Croatia Island Hopping 101: Everything You Need to Know

Last updated on February 12th, 2023 at 08:19 pm

If you’re planning on visiting Croatia, you’re likely dreaming of beautiful pebbled beaches, untouched nature, plenty of sunshine, and of course, breathtaking islands.

Croatia island hopping is quickly becoming one of Europe’s unmissable adventures, but with 1,244 islands to visit in Croatia, it’s hard to know where to start. This Croatia Island Hopping Guide will provide you with everything you need to know including the best islands to visit in Croatia, island hopping routes, itinerary suggestions, and ticket information.

Now let’s dive into Croatia Island Hopping 101!

Croatia island hopping

Croatia Island Hopping 101: Everything You Need to Know

Croatia Island Hopping – The Basics

Before you begin planning island hopping in Croatia, there are a few things you should consider.

Point of Arrival

The first is to choose your point of arrival in Croatia.

If you are flying into Croatia, you will likely be landing at the Zagreb International Airport (Franjo Tuđman Airport Zagreb) or the Split Airport (also known as Resnik Airport). If you’re looking to visit Dubrovnik, you might even fly into Dubrovnik Airport.

No matter which airport you choose to fly into, you’ll likely be starting your Croatia island hopping tour from Split. This port has the most ferry routes and is well-connected to some of the best islands in Croatia.

Length of Stay

The second most important thing to consider when you plan to island hop in Croatia is how long you plan to stay.

Ferries are not exactly the fastest mode of transportation. Depending on which islands you choose to visit and how much distance you plan to cover, you’ll want to take the following factors into consideration:

  • How many days can you dedicate to island hopping?
  • Do you like to take it slow or pack in as much as possible?
  • How much time are you willing to spend traveling between destinations?
  • What is your budget?

If possible, it is always recommended to allow for a little bit of flexibility in case you miss a ferry, or in the unlikely event that a ferry is canceled.

How to Get Around Croatia Islands

There are three main means of transportation you can take to get from one Croatian island to the next. These include:

  • Jadrolinija – Croatia’s national ferry company that connects most of the Croatian islands to the mainland. It has both car ferries and fast ferries.
  • Kapetan Luka – a private ferry company that offers fast ferries between islands, some of which are not connected by Jadrolinija.
  • G&V Line – ferries and catamarans offering transportation between Dubrovnik and Croatia’s islands.
  • Private boats – local companies offering private or group transportation between islands.

The price of ferry tickets varies depending on your route and during which time of the year you are traveling.

Typically, the slower the ferry, the cheaper your ticket will be. Car ferries are usually the slowest but are a fraction of the price you would pay for a private boat. On these ferries, you do not get a designated seat but seating options are pretty plentiful both inside and on the deck.

It is always best to check the official websites above for up-to-date pricing and timetables.

Island in Croatia

Buying Ferry Tickets

Buying ferry tickets for travel between Croatia’s islands is super simple. If your dates are already set, you can purchase your tickets online directly on the ferry websites.

If you’re already in Croatia, you can purchase your ferry tickets at the port. Ferries can get booked up pretty quickly, especially during the high season, so getting your tickets a few days early is always a good idea.

Length of the Journey

Another important factor to keep in mind when island hopping in Croatia is that the ferry journeys between each island vary in length. Depending on which ferry you choose, and between which islands you are traveling, the journey could last anywhere between an hour to five and a half hours.

Best Time to Go

The best time to go on a Croatia island hopping holiday is during shoulder season, which is late-May to early-June and September.

July and August are the hottest times to visit Croatia (both weather-wise and popularity-wise). During this two-month-period, prices for accommodation and transportation skyrocket, and things are typically booked up pretty quickly.

In addition to this, many destinations become overcrowded and less enjoyable to visit, which can definitely put a damper on your vacation.

During shoulder season, the weather is still pleasant, the prices are reasonable, and there are way fewer tourists.

Tip: For those who dislike cold water, I recommend visiting in September when the sea has had time to warm up from all that summer heat.

Croatia Islands

If you’re wondering which Croatian islands to visit, look no further. This guide covers the best islands of Croatia, what they’re known for, and what to do and see on each island.

