Best Croatia Island Hopping Travel Guide

Croatia island hopping

Croatia island hopping is a popular choice if you want to experience the natural coves, secluded bays and beautiful sceneries.

According to the Croatian Tourist Board, Croatia has over 1000 islands, but due to its small size, only 47 of these are inhabited with a handful of local families (inhabitants).

It pretty often involves multi-day excursions where you need to plan the days ahead to visit multiple islands, each with its own distinctive attractions and activities.

If you’re looking for stunning islands to start your adventure, island hopping from Split Croatia is a pretty easy starting point for your expedition.

Croatia Island Hopping Base

Setting the stage for our Croatia Island Hopping tour, we chose our base in Split, commencing our journey with a blissful beach stay in the vibrant port town.

Deliberating between Split, Zadar, and Dubrovnik, we were drawn by the affordability and accessibility of island hopping from Split to the enchanting Brač, Korčula and Vis islands.

Seeking tranquility over nightlife, we carefully selected The Radisson Blue Resort in Split, a luxury 5 star hotel with great rating on TripAdvisor 2023 Travelers’ choice, ensuring a perfect blend of serene beaches, relaxation and impeccable service.

Croatia island tour

Before you get into the grove of an island hopping tour, delve deeper into the wonders of Split and explore this ancient city with a local guide.

At the heart of Split lies the must-visit iconic Diocletian’s Palace, a marvel built in the late 3rd century AD and revered as Croatia’s most significant Roman site.

After your brief stay or an extended visit in Split, start your Croatia island hopping tour with our 7 spectacular destinations.

Best Croatian island hopping tour

1. Brač Island

Brač Island is one of the largest islands in Croatia. It’s known for beautiful beaches, including Zlatni Rat, which is one of the most popular beaches.

Actually this island is undoubtedly one of the best islands to include in your island hopping tour, boasting historical places, beautiful scenery, rich cultural heritage and the majestic Vidova Gore peak (778 meters) in the background. 

Looking for the best islands in Croatia to go au nature? Not an issue as there are designated peaceful and quiet sun-drenched secluded spots for nude sunbathing with breathtaking views.

A little, secret cove named as “Mutnik Beach,” not far from the tiny settlement of Mirca, is designated for naturist beach lovers and the best vacation spots for couples to chill out.

Sometimes it can be pretty challenging to reach island villages and less popular rural areas with public transportation, so renting a car is a great idea.

Getting to Mutnik beach, which is nestled at the western end of the renowned Golden Cape (Zlatni Rat) is a breeze with a car as it’s on the main road near Sutivan village.

How To Get There

By Ferry: If you are starting your Croatia island hopping from Split then jump on a ferry heading to Supetar (50 minute ride). Supetar is the largest town on Brač that connects directly to mainland Split.

Private Boat: If you renting a private boat or island hopping with a yacht, you can sail to Brač island and explore the different beaches, peaceful bays and coves on the island.

You can also island hop from Split to Brac on buses, ferries and taxis. 12go online transport booking platform has all the best information.    

2. Krk Island

Krk is the largest island in Croatia and is frequently highlighted because it’s super accessible to the mainland via a toll bridge which was deemed free as from 2020.

A quaint village off the beaten path for visitors is Vrbnik, located on the east coast. The prominent Frankopan Castle, built in the thirteenth century, overlook the island’s stunning beaches.

Its northernmost point is home to Rijeka International Airport, but you can get to the island fast and smoothly by bus, car and boat as well. 

On the eastern side of the island of Krk and close to the village of Vrbnik lies the the peaceful and quiet Potovošće Beach. The pebble stone beach can be reached by boat or on foot and located in a hidden cove with clear waters.

There is a small parking area if you wish to drive there. Be prepared to walk a little bypassing a Pine tree woodland en route to the beach. There are facilities like showers, bathrooms and simple beach umbrellas for beach goers.

The calming earthy aroma of the sage and strawflower plants that grows wildly higher up the shore is the perfect combination for a super relaxing island vacation on this beach.

How To Get There

By Flight: You can fly to Rijeka airport on the mainland close to Krk Island, and then take a bus or taxi to the island. There are tons of flights from major European cities to Rijeka.

Self Drive: If you’re driving from the mainland, you can take the A7 highway to the 1430 meters long Krk Bridge, which connects the island to the mainland.

There are ferry service which run from the mainland to Krk Island and tons of Croatia island hopping tours by boats around Krk Island and other nearby islands

3. Hvar Island

Hvar is one of the top Croatia islands hopping route with its pulsating nightlife, beach parties and clubbing.

On the flipside, there are incredibly secluded beaches for beachgoers seeking a peaceful spot away from the maddening crowd.

The island have a vibrant history that has been meticulously preserved in museums, old fortresses, gothic cathedrals and along the famous Pjaca square.

If you’re feeling blissful, you can take a water taxi or book a private charter to the nearby Palmizana Beach which together comprise the Pakleni Islands of Croatia.

Palmizana on the island of Sveti Klement is where you’ll find one of the best beaches in Croatia. If you’re looking for a tranquil location in a beautiful setting, this  is a pretty nice spot to visit.

It’s one of the 10 best beach vacation on the Adriatic and the oldest and most well-known. Although there are rocky and pebbled stretches on the beach, the coastline is pretty sandy.

There are some secret bays. Perna bay is situated close by Palmizana and is just a short distance away. It is a pretty peaceful secret bay without any beach bar and the only sandy beach in the Pakleni Islands.

How To Get There

By Ferry: Jadrolinija high speed ferry provide daily passengers transfers from Dubrovnik to Hvar, transiting at the port of Stari Grad. It takes approximately 3.5 hours and open only on tourist season.

