With access to a long coastline across the Adriatic Sea and about a 1000 islands, your Croatia itinerary is bound to take you off the mainland. This post covers some of the best islands in Croatia that travel bloggers recommend. Their recommendations cover some known and smaller gems: best islands to visit from Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, and Rijeka. There are popular ones likes Brac, Hvar, and Krk as well as some off-the-beaten-track ones as well as Vis and Ugljan. Hvar and Vis were part of my two weeks in Croatia, and I enjoyed both with my family.
There are some islands easier to access from Zadar and Split while others fit the schedule from Dubrovnik more easily. Whichever Croatian islands you choose to be part of your trip, the blue waters of Adriatic Sea, sunshine and good food await you. Make sure to try some of the local Croatian food dishes from the coast and the islands!
Best islands in Croatia to visit from Dubrovnik
Once you’ve thoroughly explored Dubrovnik’s red-roofed old town and enjoyed the local Lindo folk dance show, you might wonder what to see next. Look across the Adriatic Sea and set your sights on Lokrum – the perfect day trip destination from Dubrovnik.
You can make your way to the island of Lokrum from Dubrovnik’s old town port, purchasing round trip tickets for about 40 Croatian Kuna (or just over $6 USD). Haul the family aboard the ferry, enjoying the views along the way, and you’ll arrive at Lokrum in approximately 15 minutes.
From afar, the island looks completely blanketed in mossy-green treetops; but you’ll see that the island is very navigable by set paths when you land.
Your little ones will get swept up in sense of adventure, away from Dubrovnik’s big crowds, as they explore the old monastery complex and carefully scuttle over the massive rocks. They will especially like searching for preening peacocks by following their raucous screeches. When the novelty of peacocks wears off, they can turn their attention to an abundance of plump furry bunnies, scattered along the grounds. A trip here offers nature lovers a nice break from town life.
And despite all the natural areas, there are plenty of facilities on the island of Lokrum, too. You will find a few places to grab a drink or a bite to eat, so you don’t even need to pack a picnic before you set off for the day. The multiple sets of toilets are extraordinarily clean. Plus, with frequent ferry rides during the high season, getting back to ‘civilization’ is a breeze.
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When thinking about a Croatian island, the small and lovely Lopud island comes to my mind. Maybe Lopud is not so much well-known or visited island like other more famous islands in Croatia, but it definitely has one of the best beaches near Dubrovnik and good choice for a summer getaway for a whole family.
Since it is a car-free island, it makes ambience more relaxing, peaceful, with clean air and therefore a very family-friendly island.
Lopud is an island with a true Adriatic vibe and Mediterranean and subtropical untouched greenery. There are beautiful pine parks and citrus gardens everywhere you go and many beautiful corners to explore. The island, that has only one settlement, offers 1 km of pure white sand beach in the Bay of Šunj with knee-deep water, making it absolutely perfect for children and for numerous water sports. The water is like in the whole southern part of the Mediterranean coast – warm and crystal clear. Since much shade can’t be found on the beach, you can rent parasols and deck chairs.
If you and your little ones like more active holidays and swimming is not enough, explore the island by bicycle (it is possible to rent-a bike), by walking the island’s paths, go kayaking or do some sports at outdoor sports courts (tennis, football, volleyball, badminton).
There’s no other Croatian island like Lopud island where you can find so many cultural and historical monuments on such a small area. You can visit a number of churches, the remains of the Rector’s Palace and ruins of a Fortress from which you can see all the islands in the area.
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Mljet is the perfect island, far enough to avoid the crowds, close enough to reach it in a couple of hours from continental Croatia. It has attractions for all tastes. Half the island is a national park, full of hiking and cycling trails that go around two beautiful lakes. The other half has dramatic cliffs with jaw-dropping views of the islands around it and a world-class sandy beach.
The vibe is really chill. There’re no big hotels or loud clubs, so it’s the ideal place to relax and to connect with nature.