Šolta

View of the island of Solta from a boat in Croatia | Croatia Island Hopping Guide

One of the Croatian islands near Split, Šolta (pronounced “sholta”) is an enclave that is famous for its history in producing some of the most delectable olive oil.

Dotted with thousands of olive trees, the island of Šolta is surprisingly lacking in tourists. Only 19 kilometers in length, this tiny island boasts deep blue bays, sheltered coves, and some of the clearest waters in the Adriatic Sea.

Best for: Those who love quiet and off-the-beaten-track destinations. Tourism is not yet as developed on Šolta, so it makes the perfect choice for anyone looking to break away from the standard tourist itinerary. Šolta offers visitors a glimpse into traditional island life and untouched natural beauty.

Highlights: Šolta is home to a luxurious five-star resort located in Maslinica. Even if you don’t plan to stay there, it is worth it to wander around the small town and enjoy a cup of coffee at the marina or nearby cafe. Additional highlights include a visit to the Tvrdic Honey farm, biking from Maslinica to Stomorska, and exploring the pristine beaches.

Where to go: There are several main locations on Šolta Island that include Rogač (where the ferries arrive and depart), Nečujam, Maslinica, and Stomorska. Getting around the island is easy as all of the towns are connected via buses run by Promet Split. See the up-to-date timetables here.

Brač

A birds-eye view over one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia, Zlatni Rat, on the island of Brac

Brač is the largest island in Dalmatia, and is also the second sunniest (coming in close to Hvar) with 2,700 hours of sunshine per year. This gorgeous island is known for its white-washed stone towns, fascinating history, and rocky landscape.

Fun fact: Did you know that the U.S. White House features stone from Brač Island?

The island is known for one of the most iconic panoramas in the entire Adriatic – Zlatni Rat (or Golden Horn) Beach. This distinctive beach has been listed among the best beaches in Europe and is impressive in that it that changes shape based on the direction of the wind.

Best for: Those who crave a taste of genuine island life and have a deep appreciation for rich history and culture.

Highlights: The famous Zlatni Rat Beach mentioned above as well as some lesser-known beaches like Martinica, Lovrecina, Postira, Murvica, and Blaca Cove. A hike up to Vidova Gora, the highest point on Brač Island, is highly recommended – the views from the top are spectacular. Other activities on Brač include visiting the Blaca Monastery, checking out the tiny village of Škrip, and stopping at the family-run Olive Oil Museum.

Where to go: The main locations on Brač Island include Bol, Supetar, Sumartin, Milna, and Sutivan.

Hvar

A gorgeous sunset over Hvar Town on Hvar Island, Croatia

Hvar Island is a Dalmatian gem located just about an hour’s boat ride from Split. It is the longest island in Croatia, stretching just over 68km. Hvar also the sunniest island thanks to the 2,718 hours of sunshine it receives each year!

This Croatian island is perhaps the most popular thanks to the ritzy town of Hvar, a destination frequented by celebrities including (but not limited to) Beyonce and Prince Harry. However, for those looking for more historic, cultural and authentic experiences on Hvar Island, there are plenty of options beyond Hvar Town.

View of Hvar Bay Croatia

Best for: Everyone! Hvar has such a diverse offering, that everyone who visits will find something that they love. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly holiday, a low-key vacation, or a glamorous party scene, Hvar Island has it all.

Highlights: Hvar Island is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in Croatia, so checking out the best beaches in Hvar is a must. The nearby Pakleni (or Paklinski) Islands are also a great area to spend an entire day. These islands are known for their crystal bays, elegant beach bars, and striking lagoons. The Pakleni Islands sit right across from Hvar Town and can be easily accessed via fast boats that leave from the Hvar Town harbor every hour.

Where to go: There are four main towns on Hvar Island including Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Jelsa, and Vrboska.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect from each area:

  • Hvar Town | swanky, glittering, luxurious, party
  • Stari Grad | quaint, laidback, inexpensive
  • Jelsa | family-friendly, local
  • Vrboska | quiet, small-town feel

For more on what to do and see on Hvar Island, check out The Only Hvar Island Travel Guide You Need.

