In the past couple of decades, Croatia went from being a quiet, budget alternative to Italy to a top summer destination for the European jet-set. Today, cities like Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar see thousands of tourists every day, especially in the summer. However, that doesn’t mean that Croatia doesn’t have places where you can escape from the increasing waves of tourists. Places of unspoiled, pristine beauty where days are long and nightlife doesn’t mean anything. The best part about these places is all of them are within an hour or two away from an international airport since Croatia is a pretty small country. Be one of the few lucky ones and head for one of these lesser-visited, blissfully crowd-free but gorgeous islands in the Adriatic.
1. Vis … the architectural goldmine
Vis is an island that holds a special place in many Croats hearts as an example of the legendary, unspoiled beauty of the Dalmatian coast. Vis isn’t developed for tourism like its more famous counterparts because it was a military base during the Yugoslavian era. However, today Vis has become one of the best places in Croatia to have a blissful–vacation away from the–tourist–crowds. The beaches are amazing, the food is amazing, and there aren’t wild parties like in Hvar or Pag. However, the most amazing thing about Vis is its architecture. The island is littered with leftovers from all previous visitors, from Greek and Romans to Venetians and Austrians. There’s an abundance of Roman mosaics, Venetian houses, and stunning forts spread across the island.
2. Biševo … the isolated one
Biševo floats south of the most remote inhabited Croatian island, Vis. This is one of the tiniest islands on the Adriatic coast with an area of only 6 square km. However, there are still some people living on the island. In fact, Biševo is the furthest inhabited island from the Croatian mainland. One of the most spectacular things about the island is the Blue Cave (Modra Spilja), which is a water-logged sea cave accessible only by boat. If you visit during the late morning, you’ll witness one of the most spectacular views at the Balkan Peninsula as the rays of sunshine bounce off the limestone interior, creating an ethereal explosion of cobalt and silver.
3. Dugi Otok … the forgotten one
Dugi Otok might be visible from the historic gateway city of Zadar but while the latter makes it to most travelers’ lists, travelers to Dugi Otok are few and far between. Their loss… Dugi Otok is an island with space and silence to spare that has been overlooked by everyone from ancient Romans to modern tourists. The best part about Dugi Otok is that it’s like a microcosm of Dalmatia with its sun-bleached fishing villages, jaw-dropping, cliff-edge panoramas of the Adriatic and beaches where there’s nothing else but powder sand and shallow azure sea. The only thing missing are the people, traffic, and noise.
Also, check out this article for more hidden gems in Europe.
4. Šolta… the gourmand’s paradise
The low number of visitors Šolta gets is really surprising taking into consideration that the island is right next to Split, a famous local tourist hub. Moreover, this makes the island a perfect destination to head to on a one-day trip from Split. Šolta is an island with agricultural tradition, which means you will find some amazing food and some of the best wines in Croatia. The island is also famous for the production of virgin olive oil, which is one of the best ones in Europe, the honey made from wild rosemary and one of the most beautiful sunsets at the Adriatic coast. All this makes Šolta an ideal destination for people that want to veer from the classic tourist trail and get a glimpse of traditional island life.
Related: things to know when traveling to Montenegro.
5. Lastovo…the fisherman’s paradise
Lastovo is one of the most isolated islands in the Adriatic, only connected to the rest of the world via the port Ubli, where car ferries come and go a few times per day from Split. In Lastovo, modernity seems like nothing more than a rumor and Wi-Fi is a luxury. However, Lastovo is not just an island that allows you to get away from the crowds. This remote island actually offers a plethora of activities you can indulge in. One thing you might try is fishing, which is very popular among the few locals that live on Lastovo and there are some amazing diving options too. Near Lastovo, you will find the most diverse marine life in the region and you can actually even see dolphins, which is a rear sight in the Adriatic.
If you’re traveling around the Balkans, also check my guide about traveling to Serbia.
6. Brijuni … the one that smells of history
Brijuni Island was once the retreat of the former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito. After he passed away, Brijuni became a national park. The lush island is cloaked in thick forests, surrounded by secluded coves and there aren’t any permanent residents. Some of the most interesting activities at the Island feature Roman ruins, botanical gardens, dinosaur footprints, and a safari park. The safari park is home to multiple exotic animals, gifts given to Tito by world leaders from around the world, including an elephant presented by Indira Gandhi.
Have you ever visited Croatia or maybe didn’t but heard about some of these remote islands? Let me know in the comments!
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