Where to go island hopping in Croatia
With nearly 1,200 islands, isles and islets, the Croatian archipelago is the largest in the Adriatic Sea and the second largest in the Mediterranean after Greece so there is plenty of island hopping fun to be had. And the Croatian geography means that its islands are closely clustered along the coast so crossing times are much shorter. So if you’re looking for beach culture, crystal clear waters, secluded shores or some wonderful wild walking, here are some tips on where to go island hopping in Croatia.
Where to start
The Croatian coastline, dotted with isles of every size and variety, is an island-hopping paradise. From the large, verdant landforms to the sandy beach havens to the tiny, craggy atolls, it’s one of the most captivating landscapes in Europe. And with incoming flights, ferry routes and sailing options being added every year, there’s never been a better time to weigh anchor and strike out from the mainland.
So what should you include on your itinerary and how do you get there? Well, that depends!
Where you head for depends partly on where you start out from and partly on what you want to get out of your island hopping in Croatia, whether it’s a chance to explore the islands, enjoy the beach party scene or to sail through the wonderfully scenic seascape. Car ferries and faster passenger-only catamarans run by Jadrolinija and Krilo Jet operate between the mainland and a selection of islands for locals and tourists alike. So let’s have a look at some options.
Island hopping from Zadar
The north Dalmatian port city of Zadar has pretty beaches, medieval history and a laid-back town culture dotted across the islands on its doorstep. So if you fancy a spot of island hopping, why not jump on the Jadrolinija ferry for the short three-mile ride over to Ugljan, opposite the mainland city, where you can explore vineyards, olive groves and architecture from the ancient Romans to the impressive 13th-century fortress of St Michael.
Alternately, nearby Dugi Otok is ideal if you want something with a little more natural beauty. Its dramatic cliffs and the Telašćica Nature Reserve offer nature tours and outdoor activities that include cycling, hiking or rock climbing. There are fishing and scuba diving activities, too, so you can combine land and sea.
Or why not add the small island of Iž, situated between Ugljan and Dugi Otok? Well known for its long fishing tradition, today Iž offers beautiful little villages surrounded by fig trees and olive groves, unique pottery and the wonderful summer “Iška Fešta” festival when the village king is chosen. It’s a great place for a peaceful summer vacation.
Island hopping from Split
If you’re kicking off from Split, slightly further south down the coast, you have plenty of options for some fabulous island hopping in Croatia. Whether you pick the beautiful beaches of Hvar, its bustling beach bar culture or the old town of nearby Korcula island, fabled as the original birthplace of legendary explorer, Marco Polo, both offer plenty of entertainment.
Add in laid-back Brac and its famously idyllic Golden Horn Beach for some sultry sunbathing. Or venture slightly further afield to Vis, one of the most distant Croatian islands but still within a couple of hours sailing, for its glorious Green and Blue Caves or a spot of diving in the crystalline waters of the Adriatic. Simply stunning!
Island hopping from Dubrovnik
The medieval walled citadel of Dubrovnik is one of Croatia’s most popular mainland destinations, but if you want a change of scenery, then hit the waves on the Jadrolinija ferry or Krilo Jet catamaran and head out into the Adriatic.
The long, narrow island of Hvar is easily accessible at less than an hour off the coast, offering a day of sunbathing followed by a lively bar and club scene. Nearby Mljet, one of Croatia’s greenest and most beautiful islands, has a gentle, sandy shoreline and crystal clear waters filled with rich marine life; another option is to head inland to discover the island’s two scenic, salt lakes at the heart of the national park. Mljet is also known for its red and white wines and delicious goat cheese so you won’t go hungry or thirsty as you explore this gorgeous stop-off while island hopping in Croatia.
Or follow in the footsteps of ancient Roman author Pliny the Elder and head out to the Elaphiti Islands, a small string of islands stretching out northwest of Dubrovnik. The turquoise waters around these picturesque isles lap some of the best beaches in the entire Adriatic, offering a little piece of Croatian heaven in which to relax. What could be better?
Private speed boat transfers
If the public ferry schedules don’t suit or you prefer the personal touch, you always have the option of booking a private speed boat transfer. They’re faster, more flexible and can take you even further off the beaten track to find that elusive exclusive cove for a romantic dip. Our friendly expert travel consultants are on standby to help you book your bespoke transfer; just give us a call and we’ll do the rest!
Where will you pick to go island hopping in Croatia?
As you can see, there is plenty to choose from when cruising round the Croatian coast and we’ve only highlighted around a dozen of the 1,200 Adriatic islands. So whether you want to discover Croatia’s most beautiful beaches, join the celebrity club scene in Hvar, dive inside the Green Cave or sample the local wines, we can help you to design the perfect itinerary. So what would be on your Croatian wish list? Leave us a comment to let us know your top three picks and, in the meantime, we wish you an idyllic time island hopping in Croatia!