7 Jaw-dropping Islands in Croatia for First Timers

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Discover seven breathtaking islands in Croatia and learn what sets each one apart. Start planning the island-hopping trip of your dreams today.

ocean cliffs on Vis Island in Croatia

If you’re looking for the best islands in Croatia to visit, you’ve come to the right place! 

Considering the nation has around 1,000 islands, there are plenty of idyllic slices of paradise to choose from. And, according to the locals, you should be planning a trip of fiaka (utter contentment and laziness in Dalmatian), so get planning!

These are the seven most incredible islands to choose from:

Krk

drone view of Krk Island in Croatia

One of the best islands to visit in Croatia is Krk (Kerk, phonetically). 

Thanks to its patchwork of history, delicious food, and amazing beaches, you’ll want to put this at the top of your list. 

Plan at least a few meals in the local konobas or tavernsYou’ll sample regional specialties like šurlice, a phenomenal handmade pasta, and mouth-watering seafood dishes. Shrimp is usually on the menu and is one of the best things you can order. 

In addition to the great food, there are several hiking and cycling paths following the hard-worn donkey trails utilized by residents and their animals for hundreds of years. 

Then, after working up a sweat, cool off in the gorgeous sea. The village of Baska is the best place for a dip. Vela Plaza, Mala Luka, Vela Luka, Vržencia, and Dubna are all great choices, with crystal clear, azure waters and fine pebbles providing a great place to lay your beach mat. 

How to get to Krk

Getting to Krk is easy. It’s connected to the mainland via a bridge, so you can drive yourself. The closest town is Rijeka, about 45 minutes north of the island. Roads are clearly marked and easy to navigate. 

Alternatively, you can take a one-hour bus from Rijeka or a 4-hour bus from Zagreb

Hvar

view of Hvar island and yachts from the marina
Photo: Samantha Bryant

One of the most popular islands in Croatia is Hvar. 

Known as one of the trendiest destinations in the country, this dream destination is where yachties dock their vessels, eat the best seafood, and party at the chicest beach bars. 

And while Hvar Town is known for its glitz and glam, there is more to discover about this island.

The main part of town is perfect for shopping, wandering the cobbled streets, and sampling the incredible food in the region. 

When you are ready to stray from the town piazza, you can experience fascinating Croatian history by delving into local culture in the coastal villages of Stari Grad and Jelsa. 

Be sure to visit Tomič Winery to sample the region’s best reds. 

Of course, you have to visit the beaches around Hvar, too. Pokonji Dol Beach is a favorite, with its clear, cerulean waters and sandy shores. There are numerous beaches to choose from, and you should try as many as possible!

Getting to Hvar

Because Hvar is so popular, there are many options to get you there. 

During high season, there are several daily ferries from Split, which takes about an hour, and from Dubrovnik, which takes three hours. 

There is also a one-hour ferry from Korčula and a similar trip from Brač

Dugi Otok

cliffs and Dugi Otok Island in Croatia

Literally translated to Long Island, this next contender gets its name because it is, erm, long. It’s an impressive 45 km (28 miles) long, to be exact, and only 4 km (2.5 miles) across at its widest point. 

This skinny landmass has long been overlooked by the Roman conquerors and today’s tourists. It’s their loss, though, because this heavenly island has a lot to offer. 

Spend some time exploring Dragove, the hilltop town with sweeping views of the Adriatic. 

You can also wander through Sali and Božava, two charming fishing villages. 

The main draw is Telašcica Nature Park. This reserve takes up about ⅔ of the island and has some stunning beaches. Check out Sakuran and Telašcica Bay, two fabulous sandy beaches with sparkling turquoise waters.

How to get to Dugi Otok

You can hop on a ferry from Zadar to Dugi Otok, which takes about two hours. 

Brač

fishing boats and marina on Brac Island

Brač is one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia. 

Zlatni Beach is a breathtaking peninsula with soft, honey-hued sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters lapping the shores. 

It is also home to Vidova Gora, the highest point of all the islands off the coast. This behemoth stands a whopping 780 meters (2560 feet) above the sea. There are quite a few hiking and cycling tracks around the mountain.

The island also has some of the best watersports in Croatia! Jet skiing, stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing, and kayaking are popular here. You can rent equipment by the hour or bring your own. 

Be sure to take the time to get to know Brač. The island is rich in history and has been inhabited since the Neolithic age!

Getting to Brac

Brač is the largest island in the Central Dalmatian chain and has an airport. However, if you are trying to save money or looking for a scenic option, the fast ferry from Split to Brač only takes 35 minutes. And because it’s so close, you can take a day trip from Split if you’re short on time.

Vis

blue cave in Vis Croatia

Ah, Vis! Because it’s the furthest island from Croatia’s coast, it’s usually only frequented by yachties. 

Settled by the Greeks in the 4th century BCE, it was forgotten until 1950 when the former Yugoslavia commandeered it for a naval base. For nearly 40 years, the island was closed to foreign visitors, and travelers made other plans (looking at you, Brač and Korčula!).

However, the isolation of this island has allowed it to maintain its charms. 

