Croatia's islands offer something for everyone — from party animals and sailors to walkers and families. This stunning country (voted one of the most beautiful countries in the world) is truly worth a visit — or several. But which island to choose? To help you out, we have picked the best Croatian islands for getaways.
1. Susak: best Croatian island for explorers
Susak is one true connoisseur of Mediterranean getaways. A small, sandy Croatian island that sits off the coast of larger Lošinj, Susak's beaches are superb. In fact, Susak's Spiaza Beach is one of our best beaches in Croatia.
Susak is also characterised by crumbly, ochre-coloured cliffs covered in ferns, wild fennel and soaring grasses. With footpaths crisscrossing the island, exploring the great outdoors here is effortless and sublimely rewarding.
Top tip: Croatia is a top honeymoon destination and this tailor-made Dalmatian Honeymoon trip will take you through truly memorable sights. The tour is planned out to the last possible detail while still respecting the time you wish to spend at your own pace in privacy.
2. Rab Island: the ideal destination for sandy beaches
Known for being one of the best European beach holiday destinations, Rab is indeed blessed with dozens of stone-and-pebble-free coves that'll please even the fussiest beach-lover.
Rab's best-known beach is Rajska Plaža (Paradise Beach). Located in Lopar to the north of the town of Rab, its long stretch of soft sand, shallow waters, and plentiful amenities make it a top choice for families. For scenery that evokes The Bahamas — pine forests and turquoise waters — head to Suha Punta on the wooded Kalifront peninsula.
Keen to avoid tan lines? Kandarola Beach is one of the world's oldest naturist beaches, with the right royal connections — Edward and Wallis Simpson used to get back to nature here, which is why it's known locally as English Beach.
Top tip: A day cruise around the northern side of the island of Pag. You will be free to swim in the inlet of the Zavratnica Nature Park, whilst also discovering the numerous other attractions the island of Rab offers.
3. Silba: perfect island getaway for serenity
Car-free with no hotels, Silba is a paradise for peace lovers year-round. Come mid-July, a bike ban comes into play until the end of August, further adding to the island's addictively laidback vibe. To get a sense of Silba's blissfully slow pace, strolling maquis-lined lanes to unspoiled beaches pretty much counts as an adrenaline sport here.
Top tip: Join a full-day excursion to the islands of Silba and Olib, which are part of the Zadar archipelago. The area is known for its marvellous landscape, far away from traffic jams and city crowds.
4. Murter: perfect for summer parties
While the legendary summer Garden Festival danced its last crazy steps in 2015, Murter is still one of the best Croatian islands for summer parties, festivals and concerts. Running in late July, SuncéBeat is a carnivalesque festival with a welcoming family vibe — an event that favours fun over pretension.
Amazingly, the island’s easy-going side isn’t ruffled by the festivities. Party-seekers co-exist with more sedate visitors who are drawn to Murter’s natural beauty — think olive groves, cute ports and sublime coves.
If you're seeking alternative culture and are planning a longer trip to Croatia, read up on unexpected highlights of Croatia.
Top tip: If you want to experience the Dalmatian coast from a whole different perspective, then this tailor-made sailing trip is for you! Hop aboard a beautiful cruiser and sail along some of the most stunning Croatian islands.
5. Šolta: a superb island for hiking and cycling
Unspoiled Šolta happens to offer many of the reasons Croatia made it into our round-up of the world's best adventure holiday destinations, with a host of lesser-travelled hiking and biking trails to enjoy.
Despite being the closest island to Split, Šolta has a decidedly remote feel. Small and compact, lovers of the stunning outdoors will want to take to the unspoiled interior for trails that pass through secret stone villages. Meanwhile, the picturesque harbour of Maslinica offers an alluring mix of old-time charm and yacht club chic.
Top tip: if you're after the likes of hiking and cycling, take a look at our customisable Ultimate Croatian Adventure trip.
6. Hvar: best Croatian island for hedonists
When it comes to architectural grandeur and glamour, Hvar Town rivals Dubrovnik. Long a favourite summer haunt of celebrities, the island boasts stacks of glossy bars and top-notch restaurants. As insiders know, the best parties happen on Hvar's offshore islands after hours, so keep to your ear to the ground while you sup your sundowner.
It's fair to say that there are two sides to Hvar. Though it has a reputation for buzzy nightlife, beyond the town the island has a chilled and charming vibe that makes it popular with families. There are dozens of calm coves for kids to swim in safely, while towns like Stari Grad and Vrboska retain an unhurried, fishing village feel, with plenty of family-oriented places to eat.
