Croatian Islands – How to Reach, Drive, and Explore

Exploring Croatian islands

Exploring and hopping islands in Croatia offers a unique and enchanting experience for travelers seeking to explore the stunning Adriatic coastline. With a multitude of picturesque islands to choose from, each with its own distinct charm, Croatia promises a memorable adventure.

In this article, we will delve into the transportation options available for navigating Croatian islands, highlight the car-free paradises where you can enjoy tranquility and nature, and provide useful tips for the best experience.

So, grab your sunscreen, put on your adventure hat, and let’s embark on an unforgettable island journey in Croatia!

How to reach Croatian islands

IslandDescriptionHow to ReachQuick Tips
HvarKnown for vibrant nightlife and beachesFerry from Split or DubrovnikVisit the historic Hvar Town, explore secluded beaches, and enjoy the vibrant nightlife.
KorčulaRich history and medieval Old TownFerry from Split or DubrovnikWander through the narrow streets of Korčula Town, visit local wineries, and enjoy watersports and hiking activities.
BračFamous for Zlatni Rat beachFerry from SplitRelax on Zlatni Rat beach, explore charming coastal villages, and indulge in local cuisine.
KrkThe largest Croatian islandEasily accessible via a bridgeExplore Krk Town, enjoy food, visit historic sites, and enjoy water activities such as swimming and snorkeling.
PagUnique landscape and rich gastronomyConnected to the mainland by roadExperience the lively atmosphere of Pag Town, taste Pag cheese, and relax on the island’s secluded beaches.
SilbaTranquil car-free islandFerry from Zadar or PulaEnjoy peaceful strolls and bike rides, dive into the crystal-clear waters, and experience the laid-back island lifestyle.
KornatiPristine archipelago with no carsBoat tour from ZadarExplore the untouched beauty of Kornati National Park, go diving and snorkeling, and admire the rugged cliffs and secluded coves.
VisUnspoiled island with stunning beachesFerry from Split or DubrovnikVisit Stiniva Beach, explore the charming town of Vis, and discover the Blue Cave on the nearby island of Biševo.
MljetNational Park with lush landscapesFerry from Dubrovnik or SplitExplore Mljet National Park, swim in the saltwater lakes, and visit the 12th-century Benedictine monastery on St. Mary’s Island.
CresSerene island with diverse nature and no snakes!Ferry from Rijeka or KrkDiscover hidden beaches, hike through nature trails, enjoy birdwatching, and visit the historic town of Cres.
RabSandy beaches and medieval charmFerry from RijekaRelax on the popular sandy beaches of Rab, explore the ancient town walls, and visit the four bell towers.
ŠoltaAuthentic island with olive grovesFerry from SplitExperience the laid-back atmosphere, visit charming fishing villages, and taste local olive oil and honey.
LošinjWellness and natural beautyFerry from Zadar and Krk, or direct road from CresEnjoy spa treatments, explore nature parks, and spot dolphins in the waters surrounding Lošinj.
LastovoRemote island with unspoiled natureFerry from Split or DubrovnikDiscover the untouched landscapes, go hiking and birdwatching, and stargaze in Lastovo Nature Park.
Dugi OtokStunning cliffs and hidden baysFerry from ZadarExplore the dramatic landscapes, swim in secluded bays, and visit the iconic
BrijuniNational park, Safari park and dinosaur fossilsFerry from Fažana (Town in Istria)Witness the unseen beauties of nature in Jurassic Park-like surroundings, play golf and enjoy tranquility
A quick guide on how to reach Croatian islands

Tips for island hopping

Croatian islands aren’t difficult to reach as there are plenty of quick ways to reach them and they aren’t far away from the coastline.

However, the majority of Croatian islands aren’t directly connected with each other, so the best way to hop from one island to another is by renting a boat and exploring the beautiful Adriatic Sea at the same time.

To organize a hopping route just take a look at nearby islands from your anchor point and either embark on an organized boat tour which can be found in every popular tourist area or rent a private boat.

Either method will work great for island hopping, and you’ll find out how unique and beautiful the Croatian archipelago which consists of 1 244 natural formations is.

While there are 78 islands of which we only covered the popular islands as otherwise this article would never end, there are also 542 islets and 642 cliffs and reefs which together form the breathtaking sea haven.

While organized tours indeed dive deep into the archipelago and show you the beauties you’d otherwise miss, renting a boat gives you complete control over island hopping.

Navigating Croatian Islands: Transportation Options


Ferries are the primary mode of transportation for island hopping in Croatia. With an extensive ferry network, you can easily reach various islands and explore their unique offerings. Ferry schedules are well-coordinated, allowing you to plan your journey effectively. It’s advisable to check the schedules in advance, especially during peak seasons, to ensure a smooth and efficient island-hopping experience.

