Croatian islands

One reason, in our opinion, that the Croatian coastline is so beautiful is that it contains more than one thousand dazzling islands. If you were to look out to sea from anywhere along the Croatian coastline, it would be unusual for you not to see a green speck in the distance!

Most of the Croatian islands, however, are small and uninhabited and there are therefore only 20 or so larger islands which are popular with tourists. We will therefore provide a guide to some of these, starting from those just off Istria at the north of Croatia’s coastline and going all the way down to the islands near Dubrovnik in the south.

Croatian Islands Guides

  • The Brijuni Islands
    14 islands and islets make up this archipelago, which is also a National Park, located close to Pula on the mainland
  • Cres
    The second largest island in the Adriatic, near Rijeka
  • Losinj
    A neighbour to Cres, this popular island is well known for its lush green vegetation
  • Krk
    The largest Adriatic island, Krk is easily accessible as it is connected to the mainland by bridge
  • Rab
    One of the greenest islands, it is covered with fragrant pine forests
  • Pag
    Famous for its sheep’s cheese and lace-making, also home to the party town of Novalja!
  • Dugi Otok
    One of Croatia’s quieter islands, ‘long island’ (which is what its name means) is the perfect place to relax
Croatian Islands - Brac

Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn) Beach on the island of Brac

  • Brac
    One of the livelier islands, Brac is famous for Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn) beach in the town of Bol
  • Hvar
    The sunniest island in the whole of the Adriatic, Hvar is also one of the chicest options for the discerning Croatian visitor
  • Vis
    The most westerly of all the Croatian islands, Vis has a fascinating history and is less busy than some of its more famous neighbours
  • Korcula
    Famous for its thick dense forest, the island was nicknamed Black Korcula by the ancient Greeks
  • Mljet
    Home to a wonderfully enchanting National Park.

Other Croatian Islands

Information about the island of Silba can be found at Silba.net.

  • A ‘best parts/places to visit’ question is always hard to answer – there are many lovely areas of Croatia! Given you only have 5/6 days, and don’t want to spend all that time driving around, I’d suggest heading towards Istria which is the northern part of the Croatian coast – http://www.visit-croatia.co.uk/index.php/croatia-destinations/istria/. There are many pretty towns such as Novigrad, Umag, Porec, Rovinj, Pula and also plenty of pretty inland places too. I think five or six days exploring this region would be lovely – and it will also be easy to reach (given it’s in the north of Croatia!) and then leave from. (You don’t want to spend days driving to the south of Croatia to then have to spend days driving back up!

  • Vanessa Prowse

    Hello we have made an impromptu decision to drive from Germany to Croatia in the next 10 days but have no idea which are the best parts to explore. We will probably spend around 5 or 6 days there. Any advice would be apprecited

  • You’re very welcome – I hope you enjoy visiting Croatia! 🙂

  • Marelize Van Jaarsveld Verdoes

    Thank you very much for taking the time to reply and thinking it all through and answering with such detail. I am looking at all the options and prices now to compare …
    Might keep the car now as Catamaran too expensive and we only have 2 nights to kill, cannot afford a week.
    Now only to decide between Stari Grad or Brac…
    Thank you once again.

  • 1. Well, you do also have another option. You could hire a car up until Split, give it in and then take a catamaran to Dubrovnik (stopping at an island for two nights) in order to get to Cavtat by local bus. But perhaps you want to have a car for Dubrovnik/Cavtat – which is fair enough. If so, I wouldn’t bother with returning a car in Split, going to an island, and then hiring a car again in Split as that means returning unnecessarily to Split. I suppose you could also catamaran it to Dubrovnik and then hire another car *there* as well.

    2. How much exploring do you intend to do? You definitely don’t need a car if you’re just planning on sightseeing in the town you come into (more on that later), but if you’re wishing to explore the island, see the lavender fields, maybe find a secluded swimming spot… I don’t think it’s a question of *needing* (plenty of visitors don’t have a car when visiting Hvar/an island!) but maybe *wanting*.

    3. Okay, now to suggest where to actually go. Hvar Town on Hvar I would probably not recommend at the moment (August) – although it’s lovely, it’s something of a party town these days with bars, clubs and so on and really suitable for you/your children/your parents! In any case, Hvar Town is where the *catamaran* (NOT the car ferry) comes in to. It is Stari Grad where the car ferry comes in – and that’s a much more tranquil, relaxed, but very pretty town. I would suggest Stari Grad for you over Hvar Town – and perhaps you could drive down to Hvar Town for a few hours on day to see it.

    If you do go to Hvar, you can get the frequent car ferry from Split to Stari Grad, as mentioned. THEN, you can drive across the island to get the ferry from Sucuraj to Drvenik on the mainland.

    Other car ferry routes can be seen here: http://www.jadrolinija.hr/docs/default-source/ostali-dokumenti/spl-en.pdf?sfvrsn=2 (the blue lines on the map). So you could also get to Brac (Split to Supetar, then again drive across the island to Sumartin to get the car ferry to Makarska). Or, ferry to Vela Luka on Korcula and then again across to get the ferry off the island from Korcula Town.

    4. You may not wish the last option (Korcula) given above as that’s a long car ferry (4 hours 30 mins) and not so frequent. So that leaves either Brac or Hvar – I think either would be lovely and suitable for your group…but just don’t stay (but visiting is okay!) Hvar Town for the time being when it’s prime party season!

  • Marelize Van Jaarsveld Verdoes

    Hi, I am so confused with all the islands because all of the photos looks so beautiful. The travel party consist of 2 pensioners (parents), myself and two kids (4 and 6). I’ve booked Zagreb – Plitvicke Lakes – Zadar – Split ….. then this gap that I need to fill – then of to Dubrovnik but sleep in Cavtat.

