20 Best Islands in Croatia to Visit in 2023

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

Cruising the Croatian islands has become an iconic holiday activity. Imagine sailing through the clear blue waters of the Adriatic Sea as you search for a secluded cove. Croatia has more than 1,000 islands spanning from north to south, so no matter where you find yourself, you’ll be able to book a day trip out to see one. Even if you aren’t aboard a luxury yacht, many of the best islands in Croatia can be reached by public ferry or even on a sea kayak. We can attest, kayaking around the islands of Croatia is a trip of a lifetime.

The Best Islands to Visit in Croatia

Croatia may have plenty of islands but only 47 actually are inhabited. And of those 47 inhabited islands, only 15 islands have a population of more than 1000 people. So when you visit the islands of Croatia, chances are you’ll have them all to yourselves.

Dubrovnik may be calling your name, but once you’ve explored the popular Game of Thrones Locations, it’s time to get out on the crystal clear waters to enjoy these best islands in Croatia.

1. Kornati Islands

Islands in Croatia Kornati

The Kornati Islands are an archipelago of 140 islands and islets sitting off the Dalmatian Coast. Within the largest Archipelago in the Adriatic Sea is Kornati National Park which draws visitors to explore its pristine Croatian islands and underwater playground. The abundance of reefs and shallow, warm waters make it perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling.

Things to do

Go snorkeling or scuba diving – Most boat tours to the Kornati Islands offer a snorkeling option. The islands are said to be home to nearly 200 species of fish. You can even spot dolphins if you are lucky.

This full-day tour takes you along the Sibenik channel past historic military sites and famous landmarks until you reach Kornati National Park. You’ll have the opportunity to go snorkeling, swimming, and even cliff diving from its steep rock faces. See more details here.

Visit the Fortress of Tureta – The Fortress of Tureta dates back to the Byzantine period and sits – isolated and decrepit – on the island of Kornat. History lovers will enjoy touring the historic site, and its dramatic, remote cliff-top location adds to the attraction’s allure.

How to get there

The best way to reach the Kornati Islands is by day trip, especially as most are uninhabited islands. You can find boat tours from Zadar, Sibenik, or Murter – any of the major tourist spots along the Dalmatian Coast.

2. Elaphiti Islands

The Elaphiti Islands are the most popular Croatian islands to visit as they sit just off Dubrovnik on the Croatian mainland. Dubrovnik draws in millions of tourists thanks to its wealth of things to do and Game of Thrones stardom, and many people are tempted into ‘special island hopping itinerary’ boat trips from Dubrovnik Old Town harbor.

The Elaphiti Islands include three main islands: Sipan, Kolocep, and Lopud. The total population of all three islands is around 1,000 people, and most residential areas are sleepy fishing villages. Visiting the Elaphitis is an excellent choice for those staying in Dubrovnik and wanting a laidback, convenient island getaway.

Things to do

Swim in the Blue Cave and Green Cave – The Elaphiti Islands have special caves where the light reflects perfectly to create brightly colored water. The Blue Cave is one of the most famous stops on the island of Biševo. Sun reflects off the white bottom of the blue cave bouncing off the limestone walls creating a stunning scene. The equally beautiful green cave offers snorkeling or swimming on Sipan island.

Kayak around the islands -Rent a sea kayak and explore the islands from the ocean. By sea kayaking, you’ll be able to access sheltered coves and hidden sandy beaches and admire the unique natural landscapes from a unique perspective.

This boat tour from Dubrovnik takes you to Kolocep, Lopud, and Šipan where you’ll stop and swim and enjoy lunch and unlimited drinks. Now that sounds like a good time.

How to get there

You can reach The Elaphitis easily by public ferry, which is perfect if you want to stay a few days. Otherwise, you can organize a day trip from Dubrovnik Old Town.

3. Brac

Chances are that you’ve already heard of Brac when searching for the best islands in Croatia. Brac is located in the Adriatic Sea, just off the coast of Split, and it is one of the most popular islands for a day trip. Brac is known for its larger-than-life personality and has a bit of everything – from music events to a historic old town and Golden Cape beach, which is famed for windsurfing. Brac is action-packed yet authentic (an admirable trait) and an excellent contender for island hopping.

Things to do

Golden Cape Beach – Golden Cape Beach (or Golden Horn Beach) is an excellent spot for watersports and one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia. The iconic beach is shaped like a horn, jutting out in a triangle shape.

