Brač is the longest and most elevated island in central Dalmatia. Quieter than Hvar to the south, it can be reached via a 50-minute ferry from Split. Brač is famous for two things – its natural white stone which was used to build Diocletian’s Palace and Zlatni Rat beach in Bol, a stunning pebble beach often referred to as the Golden Cape or Golden Horn. Here, visitors can try windsurfing and kitesurfing (the beach has a strong westerly wind) and head to one of the beachside restaurants for fresh fruit, smoothies and pancakes. Blanca Hermitage, a beautiful 15th-century monastery is also a must-see, as it Stina, a local winery that runs 30-minute tours and tastings. For the all-important Instagram shot, climb to the top of Vidova Gora which has beautiful views of the island – it’s a tough two-hour hike but the views are worth the journey.
ISABEL CHASE /UNSPLASH
Famous for its laid back ambience and excellent wine, Šipan makes a great day trip from Dubrovnik. The island can be reached via a 45-minute ferry, where visitors can explore the two main areas – Suđurađ on the east coast and Šipanska Luka on the west. Walk around the ancient streets where you’ll find beautiful limestone cottages and villas, and small bays where local fishermen head out to sea. For a chilled-out afternoon, head to the stylish BOWA Beach Club to relax in one of the cabanas and enjoy a selection of delicious Mediterranean food. You can only get there by boat, so be sure to book transport well ahead of time.
Lopud has a tiny population of 200, so it’s a great place to visit if you want to escape the crowds and spend a day on a quiet beach. Catch a ferry from Dubrovnik to the island, which takes about an hour, to explore the historic buildings and take in the beautiful landscape. Lopud is car-free, so be prepared to discover the best parts on foot or bike – kids will love the sandy Sunj Beach where they can play in the rockpools and enjoy ice-cream from one of the stalls, while adults will appreciate the gothic Franciscan Monastery and Your Black Horizon Art Pavilion, set in an orchard of cypress, carob and olive trees.
Known for its beautiful bays and crystal-clear waters, Lošinj is a must-visit. There are two main villages to see, Mali Losinj and Veli Losinj, both of which are great spots for relaxing on the beach, water sports and hiking. The north-western part of the island is steep and rocky, while the south has plenty of hotspots to explore. Krivica Beach is a swimmer’s dream thanks to the quiet and warm waters, while kids will love the nearby Sea Turtle Rescue Centre where they can find out how the team rehabilitates injured turtles. Lošinj Marine Education Centre is another great spot for budding marine biologists. During a day trip, be sure to sample authentic Italian dishes at Bora Bar – think fresh truffle pasta and grilled octopus – or local seafood at Restaurant Rosemary.
ANTE HAMERSMIT/ UNSPLASH
ALEXANDRE OURSEL/ UNSPLASH
Get the ferry across from Split to visit Korčula. It takes around three hours but it’s well worth the journey, with visitors able to explore the dense woodland areas and small villages dotted around the island. Korcula Town (known as Little Dubrovnik by locals) has several medieval churches, palaces and houses, as well as the Revelin tower which you can partially climb for stunning views across the island. St Mark’s Cathedral, built in the 15th century, is another must-see, as is Marco Polo’s House. Meanwhile, Korčula is renowned for its beautiful olive groves and vineyards which produce some of the country’s best wine. A lovely morning can be spent wine tasting (when the vineyards run tours), before heading to Lumbarda – one of three beaches on the island. If you go to one restaurant, make it Konoba Maslina who serve delicious fresh seafood and small sharing plates made with local ingredients.
Often referred to as the ‘queen of the Dalmatian islands’, Hvar is one of the most popular spots in Croatia, lying between Brač, Vis and Korčula. The sunniest place in the country (it benefits from 2,724 hours of sunshine each year) a couple of days is enough time to see the highlights and soak up the laidback way of life. Maslina is a luxury resort that oozes glamour and style, while Little Green Bay is ideal for some R&R. Head to Dubovica beach which has white pebbles and glistening turquoise waters, then make a beeline for the small town of Fortica which is lined with medieval buildings, including a beautiful fortress. Hvar Town is where you’ll find some of the best restaurants and bars, including Grande Luna which serves traditional Croatian dishes and has a great rooftop terrace, as well as the best nightlife – Hula Hula Havr beach club and Kiva Bar attract a string of top DJs every summer.