Vis

Stiniva Beach on Vis Island | Croatia Island Hopping

Vis is the furthest inhabited island from the Dalmatian coast. It is situated just beyond Hvar and Brač, nearly halfway between Croatia and Italy. The remoteness of the island is part of what makes it both an exciting and exclusive place to visit.

Vis is also one of the most fascinating Croatian islands as it served as a military base for the Yugoslavian army for many years. The island was even cut off from foreigners and visitors between 1950 and 1989. For many years, Vis was underpopulated, leaving its natural beauty almost completely untouched.

For this reason, many visitors make the trek to Vis to enjoy its unspoiled nature and authentic Mediterranean atmosphere.

Best for: Visitors who are searching for unspoiled nature, beautiful beaches, gourmet delicacies, and a glimpse of Croatia as it once was.

Highlights: Stiniva Beach is an absolute must-see when visiting Vis Island. This incredible beach is situated in a tiny, narrow bay, and is surrounded by steep cliffs on either side. Other activities include hiking up to Mount Hum, experiencing the best views on the island at Fort George, and taking a day trip to the Blue Cave (more on that below).

Where to go: The main locations on Vis Island are the town of Vis and the charming village of Komiža. The island’s best beaches include Stiniva, Stončica, Srebrna, and Smokova.

Blue Cave

One of the most popular day trips to take from Vis is a visit to the Blue Cave situated on the tiny nearby island of Biševo. At just around noon, the sun’s rays enter the cave, creating a natural phenomenon where the water inside the cave glows bright blue.

The Blue Cave is just a short boat ride away from Vis. Many local agencies offer private and group tours to the Blue Cave, just be sure to shop around for a fair price.

Korčula

The beautiful island of Korcula off the coast of Croatia

The stunning medieval island of Korčula is one of Croatia’s most treasured islands. It is also believed to be the birthplace of the famous explorer, Marco Polo!

Lovingly nicknamed “Little Dubrovnik”, Korčula is made up of monumental stone walls and towers that make it one of the finest fortified towns in all of Croatia. In addition to impressive architecture, Korčula is also one of the greenest. It’s known for its dense pine forest that inspired the first Greek settlers to name it Melaina Korkyra (Black Cofru) when they first arrived in 6 BC.

Best for: Those who are in search of a more relaxed and authentic ambience. While the most visited destination on the island is Korčula Town, the enclave offers a number of quiet villages like Brna and Racisce that give travelers a truly local island experience.

Highlights: While in Korčula, a visit to Marco Polo’s Home is a must, as is catching the traditional sword dance known as Moreska (performed on Monday and Thursday evenings during the summer). Korčula also has a reputation for producing some of the best wines in the world. While most Croatian islands offer excellent wines, Korčula boasts some pretty special varieties you can’t find anywhere else.

Where to go: The main locations on the island include Korčula Town, Vela Luka, and Lumbarda. Visitors will also want to check out some of the most beautiful beaches on Korčula Island. These include Banje beach, Vaja Beach, Pupnasta Luka Beach, Proizd, Bilin Žal, and the Korčula Archipelago

Lastovo

Lastovo Island in Croatia

Like the island of Vis, Lastovo served as an army base under Yugoslavia and was closed off to foreigners for many years. For this reason, along with the amount of travel needed to reach the island, Lastovo feels like a secluded slice of heaven on earth.

The island itself is part of a stunning archipelago of 13 islands that are officially recognized as the Lastovo Nature Park. With 70% of the area covered by forests, surrounded by clear waters and sandy bays, Lastovo is a nature lover’s dreamland.

Its remoteness, however, means that the island has fewer amenities than other Dalmatian islands. There is only one hotel on Lastovo, while the rest of the accommodation is private. Visitors will also find only about a handful of restaurants and cafes, making the island a true destination for some serious R&R.

Best for: Anyone who is looking to experience an authentic island atmosphere, away from the mass tourism along the busy Dalmatian coast.

Highlights: The chimneys on Lastovo were once a status symbol among the island’s residents. The higher the chimney, the more well-off the family was! Lastovo also boasts the most beautiful starry sky in all of Europe thanks to its low light pollution.