Blaca Hermitage – Blaca Hermitage is a 16th-century monastery built dramatically into a cliff face. You can hike up to the monastery and visit the museum for more information on its history.

How to get there

Getting to Brac is a breeze, and you can hop on a ferry straight from Split. The ride takes just 50 minutes, and even in low season, it runs over sixty times a week.

4. Hvar Island

islands in croatia hvar

Hvar is one of the best islands in Croatia if you want a summer resort atmosphere. Sure, the island has its historical attractions. Hvar Town has 13th-century walls and plenty of ancient buildings. However, it is most famous for its clubs, pubs, bars, and beach parties. If you want somewhere to let your hair down, Hvar is a fantastic choice.

Things to do

Fortica Fortress – This 16th-century fortress is one of the most scenic spots in Hvar. You can hike to the top of its hill to explore the ruins and enjoy gorgeous views over the town, island, and ocean below.

Party at Carpe Diem – Carpe Diem is one of the island’s longest-established party venues and was opened in 1999. The venue has DJs from 5 pm each night and a fashion show twice a week. Carpe Diem is where to rub shoulders with the rich and famous.

How to get there

The best way to reach Hvar is by getting a ferry from the mainland. You can catch a ferry to Hvar from significant cities like Split and Dubrovnik, and there is even the option to catch an international ferry from Italy.

5. Vis Island

best islands in croatia vis

Vis Island is one of the best islands in Croatia if you want a spot with a rich history. Vis Island served as a Yugoslav military base from 1950 until 1989, and you can still visit military sites today. This is a massive draw for those intrigued by Croatia’s political history. Vis Town also has ancient city walls, a public bath, and an archaeological museum.

Things to do

Scuba dive underwater wrecks – Vis has many fascinating wrecks, including a plane and a Greek cargo ship. You can visit the island’s dive center to organize a diving tour.

Visit Tito’s Cave – Tito was a World War II leader and had headquarters in a cave on Vis Island. Because of its location near Italy, Vis was considered a highly strategic location, and now visitors can tour the special cave.

How to get there

You can take an organized tour from the mainland or take the ferry from Split. The ferry ride takes around an hour and a half.

6. Rab Island

best croatian islands rab
The Stunning Coastline of Croatia

Rab Island is one of the most historical Croatian islands. It has a stunning old town encircled by ancient city walls. If you want a photogenic, historical island, Rab is the one for you. It has the Cathedral Svete Marije and Sveti Ivan Church, plus Roman ruins dotted around the island. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, Rab Island also has some of the best beaches out of all Croatia’s islands.

Things to do

Paradise Beach – Paradise Beach is a fantastic beach day spot, with waterslides and pedal-boat rentals to keep you entertained between sunbathing sessions.

Sightsee the Old Town – Sightseeing the different buildings and old city walls is a perfect way to spend a morning on Rab Island. You can easily explore leisurely on foot, stopping for a coffee or brunch break when you need to.

How to get there

You can catch a ferry to Rab Island from the mainland or other nearby islands. Book tickets online (especially during peak seasons) to guarantee a spot.

7. Pakleni Islands

best islands to visit in croatia pakleni

The Pakleni Islands are some of the best islands in Croatia for beautiful sandy beaches, incredible snorkeling, and partying. The Paklenis are a group of islets located just off of Hvar, and their stunning scenery and fun atmosphere make them a popular day trip. Small but with big personalities, the Pakleni Islands are fantastic islands to visit in Croatia.

Things to do

Enjoy the walking trails – Since the islands are so small, you can easily explore them on foot. Sveti Klement is the best island for shaded walking trails and is scattered with pine trees and Mediterranean shrubs.

Party at the Marinkovac beach club – Get your groove on at Marinkovac’s fantastic beach club. The club gives the Pakleni Islands their party reputation and is a great spot to let your hair down.

How to get there

You can visit the Pakleni Islands on a day trip from Hvar or the Mainland. From Hvar, it takes just 30 minutes to reach the Paklenis.

8. Mljet Island

best islands to visit in croatia mljet

Mljet is a long Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea. This is one of the best islands in Croatia for nature lovers and is home to Mljet National Park. Mljet is covered in a dense pine forest, vineyards, and olive groves. It is the perfect island to visit to appreciate nature and fresh, locally sourced produce.

Things to do

Odysseus Cave – Make sure to visit the legendary Odysseus Cave. It is one of the most beautiful plces on Mljet. It can be reached by boat or you can hike to it.

