Croatia islands offer something for everyone. Party animals, lotus eaters and families love them. But which one to choose? Jonathan Bousfield, author of The Rough Guide to Croatia, picks the top 10 best islands in Croatia for getaways. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Croatia, your essential guide for visiting Croatia.
Susak is one for true connoisseurs of Mediterranean getaways. A small and sandy island, it sits off the coast of larger Lošinj. The beaches here are superb. Crumbly, ochre-coloured cliffs come covered in ferns, wild fennel and soaring grasses. And footpaths criss-cross all over the island making exploring effortless.
Croatia isn't known for classic sandy beaches. But Rab island is the exception. Most famous of the island's golden strands is Veli mel. A broad shallow bay, it's packed with paddling families from June to September. Prefer uncrowded sands? Head for the wilder beaches lining Rab’s indented northern shore. Best known of these is Sahara. This peaceful bay's reserved for naturists, but has inviting coves on either side. And views of the mountainous mainland only enhance this area's natural feel. Apartment Jelena is close to sandy Levrena beach on Rab.
Silba is the paradise of Croatia islands. It's car free with no hotels. From mid-July to late August there's even a bicycle ban in place. And strolling maquis-lined lanes to unspoiled beaches counts as an adrenalin sport. Naturally, this gentle vibe appeals to independent travellers. So in summer, expect the island's low population to multiply tenfold. Secluded Apartment Tamaris perfectly reflects Silba's spirit of independence.
Murter launched Croatia’s dance party scene in 2006 with the Garden Festival. This legendary summer event danced its last in 2015. However, Murter is still one of the best islands to visit in Croatia for summer parties. And hedonistic music events remain its July and August signature. Amazingly, the island’s easy-going side isn’t ruffled by the festivities. Party seekers co-exist easily with more sedate visitors. And Murter’s olive groves, cute ports and coves remain as charming as ever.
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Šolta stays off the package-tour map, despite being the closest island to Split. Small and compact, it’s ideal for walking and cycling. Take to the unspoiled interior for less travelled trails. Head through secretive villages of stone houses with thick, slab roofs. And don’t miss the picturesque harbour of Maslinica. A mix of unspoiled village and yachting chic, it's Šolta best kept secret.
Hvar Town rivals Dubrovnik for architectural grandeur and sheer glamour. It's the celebrity media’s favourite Croatian island hang-out. And press haunt its glossy harbour and bars throughout summer. But insiders know the best parties are on Hvar's offshore islands, after hours.
Hvar Town is the celebrity magnet. But the rest of Hvar shows another side of the Croatia island. It’s charming, laid-back, affordable and popular with families. Peaceful bays and coves indent the coast. There’s plenty to enchant seclusion seekers. And towns like Stari Grad and Vrboska retain an unhurried, fishing village feel. Think about Apartments Aria close to Stari Grad centre and beaches.
Vis is a magnet for independent travellers and Zagreb foodies. It’s one of the islands in Croatia for outstanding restaurants. The surrounding waters offer up some of the Adriatic’s finest fish. And the local lobster is known as the freshest in the Mediterranean. Roasts and stews from old-school recipes are other Vis’ specialities. And the island even has its own fast-food. Called Pogača od srdele, it’s an anchovy pasty and local bakery staple.
Proizd is one Croatia's most famous sunbathing spots. More of an islet than an island, it's reached by taxi boat from Vela Luka on Korčula. Visitors are drawn here by the sloping-rock beaches which consist of stone plates shelving into clear seas. They look extraordinary and invite hours of lazing in the sun. But hang on for sunset when the rocks change from grey to gold: that's the real Proizd spectacle.
You can visit Mljet on a day trip from Dubrovnik. But this national park island really justifies a longer stay. Village accommodation, nature walks and quiet bays are perfect for romantics. It’s blissfully unspoiled. And at night, after the day trippers leave, you’ll find the quiet almost startling. Legend has it Odysseus and Calypso holed up on Mljet for seven years. And even today it’s easy to see why.
Ready for a trip to Croatia? Check out the snapshot Rough Guide to Croatia. Read more about the best time to go to Croatia, the best places to visit and best things to do in Croatia. For inspiration use the Croatia 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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