Traveling from one island to the next is a favorite of mine in terms of traveling in Croatia. The element of spontaneity, accessibility as well as being light on the pocket make island hopping all the more worthwhile. There are over 1000 islands in the south western part Croatia along the coastline. The islands are beautiful and the people extremely welcoming, hence I have recently wrapped my third tour of the Croatian islands hopping around.
Ferries are cheap and run frequently between the islands and they are the easiest ways to access the islands. if you are in the mood for some style and luxury, you can also travel the islands by renting a small boat and island hopping in Croatia is extremely fun.
There is little need to plan travel and you should expect everything to fall into place quite easily. One time in July we made no advance travel plans and found our way to the island of Hvar and managed to score affordable and decent accommodations without any prior reservation. However, if you wish to stay in an upscale hotel, then it is preferable that you make reservations in advance.
As a guide to Croatia island hopping, we begin our journey from the island of Dubrovnik while the rest will follow suit. This particular route can work in reverse as well. hence, if you want to, you can take a plane to Dubrovnik or fly back from Split as well as the other way around. These two airports along with Zagreb are large international airports that service the whole area.
If you wish to clearly plan out your tour then check out Croatia Ferries another great alternative is contacting a travel and tours specialist when you arrive and sort out your plans. They are cheap and pretty accessible for Croatia island hopping. One such popular company is Jadrolinjia which is pretty reputable along this route.
The Journey Begins: Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a city located in the southern part of Croatia along the coast of the Adriatic Ocean. Its walled architecture comprises of the iconic Croatian bright orange roofs and grey walls. You may think that this architecture is ubiquitous in all of Croatia (which is true) but like every other city, Dubrovnik has its niche and little quirks.
Stopping At Mljet
On your way from Dubrovnik, you need to make a stop off in Polcae just to tour the National Park in Mljet and see the iconic lakes in person. Also known as The Greenest Island, this merits a stay and exploration for at least two days. With a enclosed sea and a couple of lakes (salt water ones), Mljet is a perfect island for the outdoorsy and adventure seeking souls.
The Journey Continues: Mjlet To Korcula
From Mjlet, head on to Korcula. Personally, I believe that is far more than it is thought out to be. Compared to Dubrovnik and Hvar it is less frequented by tourists. The historical older part of town is reminiscent of a strong foothold surrounded by blue waters and a scatter of tiny islands as far as the eye can see. This place unlike others has the ability to take you back to another time in my imagination, it harkens back to the middle ages and in the midst of a battle o ships.
You may not know it but the renowned explorer Marco Polo hails from Mjlet! With its mix of restaurants, quaint shops and rooftop bars, it practically begs to be explored. Interestingly, this island is shaped like a fishbone.
Third Stop On The Way: Island of Hvar
Moving on from Korcula, you will head on to Hvar. Hvar (Stari Grad) is nothing short of pure magic. From a vibrant nightlife scene to splendid beaches and mesmerizing views, it pretty much has it all. The energy of the place engulfs the body and soul and inextricably makes you undergo the experience of an impulsive and excited foreigner at one time and completely at ease the next.
In hindsight, I would not recommend travel in July, given it is the busiest time of the year with a ton of party seeking people. Other than July the summer months have just the right amount of liveliness without a throng of kids crowding the entire space for island hopping in Croatia.
Head On To The Island Of Vis
Next Island on the route is tiny Vis which is famously known as having a quaint and eccentric landscape with endless stretches of wineries and vineyards. Komiza and Old Vis are the two opposing ends that come together to form this island and both towns are worth visiting. Don’t worry, it hardly takes time since the two are a few miles apart, journey to and fro preferably on a scooter or take other forms of transportation if you must. Journeying between these coastal towns is what makes it all the more worthwhile.
The mountainous route is littered with long stretches of vineyards and fringed by azure glimpses of the coastline. Along the way, you should stop for a fresh meal or a drink from one of the local wineries.
The concept of sourcing food locally and servicing it fresh is religiously followed on the island which makes for an excellent meal and the local wine was exceptional. I must reiterate that since Vis is a tiny and peaceful island, a scooter is really the best means of commute.
The Journey Ends: Split
A ride on the ferry should take you to Vis and to our final stop on the route: Split which is busy water fringed commercial city. Given the large international airport that services the area, Split is a domestic and international traveling hub. It may just be the perfect place to end your tour and to bid adieu to the country. While in the city, you can take the bus to see the hype around the talked about Plitvice Lakes.
In my humble tourist’s point of view, I am not particularly sold on the city. I do not like the influx of tourist to the city via cruise ships. I find that tourists unloading from a cruise ship in large numbers make for a far less welcoming native community. Given the latter, the locals are comparatively rude and for me, this makes Split more of a passing haunt as opposed to a must-see city. At this point, you may be thinking of an alternate final destination and I have the perfect place in mind: Trogir!
The Journey Ends Part II: Trogir
This not technically a different city, it is a smaller coastal town which is situated in the same regional division as Split and is near in proximity to the airport. This quaint little harbor town is made up of narrow cobblestoned lined streets. I find it much more preferable to Split anytime of the year. Trogir is perfect if you wish to have a quieter time, away from the bustle of Split and sip coffee while watching yachts go by on the marina.