Mljet National Park’s main feature is its two saltwater lakes: Veliko and Malo jezera (big and small lakes). In the middle of the big one, you’ll find a tiny and cute island, wherein the 12th century Benedictines erected a monastery. It can be reached by a quick boat ride (included in the NP entry ticket). The lakes are connected by a small bridge, so you can stroll or cycle around them. Kayaking and swimming are great ways to enjoy the views from inside them!
Saplunara, on the other end of the island, is its only sandy beach. It’s in a protected natural park, surrounded by pine trees, which makes it an untouched paradise. Close by you’ll find Blaca beach, known as Limuni, a beautiful pebble beach hidden in a sheltered bay.
As if that wasn’t enough, in the middle of the island there’s Odysseus Cave. From Babino Polje in less than an hour of rocky terrain and breathtaking views, you’ll reach a cliff’s edge, where you can jump and swim to the cave. Its name comes from the legend of Odysseus. His ship wrecked near the cave, and Calypso, the nymph who ruled the island, kept him captive there. Visit around noon for the best photo opportunities, when the sea has every shade of blue you can imagine.
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Best islands in Croatia to visit from Split or Makarska
Brac is one of the easiest islands to get to from Split and Makarska, and there are daily boats. The island is known for many things, but in recent times it’s most famous for its stunning beach called Zlatni Rat, which has been featured in travel magazines all over the world.
However, Brac is much more than just one beach, and there is lots of history, culture, charming villages and delicious food that awaits. The water around Brac is amazing, and there are plenty of beaches where you can go snorkeling or swim all day long. Some of the best towns to visit are Bol, Supetar, and Pučišća, which is known for its stone-masonry.
In Bol, you can taste some of Croatia’s best wine, and in Supetar, you can go for a culture walk around the old town. You can get by with public transportation, but I suggest renting a car since you will have more freedom and don’t have to rely on bus schedules. There are also many tour operators on the island that offer various guided tours and day trips around Brac, which can be very nice if you want a relaxing vacation.
Brac is also one of the Croatian islands that have several large hotels that cater to families specifically, and have kid’s clubs.
One of the best-known family resorts on the island is Bluesun Hotel Elaphusa, which is a nice 4-star hotel in Bol with walking distance to everything that you need for a nice family vacation.
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Hvar is definitely one of the most charming Croatian islands. It is located off the coast of Split, in Dalmatia. You will be impressed by its beaches, by its overall swanky look and by its trendy cafés and clubs. You will spend a great stay in Hvar whether you travel as a couple, with your family or with your friends.
Speaking about natural beauties, if you are in Hvar, there is a place you really can’t miss: the archipelago of the Pakleni Islands.
To visit them you can either jump on a taxi boat, or you can feel the thrill of renting a small motorboat and visiting them on your own. This is the most adventurous and expensive choice, but still affordable, especially if you are a group of people. You will have the privilege of choosing where to go and where to stop. Isn’t it great? The best beaches are Zdrilica, Palmizana and Mlini. Water is crystal clear anywhere you go!
I suggest you to spend another day in Hvar at the Dubovica beach. From Hvar town, you will reach this beach in about 15 minutes by bus or by scooter (you can rent one), crossing beautiful landscapes on your way. The slope to the beach is a bit challenging, but it’s worth the effort. Just don’t wear flip-flops, but sandals or sneakers. If you have the chance, go there during the low season: this beautiful bay with its beach is like heaven, but during the peak season it could lose a little bit of its charm.
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For more information on things to see and do on Hvar, check out this post.
Vis is the furthest inhabited island in the Adriatic Sea off the mainland Croatia. That distance plus its history has kept it an unspoiled gem.
Home to about 3000 people, the island has a great vibe in the summer when many travellers are drawn to its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters and authentic island feel.
I saw many day trippers landing at Vis town for an afternoon but the best way is to spend 2/3 days on the island, stay in a B&B or homestay, eat some great food, indulge in some activities or just spend your days on the beach with a book. For the adventurous, kayaking, cycling, and snorkeling are quite popular on the island. The foodies won’t be disappointed, despite the small size of the island, we found excellent restaurants and cafes both in Vis town and in Komiza – the 2 main towns on the island.