    I am aware that August is busy, but I want to try and accommodate all in the travel party. I have 2 nights put aside to sleep on an island. Some friends told me to book Hvar as that is where the ferry comes in. Other said Stari Grad. And then I’ve read so many other names as well on this forum, so it is too overwhelming.

    Originally I was hiring a car for the whole journey from Zagreb airport to Dubrovnik airport, but I got confused with all the ferries as well and could get a car ferry for the dates that I’ve tried. So here are all my questions:

    1. Hire a car for the full duration 8 days?
    Or hire only until Split before going on a ferry and then again at Dubrovnik?

  • Primosten is not on an island, it is on the mainland. There are some direct buses from Primosten to Dubrovnik but it is a long journey – about 6 hours one-way. It may be best to enquire locally if any company is offering an organised excursion to Dubrovnik, as they would most likely take the fast motorway route south (as far as it goes!) rather than the slower coastal road that the buses take. But even the motorway route might take 3.5/4 hours one-way, so it’s still a long journey.

  • Sharon Tatum

    We are traveling from Amsterdam to Split. We are staying Promesten for a conference at the Zora hotel. Is this on an island? And how can we get to Dubrovnik?

  • There aren’t any islands near to Pula, but there are some in the Kvarner region (Krk, Cres, Losinj, Rab) which you may like to explore, depending on how far you’d like to go. This map – http://www.jadrolinija.hr/docs/default-source/ostali-dokumenti/ri-en.pdf?sfvrsn=2 – shows the car ferry routes in that region; in fact, you could get a ferry from the mainland to Cres (the Brestova – Porozina connection), and drive down Cres all the way to Losinj (they’re connected by bridge). From Cres there is then also a ferry over to Krk, and from Krk’s port to Rab; Krk is then also connected to the mainland by bridge. There’s more maps of ferries for regions further south here – http://www.jadrolinija.hr/en/sailing-schedule/local-lines-2017 (after the name of each district) which also shows all the timetables so you can see how long the sailings are in terms of whether they’d be suitable for you.

  • finecity girl

    We are two international motorcyclists flying into Pula and hiring motorcycles for ten days. We want to explore a few islands heading south and then take the coast road back to Pula. Shortish ferry hops are fine, because I’m not the best sailor. What route would those who know the area suggest, please?

  • I don’t think you’ll go wrong with either Hvar or Brac – both are lovely! But I do agree that picking just one and then spending 2/3 nights there (and using your car to explore) sounds like a better idea. I guess the one thing I would say is that Hvar (Hvar Town) can be a bit of a party place in summer – don’t know if that’s a draw for you or a negative?! Note that with either island, you can actually drive to the eastern point and take another ferry from there to the mainland – you won’t have to go back to Split (unless you want to). You can see a map of the car ferries in that region here: http://www.jadrolinija.hr/docs/default-source/ostali-dokumenti/spl-en.pdf?sfvrsn=2 (the blue lines).

  • Dominic

    Thank you for the detailed response! I will be driving from Zagreb to Dubrovnik for 2 weeks and will be stopping along the way to explore some of the cities and sights. I only have around 3 days available to do island hopping. Would it be better to take the car ferry to either Hvar or Brac and spend about 2-3nights there? I heard that driving on the island is much more convenient. I’m torn between Hvar and Brac because at this point (with the car) it seems that I can only choose one of the islands. I’ll explore the rest when I make another trip to Croatia in the near future. But just for this trip, would you recommend Hvar or Brac? I’ll then take the car ferry back to Split and drive to dubrovnik. Cheers!

  • A few things about your itinerary: 1) Having a car would hinder you, in fact (as you maybe suspected) as there are very few car ferries *between* the islands, so you would have to take a ferry to an to an island, return to the mainland, another ferry to another island, return to the mainland etc the whole time. So your plan of returning the car in Split and taking another in Dubrovnik (depending on what you wanted to do in that region – you don’t really need one just for Dubrovnik) is better. 2) There also aren’t that many sailings between all of the islands, either. Because of the timings of the catamarans and the route they sail, it would make more sense to do Split – Brac – Hvar – Korcula (rather than Hvar before Brac). Either this – http://www.jadrolinija.hr/docs/default-source/2017-red-plovidbe/9811s-en.pdf?sfvrsn=2 – or this – http://www.krilo.hr/en/sailing_schedule.html – catamaran will most likely be most useful to you in this itinerary, although Jadrolinija do have some other sailings to the islands (http://www.jadrolinija.hr/en/sailing-schedule/local-lines-2017). Hmm, honestly, I don’t think a full day on each is sufficient to see what the islands have to offer… I guess it depends on whether you’d prefer to experience a bit of several different islands, or more of one (or two)? Based on your car hire, I assume you’ll be in Croatia for longer than the island portion – could you move a day or two from the rest of your itinerary to the islands?

  • Dominic

    Forgot to add that I will be renting a car. Is it advisable to take my car on the car ferry for the above-mentioned route or should I return the car in split and rent another car upon arriving in Dubrovnik?

  • Dominic

    Hello, I have a question and it would be great if I could have some help! I am planning to go island hopping from Split to Hvar, then to Brac, followed by Korcula and lastly, to Dubrovnik. Just wondering if one full day in Hvar, Brac and Korcula is sufficient to see what the islands have to offer. I’m quite constrained but I would love to see as many of the islands if possible. Should I stick to this plan or should I remove one of the islands on my list to maximize the time on the other islands? Thank you!

  • SarahMerrow

    This is great. 🙂