Top 10 Croatian islands


Istrian idylls & archipelagic arcadias

Croatian islands are like sweets in an old fashioned candy shop. They all look delicious, there are over 1,000 to choose from and when you start, you want to finish them all. From north to south you have the Northern Islands, the Zadar archipelago and then the Dalmatian archipelago, its Elaphiti Islands easily accessible from Dubrovnik. The best time to visit is Easter to mid October.

1. Sipan


The largest of the Elaphiti Islands just off Dubrovnik, Sipan has romantic towns and hiking trails through vineyards and olive groves, many of which are attached to villas dating back to the 14th century. It’s popular with sea kayakers exploring secret coves and the nearby island idyll of Ruda.

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2. Vis


Vis is bliss, especially as it was closed for years to visitors while it was a military base. Very popular for family activity vacations and yoga retreats, it has a laid back, barefoot in the sand vibe, as well as maintaining unspoiled landscapes and traditions. Vineyards thrive here as does the slow food movement.

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3. Korcula


Very popular with cyclists and sailing enthusiasts, although culture vultures also hone in on its extraordinary Gothic-Renaissance Cathedral and fortified center. Aka Mini Dubrovnik for its architectural splendours. Escape the day trippers by cycling through pine forests and remote, vineyard lined coastal routes.

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4. Lopud


Another pine forested idyll and one of the Elaphiti Islands off Dubrovnik, Lopud is car free and popular with walkers, many of whom end their day hiking in the heat at the island’s stunning Sunj Bay. Also a popular base for kayakers exploring local coves and nearby Kolocep Island, with its famously magnificent cliffs.

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5. Mljet


Croatia’s only island national park and a very unique landscape too. Not only does it have luscious forests, but also two salt water lakes at its interior. Visit the islet of Melita in the middle of one of the lakes, boasting a beautiful restaurant, once a Benedictine monastery. Walking vacation heaven.

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6. Hvar


This stylish, celebrity and yachtie island is also eco chic and famously green if you get away from the main town. Visit the traditional fishing towns of Stari Grad, Jelsa and Vrboska, or bring a bike and cycle off on fabulous circular trails to a cornucopia of secret coves. Top spot for small ship cruises too. Huzzah Hvar!

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7. Krk


Krk doesn’t always feel like an island as it is joined to the mainland by a bridge, but once you get out hiking in the barren north or through the vineyards of the south, you will definitely feel its island identity. A popular stop on northern small ship cruises, don’t miss raising a glass of their Vrbnicka Zlahtina white wine.

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8. Zadar archipelago


A firm favourite on small ship cruises, the karst limestone Kornati Islands National Park is at the heart of this archipelago and only accessible by small boat. Same goes for most of the 20 inhabited islands such as Molat, a tranquil idyll and wonderful for hiking. The mainland town of Zadar is a Roman beauty.

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9. Brac


Croatia’s largest island is also home to arguably its best beach, Zlatni Rat, a glorious peninsular of fine pebbles that shifts and stirs with the ebb and flow of the Adriatic sea. It’s undeniably popular, but you can escape the summer crowds among sleepy Milna’s cobbled streets, on visits to some of Europe’s last-remaining stone masonry workshops or wandering through the island’s Mediterranean pine forests.

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10. Rab


It doesn’t get more romantic than Rab, famous hideaway for lovers Edward and Mrs Simpson who, allegedly, loved skinny dipping here. You can also throw caution to the wind a little in this region as it is small ship cruising paradise, and with plenty of secret coves to seek out and 22 beaches in total. The medieval walled town of Rab is stunning, too.

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Photo credits: [Intro: Andreas März] [Vis: Marlo Fajt] [Hvar: Antonio Castagna] [Lonijt: Marlo Fajt]
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