A Complete Guide to Cres (From Locals)

Welcome to Cres, a captivating island nestled in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Croatia.

The island’s beauties are hardly measurable, as each time you visit it you get even more amazed by the beauties and mysteries it beholds.

Cres is the second biggest Croatian island positioned in the Kvarner Bay close to Lošinj and Krk.

When I was a kid, I spent every summer on Cres and I am grateful to my parents for the memories from the nicest and most magical island in Croatia.

While I might be biased towards Cres, I am sure you’ll love your time on Cres if you choose it as your go-to vacation summer place.

In this article, I’ll guide you through the beauties Cres offers, try to convenience you to visit it, and answer associated traveling questions you might have in mind.

Getting to Cres

To begin your journey to Cres, there are several convenient transportation options available. The most common way to reach the island is by ferry, with regular services connecting Cres to neighboring cities and islands.

Ferries operate from:

  • Rijeka (straight from the town) to Cres town
  • Brestova (East side of Istria) to Porozina (Cres)
  • Valbiska (Krk) to Merag (Cres)

Brestova is 20 kilometers away from Opatija and easily reachable by vehicle, but you can expect a jam during the peak summer season. You can expect a similar situation at Valbiska during the peak summer season.

The best way to visit Cres if you are only staying for a short period of time or don’t need a vehicle to explore the island is by taking the ferry from Rijeka.

These ferries are on foot-only, so there are no traffic jams.

The Jadrolinija Mascot plays with kids inside the ferry
The Jadrolinia mascot plays with kids and passengers during the trip

Moreover, you’ll arrive straight in Cres town from where you can continue on foot or on a bicycle.


Do you need a vehicle?

When I visit Cres I don’t drive, as the town is small and connected with every point of interest you’ll likely need, unless you want to explore the rest of the island’s hidden beauties.

However, for a longer stay vehicles are recommended. There are popular camps for tourists where you can camp. Thus most tourists who plan to stay for a week or so arrive in a camper.

A vehicle is necessary as catching a taxi is an inconvenient way to travel across the island (hard to catch and long waiting times), so if you are without a vehicle you might need to hitchhike or try your chances on a bicycle.

I remember the times when I’d explore Cres on foot, needless to say, the strong summer sun and the absence of natural covers for a shadow made me reconsider my choice.

Visiting Cres without a vehicle

Visiting Cres without a vehicle might sound more adventurous, but in reality restaurants, beaches, souvenir shops, camps, and stores are all connected and no more than 20 minutes of a walk away from each other. 

My typical route is taking a ferry from Rijeka to Cres, and then continuing on foot or renting a bicycle, and usually returning home later in the day or tomorrow as I live nearby in Rijeka.

Moreover, the boat cruises are a great option for exploring the town as the organized tours will get you to hidden, beautiful lagoons with turquoise clear water, and hidden caves straight out of movies.

Boats cruising around Cres island
The view from the boat when we arrived near the town

Cres is, after all, an island that is best experienced by boat, so cars have a strong disadvantage by default.

Not to speak, certain areas like the forested side of the island aren’t reachable by car as there are no roads, so the only way is to hike, go by boat, or attempt a swim across the sea to the other side.

Excursions and tours

Every island has its secrets, and what better way to discover its wonders than through an enchanting excursion or boat tour?

Step aboard and let the gentle breeze guide you as you navigate the crystal-clear turquoise waters surrounding Cres. As you sail, you’ll witness panoramic vistas that will leave you awestruck. Imagine gliding past dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and picturesque fishing villages, all while basking in the warm Mediterranean sunshine.

These tours are ideal for Exploring the hidden corners of Cres, where lush forests meet the azure sea, providing the perfect backdrop for an idyllic picnic or a refreshing swim in tranquil bays.

And to add to all this, you’ll be accompanied by live music, good food, and friendly staff!

Cres excursion boat for tourists

Blue Caves, Dolphins, Lunch, music, and fun, what else could you want for a perfect vacation?

These excursions didn’t exist 10 years ago and we’d have to ask locals for a ride on their small fishing boats, fortunately, today there are a few quality excursion options for tourists.

Cres Argo Excursions to Blue Caves

Exploring the Towns and Villages

Cres is home to a handful of charming towns and villages that are worth exploring. Cres Town, the island’s largest settlement, enchants visitors with its picturesque harbor, narrow streets, and historic architecture.

Old house in Cres with small garden
Cres fountain in the town
Fishing boats in Cres town

Stroll along the promenade, visit the medieval Cres Cathedral, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of local cafes and restaurants.

Another gem is Lubenice, perched high on a cliff overlooking the sea. This ancient village boasts stunning panoramic views, ancient ruins, and a tranquil ambiance that transports you back in time.

The old town Lubenice in Cres as seen from the sea
I took a photo of Lubenice from the cruising boat

Furthermore, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Osor, a small town with a rich artistic heritage, where you can admire sculptures and visit the Open-Air Museum.

Discovering Natural Wonders

Nature lovers will find themselves in paradise on Cres. The island boasts a diverse range of natural wonders, from pristine beaches to lush forests and peaks with jaw-dropping viewpoints.

