Dalmatian Islands, Croatia – What To See & Do
When most people think of Dalmatia in Croatia, four main places come to mind
And while these four are very well known for a good reason, there are many more places in Dalmatia you should add to your list. Let’s start with the Dalmatian islands you should add to your Croatia travel plans.
This is a list of islands in Dalmatia in alphabetical order that are both inhabited and have amenities ready for your visit:
- Drvenik Mali
- Drvenik Veli
- Dugi Otok
- Elafiti Islands
- Iž (Mali and Veliki)
- Kornati Islands
- Pakleni Islands
Best Dalmatian Islands
Despite having lived in Dalmatia for the last nine years, we still have not been to all of the Dalmatian islands – they are on our list, but we need more time. Here are the islands we’ve been to and can recommend.
On the Croatian Island of Bisevo, in a bay called Balun, lies the Blue Grotto sea cave, also known as the Blue Cave. It’s one of 26 caves on the tiny island and is without question one of the best caves in Croatia.
Bisevo Island is composed of limestone rock and is inhabited by just a handful of people all year round. The cave, formed by erosion from the Adriatic Sea, is best visited around 11 am and 2 pm each day, depending on the time of year you visit, to fully appreciate its beauty.
Once at the cave, you’ll be struck by the piercing blue hues of the cave, caused by sunlight reflecting through the water and bouncing off the white limestone bottom.
Brač is known for the white-pebble beach Zlatni Rat, also called Golden Cape. This island in Dalmatia is a top windsurfing site with a huge quarry where the island’s famous “Brački Kamen” (white limestone) is extracted and exported across the globe.
One of the island’s less famous spots, but one that you should not miss, is the jaw-dropping Blaca Hermitage located in the town of Bol on Brač.
One of several hermitages on the island, the Blaca monastery is located on the southern side of Brač Island. It began in a stone cave where a couple of monks of the Croatian Glagolitic Order used it as a place of solitude to dedicate themselves to God.
The monastery in Blaca was, in 2007, thankfully added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. For one, I can see why; I can’t see how it hadn’t made a list sooner! It’s a real inspiration; no words on a page can give you a real sense of this cultural attraction.
Drvenik Veli is perfect for the start of your trip. A small island northwest of Šolta, it is well indented with numerous inlets and anchorages with enchanting sand and pebble beaches for you to enjoy. In addition to this natural wealth, you can also explore the traditional stone architecture of the island. These stone buildings of Drvenik are protected as cultural monuments and often attract architecture enthusiasts.
Dugi Otok is one of Croatia’s best-kept secrets – a place of true peace and tranquility. Its name translates to ‘Long Island.’ it is known to be an island where you can let go, embrace nature, and experience relaxation for your body and soul.
Dugi Otok is a part of the Zadar archipelago on the Dalmatian coast. It is not, however, the longest island in Croatia. It is 45 km long and is the seventh-largest island in Croatia. There are many, twelve to be exact, small villages on the islands, each with its charms and peaceful ambiance.
Dugi Otok has many fun attractions that the whole family will enjoy. There are many accommodation options, so find a place that suits your needs and spend a few days (at least) exploring all the things the island offers. When you visit Dugi Otok, do stay awhile.
During any summer break, you might want to get away from the regular tourist destinations and venture somewhere a little quieter. Aren’t islands the perfect answer to that?
If you’re visiting Croatia, you can easily see the gorgeous Elafiti Islands during your stay – you’ll also see them spelled as Elaphatiti Islands or the Elaphites.
This can be for just a day, or maybe you’ll want to spend the night or a few days and explore the island you choose a little more.
The Elafiti Islands are located just northwest of Dubrovnik, and the main three islands you can visit are Kolocep, Sipan, and Lopud.
These islands are the perfect escape from the crowds in Dubrovnik, especially between July and September. You can choose your island or book an island tour that will allow you to see a snapshot of all three during a one-day tour. The choice is yours!
Lopud and Kolocep are islands with zero traffic and are free of cars. So, they’re ideal options if you want to get away from it all. But, read on to find out more about the Elaphatiti Islands in general and choose which one you might like to visit.
Hvar Island is blessed with it all. Beaches, sunshine, heritage (including UNESCO heritage!), history, gastronomy, and nature; are all packed together on a small island off the Dalmatian coast. With such a variety going on, it can be no surprise that there are plenty of things to do on Hvar, no matter your interests (even for sports fans!).
