What is really amazing about trips to Croatia is that in the past decade the main clincher about the country was the cheap and affordable status of its resorts. And many people, who wanted to avoid the overpriced vacations in Italy for example, or other Mediterranean countries, chose Croatia. But now the Dalmatian Coast has changed in many ways and has really become a crowd pleaser offering a variety of holiday options. The heat in Croatia is bearable due to the dry climate and the sea breeze and the abundance of greenery on the coasts. The beach season lasts from May to mid-October, so those who seek stunning natural views and an endlessly stretching sandy coastline are welcomed. Croatia offers one more great thing for those who prefer healing procedures: there are 20 mineral springs and a unique deposit of healing oil and mud in Croatia.
The only thing, that you should take into account, is that you’ll not find the luxury hotels and pompous restaurants here, that you have probably seen in some other countries before. But the simple design of the hotels is not a disadvantage for those who want to get closer to the nature and enjoy the beauty in its rawest forms. After all, you are not going on a Mediterranean vacation to stay in your hotel room, right?
Almost everyone, coming to Croatia, visit Dubrovnik first of all, but staying here during all your vacations is unwise, because sooner or later you’ll be tired of crowds of tourist who visit this city every single day during coach tours. You can instead choose an out-of-the-way destination, like one of the islands of Croatia and have it completely to yourself, especially when you intend to go on holiday in autumn, when the sun is still hot and the water is pleasantly warm. Late season is also conductive to budget travel, because the prices of hotels are reduced, unlike the temperature.
The islands of Croatia are as famous as the Greek ones. Due to the crystal clear waters, Croatia holds all the records of popularity. Its numerous islands are the generous gift of nature and are more alluring than the continental resorts. What’s the secret of the island romance? And which islands are the biggest ones in the Croatian Adriatic? Here is our list of 10 of the biggest islands of Croatia.
1. The Island of Krk
Area: (156.67 sq mi) 405.78 km2
Because of the rugged coastline, it’s difficult to say whether Krk is the largest island of Croatia or not, but it’s definitely among the largest ones. Compared with the next large islan,d which we are going to speak about, Krk is believed to be around 2 square km larger according to the official data of the country. Krk is linked to the mainland by a bridge, which takes to Rijeka. The campsites and hotels of the island get very busy, especially in summer. The varied landscape of the island and the testament of Croatian literacy Baška tablet, alongside the Biserujka Cave are the main reasons why so many Europeans come here to spend their vacations. During the beach season, which lasts from April to October, Rijeka airport serves flights directly to Krk, which makes it a lot more comfortable to visit the island for foreigners. The west side of the Klimno Bay is famous for healing mud and family friendly beaches due to the shallow seawater. If you seek for Mediterranean atmosphere with rural villages, beachfront bars and cafés, a thousand years old towns, you are advised to choose Krk as your holiday destination.
2. The Island of Cres
Area: (156.67 sq mi) 405.78 km2
This unspoilt piece of paradise is another famous destination for tourists who seek Croatian sun, and why not the snow in winter, which is not characteristic to this region at all. The island has a rocky surface on the eastern shore, and the rest of it offers fine coves and beaches to discover. Nowadays the island isn’t densely populated which is sometimes good for tourists who seek solitude. But there have been settlements here since the Stone Age and now the remains of antique buildings and historical sites provide a solid evidence of the island’s historical past. Freshwater Lake Vrana is of huge importance for the island because it serves as a kind of self-sufficient water supply. Even the foreign researchers are interested in the origin of the lake, which is as baffling as the beauty of the surrounding area and the lake itself. No matter the water comes from the rains or from underground or the mainland, this lake with a rare beauty is worth visiting, but of course you are not allowed to swim for some reasons. The highlight of the island is the old town of Cres, which still retains the mysterious charm of the Middle Ages. Here you can traipse around museums and monasteries to seize your bit local history. Visit the island of Cres in the beginning of August and you’ll have the chance to take part in the local summer festival, which is accompanied with music and food fairs, which attract many visitors.
3. The Island of Brac
Area: (153 sq mi) 396 km2
The island of Brac is the third largest island of Croatia. To get here you have to take a ferry from the famous Croatian city Split and the trip will take more or less an hour. One of the stunning beaches of Croatia is located here: Zlatni Rat, which means golden cape in Croatian. This unique beach is simply amazing due to its constantly changing shape. The winds and waves should get a lot of credit for the fame of this cape, because they shape it in a different way every time. Vidova Gora being the highest point of the archipelago in the Adriatic is a perfect spot to take in the panoramic views of isolated stretches of powder-soft sand beaches, surrounding islands and the magic carpet of vineyard valleys. Since the ancient times this island has exported white marble, which served as a building material for many antique constructions.
Snack bars on the beach offer a cozy atmosphere to enjoy cocktails or delicious food while admiring the red sunsets. Taking walks on Bol’s promenade is another great option to snap romantic photos. Like the ones you have probably seen on postcards. Those who intend to find even more romantic setting here, should visit the island in September to have the beaches if not completely, but a little bit more to themselves.
