Croatia is a country that’s known all around the world for its great natural beauty; its most famous parts are definitely the islands and the Adriatic Sea.
Croatia shares Adriatic Sea with Italy, Slovenia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina (though only for a dozen miles), but Croatia is the only one that can take pride in having more than thousand islands. You can only imagine how amazing it looks if you take in consideration that the total surface of the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea is 33 200 km2, which means its coast is extremely diverse. Croatian islands can be classified in many ways: by size, population, scenic sights and the type of the holiday that you’ll enjoy by visiting one of them.
The largest Croatian islands are definitely Cres, Krk and Brač. Cres and Krk are located in the northern part of the Adriatic Sea, while the island of Brač is located in the southern part in the region of Dalmatia.
Besides these three islands, other islands worth mentioning are definitely the islands of Hvar, Vis, Korčula, Lastovo, Mljet, Ugljan, Pag and Rab, as well as the stunningly beautiful national park Kornati Islands. The information that you're most likely looking for here is which island is the most popular among tourists. The answer to that question would without a doubt be Hvar, with a vast majority of its visitors concentrated in the city of Hvar itself.
Hvar - the island of abundant sun and fun
Hvar is an island in the region of Dalmatia and is also known as the sunniest Croatian island, receiving more than 2700 hours of sunlight per year. The island is also known for its great wine and lavender fields, as well as beautiful architecture and world-famous nightlife. When it comes to accommodation on the island of Hvar, you can choose among many hotels of the highest category, as well as top quality apartments and bed & breakfast accommodations all over the island.
If you’d rather spend your holidays in a quiet bay, the island of Hvar is full of secluded coves and private villas that will give you as much privacy as you need and that are usually connected to the larger towns by road. Besides the city of Hvar, don’t forget to also visit Stari Grad and its UNESCO-protected terraced plains, which are the best preserved example of Greek agricultural distribution in all of Mediterranean. The towns of Jelsa and Vrboska are also very worthwhile to visit, as is the distant port of Sućuraj for those wanting to get away from it all or to continue their trip southeast to the stunning Pelješac Peninsula and the world-famous city of Dubrovnik.
Vis - an island full of ancient history
Vis is a relatively small but very notable island, with the beautiful port of Vis on one side of the island and the smaller but just as historical town of Komiža on the other. Komiža is a great place to make a small detour to the island of Biševo, where the world-famous underwater cave Modra Špilja is located, best-known for the sapphire glow the diffused light creates while entering the cave through several small cracks. It is also the most famous nesting ground of the elegant and elusive Mediterranean Monk Seal, a critically endangered animal that only the few lucky individuals will ever see in person and that the authorities are fighting to protect.
Lastovo - a hidden natural gem
The island of Lastovo, with its full recognition as a Nature Reserve, is a perfect choice for all of you who’d like to get back in touch with nature. Lastovo is quite far from the mainland, but don't let the 5-hour ferry ride dissuade you from exploring this incredibly beautiful typical Mediterranean archipelago. Smell the vast forests of untouched pine trees, enjoy the symphonic sounds of crickets, ride a Vespa motorbike over mountainous roads with amazing views and take romantic walks through the ancient stone-paved streets of Lastovo village.
Kočula - an island filled with incredible architecture and culture
The ferry on its way to Lastovo usually stops at the island of Korčula (in the port of Vela Luka), giving you easy additional access to the amazing coves, beaches and the historical city of Korčula which is enough for a full vacation just by itself. As all roads (or sea lanes) of southern Dalmatia ultimately lead to Dubrovnik, so your best way forward from Korčula city is to catch a 20-minute ferry ride to Orebić on the Pelješac peninsula, then slowly make your way to Dubrovnik overland along the stunning coastline, including the mouth of the Neretva river.
Kornati - a stunning and unique archipelago
Our last recommendation pertains more to the mid-Adriatic region, and while you probably won’t be able to find accommodation there you’ll still be able to enjoy sailing around and exploring unique and unforgettable landscapes – we’re of course speaking about the islands of Kornati. The Kornati archipelago is a national park located in the northern part of Dalmatia, in the counties of Šibenik and Zadar. The unique beauty of these 140 islands lies in their world-famous shapes, steep cliffs and harsh Mediterranean shrub vegetation owing to the historical power struggles over the strategic terrain, harsh limestone foundations and gale-force gusts of Bura (a cold, dry northern wind). The numerous underwater caves, reefs and islets make the islands of Kornati a truly amazing experience worth your visit.
Since all the islands are close to the mainland of Croatia (except for Lastovo), you can visit them by organizing small daily or weekend trips, so even if you book your hotel or apartment somewhere in Split you can visit many of the islands in the region and enjoy their beauty while returning to your comfortable base and relaxing at the end of every day.