A bright spot in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar Island, offers a luxurious island lifestyle that most people can only dream about. Hvar Island has a history that has been dated back to around 6,000 BC. The island has become a favorite and treasured vacation spot among Croatians and foreign tourists throughout the centuries.
Hvar’s long history has developed into posh holiday destinations mixed with a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle, topped with a rich cultural and historical heritage. Oh, and let’s not forget its popularity with nature lovers.
Hvar Island is known for its excellent climate. It enjoys no fewer than 2,800+ hours of sunshine each year. With warm summers and mild winters, rich culture, and beautiful views overlooking the Adriatic Sea, it’s no wonder that Hvar Island attracts so many holidaymakers.
Iž – Mali
A part of Iz’s Island, Mali Iz, lies on the island’s lower northeastern side, facing Zadar. Since Antiquity, people have lived in the area where there were once many fishermen and an industry making hand-painted ceramics. There are five small villages in Mali Iz—Komoševa and Knež on the coast and Porovac, Makovac, and Muće, a short walk inland. This is an outstanding destination for those looking for a quiet island retreat, far away from northern Dalmatia’s tourist-saturated coast.
Spend some time wandering around the area, keeping your eyes open for remnants of ancient Croatian architecture, or go fishing, scuba diving, or snorkeling. There are some excellent reefs just off the coast. Iz is also a good starting point for visiting the gorgeous Kornati National Park. In terms of accommodation, you’ll find several apartments all over Mali Iz, but many of them are in the coastal village of Makovac.
Don’t let the small size of this island fool you – the color of the water will take your breath away. We stopped here late in the day on a catamaran after a day on the open water, swimming and SUPing.
I can recommend Konoba Kunjka, the food is without question authentic, but the views overlooking the Adriatic make for a memorable experience.
Korčula Island (pronounced kor-chu-la), also known as the Emerald Isle, is one of Croatia’s many islands. Located in Southern Dalmatia, this small, 279-square-kilometer island is a favorite among travelers.
A place of culture, history, beauty, and charm, the island of Korcula offers a variety of activities and unique traditions, all set in the stunning Adriatic and blessed by excellent Korcula weather.
Ferries and buses from Dubrovnik and Split on Croatia’s mainland bring visitors to Korcula Island along with private sailboats and catamarans. Whether you plan to day trip to Korcula Island or stay for several weeks, come to the island to enjoy the hidden beaches, pebbly and sandy shores, various water sports, and picturesque views from all directions.
The Kornati Islands National Park consists of 89 islands, islets, and reefs spread over 217 square km.
The Kornati Islands are a dense cluster of islands, meaning there are numerous small coves, beaches, and bays where you can stop and swim and take in the pristine environment, all close to each other. Kornati National Park is perfect for those looking to experience unique natural landscapes, soaring cliffs, and barren rocky, mostly uninhabited islands; it has to be seen to be believed.
The Adriatic is at its glorious best in the National Park, and with the backdrop of the Kornati Islands, you will be stunned at the area’s natural beauty. If you’re in Croatia, this is an experience not to be missed.
An island municipality in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Lastovo consists of no fewer than 46 islands and islets and is home to almost 800 people. Its namesake island Lastovo is also the largest in the archipelago. This is where virtually all of the permanent residents live.
Lastovo is renowned for its annual carnival, a celebration in which all residents participate by wearing elaborate folk costumes. Another notable attraction on the island is the unique cylindrical Lastovo chimneys, which look like mini-minarets (although no Turkish or Arab influences have ever reached the islands).
Mljet is a relaxing and stunningly beautiful island, making it ideal for a romantic break for two! This gorgeous island is easily reached from Dubrovnik, perhaps as a day trip, and has numerous walk and cycle trails which lead you to romantic bays to enjoy.
About a third of Mljet is a national park, and it’s here you can find two saltwater lakes, one of which has a little islet with a former Benedictine Monastery, which is now a cafe. Rent a kayak and spend the afternoon on the islet Melita for a beautiful afternoon.
This car-free island in Croatia is located in north Dalmatia, Molat. This is the perfect choice for those who enjoy wildlife nature and want to walk to their heart’s content. There are many hiking treks throughout the island and plenty of flora and fauna to explore.
