There are a few countries that are synonymous with islands: Greece, Thailand, Indonesia, and of course, Croatia. There are around 1000 islands found around Croatia, with roughly 48 of them being inhabitable – meaning that you’ll definitely be able to find something to suit your holiday needs. To help you on your way, we’ve put together this Croatian island guide to help you with your island hopping.
The ideal starting point for your Croatian adventure, the medieval city of Dubrovnik offers a number of landmarks, cultural highlights, and a wonderful food and drink scene. Sitting high above the Adriatic Sea, the vistas on view from Dubrovnik are just as impressive as the historic architecture found within the city. Even though it’s always been a popular holiday destination with tourists, it’s recently had something of a resurgence due to it being a filming location for the HBO smash-hit series Game of Thrones. Once you’ve got your fill of sightseeing, you can head to the port to plot your first stop.
Best for: Spotting the Game of Thrones filming locations.
Must see: The views from the cable car at sunset.
How to get there: Dubrovnik’s Airport is in Cilipi, around 15 km from Dubrovnik city centre. Catch a shuttle bus from the airport for the least expensive option, which takes about 25 minutes. Alternatively, use a taxi for a faster service.
Often talked about as the best island to visit when it comes to natural scenery, Mljet boasts stunning beaches, two saltwater lakes where you can also swim, and a stunning national park. A truly gorgeous expanse of land to explore, you can spend more than a few days in the national park on some scenic treks, while canoeing is also a popular pastime. The island is peaceful, secluded and unbelievably beautiful, which is why legend claims that Odysseus holed up here for seven years with Calypso the nymph – sounds like a good plan to us.
Best for: Exploring on foot or sightseeing in a canoe.
Must see: The Roman Palace. The ruins are so large that the road passes straight through them.
How to get there: There are daily car ferries from Prapratno which is 56 km from Dubrovnik. If you’re travelling on foot, catch a shuttle bus from Dubrovnik Airport to Prapratno, then a catamaran to the island.
Next stop, Hvar. Currently seen as the happening place along the coast, Hvar offers lots of quaint eateries, fashionable bars, and a glitzy port that’s perfect for yacht-spotting. The main spot of Hvar Town offers elegant hotels and restaurants if you’re after the finer things in life, while the legendary beach bars are where you want to be if you just want to have a good time. In terms of natural scenery, Hvar's possesses lots of ancient hamlets, craggy peaks, vineyards and even some lavender fields. For another additional stop on your journey – jump on a quick ferry to Brac.
Best for: Yacht-spotting at the port.
Must see: St Stephen’s Square for sipping a drink by the 16th-century fountain.
How to get there: There are two international airports that have direct shuttle services to Hvar - Split and Dubrovnik. Wherever you land, you can also choose to rent a car or take a taxi.
A short ferry ride from Split and Hvar, this is the largest of the Croatian islands, boasting its own airport. Famed for its white stone, from which the White House was built, delicious olive oil, and as its truly wonderful beaches – which include Zlatni Rat, otherwise known as the Golden Horn.
Best for: Its glorious beaches and beautiful vistas.
Must see: Zlatni Rat for its ever-changing coastline.
How to get there: Unless you’re flying into Brac’s airport, you’ll need to take a sea journey to get there. Split and Makarska are both easy to reach by train, bus or car, and from there you can catch a ferry or catamaran.
From Brac, you should head to Split next. In terms of what to do in Croatia, Split should always be high up for any football fans as you can visit Hajduk Split’s Stadion Poljud for a tour. Outside of this, Split is full of cultural landmarks that have history teeming out of them – including Diocletian’s Palace, Saint Dominus Cathedral, Mestrovic Gallery and Riva Harbour.
Best for: Football fans.
Must see: Mestrovic Gallery, which holds a vast collection of sculptor Ivan Mestrstrovic’s works.
How to get there: Split Airport is an international hub. Roughly 24 km outside of the city centre, you can catch a shuttle bus to the main bus station. The journey takes around 30 minutes. If you’d rather travel privately, you can rent a car or hire a taxi.
Breaking the ‘island hopping’ mould for a little bit, the next logical step you should take is forgo the ferry and hop into a car for a drive down to Makarska. Famous for its riviera beaches and glitzy nightlife – you won’t regret the journey down here.
Best for: The nightlife.
Must see: The 60 km-long stretch of beaches, known as the Makarska Riviera.
How to get there: Rent a car at Split Airport and take your time with the 64 km drive. If you’re travelling on foot, catch a connecting bus from Split Bus Station to any of the towns in the Makarska region.
Back on the boat to visit the island of Korcula - otherwise known as ‘little Dubrovnik’ and as one of the best places to visit in Croatia. Blessed with pretty villages and towns, vineyards, pine forests, medieval walls, and a beautiful cathedral which is allegedly the birthplace of Marco Polo.
Best for: Pretty villages and scenic views.
Must see: Cathedral of St. Mark, or Korcula Cathedral, said to be the birthplace of Marco Polo.
How to get there: Dubrovnik ferry port is the quickest way to reach Korcula, although the Korcula ferry only runs at certain times of the year from here. There is, however, a local bus that drives along the coast to Orebic where ferries are available all year round.
If you’re looking to extend your Croatian holiday that little bit more then we have two more suggestions for you to tick off. Rab is a small island which is just 22 kilometres long with dense forests and glorious beaches.
Vis is another wonderful island to tick off. Popular because it is one of the least developed islands, it was originally used as a military base for over 40 years, meaning that the only visitors it had outside of the country’s army were farmers and fishermen. It gradually changed over time and has now became more popular with the yachting crowd. And if you do venture here, why not chuck in another day trip to the neighbouring island of Bisevo. Famed for its shimmering blue-water caves, it’s the perfect place to end your Croatian island odyssey.