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. Allegedly the place where Jason and the Argonauts fled with the Golden Fleece, the islands were originally known as the Absyrtides; according to legend, Medea killed her brother Absyrtus here and threw his remains into the sea, where two of his limbs became Cres and Lošinj.

Despite its proximity to the mainland, Cres (pronounced “tsress”) is by far the wilder and more unspoiled of the two islands, boasting a couple of attractively weatherbeaten 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. The island marks the transition between the lush green vegetation of northern Croatia and the bare karst of the Adriatic, with the deciduous forest and overgrown hedgerows of northern Cres – the so-called Tramuntana – giving way to the increasingly barren sheep-pastures of the south.

Lošinj (pronounced “losheen”) is smaller and more touristed than Cres, with a thick, woolly tree cover that comes as a relief after the obdurate grey-greenness of southern Cres. The island’s main town, Mali Lošinj, is a magnet for holiday-makers from Central Europe, though even here you’ll find a charming old town and port relatively unsullied by concrete mega-developments. Its near-neighbour Veli Lošinj, which lies within walking distance, is smaller and offers more in terms of fishing-village charm – although it too can get crowded in August.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Croatia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Vukovar: inland Croatia's laidback escape

Vukovar: inland Croatia's laidback escape

The fastest-emerging tourist destination in inland Croatia is not one you might expect. Twenty five years ago, the pretty Danube-hugging town of Vukovar was alm…

06 Dec 2016 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
10 great winter destinations in Eastern Europe

10 great winter destinations in Eastern Europe

Forget the plummeting temperatures and long dark nights, winter is a hugely rewarding season in which to visit Eastern Europe. Frozen rivers, frosty branches an…

28 Nov 2016 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
Sailing in Croatia: a first-timer’s guide

Sailing in Croatia: a first-timer’s guide

Coastlines don’t come much more idyllic than Croatia’s 2000km of ruggedly beautiful Adriatic shore. Along this magnificent stretch are ancient Roman remains…

09 Nov 2016 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month