There are small beaches in isolated coves, and due to the island’s small nature, you will feel like you’re a million miles away from everything – the island is only 23 square km in length.
Molat also has some history, as it is said that King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson landed on the island in 1939. Throughout history, the island has been owned by several wealthy families from Zadar but was under Venice’s rule during the 15th century.
Best of all, You can get to Molat by ferry from Zadar annually.
Tisno on the island of Murter is one of Croatia’s two major electronic music festival locations. Over the summer months, people flock to Tisno to attend festivals like Suncebeat, Electric Elephant, and Love International. Besides music, Murter is strikingly beautiful, and you can easily make a day trip to the Kornati Islands from Murter.
Zrce Beach on the island of Pag is undoubtedly one of the best Croatia party islands. Over the summer, you have numerous festivals such as Hideout, Spring Break Europe, and Sonus, where tens of thousands of people from around the world descend on Zrce to see the world’s best DJs perform.
Of course, the island is not all about Zrce. Pag Town has a more cultural, slow vibe and is worth exploring. Be sure to try the award-winning Paški cheese while visiting the island. You can easily reach Pag from Zadar, as a bridge connects it.
The Pakleni islands (Paklinski islands) are located in the Pakleni archipelago, easily reachable by boat from Hvar’s Old Town. You can take a water taxi from Hvar to Pakleni islands or join a day tour during the season.
Pašman is another island in the beautiful Zadar archipelago, separated from the mainland by the Pašman Channel. About a dozen villages and settlements dot the island while expansive forests cover the hinterland and beaches line its coastline.
This is a fantastic place to spend a few days quietly contemplating and reading a good book. Main attractions include a 14th-century Franciscan monastery, a 12th-century Benedictine monastery, and beautiful seawater that’s said to be the cleanest in the Adriatic. You can get there incredibly quickly by ferry.
Don’t forget to stay up-to-date with water safety when traveling on the water and listen to the captain making the announcements.
Šolta is an island in the Split region. It is located south of Split and west of Brač Island. The economy is based on tourism, fishing, olive growing, and vineyard cultivation. The settlement of Rogač has the main port, while the main tourist centers are Nečujam and Maslinica.
There are lots to do in a small place, such as a hike from the coastal villages of Maslinica to visit the highest peak on the island Vela Straža. Or perhaps, enjoy the sights of old stone houses, olive groves, lively town centers, and old churches. For the adventurous types, explore the deep waters of the island by scuba diving. Visit sites of sunken ships, hidden caves, and unique species.
Across the Zadar, Channel lies Ugljan, the nearest one of these family-friendly islands in Zadar. This lush island is called the Zadar Garden because of its olive groves, pine forests, vineyards, and fig orchards.
This is your most convenient option if you want to take the kids on an easy island trip from Zadar. There is a direct ferry service between the port of Zadar and the island. The ferry ride takes less than 30 minutes.
In addition to lush landscapes, Ugljan boasts a wealth of history. You can visit the 13th-century St. Michael Fortress, which offers a stunning panoramic view or explore old churches and monasteries. Hiking and cycling trails crisscross the island, offering opportunities to explore it at your own pace.
Beaches are available for those looking to soak up some Mediterranean sunshine away from Zadar’s busy Old Town. Additionally, wandering around local villages such as Preko, Ugljan, Poljana, and Kali is a popular thing to do, too.
Vis is the perfect place to slow down. Wild and untouched, it’s the ideal place for solo travelers looking for quiet rejuvenation, couples wanting a romantic holiday or families looking for a nature-based getaway. You won’t find any big resorts or packaged hotel deals on this picture-perfect island. You will find crystal-clear beaches, scenic fishing villages, sprawling vineyards, and delectable cuisine.
It’s no wonder that Mamma Mia’s producers decided to film the second installment of the movie on Vis, opting for this charming island over Greece.
If you’re someone who wants to do their bit for the environment (as we all should), then visiting Zlarin is ideal. Not only are there no cars, but the island is free from plastic too. Zlarin banned single-use plastic in 2019 with the hope that others follow suit.
Zlarin is perfect for a walking holiday, with several trails that go around and over the 19km island. You can kayak, explore the beaches, head to the top of Klepac, and check out the stunning view over the Adriatic. You can stay overnight as there is one hotel on the island, and you should check out the coral museum to learn about the particular type of red coral found on the island.
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