Here’s our list of some special and famous beaches in Croatia. (These aren’t ranked in any particular order!)
Zlatni Rat Beach, Bol on the island of Brac
Where else to start a guide to the special beaches in Croatia than with one? Zlatni Rat beach (which means ‘Golden Horn’) is in Bol on the island of Brac. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, than its image – see below – surely does; this is one of the most famous and iconic images of Croatia and often used in promotional material. The white pebble beaches stretches out over 600 metres into the sea, with a narrow tip that changes direction according to the tide and to winds – an unusual phenomenon. There are changing facilities here, plus a playground, restaurant and cafes.
Bacvice Beach, Split
A true city beach, very popular with the locals – if you’re there, you may well see them engaged in a very energetic game called picigin that’s played in the shallow waters of the sea.
The sand/shingle beach isn’t one of the Dalmatia’s best beaches by any means, although it should surely be included in this list for its fun vibe; its very central location means it’s also great if you have a few hours to kill in Split and fancy a bit of sunbathing or a quick dip. If you walk further along the coastline (away from the centre of the city), there’s also lots of little spots you can lay out in for a more quiet time.
The beach has a good range of facilities and there’s cafes and bars nearby; Bacvice is also home to a number of events during summer; in 2011, Bacvice was awarded a Blue Flag for the 10th year in a row.
Banje Beach, Dubrovnik
Another popular city beach, this one has an ever-so-slightly more refined air. This pebble beach, just to the east of the Old Town in Dubrovnik (so, very well located – perfect if you need a break after a hard day’s sightseeing) means that whilst you doggy-paddle away, you’ve got a truly stunning backdrop. (Our tip: get a waterproof camera – or be careful with a normal one – for some snaps; you’ll never take anything like it!)
The swimming area is cordoned off so you won’t be at risk of straying into the path of anyone’s yacht, or similar. The beach doesn’t have the best facilities in terms of changing rooms and so on, so keep this in mind. What it does have, however, is one of Dubrovnik’s most popular bars – EastWest – which is great for a mid-afternoon tipple or to party away the early hours.
Zrce Beach, Novalja, on the island of Pag
If you lean towards a more hedonistic style of life, Zrce Beach is THE place in Croatia to come to. Situated 5 minutes from the centre of Novalja – Pag‘s most popular resort – is this long stretch of pebble beach next to woods that’s home to some of the best nightlife in Croatia each summer.
Clubs such as Papaya and Aquarius set up shop from around mid-June to the end of August; these days they don’t just put on any old club nights, but big club ones featuring some of the world’s best DJs. Some of Croatia’s top festivals – such as Hideout and Sonus – are held at Zrce Beach’s clubs.
Aside from the nightlife, the beach has good facilities (plus lifeguards on hand during the day) and watersports are on offer too.
Cape Kamenjak, near Pula
Part of a nature reserve, Cape Kamenjak is right on the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula (you can get buses from Pula to the town of Premantura, although having your own car is best). Cape Kamenjak has a picturesque and unusual landscape of a rocky coastline of over 3.5km in length featuring over 30 bays.
The delight of this place is that although it can be very popular, explore just a little bit further and you can come across a deserted little cove that’s yours for the day. The park as a whole is also great for exploring.
The Daily Telegraph chose Cape Kamenjak is one of its best beaches on the Istrian coast in 2010.
Lake Jarun, Zagreb
You may think Croatia’s capital city Zagreb – far away from the coast – is unlikely to have an entry in a guide to Croatia’s beaches. But we thought we’d include it for something a little different – and also because it’s not a bad place to find yourself if you can’t make it to the coast. (It’s not too unusual for those that live away from the coast in Croatia to take themselves off to a local lake instead for the weekend.)
Located in a suburb in the south-west part of the city, Lake Jarun is easily reached by public transport. Given the reason for its development in the 1980s (as a venue for the World University Games held in Zagreb), there are excellent sports facilities here. The pebble beaches have a nice, relaxed vibe although (understandably) can get busy in summer. And yes, even part of the beach at Lake Jarun has been awarded a Blue Flag!