4. The Island of Hvar
Area: (114.82 sq mi) 297.37 km2
Hvar Island is famous for its Greek influence because of the fact that the Greeks used to have their colony called Faros on this island. The remains of some antique buildings are the evidence of the Greek times. But the real clincher for this island is the hilltop castle, which overlooks the World-Heritage-listed old town. The island is considered to be the warmest one in the Adriatic, since it has more than 300 sunny days in a year. But don’t expect the weather to be extremely hot or dry, moreover, the climate is mild to some extent. Despite the fact that the island is relatively small compared with the above-mentioned ones, it has a lot to offer the tourists from architectural monuments of great historical value to picturesque views and stunning nature. The island is even more beautiful during the period of the blooming of lavender, when it looks like a fairyland covered with an unbelievable velvet carpet of these flowers and filled with their head-spinning scent. The natural essential oils of lavender, marjoram, thyme and rosemary can be great souvenirs from this island.
5. The Island of Pag
Area: (118 sq mi) 305 km2
This southern island is the fifth largest island of Croatia and being quite near the mainland, is linked to the continent by a bridge. Another great thing about this island is that getting here from the capital Zagreb is not a big deal, it only takes three hours by car. The island is famous for its unique goat cheese, which is produced only in Pag. The nightlife of the island is an added bonus to make your eagerly-awaited summer holiday even more enjoyable. You can party till dawn at Papaya club or at Noa beach club, which are only two of many options waiting for you. Outdoor activities, boat tours and water sports are also available for the visitors.
6. The Island of Korcula
Area: (108 sq mi) 279 km2
During the time when the Greek settlers first landed on this island, it was covered by lush forests, that was probably the reason why they called it Korčula, that it to say “black” in Greek. This island is an alluring destination for those who intend to taste the best Croatian wine, which is made from a special variety of grapes growing mainly on this island. Being the sixth largest island of Croatia, Korcula still surprises with the diversity of the landscape, which varies from steep coasts to sandy beaches and from vineyards to dense forests. The old town is indeed the highlight of the island and a strong reason to invest some time and money to visit. The tourists are especially impressed by the majestic fortress guarded by two monuments erected to honor Croatian princes and the house where one of the most famous travellers of the world, Parco Polo was born. As for the numerous castles, museums and churches dotting the area of the island, they can be regarded as wonders in their own right. Traditional religious ceremonies accompanied with folk music and dances are characteristic to this region, that’s why its popularity is growing year by year.
7. The Island of Dugi Otok
Area:(44.19 sq mi) 114.44 km2
The shape of this island and its name coincide (“dugi otok” is translated as “long island” from Croatian). The island is not as popular with visitors as some of the above mentioned ones, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks natural wonders and otherworldly landscapes. Wild mouflons are the most famous inhabitants of the island, which are protected in the Nature Reserve Telašćica. These funny animals with chestnut-brown wool are the ancestors of domestic sheep. Another famous destination is the salt lake Mir with its healing mud. The North-Western tip of the island is famous for the lighthouse Veli Rat, which is more than 40 meters high. The Western coast is rather steep and contrasts sharply with the southern side of the island, where you can discover hidden coves and sandy beaches to spend a nice time in solitude. Marked trails for trekking and cycling are also available, so if you intend to get closer to the Croatian nature and to explore its historical heritage at the same time, take this fact into account. Enjoying the purity of the sea can be even more exciting if you choose scuba diving from many other outdoor activities on offer. Local dishes and the folk music are also an indispensable part of every religious festival dedicated to the patron saints.
8. The Island of Mljet
Area: (37.84 sq mi) 98.01 km2
The landscapes of Mljet from above are beyond comparison. The southern part of the island is famous for its exotic inhabitants: mongooses, which were brought here during the Middle Ages to fight against poisonous snakes. Now, due to them the number of snakes has been reduced up to the point, it’s believed they no longer exist. Besides these critters, there are also lots of other things worth seeing or visiting on the island, like two salt lakes, one of which having a little medieval monastery on a small island inside. Here you can enjoy the untouched beauty of pine forests and why not to understand how Odysseus could stay here captivated for seven years.
9. The Island of Rab
Area: (36.1 sq mi) 93.6 km2
The island of Rab is the ninth largest island of Croatia and is famous for the ancient town of Rab, which still bears the influence of the Venetian rule. The town walls and medieval buildings are the living witnesses of the legendary times. Another fact that gave a strange reputation to this island is that social nudity is practiced here. Actually Croatia is known for its nude beaches all over the world. This green and magical island has a mild climate, which differs from that of the continent and creates an ideal atmosphere for those who prefer spending their summer vacation soaking up the Mediterranean sun.
10. The Island of Vir
Area: (8.50 sq mi) 22 km2
This island is not among the most popular ones with tourists, but this fact can be regarded as an advantage sometimes. Not all the tourists seek for places full of crowds of visitors and nightclubs. Though the island is inhabited, it’s still rather remote. The history of the island is strongly linked to the Greek one, because the first Greek settlements in the Adriatic Sea were established here in the 4th century BC. Another highlight in the history of the island was World War II, when there was a naval base here and there was no access to Vir for common visitors. However, if you intend to visit this island, which brims with history, you have to get to the town of Split and then take a ferry to Vir.