Top tip: if that wasn't enough, Hvar is a also great place to include on a sailing trip. If you fancy taking to the Adriatic Sea, read our first-timers guide to Croatian sailing holidays, and check out our tailor-made active trip to authentic Hvar.
- For stylish stays: History Hvar Design Heritage Suites
- For luxury: Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort
Where to stay on Hvar Island
7. Vis: the ideal destination for foodies
The furthest flung of the Southern Dalmatian Islands, Vis is something of a magnet for independent travellers, especially those who are fond of good grub. If you are travelling independently, you might be interested in our run-down of the best beachside camping spots in Croatia.
Moving back to Vis — the island is surrounded by jaw-droppingly clear waters that are known for offering some of the Adriatic’s finest seafood. The lobster is outstanding, with hearty roasts and stews being another Vis speciality. Don't miss any opportunity to try the island's signature snack — pogača od srdele, a flavoursome anchovy pasty.
Top tip: Surrounded by an archipelago of other Croatian islands and islets, the island of Vis is simple, sleepy and authentic. Come here with our tailor-made trip to Croatia's Best Kept Secret - Vis Island for a unique experience, and stay for the hospitality and friendliness of the locals.
8. Korčula Island: perfect for wine lovers
Cloaked in vineyards, olives and Aleppo pines, Korčula is one of the greenest of the Croatian islands. It is also one of the most popular, thanks largely to the charms of its main settlement, Korčula Town, whose surviving fortifications jut decorously out to sea like the bastions of an overgrown sandcastle.
The island has a varied collection of inviting beaches too. Visit the white sands of Lumbarda, 7km away from Korčula Town. Or spend time at the secluded pebbly coves on the south coast, and dramatic slabs of rock on the islet of Proizd, just off the port town of Vela Luka.
Top tip: Two spectacular Croatian destinations in one day! On this day trip from Dubrovnik, you will enjoy the spectacular Mediterranean scenery of the glittering Peljesac peninsula, the ancient beauty of Korcula island, and their delicious food and wine culture.
- For boutique stays: Boutique rooms Kastel Ismaeli
- For stunning views: Guest House Lovrić
Where to stay on Korčula Island
9. Proizd: best Croatian island for sun-worshippers
More of an islet than an island, Proizd is reached by water taxi from Vela Luka on Korčula. Visitors are drawn here by the sloping-rock beaches — stone plates that shelve down into the impossibly clear sea. Especially beautiful as the day wears on, you'll want to stay for the sunset that sees the rocks shift from grey to gold. Magic.
If you happen to visit between mid-July and August, time your trip to experience Vela Luka’s Kumpanjija, a traditional slow sword dance. It takes place on Tuesday evenings — the din of bagpipes and drums makes it pretty easy to track down.
Top tip: Enjoy a ticket that allows you to visit 3 different islands in Korčula. Starting in Korčula, your ticket is valid throughout the whole day as you hop on and hop off as many times as you want.
10. Mljet: best Croatian island for nature-lovers
While you can visit Mljet on a day trip from Dubrovnik, this National Park island really justifies a longer stay. One of the largest islands of Southern Dalmatia, Mljet offers exceptional nature walks, and beautiful bays and lakes. It's also known for fine wine, juicy olives, and incredible goat's cheese — best enjoyed in a local restaurant after all those Dubrovnik day-trippers have left.
Top tip: Discover the beauty of Mljet National Park on this guided hiking tour. Trek up Montokuc Hill for a view of the whole park, take a boat down the Great Lake and swim in the emerald-green waters.
11. Cres Island: best for an Italian vibe
The westernmost of the Kvarner islands, Cres and Lošinj (really a single island divided by an artificial channel), together make up a narrow sliver of land which begins just south of the Istrian coast and extends most of the way across the Kvarner Gulf. Despite its proximity to the mainland, Cres (pronounced “tsress”) is by far the wilder and more unspoiled of the two islands.
Cres boasts a couple of attractively weather-beaten old settlements in Osor and Cres Town, as well as numerous villages and coves in which modern-day mass tourism has yet to make an impact. With the deciduous forest and overgrown hedgerows northern Cres gives way to the increasingly barren sheep pastures of the south.
Top tip: Discover the secrets of olive oil production on a shared group or private walking tour of an olive grove and olive oil mill in Cres. Taste some oils and have snacks and drinks at a local restaurant.
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.
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