Croatian Island Hopping
If you’ve ever thought about going island-hopping, you’ve probably done a little research on Croatia. This country between central and southeast Europe sits along the Adriatic Sea, and is known the world over as a party destination, Game of Thrones filming location, and hub of arts, culture, and adventure. Croatia is also home to over 1000 islands (48 of which are inhabited), and they all play host to a different atmosphere. Whether you want to get lost in museums, relax on a lazy beach, or dance the night away, there’s a Croatian island for you: and we’re ranking eleven of our favourites here today.
- Population: 11,103
- Known for: Nightlife and nature
You’ve probably heard about Hvar, whether you’ve been looking into Croatian island-hopping or not. This ancient port town is well known for its walls which date back to the 13th century. Here, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in… well, anything you’d like! While it’s often known as a party destination, Hvar is also one of the most naturally diverse Croatian islands. Stroll through fields of lavender, visit a vineyard, explore a museum, relax on the beach, or, yes, dance the night away at the island’s famous beachside night clubs.
- Population: 3,617
- Known for: Picture-perfect beach towns
West of Hvar, Vis is a small fishing town turned popular tourist destination, and it’s easy to see why it’s hard to resist! The setting of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, this gorgeous island is home to stunning beaches, picturesque lighthouses, and striking natural beauty, including the Blue Cave – an underwater cave illuminated by sunlight into a ghostly blue. Vis was closed to outside visitors until 1989, meaning much of the island’s nature and original historical buildings have been well-preserved.
- Population: 14,434
- Known for: Pebbled beaches, windsurfing
The island of Brac was home to some of the first human settlements in Croatia – archaeological findings have been dated to the 12th millennium BC! Brac is the third-largest island in the Adriatic Sea, but the island is still relatively sparsely populated. Travellers visit this island for its world-class windsurfing, Golden Horn (a white-pebbled beach jutting out into the sea), historic sites like Pustinja Blaca (a monastery built into the side of a cliff), and perfect coastal views.
- Population: 7,969
- Known for: Endless olive groves and a moonlike landscape.
Lonely Planet calls Pag “the most dramatic-looking place in the whole of Croatia,” which makes it perfect for romantic holidays, quiet reflection, and fascinating photography. Pag has a number of unexpected exports: while travellers are encouraged to visit Lun’s gorgeous olive gardens (containing trees up to 1600 years old!), Pag is also known for the production of lace and a distinct Pag cheese. Of course, one of the island’s biggest draws is the number of beautiful, secluded beaches on which travellers can laze away their days.
- Population: 1,655
- Known for: Endless coastlines
Dugi Otok means “Long Island:” travellers have 43 kilometres (27 miles) of coast to explore! Step back in time in this untouched island – visit blue lakes, ancient churches, and nature parks in between stops beachside. To the north, travellers can visit farmland consisting of vineyards, orchards, and grazing sheep; to the south, they’ll find dramatic cliffs. With so much to explore, it can feel like this island gives travellers two distinct experiences in one!
- Population: 250
- Known for: Scenic seclusion
The island of Silba is small, off-the-beaten-path, and almost completely empty. While tourists have steadily begun to discover all this small Adriatic gem has to offer, the lack of roads across the island make it perfect for days spent strolling by the sea. The only town on the island, also called Silba, is home to the Toreta, a stone tower with a spiral staircase which leads to a stunning viewing platform. Legend has it that the tower was built by a sailor so his love could watch for his return.
- Population: 3,184
- Known for: Unadulterated nature
While you’ll find more infrastructure in Cres than you will in Silba, Cres is still sparsely populated and home to nature as it was intended. Much of the island is covered in the dense, ancient Tramuntana forest, which makes it a fantastic hiking destination for travellers who want their beach vacations to come with a side of exercise. Visit the Cres Museum to discover local clothing, weaponry, and other ancient relics from throughout the island’s history, or explore the lakes, ocean shores, and nature reserves elsewhere!