There are multiple ferries that accept vehicles that will get you to the other side across the sea for islands not connected to the shore.


For those seeking a quicker alternative to island hopping, catamarans provide a convenient and speedy option. These sleek vessels offer a faster transportation option, allowing you to reach your desired destinations in less time. Catamarans are ideal for travelers with limited time or those who prefer a faster pace when exploring the Croatian islands.

Road vehicles

Sometimes the most convenient way of transportation is by your own vehicle or by organized bus tours. You’ll find bus tours to all Croatian islands which aren’t car-free, and the prices are very affordable even during the peak season.

Driving your own vehicle is a great way to experience the Croatian islands, especially if you come with a camper and park it in one of many camping sites found on the islands.

What is the easiest island to get to in Croatia?

Islands that are connected with the shore such as Krk, Pag, Veliki I Mali Lošinj, Vir, Murter, and Čiovo are easiest to get to directly by vehicle.

Generally speaking, all the mentioned islands are connected by a bridge which allows for quick and easy transportation.

However, some bridges such as on the Island of Krk are known for being closed during storms and strong winds due to the risk for drivers.

Driving on Croatian Islands

It’s possible to drive on a majority of Croatian islands, and We’ll mention the exceptions after giving you a few pieces of advice that apply to driving.

There are a few important things to keep in mind when it comes to driving on the islands:

Islands where a car is recommended way of transportation

Arriving by or renting a car is the first step you should do if you want to travel across bigger Croatian islands such as Cres, Krk, Brač, Hvar, Pag, and Korčula.

While you don’t technically need a vehicle to explore these islands because every point of interest such as a restaurant, store, or beach is in close proximity to camps and apartments, traveling to other places can be difficult.

These islands have so much to offer, and being able to drive from one side to another will allow you to explore the whole island, including interesting, old villages, beautiful landscapes, hidden beaches, bird-watching spots, and more.

Other islands that allow driving are smaller and it’s easier to explore them on foot or on a bicycle and a scooter, but driving a car always comes beneficial.

Renting a Car

You can easily find car rental services in major towns, cities, and airports in Croatia. It’s advisable to book your car in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, to ensure availability and secure the best rates.

Driving License

Before hitting the road, ensure you possess a valid driving license issued by your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP). This documentation allows you to legally drive in Croatia and on the islands.

Ferry Transportation

Most Croatian islands are accessible by ferry, which allows you to bring your car along for island exploration. Planning your journey in advance is crucial. Check the ferry schedules and arrive at the port early, particularly during peak season when long queues are common.

Island-Specific Rules

Driving rules apply to all islands just as they apply to the rest of the state. However, it’s forbidden to park a vehicle in certain areas like in nature or near beaches outside camping zones. Pay attention to parking regulations, designated roads, and any island-specific driving restrictions which shouldn’t be easy to miss and you’ll be good.

Road Conditions

The road conditions on Croatian islands can vary. While major roads are generally well-maintained, smaller and rural roads may be narrower and less developed. Exercise caution, drive at a moderate speed, and be prepared for tight bends or steep terrains.

Signage and Navigation

Road signs and navigation are crucial when driving on the islands. Follow the signs and designated routes for your safety. GPS navigation systems can be helpful, but it’s recommended to have a physical map or backup directions in case of signal issues in remote areas.


Most Croatian islands have designated parking areas in towns and popular tourist spots. Adhere to the parking regulations and avoid parking in restricted zones or prohibited areas. Some accommodations may offer private parking facilities for guests.

Fuel Stations

Plan your fuel needs in advance, particularly on smaller islands where fuel stations may be limited. Fill up your tank before longer journeys or identify the available fuel stations on the island you’re visiting.

Safety Precautions

Prioritize safety during your island driving experience. Observe local traffic regulations, wear seat belts, and drive defensively

It’s not unusual for people to walk by the sides of the roads as there are often no designated walkways in rural areas.

Thus, be mindful of pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users, especially in congested areas.

Driving on Croatian islands can provide an unforgettable adventure, allowing you to uncover the hidden treasures and scenic landscapes that these islands offer.

By following the local rules, being prepared, and embracing the journey, you can enjoy a memorable and rewarding driving experience while exploring the Croatian islands.

Car-Free Islands in Croatia

One of the unique aspects of island hopping in Croatia is the opportunity to visit car-free islands. These paradises of tranquility provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy peaceful strolls and bike rides without disturbance.


Brijuni is a group of fourteen small islands located off the western coast of Istria, Croatia which are known for being car-free.

