Croatia’s spectacular coastline lends itself perfectly to leisurely exploration. But forget crowded buses and fighting traffic – the country’s extensive network of ferries and catamarans means all the hard work’s done and your job is just to sit back, relax and allow yourself to be carried away….
Amazing Archipelagos: A Guide to Island Hopping Through Croatia
If you’re craving a holiday that not only allows you to immerse in the history, culture and nature of a fascinating destination, but also to kick off your shoes (figuratively and literally) and truly relax, I’ve got three words for you. Island. Hopping. Croatia.
“There’s truly no better way to explore the stunning natural beauty of the Croatian coastline. Start with sublime and progress to perfection…”
Island Hopping in Croatia
The excellent ferries (which carry cars) and fast catamarans (passengers only) in Croatia mean you’re never too far from anywhere, and travelling by water provides the freedom of independent exploration without having to worry about pre-booking or trying to decipher directions. If you’re looking for reduced crowds but a good choice of timetables, June and September are the best months – which fall either side of the peak times.
You could drop a pin in the map of the Croatian coastline and find Nirvana, but as a good starting point I highly recommend the following three routes. And yes, I’ve tried them all…
Zadar to Rijeka
A word of caution: don’t rush this. Give yourself at least a week to traverse the coast from Zadar up to Rijeka, taking in the Kvarner Gulf. Zadar itself deserves a full day to explore the Roman ruins and churches, then you can jump on a fast catamaran to the lovely island of Lošinj. There you’ll be able to visit Pula, with its spectacular Roman amphitheatre, Mali Lošinj and Cres. From the gorgeous Venetian harbour in Cres you can nip across to bustling Rijeka, a major port on Kvarner Bay and an authentic centre of national culture.
Rijeka to Pag
Relaxed? Ready for more? Well jump on board a super fast catamaran from Rijeka and prepare to be wowed by Rab Town. Renowned for its diverse natural landscape, the island of Rab is a joy to explore on foot or by bike. From the untouched beaches and expansive history of Rab Town, to the glorious pine forests, vineyards and coastal promenades, you’ll feel like you’ve been dropped into the heart of nature. For a complete change of pace, wash off the salt and sea air and head over to Pag to immerse in the vibrant ambience of Zrće Beach. Even if you’re not quite up for the clubbing for which it’s become renowned, you can certainly enjoy great food, wine and people watching.
Dubrovnik to Split
The most popular coastal route is considered by many to be Dubrovnik to Split, because a vast majority of the country’s top attractions are in (and between) the two famous cities. Whether you’re taking a car or not, there are plenty of regular ferries and catamarans to get to and from a base in either place.
Dubrovnik’s medieval charms are well documented and the walled city is packed with historical and cultural attractions. You could spend a week there and still not have done it all, but as this particular story is about island hopping, you might want to get on the move…
“The medieval walled city of Dubrovnik makes the perfect setting off point from which to explore the southern Dalmatian coastline.”
There’s a host of stopping off points before you reach Split, but the ones I personally recommend are Korčula Town, to explore its incredible Renaissance and Gothic architecture, and the very pretty island of Brač, home to the world famous pebble beach Zlatni Rat. You may never want to leave… (and, see below, you might not have to!)
Depending on which route appeals to you (and it could well be all of them) Prestige Holidays’ handpicked collection has something to suit the discerning island hopper. For your time in Dubrovnik you’ll be wrapped in a welcoming embrace at the contemporary Dubrovnik Palace, which offers breath-taking views over the Lapad peninsula. For a home from home just a short distance from Zadar, the Hotel and Spa Iadera encompasses fabulous views and an all round 5-star experience, which includes the renowned Black and White Spa.
Inspired by the idea of island hopping? Then you’ll love my blog post on making the most out the hiking opportunties in the Canaries. Maybe next year?