) run by local travel agents.
The classic island circuit can feel like a box-ticking exercise. Especially if you want to give each island the time it deserves. So consider a side-trip to sleepy, understated Šolta. The nearest island to Split, it's known for walled olive groves and pretty harbour villages. Don't miss Maslinica and Stomorska.
On Brač, avoid over-hyped Zlatni Rat beach. Instead, make for quieter Lovrečina Bay. Or head to the rocky shores around bike-friendly Sutivan. Don’t just stick to the main town on Hvar. Make time for equally historic, but more mellow, Stari Grad as well - consider a stay at Hotel Antica. A visit to Proizd on Korčula is another must. It's the alluring rocky islet off the port of Vela Luka.
If you prefer the idea of a tailor-made island hopping trip, get in touch and we can connect you with a local expert to plan and book your ideal holiday.
Vis island is the independent traveller’s favourite. It lacks package hotels, has a reputation for bohemian cool, and its rugged scenery, individual cuisine and stunning beaches invite superlatives.
However, Vis is notoriously difficult for island hopping in Croatia. A weekly catamaran service to Hvar Town is the sole direct island link. All other ferries are via Split. Meaning you have to backtrack to the mainland for onward travel. But, plan carefully, and a Croatian island cruise to Vis is always worth the effort.
In short, yes. The northern Croatian islands can be as rewarding as those in the south. Sail from Rijeka by catamaran to Lošinj island. Or choose lesser known islands - also with catamaran crossings from Rijeka.
Make the uniquely sandy island of Susak your first stop. Follow up with bustling Mali Lošinj for spa hotels and palm-fringed promenades. Then travel on to Silba. This snoozy Shangri-la for independent travel has banned both cars and bikes.
From Silba, head south by catamaran or ferry to historic Zadar. Zadar port is the gateway to another group of low-key islands. Or return to Lošinj. From here, European Coastal Airlines’ seaplanes whisk you to Split. And you can start island hopping all over again.
Intrested in exploring historic Zadar? Read our guide on the reasons why you should visit this destination in Croatia.
If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Croatia without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.
Ready for a trip to Croatia? Check out the snapshot of The Rough Guide to Croatia. If you travel further in Croatia, read more about the best time to go, the best places to visit and best things to do in Croatia. For inspiration use the itineraries from The Rough Guide to Croatia and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.
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