With over 1000 islands spread out across Croatia’s coast, it can feel quite overwhelming deciding which ones to pack into your holiday let alone working out how to get there. Thankfully, only 66 are inhabited and regular catamarans and ferries run from most big ports with Split and Dubrovnik being obvious favourites.
During the high season, boat excursions also run from Cavtat and Brela to Hvar. Whether you’re looking for a swift day trip from the mainland or to island hop like a pro, here’s a pick of some of our favourites.
Home to Croatia’s most photographed beach, Brac is no doubt one of the Adriatic’s most beautiful islands. The hilly interior is the perfect playground for hikers while historic town centres such as Bol provide traditional cobbled streets lined with white stone houses and cosy bars. The acclaimed Zlatni Rat beach is bursting with watersports from windsurfing to sea kayaking with plenty of shady areas for the little ones.
Thanks to its close proximity to Split, Brac is one of the most accessible Dalmation islands with ferries running from 6am – 1am daily. Alternatively, take a ferry from Markaraska and enjoy the scenic one hour cruise to Bol.
Only a stone’s throw from the shores of Dubrovnik, Kolocep is a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Draped with ancient ruins and dense forests, you’ll find two small villages on either end of the island, home to a mere 165 inhabitants. The main village in the north, Donje Celo, is full of traditional tavernas and packs in a spectacular 13th-century church to boot. Down in the south, Gornje Celo is even more serene with a charming harbour and a handful of cafes.
In just 25 minutes on the ferry from Dubrovnik you could be sunning yourself on the shingle bays around the villages or kayaking around the coast, exploring hidden coves and swimming through The Blue Cave.
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Popular with the rich and famous, Hvar is one of the most luxurious Dalmation islands, steeped in history and lined with rocky coves. Whether you’re exploring ancient monuments in cosmopolitan Hvar town, enjoying unique cuisine in a chic restaurant or traversing through fields of olive groves, Hvar is oozing with fairytale charm.
The easiest way to reach Hvar is by taking a daily catamaran from Split. The journey will take just over an hour and can be accessed from Dubrovnik daily between June and September. From Hvar Town, taxi boats run day trips to the nearby Pakleni islands full of secluded bays and one of the best nightclubs in Croatia.
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Famed for its dense forests, medieval squares and palaces, Korcula is often referred to as Little Dubrovnik. In the well-preserved Old Town, explore St. Marks Cathedral as you wander around the city’s fortress walls or tuck into freshly caught seafood in a local taverna. Pretty, pebbled bays adorn the northern coast in Zrnovska Banja and Vrbovica, perfect for a secluded holiday, and along the south, Plaza Przina is a family-friendly beach with golden sands and plenty of bars and restaurants.
A catamaran from Split takes just under two hours with a stop in Hvar town along the way and from June to September, daily catamarans run from Dubrovnik via Miljet.
Having been a no-go zone for foreigners until 1989, this former Yugoslav military base has transformed into a stunning bohemian getaway. In Vis town, quaint cafes and bustling bars spill out onto cobbled squares and family-run restaurants are graced with fresh seafood and locally-produced cuisine. Away from the old stone buildings and cobbled alleyways you’ll find some of the best beaches in Croatia from the secluded and pebbled Stiniva Bay to family-friendly Stoncica Beach, located close to the centre of Vis.
Vis can be reached by ferry from Split in two hours for as little as five euros per person. In the summer months, ferries and catamarans connect Vis to the neighbouring islands of Hvar and Korcula which connect through to Dubrovnik on the mainland.
Inspired to discover some of Croatia’s beautiful islands? Take a look at our latest holiday deals to start planning your next Croatian adventure.
Grand Hotel Park
Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik and Islands, Croatia