Mljet National Park – Mljet National Park offers 5,400 hectares of land and ocean reserves, protecting incredible flora and fauna. You can cycle or hike around the park and pack snorkeling gear to appreciate its reefs and underwater attractions.

Roman Palace – The Roman Palace is Mljet’s most historic attraction. The 5th-century ancient palace sits on the Polace waterfront, now split in half by a busy road.

How to get there

The easiest way to reach Mljet Island is to take the ferry from Dubrovnik. The trip takes around two and a half hours.

9. Pag Island

Pag Island Croatia

Pag Island is one of the best islands in Croatia if you are looking for a striking (slightly bizarre) natural landscape. Apart from the built-up area of Pag Town, arriving at Pag is not unlike landing on the moon. It has a desolate moonlike landscape and sharply contrasts Croatia’s more lush islands. You’ll find fun nightlife in Pag Town, plenty of walking trails, and local produce like paski sir, which is called Pag cheese and made from sheep milk.

Things to do

Party on the Zrce strip – Zrce is the hub of nightlife on Pag. The beachfront is lined with bars and clubs, with frequent beach parties to join.

Sample the island’s delicacies – So, you must try Pag cheese. However, Pag lamb is also a local specialty and is typically grilled and served with potatoes. These dishes are extremely popular, so stop by a restaurant and check what they serve.

How to get there

Pag Island is the easiest to reach in this guide. The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge and has a car ferry service. You can drive across the bridge or sail to Pag; the choice is yours.

10. Korcula Island

korcula island croatia

Korcula Island is known for its dense plant life and forest and the beauty of Korcula Town. Some people even go as far as to call Korcula Town ‘Little Dubrovnik’, as its smaller-scale city walls, medieval squares, and historic buildings are a picture of Croatia’s famous city. The island has a lot of Greek history, and we recommend it to any history enthusiasts or people looking for a well-rounded, beautiful island destination.

Things to do

Visit Pupnatska Luka Beach – Pupnatska Luka Beach is a stunning place to visit and great for a day trip. It is famed for its turquoise waters and bright white sand.

Visit Korcula Town Museum – Ready for a bit of history? This museum exhibits Korcula’s history and culture and has a unique location in a 16th-century Renaissance palace.

How to get there

The best way to reach Korcula Island is to catch the ferry from Split, which takes just under four hours. You can also catch smaller, less regular ferries from nearby islands.

11. Cres Island

best islands in croatia cres

Cres Island is the second largest island in the Adriatic Sea and is connected to the neighboring island of Losinj by a bridge. Cres Island is slightly off of most tourist radars, but if you want an exciting, less crowded Croatian island, this makes it a great candidate. Cres Town has many Italian qualities since the island was previously under Venetian rule and has beautiful scenery and plenty of history.

Things to do

See the griffon vulture colony – Nature lovers or bird enthusiasts, will love spotting Cres’ griffon vulture colony. I remember going to see them while kayaking around Cres. Cres Island is massively involved with conservation efforts, offering a refuge for special birds to thrive away from mass crowds.

Visit the Venetian Tower – The Venetian Tower is a perfect place to appreciate the island’s history. The tower was once part of the island’s Venetian fortification, built while Cres was under Italian rule.

How to get there

You can catch a ferry service from the Croatian mainland or fly to Krk Island and catch a ferry from there.

12. Obonjan

Want a private island experience? Obonjan is one of the best islands in Croatia. Forget a resort town; Obonjan is a resort island specializing in luxury glamping experiences for adults. The island treads the line between party-focused, wellness-focused, and pure luxury. It offers a holistic holiday package, perfect if you want to treat yourself to a night off the mainland. Obonjan has an exclusive atmosphere and is a match made in heaven for luxury-chasing crowds.

Things to do

Attend one of the festivals or club nights – Obanjan is always hosting the latest DJs and artists. Obanjan has some of the most exciting line-ups and regular events if you are in the mood for a party.

Get involved with resort activities – This might sound like a cop-out itinerary idea, but the resort really does have everything. You could be attending complimentary yoga classes or attending a film screening.

How to get there

Obanjan is best reached by ferry or taxi boat from Sibenik. Obanjan Island Resort also offers boat transfers.

