Croatia has 1200 islands, each one a gem of its own, with their perfect beaches, hidden caves and lookouts, churches and ruins, old stone houses and lavender fields. No wonder a lot of tourists want to do island hopping in Croatia and experience our magical country to the fullest.
If you have a boat it's so easy to do island hopping, but what about others, coming by plane or car to Croatia? Public ferry lines are safe but very slow, usually connecting only one island to the mainland. Catamaran lines are faster and usually connect more islands. A lot of people is not aware of these possibilities and seek expensive private tours. With a little knowledge and local know-how, it's possible to do island hopping without wasting too much money on private tours and transfers. Of course, some smaller islands are not reachable by ferry or catamaran so you will have to rent a small boat or hop on a boat tour to visit them. We will tell you everything to make your island hopping in Croatia easy.
Krk- Cres- Rab- Lošinj + Goli otok, PlavnikThe island of Krk is the biggest island in Croatia, which can be reached by car, by boat or plane since there's an international airport Rijeka located at the tip of the island. The island is connected to the mainland with a bridge.
Krk is a great starting point for exploring some Northern Croatian islands, be it for a day or more.
You can rent a boat or book a tour to many islands and islets around Krk. By ferry from Valbiska on Krk island you can visit Cres and Rab easily, two islands known for their raw beauty, forests and amazing beaches.
Take a ferry to Lopar on the island of Rab and enjoy sandy beaches.
Lopar is known as „sandy heaven" with two amazing sandy beaches. The biggest sandy beach on the island is Rajska plaža (Paradise beach) , a 2-mile sandy beach perfect for families, where you can find everything you need for a great day by the sea. A 30-minute walk from this beach will take you to another sandy, but wild beach Sahara which is a nudist beach.
The nudism in Croatia started on the island of Rab. The summer of 1936 is frequently mentioned as the official beginning of naturism in Croatia when English king Edward VIII took a nude swim with his wife Wallis at the beach Kandarola (near the town of Rab), which is today famous FKK beach, known also as „The English beach."
The next day, take the ferry from Valbiska to Merag on Cres. The island of Cres is known for its white pebble beach Lubenice, located right below the stone village on the hill above. There is a legend saying that the pirates invaded a small village Vodiska near the beach, killing everybody they met but the two lovers who escaped and found security at the top of the hill. The beach Lubenice is frequently featured in various tourist magazines and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
If you're into gastronomy, don't miss a chance to visit one of the best taverns in Croatia serving local lamb dishes – tavern Bukaleta in Loznati, a small village on an island hill. If you're into bird watching, do visit the village of Beli where you will find eco-centre for griffon vultures. Their last habitat in Croatia is on Cres, in two ornithological reserves, and one is just near the village of Beli.
From Cres you can easily reach another island by car or bus- the island of Lošinj. A boat tour from the island of Krk will also take you to the waters of Lošinj where you will see numerous good dolphins swimming.
Another great boat tour is visiting Goli otok (Naked island), known as Croatian Alcatraz, because there used to be one of the cruelest prisons after WW2. Today the island is abandoned and everything is closed but a small tavern. Couples will love the boat tour to the island of Plavnik where you can visit the Love cave, a small cave with its own small beach in it.
Stay in one of these beautiful villas close to Valbiska ferry port to save time while exploring:
Rijeka - Krk- Rab (Lopar)- Silba island- Zadar
A catamaran line by a private G&V line (www. gv-zadar.hr) connects island Krk with two other islands Rab and Silba during the high season.
The island of Silba is super small, it takes only 10 minutes to walk from one side to another. It's perfect for those seeking peace and quiet, and has one pebble and sandy beach.
The line starts and ends in two bigger cities Rijeka and Zadar.
Zadar-Dugi Otok- Pašman
Local line Zadar- Dugi Otok (Sali)- Pašman island (Zaglav) by G&V boat line connects Zadar with two islands. Dugi otok is famous for sandy beaches, super popular with families, while Pašman is a raw beauty, having two sides: touristic and populated areas, as well as wild and secluded areas.
It is also very close to a heart-shaped island Galešnjak, which you could have seen on many billboards. Galešnjak is a private uninhabitated island.
Split- Brač- Hvar- Paklinski islands-Vis
For one of the top island hopping tours in Croatia you have to visit Dalmatia. From the magnificent and 1700 years old town of Split, where Roman emperor Diocletian built its vacation palace, get on the catamaran fast line Split- Bol- Jelsa and visit Bol on the island of Brač, famous for its beach Golden Horn.
The next day go to Jelsa on the island of Hvar. The island of Hvar, especially the town of Hvar, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia. A lot of celebrities stop by Hvar town when visiting Croatia to enjoy the beautiful historical town with luxurious hotels, restaurants and bars.
Stay there for a couple of days, climb to the fortress Fortica to get that famous panorama view of the town and Paklinski islands, take a swim at nearby Dubovica beach and buy some fine local wine or olive oil in small island villages. Don't miss the chance to visit Paklinski islands with a private boat transfer. Those islands with just a couple of houses feature some of the best restaurants and beach bars on the Croatian coast, wild nature with huge cacti, palms and Meditteranean plants. There's also a party beach called Carpe Diem beach which is a very popular place with young people during the summer.
If you decide to skip visiting the island of Brač, go directly to the town of Hvar with a catamaran line Split- Brač (Milna)- Hvar- Vis. After spending some time on Hvar, proceed to the island of Vis. Vis is a small hilly island with two bigger towns, Vis and Komiža, and numerous small beaches among which is a world-known beauty Stiniva. You can reach Stiniva on foot (take a good pair of shoes and prepare to descend and climb for 20 minutes) or by boat.
Explore the island of Vis once known for its fishing industry. It was also a naval military base in Yugoslavia up to 1989. During World War II, Vis was one of the hideouts of Josip Broz Tito, the leader of the Yugoslav partisans. After the end of the war, Vis became very important for its strategic position, many caves and coves so it wasn't opened for tourism as other Croatian (then Yugoslav) islands. You can find the labyrinth of underground tunnels, the remains of cannons and abandoned warehouses.
From Komiža take a day boat tour to Biševo and Blue Cave, a magical cave with blue-silver lights coming through the sea inside the cave.
It's impossible to visit all Croatian island during one visit to this fascinanting Meditteranean country. It would take years to see and enjoy all the islands, but visiting only 3-4 islands is enough to get the idea of the local life and to enjoy some nice beaches as a tourist.