When you head into town for a tasty Croatian meal, you’ll find that the only options are family-owned konobas. You know you’re guaranteed a delicious authentic dinner if Gramma is cooking up a dish that’s been passed down through the generations!

In addition to great food, Vis is the perfect base to explore the blue cave of Biševo. Tours will take you into the caves in a small boat, allowing you to take pictures and marvel at the eerie beauty. Then, the captain will bring you to a spot to snorkel and swim. It makes for the perfect day out!

Getting to Vis

Getting here is a snap from the mainland. Daily ferries run from Split to Vis and take about an hour and 30 minutes. 

You can also get here directly from HvarBrač, and Makarska.

Rab

Be sure to visit Rab, Croatia’s greenest island in the Kvarner Gulf, a stunning bay in the northern Adriatic Sea. Known as Felix Arba, or Happy Rab to the ancient Romans, this location truly lives up to its name.

Rab Town looks like a medieval village, with pale stones, narrow, steep staircases, and winding cobblestone alleys. This is a fantastic place to get lost for an afternoon.

The beaches on this island are the main draw. Along the north coast near the village of Lopar, you’ll find irresistible sandy beaches — somewhat rare for the Adriatic region. The water here is exceptionally clear and cool, great for swimming and cooling off in the hot summer sun.

Fun fact: In 1936, England’s King Edward VII visited Rab with his wife, Wallis Simpson. Rumor has it that he stripped off all his royal robes and flung himself into the sea, starting the nudist-friendly vibes that still exist today. 

Getting to Rab

There are several ferries from Rijeka to Rab, or you can take the bus. The trip takes about three hours, but it is totally worth it! There are also boats from Krk or Zadar. 

Korčula

Korcula old town

Dubbed “Little Dubrovnik” because of its surrounding medieval walls, Korčula is a small island full of character. It comprises a mix of coastal fishing villages, tiny hamlets and wineries in the hills, so you get the best of both worlds.

Several vineyards are worth visiting. Some have olive groves offering excellent olive oil. Toreta Winery is one of the best in the entire region and allows guests to sample Pošip, Croatia’s local wine.

The best thing about this island is that it’s seemingly unchanged since the days of Marco Polo’s first voyages to the East. 

Did you know that Dalmatians claim he was born there? This is vehemently contested by the Venetians, of course, but there is a museum dedicated to learning more about the explorer and his time on the island. 

How to get to Korcula

Ferries run from Split to Korčula every day during the high season. The boat ride takes about an hour. There are also routes from DubrovnikBračZadar, and even Zagreb

Map of the best islands in Croatia

Croatia has over 1777 km (1104 miles) of coastline with over 1,000 islands! However, most of the islands that attract visitors are along the central and southern coast of the country in the Adriatic Sea.

Packing list essentials for Croatia

seaside restaurant in Croatia

When visiting Croatia, you are likely planning a vacation filled with sun, sea, sand, and excitement. So, be sure to pack the following: 

  • Lots of bathing suits
  • Cover-ups
  • Sunglasses + sunhat
  • SPF 30 + sunscreen
  • Waterproof shoes
  • GoPro / waterproof camera 
  • Beach mat
  • Good book/podcast
  • Quick-dry towel 
  • Dry bag
  • Snorkel gear

Weather in Croatia

Korcula Island from the sea

Croatia is blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate, so you can plan a trip for almost any month of the year. 

But summer is the best time to visit for warm temperatures and sunny skies. 

A few things to keep in mind, though. July and August are considered high season, with loads of tourists coming from all over Europe and North America. It’s also the hottest time of the year. Temperatures average 25-30℃ (77-86℉), and the evenings are a pleasant 20-22℃ (68-72℉).

Late May to June and September to October are still warm and don’t have the peak number of tourists. This shoulder season would be the perfect time to visit the must-see islands in Croatia. Temperatures range from 20-24℃ (68-75℉) during the day but dip to about 15℃ (59℉) in the evenings. 

How to get to the islands in Croatia

marina in the Croatian islands

Getting to the Croatian islands is simple, with several ferry companies and bridges connecting some to the mainland.

You’ll find tips on how to get from the mainland to each island above.

Final thoughts on the Croatian Islands

small town in Croatia

There are so many choices when it comes to choosing the best islands in Croatia to visit, and you really can’t go wrong! Pick a few for now and earmark the rest for your next trip because you know you’ll be coming back! 

If you want to see some of the mainland hotspots as well, check out this 10-day Croatian itinerary for the best of both worlds.

FAQ

Which is the best Croatian island to visit?

Hvar, Korčula, Rab, or Vis – it really depends on what you are looking for!

How many islands does Croatia have?

1244! However, only 48 of those are inhabited. 

Which island in Croatia has the best beaches?

The island of Rab or Hvar.

Posted February 26, 2024
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Samantha Bryant
Samantha has been wandering the globe since 2010, when she hopped on a plane for a gap year in order to wait out an age restriction for a job application. Twelve years, four continents, and countless experiences later she has decided that she is perfectly content embracing her wanderlust. Samantha works as an English and ELL teacher at an international school in South Africa, but her passion for writing has kept her busy in what spare time she can find. If she isn't working or writing, you can find Samantha exploring a new city in an off-the-beaten-path destination or relaxing on a beach somewhere.
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