13. Krk Island

islands in kroatia krk

Krk is famed for its old-world architecture and the charming atmosphere that medieval towns promise. Its walled town is full of photogenic back alleys and beautiful buildings, some dating back to the 5th century. Notably, Krk is also the only island where you can spot bears, as the island is so close to the mainland that bears swim across the strait. Krk is a convenient, exciting destination, ideal for those researching day trips from the mainland.

Things to do

Visit the 5th century basilica in Omisalj – The basilica is the oldest remaining building on the island of Krk, and it is a fascinating place if you love history or archeology. The structure is remarkably intact, and you can easily distinguish the different rooms and features.

Visit the Frankopan Castle – Frankopan Castle overlooks the town of Krk and was commissioned by the Frankopan family – an old noble family in Croatia. The castle was continuously worked on over the centuries to maintain it, with considerable work done in the 13th and 14th centuries.

How to get there

Getting to Krk is so straightforward that all you have to do is drive over the connecting bridge. As we said, Krk is very close to the mainland shore, meaning it can be conveniently connected with a permanent bridge rather than resorting to ferry crossings.

14. Murter

croatian islands murter

Murter has that tropical island feel that you are very likely craving. Think sandy beaches, lush forests, and beautiful viewpoints. Murter is only a tiny island, but that makes it blissful to explore on foot. You can walk to stunning beaches and spend your day beach hopping between all the different options. We recommend bringing snorkeling gear so you can also enjoy spotting the marine life at each beach.

Things to do

Go scuba diving – Murter’s waters are perfect for fishing, so you can bet that you’ll find a lot of marine life scuba diving. The island’s dive center offers guided dives and scuba courses, so you can go for a dive or brush up on your skills.

Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding – The Betina Museum is a fascinating spot to visit and covers the town’s ship-making history – from marine tools to traditional attire. Whether you are interested in maritime history, the museum is a valuable insight into island living.

How to get there

Murter is a dream to get to, as it is connected to the mainland by a small drawbridge. You can catch a bus or drive onto the island – avoid crossing between 5 pm and 5:30 pm when the bridge is lifted.

15. Zlarin

Best Islands in Croatia Zlarin

Zlarin is one of the most beautiful Croatian islands and is located just off the shores of Sibenik. Expect endless sandy beaches and forests of pine trees. However, Zlarin also has a fantastic shopping scene and is famed for its coral products. A common career in Zlarin is to harvest coral and turn it into products like jewelry. And the island has historical attractions dating back to the 13th century. Zlarin is a bit of a golden child – with amazing qualities and lots to offer.

Things to do

Go rock climbing – We won’t judge you for wanting to spend a few hours on the beach, but when you are finished, definitely make the most of Zlarin’s cliffs. The east of the island is renowned for rock climbing, and you can book an organized climbing activity to get your adrenaline pumping.

Visit the Coral Museum – Find out more about the island’s relationship with coral and browse some of the best coral souvenirs.

How to get there

Getting to Zlarin is easy. You catch the ferry from Sibenik, which runs regularly in high and low seasons.

16. Veliki Brijun

croatian islands veliki Brijun

Veliki Brijun is part of the Brijun Islands archipelago and one of the best islands in Croatia for appreciating untouched nature. Veliki Brijun is part of the Brijun National Park and covers 1,700 acres, most of which is protected green space. Veliki Brijun is Croatia’s greenest island. It is also known for its unique, swirled shape, often captured in aerial photos of the island.

Things to do

Visit the dinosaur footprints – Interested in paleontogology? Veliki Brijun isn’t just home to 21st-century wildlife; you can also spot traces of prehistoric animals on the island. The primary dinosaur footprint is just a short walk from Veliki Brijun port.

Hop on the ‘Tourist Train’ – If you’d prefer to save your legs and energy, the tourist train is a great choice and whisks you around the island on a quick sightseeing tour. You’ll pass all Veliki Brijun’s major attractions, including the safari park.

How to get there

You can take a taxi boat to Veliki Brijun, but the most reliable way is to take the ferry from Fazana. Fazana has a regular 20-minute ferry ride that connects Veliki Brijun to the mainland.

17. Dugi Otok

croatia islands dugi Otok

Dugi Otok is one of the outer islands off of Zadar in Central Croatia. While not on the well-trodden tourist path, Dugi Otok is easily one of the best islands in Croatia. Dugi Otok is nothing short of paradisical, with beautiful beaches and idyllic spots like Sali, a tiny fishing village. The island is one of the largest islands off of Zadar and has lots of adventure potential and room to explore.

