When you think about Croatia, you probably think about its most popular region – Dalmatia – a narrow belt of the east shore of the Adriatic Sea, stretching from the island of Rab in the north all the way to to its border with Montenegro in the south. No less than seventy-nine islands (and about 500 islets) run parallel to the coast and they are all just gougers. But since you probably don’t have time to check them all out we have prepared a short list of best Dalmatian islands to visit.
Arguably the most famous of all Croatian islands, Hvar has long been a popular place for the rich and famous who bring their yachts to its marina. With over 2700 hours of sunshine each year – more than any other place in the country – Hvar is sometimes also called “the sun island”.
Most visited is of course the namesake town on the southern shore where you can wander across the pretty St. Stephen Square that was formed by filling an inlet; or climb up the historic fortress with amazing views over the town and Pakleni islands in the distance. If you are staying longer, you should definitely consider taking a boat trip to this tiny archipelago of 16 islands with great swimming opportunities.
Stari Grad on the northern shore where ferries from Split dock, is less crowded and a great option if you want enjoy a more relaxed day. If you feel adventures you can rent a bike and explore one of the less-known UNESCO sites in Croatia: the agricultural landscape of Stari Grad plains.
Definitely very high on the list of best Dalmatian islands to visit, Brač is a popular summer destination for holidaymakers from all overt Europe and beyond. Most visitors flock to the town of Bol on the southern site of the island, where the famous Zlati rat beach is located. This spectacular peninsula of shiny pebbles is probably one of the most iconic Croatian sights, but can get very crowded in high season.
40 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide, Brac is the largest island in central Dalmatia with a diverse geological structure. The area around the town of Pučišća on the northern shore is famous for its quarry of white marble which has been used to build the Diocletian palace in Split.
Both mains ports, Bol and Pučišća are featured in our popular luxury cruise from Split which you can do from May to October. Small ship cruises are a great way to visit all the best Dalmatian islands without having to change hotels each night.
Get impressed by the list of best Dalmatian islands to visit
The lush island of Mljet in the south of Dalmatia is mostly famous for the national park that covers one quarter of its territory. Mljet’s most interesting and by far the most visited landmarks are the two salt lakes on its western part. They are connected to each other by a short channel, while the larger one empties into the sea, which makes the lakes subject to tidal flows.
There’s a small island of St. Mary located on one of the lakes where Benedictine monastery was founded back in 1198. Of course it has been rebuilt several times after that. You can visit the island on a short boat trip or rent a kayak for a self-guided tour.
Two main towns on the island of Mljet are Pomena and Polače, both located within the national park and very close to the two salt lakes mentioned above. They are regular stops on most of our small ship cruises in the Adriatic Sea, including the popular luxury one-way cruise between Split and Dubrovnik (or vice versa).
As a Yugoslav military base, the tiny island of Vis has been isolated for more than thirty years and still remains the most mysterious of all the Croatian islands. Since it is also located the furthest from the coast of all the inhabitant islands, Vis has a reputation of being wild and secluded, but this is quickly chaining in the last years.
More and more tourists flock to the island to visit one of the best beaches in Croatia (Stiniva) and filming location of Mamma Mia! squeal. From Vis you can also make a short boat trip to the nearby islet of Biševo to peek into the mystifying blue cave.
Ferries from Split arrive to the namesake town of Vis on the eastern site. In the antiquity is has been known as Issa, founded in the 4th century BC as a base for the Greek colonisation of the Adriatic Sea. The other charming town on the island worth visiting is Komiža where you can peek into the only fishing museum in Croatia or relax on one of its many surrounding beaches.
Enjoy the amazing beauty of the Dalmatian islands
Although many people believe that the town of Korčula on the namesake island is the birthplace of the famous explorer Marco Polo, there is hardly any real evidence to support this theory. However, the local community is pretty sure about this and has even put up a small museum dedicated to this legendary Venetian.
No matter what the truth is, Korčula is a lovely place to visit and is a regular stop on all small ship cruises departing from Split or Dubrovnik. The town has a charming mix of Renaissance and Gothic buildings erected in a way to form a convenient layout which blocks the harsh winter winds and accepts the mild summer breeze.
Worth vising are also other parts of the Korčula island which was called Black Corfu by the Greeks due to its dense pine forests. There are numerous sleepy villages, vineyards and olive grooves waiting to be discovered over and over again. Wine lovers will enjoy tasting island’s famous whites which goes great with fresh daily catch from the sea.
Nobody knows exactly where Dalmatia really starts, but Dugi otok (meaning Long island) is often considered as one of the northernmost and at the same time best Dalmatian islands to visit. 45 km long and up to 5 km wide, the island is crossed by a single road that runs from north to south.
As one of the more isolated Croatian islands, Dugi otok is somehow hard to reach and therefore offers relaxing atmosphere away from the summer crowds. Consider renting a sailing boat to really get the most of your visit which should definitely include the amazing Sakarun beach.
Another way to visit Dugi otok is by taking a week-long cruise from Zadar to Dubrovnik (or vice versa) which also includes an overnight stop at Sali, the largest town on the island whose name comes from the nearby salt pans. Sali is also a gateway to the Telašćica Nature Park which covers the southern part of the island. Further south lies Kornati national park, one of the most surreal places in the whole of Croatia, that you should not miss.
If we got you excited about best Dalmatian islands to visit, consider doing it aboard one of our small ship cruises. It’s just a perfect way of island hopping without the need to chaneg hotels each night. The ship will dock at the port of a different island each night and you will have free time to explore the old town, go swimming or enjoy local gastronomy.
for a small ship cruise in Croatia