Beach holidays in Croatia, where to go?

Better Istria or Dalmatia? The islands or the coast? Here is useful information and advice for deciding where to go in Croatia for a sea holiday.
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Touring Croatia from north to south in search of the most beautiful beach is a journey more than 600 km long and potentially endless. Yes, because the dream beaches in Croatia are many and scattered all over the country, so for a beach holiday it is better to concentrate on one area rather than going up and down and wasting a lot of time travelling.

The areas along the Croatian coast (moving from north to south) are the Istrian Peninsula, Kvarner Gulf, Central Dalmatia and Southern Dalmatia. Each also corresponds to numerous islands.

Which of these is the best area for a sea holiday in Croatia? As already mentioned, there are beautiful beaches all over the country, all washed by an incredibly blue and clean Adriatic (even in the north!). Deciding where to go depends a lot on where you arrive, the facilities you want to find and the type of holiday you want to have.

To help you choose, here is a mini-guide to the Croatian coast divided into three macro-zones (north, centre, south): for each zone we list the advantages and recommended seaside resorts.

Istria and the north Croatian coast

The village of Baska on the island of Krk

Very close to the rest of Europe, the north coast of Croatia (which includes the Istrian peninsula and the Kvarner coast) is a favourite destination for those who want to travel by car. If you want to make the journey even easier, you can take a ferry to Istria from Venice. However, it is not recommended for those who want to arrive by plane because the airports in the area are small.

A good reason for choosing Istria and the north coast of Croatia is the area’s long tradition of hotel hospitality. In places such as Pula, Rovinj and Porec, you are sure to find a wide choice of hotels, campsites and rooms for rent in all price ranges, with options suitable for families, groups of friends and couples, and all the services you will need for a stress-free seaside holiday.

The island of Krk can be reached in a day trip from the Croatian coast, without having to take the ferry; other beautiful islands to visit in this part of the sea are Rab, Lošinj and Cres. If you like sandy beaches or prefer them because they are safer for children, choose Rab: here you will find the best beaches for you.

Zadar and the central coast

The port of Hvar Town

Served by two international airports open to low-cost air traffic, Croatia’ s central coast is the best choice if you want to arrive in Croatia by plane.

If you choose this stretch of coast you can combine lazy days at the beach with cultural visits to beautiful Split (don’t miss Diocletian’s Palace!) and Zadar.

You can stay in either of these cities and relax on the beaches in the surrounding area, but this is only recommended for those who enjoy city life. The recommended areas for a beach holiday in central Croatia are the islands and the Makarska Riviera.

The top spot for those looking for beautiful beaches is the island of Brac, where you will find the Zlatni Rat beach, considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in Croatia, and other beautiful pebble and rocky beaches. Another natural paradise are the Kornati islands, which can be reached by boat from Zadar.

For those who don’t like crowded resorts, we recommend Dugi Otok: it is the largest island in the Zadar region and is still little known to mass tourism. Another option for you is Vis, the Croatian island furthest away from the thing and for this reason snubbed by many tourists.

If, on the other hand, you love the social life, the ideal island for you is Hvar, also suitable for those who want to treat themselves to a stay in a luxury hotel. The island for young people looking for fun and nightlife is Pag.

Dubrovnik and the south coast

Panorama of Korcula Town

Croatia‘s south coast, which includes the beautiful Dubrovnik, is separated from the rest of the country by the sea outlet of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s a short stretch and does not cause concern for those travelling by car as the border is usually crossed quickly.

If you want to arrive quickly, you can take a cheap flight to Dubrovnik from many European cities.

Dubrovnik boasts beautiful city beaches and is an excellent destination for those who want to combine sea and sightseeing or for those visiting Croatia without a car.

The best location for a sea holiday in southern Croatia, however, is the island of Korcula, which has a large number and variety of beaches washed by a clear blue sea. Only a short arm of sea divides this island from the Peljesac peninsula, another area with a high concentration of dream beaches.

Also very beautiful, but more exclusive and more expensive, is the island of Mljet where, according to legend, Ulysses was subjugated by the goddess Calypso for seven years: a fascinating place where the dominant colours are the green of the Mediterranean vegetation and the blue of the sea.


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