The Croatian islands have long since lost their unfair reputation as a cheaper alternative to the Greek islands and have gained a prominent place in the ranking of the most popular destinations for European tourists for a sea holiday.
But how do you choose the best island in Croatia for a holiday? There are more than a thousand islands in total, although the number of inhabited islands is reduced to around fifty. The common traits of all the islands are a crystal-clear, turquoise or emerald sea, picturesque fishing villages or hilltop hamlets and breathtaking scenery.
Having said that, each island has its own strong personality and history that makes it unique: Vis is the most remote, while Krk is the easiest to reach, Pag has a dual soul of party animal and guardian of tradition, Cres should be explored on foot, Hvar is worldly…
If you too are dreaming of a wonderful holiday by the sea, choose from the most beautiful Croatian islands below – one of them will definitely be for you.
The island of Krk is easily accessible by car, which makes it a popular destination for holidaymakers, even for stays of just a few days, who can find a wide range of hotels and rooms to rent here. Due to the presence of numerous facilities, Krk is particularly suitable for those travelling with children.
Krk’s pronounced vocation for tourism is not at the expense of the beauty of the area: in addition to the crowded city beaches, you can find more remote and wild beaches, such as the beautiful Vela Luka near Baška, which can only be reached by boat or on foot along a steep path.
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Pag is indisputably Croatia‘s most popular island for nightlife seekers. On the famous Zrće beach, a Croatian micro-Ibiza, lazy days in the sun give way to roaring nights to the beat of the trendiest disco music.
Legendary beach parties and electronic music festivals with a line-up of international DJs are held here.
Although famous for its nightlife, Pag is also a great choice for those who enjoy a quiet, slow-paced life. Leave Zrće and its under-35 crowd behind and explore remote beaches and coves, including the beautiful Beritnice, and along the way be enraptured by the lunar charm of Pag’s barren but incredibly atmospheric landscape, formed by karst cliffs and here and there patches of Mediterranean scrub.
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Hvar can boast the enviable distinction of being the sunniest island in Croatia, but it is also widely recognised as the chicest (or snobbiest, depending on your point of view).
The town of Hvar is the place to be, perhaps dining in one of its upmarket restaurants or dancing in one of its many clubs, while the less crowded villages and beaches are an excellent refuge from the hubbub of modern life.
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The island of Cres is an ideal choice for those who want a nature holiday. The island is sparsely inhabited and small ancient villages pop up here and there among the hills.
You can wander through dense pine forests, walk to enchanting, uncrowded bays or enjoy numerous outdoor sports activities. If you are lucky, you will get to see the griffon vulture, the island’s iconic animal, flying overhead.
From Cres, you can take a bridge to the small island of Losinj, which is wonderful to explore on foot or by bicycle.
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Long and narrow, the island of Korčula has a coastline dotted with beaches, bays, inlets and coves that will delight anyone who wants nothing more than sunbathing and swimming on holiday.
Make the effort to visit the villages in the hinterland (the landscape of pine forests and olive groves will enchant you!) and don’t miss one of the sword dance performances held in the summer, an ancient tradition that is still passed down from generation to generation.
Another reason to come to Korčula is its excellent white wines, which are among the best in Croatia and should definitely be sampled. And it was here that Marco Polo was born, or so it is said…
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The big attraction on the island of Brac is Zlatni Rat beach in Bol, considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in Croatia. This enchanting tongue of pebbles jutting out into a sea of a thousand shades of blue is worth a trip to Croatia in itself, but while you’re there, explore the island’s other atmospheric beaches and pretty villages.
It is also worth taking a boat tour of the island to admire its beautiful coastline, with steep cliffs sloping down to the sea.
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Croatia is best known for its pebble or rocky beaches, which can be uncomfortable for those travelling with small children. If you are looking for sandy beaches with easy access to the sea and calm waters where your children can swim safely, you can find beautiful ones along the Lopar peninsula on the island of Rab.
The island is a true natural paradise, so much so that it was declared a Geopark in 2008. The main town, Rab, is a small architectural gem.
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Of the central Dalmatian islands, Vis is the one furthest from the coast and also the one that has been immune to mass tourism for the longest time. For a long time an outpost of the Yugoslav army, access to the island was forbidden to foreign visitors until 1989.
Although it is fast catching up, attracting an ever-increasing number of international tourists, the island has retained a touch of authenticity that makes it extremely charming. Beautiful beaches, excellent fish restaurants, good wine, nature and tranquillity are the ingredients of a perfect holiday on Vis.