However, guests can rent electric cars to travel across the archipelago which makes the whole exploration convenient.

Brijuni islands are renowned for their natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and historical significance. Brijuni islands were once the summer residence of the former Yugoslav leader, Josip Broz Tito. Today, the islands are a national park and a popular tourist destination.

One of the highlights of Brijuni is the Safari Park, which features various exotic animal species, including zebras, elephants, and llamas. It offers a unique opportunity to observe these animals in a natural habitat.


Silba is a charming island that has embraced a car-free lifestyle. As soon as you step foot on Silba, you’ll notice the absence of noisy vehicles. The island’s ban on cars creates a serene atmosphere, perfect for leisurely walks along its sandy beaches and through its picturesque villages. Silba is a haven for nature lovers, offering lush green landscapes and crystal-clear waters that beckon you to dive in and explore the underwater wonders.

Kornati National Park

The Kornati archipelago is a collection of islands renowned for their untouched natural beauty and the strict prohibition of cars. Kornati National Park is a protected area, dedicated to preserving the pristine nature and unique ecosystems found within the archipelago. With its rugged cliffs, secluded coves, and azure waters, Kornati National Park is a paradise for boating enthusiasts, divers, and anyone seeking a genuine connection with nature.

Tips and Recommendations for safe and fun exploration

To make the most of your island-hopping adventure in Croatia, here are some essential tips and recommendations:

Plan your itinerary

Carefully planning your itinerary is key to optimizing your exploring and island-hopping experience. Research the different islands, their attractions, and the ferry schedules to create a well-rounded route.

Consider the duration of your stay on each island, allowing enough time to explore and soak in the unique ambiance.

So, be flexible with your schedule to adapt to any unexpected changes or opportunities that may arise during your journey.

Some examples of why planning is necessary are situations like the following:

  • The bridge is closed due to strong wind or a storm
  • The ferries and catamarans don’t drive due to strong winds or bad weather
  • The tickets got sold out during the peak season
  • Catamarans and ferries sometimes drive every once in a while

Pack wisely

When packing for your island-hopping adventure, consider the essentials that will enhance your experience.

For instance, Croatian islands are known for exceptionally long sunny days with Hvar being the number 1. island in the state with 2718 sunny hours in the year. Thus, a bottle of water and sunscreen is a must to protect your body and skin from the Adriatic sun.

Next, comfortable footwear is essential for exploring the islands, especially if you plan on hiking or walking long distances.

Most Croatian islands are covered with rocky, foresty areas, so comfortable footwear can’t be missed.

And finally, it’s recommended to bring some cash when traveling across the islands because you’ll occasionally bump into a place that doesn’t accept credit cards.


Whether you are arriving by car, a camper, by bus, renting a boat, or walking in straight on foot, Croatian islands will amaze you with their beauty.

From the convenience of ferries and the speed of catamarans to the car-free paradises of Brijuni, Silba, and Kornati National Park, Croatia offers a diverse range of experiences for every traveler.

Whether you seek glamorous nightlife, cultural exploration, or peaceful retreats, the Croatian islands deliver.

So, start planning your island-hopping adventure, pack your bags, and get ready to explore magical places that will get forever engraved in your memories.


How do I book ferry tickets for island hopping in Croatia?

To book ferry tickets for your island-hopping journey in Croatia, you can visit the official websites of ferry operators or use reputable online travel agencies. It’s advisable to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure your desired travel dates and avoid any last-minute inconveniences.

Are there any car rental services available on the Croatian islands?

Car rental services are available on some Croatian islands, particularly the larger ones such as Hvar, Korčula, and Brač. However, it’s important to note that the charm of many islands lies in their car-free status. Consider embracing the pedestrian-friendly atmosphere and exploring the islands on foot, by bike, or by using local transportation options.

Can I bring my bike with me on the ferry to the car-free islands?

Yes, you can bring your bike with you on the ferry to the car-free islands. Most ferries have designated spaces to accommodate bicycles. It’s recommended to check the ferry company’s policy regarding bike transportation and any additional fees that may apply.

Is it possible to visit multiple islands in a single day?

While it’s technically possible to visit multiple islands in a single day, it’s not always advisable due to time constraints and the desire to fully immerse yourself in the unique offerings of each island. It’s recommended to plan your itinerary in a way that allows you to spend sufficient time on each island to explore its attractions and enjoy its ambiance.

Are there any guided island-hopping tours available in Croatia?

Yes, there are guided island-hopping tours available in Croatia. These tours provide a convenient and organized experience.


Dino is a local who has spent 27 years of his life in Croatia. He's here to provide you with useful information and some local guidance.

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