The island also has an interesting history, with it being the base of Yugoslavian National Army. Many military sites were built during the communist era and most of them have been left unscathed including the house where Tito stayed on his visits to the island. We thoroughly enjoyed taking a Military tour on Vis island with a local guide.
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Best islands in Croatia to visit from Zadar
The Kornati Islands is a breathtaking national park in the Adriatic Sea made up of around 150 individual islands of a karst origin, located in the northern part of Dalmatia. Located within a boat ride away from Murter, the closest town on the Croatian mainland, the islands are practically deserted, except for sheep and olive trees.
In the past, people lived here, but often because they were fleeing raids from foreign forces on the mainland and an island belonging to the Kornati would provide a safe refuge. You can ride around a few of the islands, stop at a few which are not privately owned, admire the views and cool off in the sea.
One of the most famous islands belonging to Kornati is Mana – even though it appears to have a prehistoric structure located on its top, it’s essentially a movie set from the 50’s. Nearly all boats stop there.
Levrnaka Island features an amazing restaurant catering to all your fresh fish or seafood needs. It’s right here where there’s also a nice little beach you can spend some time at, swimming in the cool sea and sunbathing.
Kornati islands can be easily visited when exploring Šibenik and its surroundings. You’ll need to visit the Kornati office in Murter to buy an entrance to the National Park. Most boats depart from Murter and you can either have your trip arranged at the Kornati office or simply catching a boat yourself from Murter bay. It’s the most popular day trip out onto the sea.
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I would recommend visiting Ugljan Island in Croatia if you are after a local, less touristy experience than the islands in the south of the country. Ugljan is just 25 minutes by ferry from the city Zadar. So if you are short on time and want to visit one of the Croatian islands this should be the one for you. It is perfect for both days trips or longer
multi-day visits. Ugljan has a long history linked to fishing and farming which is still very much a large part of local life here on the island.
The island’s history is linked back to the Stone Age with relics dating back over 3,000 years.
A great way to experience this history is with a hike to Fort St Michael. Originally built in the 6th Century by the Eastern Roman Empire it will also reward you with 360-degree views of the other islands in the Zadar archipelago. On a clear day, you can see behind Zadar and have a wonderful view of its mountainous backdrop.
Ugljan is most suited for visitors looking for quieter island life. You will be able to discover hidden beaches, which you can hopefully have to yourself. Enjoy rare white sand at Mostir Beach with the kids and sample the local olives, figs, and wine.
Compared to the popular island destinations, prices on Ugjan are significantly cheaper. The ferry ride over will only cost 18 Kuna in the high season and runs almost every hour to the town of Preko. You have the option of taking your car from the Zadar ferry port or depart from Zadar old town if you are on foot. You’ll find the most options for accommodation through Airbnb as there are only 2 hotels on the island.
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Best islands in Croatia to visit from Rijeka
Just a few kilometers from Rijeka lies the second largest island of Croatia: Krk Island. The island is only separated from the mainland by only a few hundred meters, so they’ve constructed a bridge to connect the island to the Croatian mainland. This makes Krk Island a perfect day trip from Rijeka. Take your rental car and drive to the island in about half an hour.
Because of its unique landscape and climate, Krk Island is nicknamed Golden Island. The barren rocks on the east coast are a stark contrast compared to the vineyards and lush forests on the west. Some plants are native only to Krk Island.
The island houses some adorable villages with cobblestone roads and locals transporting stuff on their donkeys. Some of the larger towns like Krk Town and Malinska have a lot of restaurants where you can take a bite to eat before continuing your journey to one of the island’s beautiful beaches. The south-east coast has a lot of beaches with stunning views of the barren cliffs mentioned earlier.
If you love cycling, you’re in for a treat! Krk Island has over 300 kilometers of cycling paths! Discovering the semi-peninsula by bike is a very nice way to explore its diverse landscape. Vineyards are littered throughout the island because of its perfect climate. Not surprisingly is the island well known for its wine. Pop down on one of the terraces for a glass of local wine and enjoy the view. Check out this post for more things to do on Krk island.
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