Croatia’s coast is speckled with a multitude of islands, each with its own special appeal. Sit with locals in quaint harbourside restaurants, explore uninhabited national parks or join an all-night beach party.
Comprising 147 mostly uninhabited islands, some of which are designated a
national park, the Kornati Islands have no source of freshwater and so are
mostly barren. The white rock formations are stark against the blue Adriatic. There is no public ferry, so to visit book a tour from the
mainland – you can take a daytrip from Zadar for £35.
(long island) is 26 miles long and in parts less than a mile across. At the
southern end, Telašćica Bay is dotted with islands and is one of the largest,
most beautiful natural harbours in the Adriatic. The saltwater Lake Mir
(peace), sandy Sakarun Beach and panoramic drive along the rocky coast are also
real delights. The tourist office can connect you with some great out-of-the-way
accommodation, including a house on its own island.
Pag is dry
and rocky, with vast empty landscapes stretching across the horizon. Although
not so much of an island now it’s connected to the mainland by a bridge, it
still feels independent in terms of culture and produce. Tough sheep graze on
herbs and salty grasses, lending their milk a unique flavour and producing the
famous paški sir (the olive oil-soaked Pag cheese), which can be found at the
daily fruit and veg market in Pag town.
Off the main trail and off-limits to foreigners for about four decades (it
served as a base for the Yugoslav army), Vis’s lack of development is its
appeal. It also produces some of Croatia’s best-known wines: vugava (white) and
plavac mali (red). Visit Roki’s restaurant in the village of Plisko Polje –
owned by a local winemaker – to try it and they’ll pick you up and drop you off
at your hotel too.
third-largest of the Adriatic islands, Brač sports one of Croatia’s most famous
beaches, the alluring Zlatni Rat (golden horn), near the pretty town of Bol.
This is also the windsurfing capital of Croatia, since the sea channel between
Brač and neighbouring Hvar provides ideal conditions: gentle in the morning for
beginners, lively for adrenaline junkies later on. Big Blue Sport rents boards
and runs classes. Make time to explore the island’s sleepy
stone villages too.
the most sun of any of the islands – and the most tourists thanks to Hvar town
where, come high summer, there’s no better place to party. Well-dressed people
descend from their yachts in droves for après-beach soirées and full-moon beach
parties. Hvar is also famed for the lavender fields that dot its interior,
which is largely unexplored by those who visit. Book the Hvar Offroad Tour run
by Secret Hvar to discover the island’s hidden beauties (£70).
Legend has it that Odysseus was marooned on Mljet for seven years, and it’s
easy to see why he’d take his time leaving. The western section is a national
park, where you’ll find cobalt lakes, an island monastery and the sleepy port
of Pomena. In the east is one of Dalmatia’s top restaurants, Stermasi, which
has an awesome view (wild boar with homemade gnocchi £45 for two).
rich in vineyards, olive groves and small villages, while its main settlement,
Korčula town, is a coastal citadel of marble streets and Renaissance and Gothic
architecture. Age-old folk music and dances are still performed on the island,
which is a favourite with families. One of the most colourful is the Moreška
sword dance – you can see it in the Old Town every Monday and Thursday evening
in high summer.
Unesco-protected reserve, is a forested isle of holm oaks, black ash, pines and
olive trees, and is an ideal escape from urban Dubrovnik, a 15-minute boat trip
away. It has a fine botanical garden with giant agaves and palms native to
Brazil and South Africa. No-one is allowed to stay overnight, so be sure to catch
the last boat back (about 6pm, timetable at Dubrovnik Old City Harbour).
Three airports serve the Dalmatian Coast – Zadar in the north, Split in the
centre and Dubrovnik in the south. Flights from 11 UK airports are offered by
BA, easyJet, flybe, Jet2, Monarch, Norwegian, Ryanair and Thomson Airways (from
£100). Jadrolinija runs a network of car ferries and catamarans
along the coast plus local ferries connecting bigger islands with each other
and the mainland. On most lines service is less frequent between October and
April. Buy tickets at a Jadrolinija office or stall near the ferry
(Split–Korčula £11 on deck, from £28 in cabin).
Where to stay
Dubra Apartments is located in Komiža, a small fishing town on the western
coast of Vis. Each of the five apartments or studios has a kitchen, and a
terrace or balcony with views over the bay (Mihovila
Pavlinovića 11; from £30).
Pag is a rural hotel surrounded by vines, and has its own winery, pool and
superb restaurant. The eight rooms and three suites are huge and elegant, with
handmade furniture. (from £120).
several town mansions, Lešić Dimitri Palace’s five residences are named after
Marco Polo’s journeys (it’s said that he was born in Korčula in 1254). Exposed
beams and ancient stone walls are combined with iPods and espresso machines
The article 'Mini guide to Croatia’s islands' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.