An island hopping holiday in Croatia is a unique way to discover one of the most compelling seascapes in the Mediterranean and get a glimpse into the local traditions, culture, cuisine and lifestyle. A Croatian island cruise offers spectacular sights of the country's mountainous backdrop, translucent blue waters, and many diverse islands.
With more than 1,200 islands along the Istrian, Dalmatian and Dubrovnik coast, Croatia is one of the most visited sailing destinations in Europe during the busy yacht charter season. Popular sailing routes include those from Split to Dubrovnik and from Pula to Zadar. These cities are among Croatia’s most visited ports of call and serve as the bases for discovering many of the country’s best-known islands.
Our bases at Pula, Krk and Lošinj make excellent starting points for exploring the Istrian and Dalmatian islands. Pula, Istria’s largest city, serves as a port of call for cruise ships setting sail to the Brijuni Islands, a group of 14 islands known for their scenic beauty and architectural and cultural sites. Those visiting the Brijuni National Park can see a safari park, dinosaur footprints, and several pre-Roman and Roman ruins.
The islands of Lošinj and Krk, easy to access from Pula, have their own wealth of sights and recreation options for visitors to explore. Home to the popular beach town of Mali Lošinj, the island of Lošinj offers a combination of beautiful beaches, steep, rocky landscapes and a number of cultural sights. It is separated from the wilder, less developed island of Cres by a narrow canal. Cres, one of the last habitats of the griffon vulture, is an excellent place to visit, known for its diverse landscapes, lovely coves and beaches, Liburnian castles, Venetian and other remains.
Krk is the largest and most developed of Croatian islands and makes an excellent destination for family holidays. With the medieval walled centre of Krk town, a 2 km beach at the popular resort town of Baška, and numerous atmospheric villages dotting the island's countryside, Krk offers something for every traveller.
The islands that are easy to reach from Krk and Lošinj include Rab and Pag. Rab is known for its relaxed atmosphere, unique landscapes and sandy beaches. It is an excellent place to spend a couple of days swimming, diving, relaxing or hiking through miles of trails shaded by oak and pine woods.
The neighbouring Pag offers an entirely different experience. Nicknamed the Croatian Ibiza, the island is known for its many open-air clubs on the famous Zrće Beach and an energetic nightlife. During the day, the island makes a perfect seaside resort, with many tranquil beaches drawing countless visitors to its shores each year.
Along with Pula, Croatia's major entry points in Istria and northern Dalmatia are the cities of Rijeka and Zadar. Situated in Kvarner Bay, Rijeka provides easy access to Krk and Cres, while Zadar is a convenient starting point for Pag, the Kornati archipelago, Dugi Otok and many smaller islands in the area.
The Kornati National Park, often referred to as a nautical paradise, offers an unforgettable experience of sailing through 89 untouched islands, islets and reefs. The islands have an impressive marine life and lure visitors with their quiet, deserted bays that offer a stark contrast to some of the nearby islands.
The neighbouring Dugi Otok is relatively undiscovered by tourists, but well worth visiting for its lovely landscapes, therapeutic salt lake and Telašćica Nature Park. Saharun beach on the northern side of the island, the picturesque cape Veli Rat with an old lighthouse, Roman ruins and submarine pens carved inside a hill are among the island’s most fascinating attractions.
Split is a great starting point for visiting the popular islands of Šolta, Hvar, Brač and Vis, while Dubrovnik offers easy access to Mljet, the Elaphiti Islands and Lastovo. The island of Korčula is easy to reach from both cities.
With these islands scattered between the two cities, an island hopping itinerary offers a tour of some of Croatia's most impressive landscapes and attractions. These include the historic walled town of Korčula, the spectacular national park on the island of Mljet, the famous white pebble beach Zlatni Rat on the island of Brač, Vis island's many secluded coves, and the glamorous town of Hvar.
Sailing itineraries in this area typically take travellers from Split to Brač and then to Hvar, Korčula and Mljet before the final stop at the old city of Dubrovnik. Vis and Lastovo are more remote, but great places to visit nonetheless for those going on a longer cruise. Vis is covered in Greek and Roman ruins and known for its rustic restaurants that make eating out a treat. Lastovo offers a combination of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings and is best known for its lush vegetation, olive groves and vineyards. Protected as a nature park, it is the most forested of all Croatian islands and the largest island in the Lastovo archipelago, which also counts 46 small islands and cliffs.
Brač, Croatia's third largest island, is an excellent place to go beach-hopping, as it is home to some of the country’s finest beaches. These include the 1 km long Zlatni Rat, a cone-shaped landform whose shape and length change depending on wind, tide and current. Brač is also home to Vidova Gora, the highest island peak in the Adriatic, offering spectacular views of the region. The island is a popular destination for wine and olive tasting trips, and its restaurants are well known for their traditional lamb meat dishes.
Hvar, a popular vacation spot for local and international celebrities, draws visitors with its electric nightlife, many scenic beaches and coves, stunning views from the old fortress, and Pakleni islands, a chain of limestone islands with many idyllic coves and pebble beaches that are ideal for swimming, diving and underwater fishing. While Hvar town may be one of the most glamorous places to visit in Croatia, the rest of the island is relatively unspoiled, with many small, picturesque hills covered in lavender, vineyards and olive trees lending the landscape a unique charm. Stari Grad, the oldest town in Croatia, is the island's historical heart and offers a relaxing experience for a more traditional family holiday.
Korčula's medieval fortifications, Venetian architecture and picturesque harbour are ideal for a walking tour during a port stop, while its coves and sand and pebble beaches make it one of the region's most popular spots for a summer holiday. Most of the island is covered in pine woods and vineyards that produce the excellent wines Korčula is known for.
The island of Mljet is home to the oldest Mediterranean marine protected area and some of Croatia's most impressive scenery. The Mljet National Park, which covers the western part of the island, includes two saltwater lakes, several villages and an old Benedictine monastery. The park's main attractions are the scenic Great Lake with the Isle of St. Mary, the Small Lake, and the small picturesque villages of Goveđari, Polače and Pomena.
In addition to these, there are countless other islands and impressive mainland destinations to explore that make for a great holiday. With an abundance of hidden bays, cliffs, beaches and coves spread across its 5,835km coastline, Croatia provides countless opportunities for a memorable cruising holiday, both for visitors looking for a vibrant party scene and those who want a tranquil break surrounded by some of the most scenic Mediterranean landscapes.