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One of the most stunning islands in Croatia, over two thirds of Mljet is covered in forest, most of which is home to Mljet’s National Park. Much of the area remains untouched, though the seaside villages of Sobra, Pomena, Polace, and Saplunara are popular with tourists. Easily reached from Dubrovnik via a 45-minute ferry, a great day trip can be spent visiting the park – home to a rugged coastline, ancient ruins and shady cycling and walking tracks – and trying local seafood. The family-run Konoba Maestral has beautiful sea views and serves tasty plates like octopus carpaccio, shellfish ceviche and black spaghetti with shrimp.
This island was officially declared a geopark back in 2008 thanks to its diverse landscape. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the most popular islands in Croatia, with pine forests and beaches to the south and towering cliffs and mountains in the north. Rab Town is circled by whitewashed houses and historic buildings where regular fisherman nights take place in the summer – ideal for late-night barbecued seafood. Located just off the northern coast of Croatia, the island also has several beaches worth visiting, including Paradise Beach and Saphra, the latter being the quieter of the two. Once you’ve made your way around the beautiful churches and monasteries, spend the afternoon at Santos Beach Club to relax to chilled house music with cocktails. In terms of food, visitors are spoilt for choice with the options of eateries where you’ll find everything from small cafés to upmarket Mediterranean restaurants, including SL favourite Konoba Rab.
KAROLINA KOLODZIEJCZAK / UNSPLASH
Just a short ferry ride away from Split, Śolta is a small but stunning island only nine miles long. This quiet and rural island provides perfect escapism from the crowds of Split, where you can relax on the beach, visit one of the numerous family-run farms, and learn about art of making oil, wine and honey. There are a few stylish guesthouses and Airbnbs on the island – Villa Captain’s House is a great choice for family holidays or groups of eight, complete with a heated outdoor pool and stunning sea views. Spend an afternoon at the marina in Maslinica to explore the surrounding bays by boat, then relax on the quiet beaches to the south – Senjska Bay has crystal clear waters. For delicious yet simple Mediterranean dishes like grilled seafood with salad, go to Konoba Momčin Dvor, a traditional Śoltan tavern.
The furthest island from Split, Vis is less crowded than some of the neighbouring islands on this list, so bookmark it for a relaxing day. Naples is only a short flight away, so lots of Italian influences can be spotted on the island, particularly in the food. Book a tour to see the Blue Cave – a waterlogged sea cave which glows blue under the sunlight in the morning – then head to Stiniva, one of the best beaches. If visiting on a girls’ trip, watch the sunset over cocktails at Fort George, then make a beeline for Grandovac beach which hosts late-night parties during the summer months. Make your way around the local restaurants for delicious seafood and be sure to try the local wine made from vugava, the island’s distinct grape. Locals in the know head to Pojoda, tucked away in Vis Town.
Current Travel Info: Croatia is currently on the UK’s green list, meaning you won’t need to quarantine upon your return. However, all travellers will need to present a negative Covid-19 test on arrival (either an antigen test taken up to 48 hours before arrival or a PRC test taken up to 72 hours before arrival). Proof of full vaccination is also acceptable. You will also need to complete an online entry form before you travel and will need to carry a copy of your accommodation booking or proof of ownership of holiday homes/ boats upon arrival.
Flight Time: A direct flight from London to Croatia takes around 2 and a half hours. The main airport is Zagreb International.
Average Temperature: During the summer months, temperatures tend to range between 24°C and 27°C.
Currency: Croatian Kuna.
Time: Local time is GMT plus one hour.
*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice and entry requirements to Croatia before you book anything. Visit Gov.uk for more information