With so much on offer, choosing where to go island hopping along the Adriatic Coast can be tough. Maybe you want gastronomic delights, perhaps you want to party all night long? Or it is that you simply want a sandy beach? Do you want to sail to the islands or ferry from mainland? The various and varied Croatia islands offer culture, nightlife, history and of course relaxation. Find out which one is perfect for you in this Croatian islands guide.
Lefkada is an island, but is connected to the mainland by a causeway at the northern tip and its access airport is on the mainland at Aktio (Preveza). It is an island popular with Greeks and mainly European visitors. Italians and Brits predominate. It is green, verdant, has good beaches and facilities and is compact enough to get around easily. Tourism is centred on the east coast around the port village of Nydri. It is low-key accommodation with villas and small family-run hotels predominating. Off-shore from Nydri are a couple of islands worth visiting on excursions: the sizeable Meganisi (car ferries run to and fro’) and the private Skorpios Island which belong to the Onassis family. On your own hired motor boat, you can heave-to on just one private beach on the north side of the island and swim and claim boasting rights to having swum on Aristotle Onassis’ private piece of Greece.
In 2016, Stiniva beach on the island of Vis was named the best beach in Europe. One of the top beaches in Croatia, Stiniva is well hidden from the sea and not the easiest beach to access. It’s either a hike down to the beach or access by small boat, but a spectacular view will reward you for your effort. Although Vis has never really had large tourists numbers, it has become a popular stop for those sailing the Croatian islands.
With its pastel villages, rolling olive groves and grand manor houses, the rest of the island recalls Tuscany - but with far better beaches. The smart set stay on Corfu's north-east coast (nicknamed Kensington-on-Sea) where the Rothschilds like to unwind. It's wall-to-wall Sloanes and speedboats at Agni, a tiny fishing village with three rival tavernas (Toula's is the best). From here, you can rent a boat and putter to your own cove: perhaps Nissaki, Agios Stefanos or Kerasia. These idyllic bays still resemble the 'delectable landscape' that Lawrence Durrell fell for in the 1930s — now back in vogue thanks to the ITV series, The Durrells. Or venture inland to Ambelonas, an enchanting winery, restaurant and cooking school that specialises in Corfiot dishes, such as squid with chickpea and turmeric mousse and rose petal jelly. Steer clear of the south, especially Kavos. Unless you happen to like wet T-shirt contests.
There is a network of ferries that conveniently runs between all of these top islands in Croatia to visit. These ships are certainly not glamorous sailboats, to say the least, but they do get you to the islands at a very affordable rate, allowing you more time (and money) to actually to explore the islands! It is not easy to see them all (like we said), but here is one idea for a week-long vacay.
The almighty church has kept nightlife in check. If you must see and be seen, head to quietly glamorous Astivi or Stoa bar, on miniature Agia Lesvias square, in Hora. Beach life is generally languid and low-key; Psili Ammos and Livadi Geranou are our favourite hideouts. Dinner reservations are essential at Benetos, for Med-Asian fusion on an organic farm, and Lambi for grilled fish on a purple pebble beach.