Where to go: The main locations on Lastovo include Ubli (where the catamarans will arrive and depart), Pasadur Village (where you can find the island’s only hotel), Zaklopatica Bay, Lastovo (main village), Lucica, and Skrivena Luka.

Mljet

Mljet Island | Croatia Island Hopping

One of the most beautiful Croatian islands near Dubrovnik is Mljet. Similar to Lastovo, Mljet is a place that is overflowing with green forests. So much so, that this lush island is considered to be one of the most beautiful in all of Croatia!

Making up most of the island is Mljet National Park, the oldest marine protected area in the entire Mediterranean. Its endless biking and hiking trails, dense forest, pristine waters, and untouched nature make it an absolute paradise.

Best for: This untamed island is a wonderful choice for those seeking a slow holiday with plenty of time for outdoor activities.

Highlights: Mljet National Park is home to some pretty epic swimming spots including two natural saltwater lakes (Veliko and Malo Jezero) that are connected by a narrow channel. In addition to its abundance of natural beauty, Mljet is also rich in history. It is said that Odysseus came to this verdant island, and stayed for seven years! There is even a cave named after him on Mljet, Odysseus Cave, where the Greek hero was nursed back to health by Calypso.

Where to go: The main locations on Mljet are Sobra, Polace, Govedjari, and Pomena, home to the most tourist facilities.

Croatia Island Hopping Itinerary

Here are some sample itineraries for island hopping around Croatia to get you started:

  • Split – Brac – Hvar – Vis – Split
  • Split – Šolta – Brac – Split
  • Split – Hvar – Korcula – Lastovo – Split
  • Split – Brac – Hvar – Korcula – Mljet – Dubrovnik
  • Split – Vis – Korcula – Lastovo – Dubrovnik

Croatia Island Hopping Tours

Croatia island hopping tours

The best way to island hop in Croatia is to do it on your own terms. However, if you fancy exploring the best Croatian islands with a group tour, there are plenty of options available that suit every budget.

It is also worth keeping an eye out for Croatia island hopping holiday packages or last-minute deals before booking your trip.

Here are some Croatia island tours to consider:

Croatia Island Hopping Contiki: A Croatian islands tour through Hvar and Korcula, and ending in Dubrovnik. You can find more details here.

Busabout Croatia Island Hopper: This Croatia Island Hopper takes you to the most beautiful islands of Croatia including stops in Stari Grad, Hvar, Mljet, Dubrovnik, Korčula, and Makarska. You can find more details here.

Yacht Week Croatia: The epitome of Croatia party island hopping and hedonism at its finest. You can find more details here.

Island Hopping Croatia Bike and Boat Tour: A bike and boat tour through southern Dalmatia featuring options departing from Split and Trogir. You can find more details here.

Croatia Island Hopping Cruise: Croatia island hopping cruises are a great way to experience the Dalmatian coastline, especially for those who don’t love planning trips. You can find cruises that suit every budget here.

Croatia islands near Dubrovnik

Combining a Trip to Italy with Croatia Island Hopping

Go to sleep in Italy and wake up in Croatia (or vice versa)!

From April to October, ferry routes operate between Split, Croatia and Ancona, Italy, and also between Dubrovnik, Croatia and Bari, Italy. The trip between the two countries takes about 9 hours and 30 minutes but is a great way to combine two destinations into one trip.

The two companies offering routes between Croatia and Italy are Jadrolinija and SNAV. You can visit their websites for up-to-date timetables.

Accommodation on the Islands

For booking accommodations, I recommend booking through Booking.com as they have the largest selection of properties. Airbnb is also a great option to check out, especially if you are looking for some of the coolest places to stay in Croatia.

I also highly recommend booking your accommodation in advance, especially if you are planning to visit during July and August, or during any major Croatian holiday.

One of the coolest Airbnbs in Croatia: A lighthouse that is available for rent
One of the coolest Airbnbs in Croatia: You can sleep in this lighthouse on Hvar Island

Croatia Island Hopping Summary

That wraps up Croatia Island Hopping 101! Hopefully you found some useful information in this post to help you plan the most amazing Croatia vacation.

Have you already been island hopping in Croatia? Share your experience in the comments!

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