Head to Valun Beach, a secluded gem known for its crystal-clear waters and tranquility. Or explore the stunning Lubenice Beach, nestled beneath the medieval village, offering a breathtaking blend of natural beauty and historical charm.

If you crave adventure, embark on a hike through Tramuntana Forest, a verdant oasis home to rare plant species and enchanting trails.

Did you know that Cres is home to more than 1100 plants, with 939 indigenous species?
The rich vegetation and the sea are responsible for majestically fresh and aromatic air.


For birdwatching enthusiasts, the Vransko Lake Nature Reserve is a haven where you can observe various avian species in their natural habitat.

There are 190 species of birds that inhabit the area of Cres and Lošinj, making the island a true birdwatching hotspot.

Moreover, Cres is home to the endangered Eurasian griffon vulture, the majestic creature, and my favorite bird.

I love birdwatching above Lake Vrana, as the natural beauties perfectly accompany the griffon vultures flying over your head.

There are no venomous snakes

You won’t find a single venomous snake species on Cres as there are only 7 non-venomous species!

The legend says that St. Gaudentius, the bishop of Osor blessed the island and all venomous snakes run away from the island across the sea. 

While scientists don’t know the exact reason why there are no venomous snakes on the island, the locals say that the aromatic herbs that grow exclusively on Cres act as a repellent.

It’s a pretty good feeling knowing that no dangerous snakes such as horned vipers could jump you while you are moving between the rocks and trees.

Immersing in Culture and Traditions

Cres embraces its rich cultural heritage and offers visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the island’s traditions.

Experience the unique sounds of traditional music and witness captivating dance performances during local festivals. One such event is the Cres Cultural Summer, featuring a vibrant lineup of concerts, theatrical performances, and art exhibitions held throughout the island.

Moreover, wherever you go you’ll find great music for your taste alongside the best food and wine and great people.

Pizza with truffles from Cres
I enjoyed this tasty truffle pizza last time

Indulge in the local gastronomy by savoring authentic seafood dishes and specialties such as Cres lamb (a must-try if you love lamb), accompanied by a glass of local wine.

Cres lamb dish is unique as the lambs freely walk on pastures and enjoy the authentic herbs which only grow on the island, resulting in a uniquely aromatic aroma.

Don’t forget to visit the charming local markets, where you can find handmade crafts, souvenirs, and locally produced olive oil.

Outdoor Activities and Adventure

Cres is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, offering an array of thrilling activities and adventures. Dive into the azure waters for a snorkeling or scuba diving expedition, discovering the vibrant underwater world teeming with marine life.

Kayak along the rugged coastline, explore hidden coves and sea caves, or set sail on a boat trip around the island, relishing the beauty of the Adriatic Sea. Hiking and cycling enthusiasts will find numerous trails winding through the island’s landscapes, leading to breathtaking viewpoints and rewarding encounters with nature.

Tips for having a great time

Before embarking on your Cres adventure, here are some practical tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. The local currency in Croatia is Euro, and it is advisable to have some cash on hand for small purchases, although credit cards are widely accepted. English is spoken in most tourist areas, but it’s always helpful to learn a few basic Croatian phrases to enhance your interactions with locals.

When it comes to accommodation, Cres offers a range of options to suit different preferences and budgets. From luxury hotels with stunning sea views to cozy guesthouses and family-run apartments, you’ll find something that suits your needs. It’s recommended to book your accommodation in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, to secure your desired location.


In terms of safety, Cres is generally a safe destination for travelers and I haven’t heard of a single instance when something bad happened. However, it’s always wise to take standard precautions, such as securing your belongings and being aware of your surroundings.

In case of emergencies, you can call the tourist medical office at 051 573 077!

Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel

Cres takes pride in its commitment to sustainable tourism and preserving its pristine environment. As a responsible traveler, you can support these efforts by adopting eco-friendly practices during your visit. Choose accommodations that prioritize sustainability, such as eco-lodges or hotels with green certifications. Opt for reusable water bottles and shopping bags to reduce plastic waste, and respect nature by sticking to marked trails and avoiding damage to flora and fauna.

Take the time to learn about the local conservation initiatives and participate in eco-tours or volunteering opportunities that contribute to the island’s preservation. By being mindful of your environmental impact and supporting local sustainable initiatives, you can help ensure that Cres remains a pristine and beautiful destination for future generations to enjoy.


Cres beckons travelers with its natural wonders, rich history, and warm cultural traditions. This guide has provided you with a glimpse into the many facets of this enchanting island, from its charming towns and villages to its breathtaking landscapes and adventurous activities. Whether you’re seeking relaxation on secluded beaches, immersion in local culture, or thrilling outdoor adventures, Cres offers something for everyone.

As you plan your visit to Cres, remember to explore further and delve into the specific details of each attraction and activity. Prepare to be captivated by the beauty of Cres and embrace the unique experiences that await you at this Adriatic gem. Pack your bags, set sail, or soar through the skies, and embark on an unforgettable journey to the captivating island of Cres.


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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