There are Croatia island hopping tours to Hvar by private boat charter and they are pretty expensive, but you get privacy and be more in control.

There also a few ferry service companies that provides catamaran transfers from Dubrovnik to Hvar. 12Go is a pretty reliable booking  platform to check out.

4. Vis Island

Pritiscina Beach

Vis is the most ideal Croatia island if you’re the kind of visitor looking for a peaceful and quiet beach vacation spot for romantic getaways.

Vis town in the northeast and Komiza town in the southwest split the entire island into two humongous coves, located 48km offshore of mainland Split and two hours+ ride via car ferry.

The worst time to visit Vis is during the month of August, which is the national holiday of Italy, whereby hordes of Italians will blanket the island. 

Having said that, Vis Island was off-limits to visitors till 1989. It’s now a bona fide getaway for visitors trying to find pristine beaches, culinary treats and in particular, solitude. So where’s the tuck-away beach on Vis island in Croatia?

In 1967, a few of the beaches and its magnificent bays in Vis were designated as protected natural sites, a status that has remained unchanged ever since.

Pritiscina Beach lies just two kilometers from the village of Podhumlje on the island’s southern coastline. The little round pebbles on the beach with pretty clear turquoise waters feels smooth and provide a nice stimulating foot massage.

Driving, biking or a stroll to the beach is a great experience while descent to the beach from the road is a little more difficult passing by groves of carob and citrus trees.

The best way to get to Pritiscina beach is by small boat charter from Vis town(6 hours tour for 6-8 persons).

How To Get There

By Catamaran: Kapetan Luka is the main catamaran operator. It pretty much faster than taking a ferry to explore islands around Vis.  

Water Taxi: This mode of transport is great if you wish to visit smaller islands from Vis and spent some time there. They can be found on all ports or harbors around Vis island.

Self Drive: Exploring Vis island by rental scooters or car is a pretty cool way but be aware of the narrow roads around the island.

5. Korcula Island

Croatia’s island of Korcula has the highest population density. The island’s moniker “Little Dubrovnik”, refers to an old city with distinctive architectural styles.

St. Mark’s Cathedral completed in the 15th century is probably one of the island’s most stunning Gothic-style structures. The home where Marco Polo is believed to have been born is among the top tourist attractions.

Medieval fortress and walls encircle the little town of Korcula. You’ll likely be awed by Korcula’s island history and nostalgic ambience as well as by its pristine waters.

The gorgeous beaches that Croatia’s island of Korcula enjoys are renowned. Bacva Bay Beach is a little isolated pebble bay with crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Bacva Bay is a charming protected cove about 13 kilometers from Korcula and close to the settlement of Pupnat. 

There is also a tranquil fisherman’s cottage to visit. Located around 5km from Pupnat, Home Uvala Bacva 9475 is a stone thrown away from the beach and a gorgeous spot to hang out.

How To Get There

By Ferry & Catamaran: Same main ferry and catamaran operators, providing similar services to other islands from mainland including Split and Dubrovnik. (1-2 hours depends on ports)

Self Drive: If you drive or ride, proceed to Orebić on the Pelješac Peninsula and then take a slow car ferry to Korcula island.

Bus: There are some services from major mainland cities in Croatia to Korcula island that run only once a day. The bus ride will take a few hours depending on traffic. 

6. Kornati Islands

There are tons of vineyards, olive trees, fig orchards in this group of 140 islets (some with majestic cliffs) that makes up the Kornati archipelago. The Kornati National Park created in 1980 comprises 89 of the 140 islands.

Although most of the islands are uninhabited, the Murter villagers have cottages that they use as a place to stay when it’s harvesting season. 

If you like long stroll along the deserted shoreline, Kornati is the destination for you, even to stay in the cottage (no frills) and be picked up in a week later.

Unless you have the skill-set of Bear Grylls, it’s not a good idea to be marooned on a deserted island for a week without electricity and all the essentials for a comfortable stay.

7. Mljet

The greenest of all the Croatian islands is definitely Mljet. Most of the landscape is covered with hills and thick Mediterranean forests. The rest consists of fields, vineyards and small villages.

There are also two salt lakes on the island – Great Lake and Small Lake. They are located in the western part of the island. In the middle of the Great Lake is a small island Sv Marija (St Mary) on which the Benedictine monastery was built.

Take a stroll in Mljet National Park and ascend the slopes to take in the breathtaking scenery. So, if you love nature and want to explore the forests, uncharted Mljet is the perfect island escapade for you.

The ultimate undiscovered Croatian island’s gem in the Adriatic could well be found at Saplunara Beach on Mljet. With two sandy beaches to choose from, it’s a gorgeous beach hideaway.

Saplunara beach is tucked away in a kilometer-long lagoon and is still secluded and remote. The largest remaining coastal island ecosystem, is home to a number of plant species that are unique to Croatia.

From the sandy shore to the inland little village with about a few dozen resident, an Aleppo pine forest awaits you en route to the settlement. 

The only way to reach Saplunara is by public buses, taxi or self-drive from the town of Sobra (main entry point to Mljet island) about 16km away.

How To Get There

By Catamaran: Kapetan Luka is the main catamaran operator. The company provides ferry services from Dubrovnik as well as island hopping tours.

Private Boats: As with other popular islands in Croatia, private rentals are available and prices are negotiable.

Kayaking: Exploring the island’s beautiful lakes and secluded coves is possible with local guided tours which includes safety gears as well.

Recommended:

  • Check out popular affordable tours at Viator
  • Craving for sumptuous local food? Go with eatwith
  • Rent yourself a comfortable car for trips to top attractions 
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