Things to do

Telascica Nature Park – Dugi Otok is known for its saltwater lakes, and Telascica Nature Park is where you’ll find Lake Mir. Lake Mir is full of saltwater marine animals and is a wonderful natural tourist attraction.

Visit the Donkey Sanctuary – The Donkey Sanctuary is massively important on Dugi Otok since donkeys were heavily relied upon for early survival on the island. Nowadays, visiting is a wholesome thing to do on the island. While the sanctuary is small, it is a definite addition to your Dugi Otok itinerary.

How to get there

Getting to Dugi Otok is easy, and you can catch a ferry from Zadar in less than an hour and a half. It is easiest to visit for a few days rather than rush to manage a day trip.

18. Mrcara

Best Croatian Ilands Mrcara

If you want a day trip to an uninhabited island, Mrcara is one of the best islands in Croatia. Mrcara is so off-the-beaten-track that some people call it the ‘last stand’, and you’ll only find basic amenities on the island like a small jetty and seasonal restaurant. It might not be the most popular day trip, but if you have a sense of adventure, you will love Mrcara.

Things to do

Explore the island’s walking trails – Part of Mrcara’s draw is its raw beauty and stillness. By hiking its walking trails, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in nature, and only nature – listening to bird songs, admiring flora, and wildlife watching.

Snorkel at the beaches – Going snorkeling is one of the best things to do on Mrcara. The pebbled beaches and quiet waters are perfect for marine life to thrive, and Mrcara is one of the best Croatian islands to spot marine animals.

How to get there

The best way to reach Mrcara is to catch a ferry from Split to Lastovo, the big island next to Mrcara. From Lastovo, you can then organize a shuttle service to Mrcara.

19. Drvenik Veli

Best Islands in Croatia Drvenik Veli

Drvenik Veli is one of the smallest Croatian Islands near Split. It has a humble history and has been home to shepherds and nomads since the 15th century. While it lacks the infrastructure to provide historical attractions, Drvenik Vali has a sense of remote community heritage. Drvenik Veil is a fantastic choice if you want a glimpse into small Croatian island life.

Things to do

Sample local seafood – Freshly caught seafood is always a tasty idea, and when you visit Drvenik Veil, we suggest giving in to that temptation. The island relies on its fishing for economic survival, and the handful of local restaurants on Drvenik Veil use the freshest catch.

Swim in the Blue Lagoon – Drvenik Veil’s Blue Lagoon is a beautiful place for a dip, and it’s renowned for its bright blue waters. Its formal name is Krknjasi Bay, which is located on the island’s east side – nice and easy for visitors to access.

How to get there

Drvenik Veil is quickly reached by taxi boat, or ferry. It takes around 30 minutes from the mainland to get to the island’s main town of Drvenik.

20. Silba

Silba is one of the best islands in Croatia for that car-free, fresh-air experience. You’ll find a handful of tractors for essential transportation tasks and the postman on his scooter, and that’s that; the rest of the island is serene and traffic-free. Silba is one of the sunniest places in Croatia, and with all its hidden coves and beaches, what better place to soak up the rays.

Things to do

Beach hop – Make use of that sunshine and hit the beach. Silba has a beautiful selection of beaches waiting for you to throw down a beach towel, and we recommend Dobre Vode and Nozdre the most.

Climb the Toreta – The Toreta is Silba’s only tower, and you can climb up its narrow, spiral stairway for gorgeous views over the island and ocean. Legend has it that a sailor built Toreta for his girlfriend, but she cast his love aside and betrayed him by marrying someone else – getting tired of watching and waiting from the tower.

How to get there

Just catch the ferry to Silba from Zadar. The ride takes around an hour and runs twice daily but you should confirm the schedule online as it is liable to change.

best things to do in croatia

And these are some of the best islands in Croatia. Whether you pick one of the main islands or head off the beaten track, you’ll have a fantastic experience enjoying the glorious views of the Adriatic Sea. Island hopping is one of the best things to do in Croatia to really see the beauty of the Dalmatian Coast.

Croatian islands are some of the prettiest in the world, and their secluded coves and idyllic beaches make them some of the best spots for island hopping on earth.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

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  • World Nomads - Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers.
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Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About ThePlanetD Team

Guest writers for The Planet D offer insider tips and information on destinations that they are experts in. We can't be everywhere at once, and it is important to have the highest level of travel information from local writers and experienced travelers.

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