Picture this. You're sailing around Istria, taking in some of Croatia's most picturesque islands surrounded by your closest friends. The skies are clear, and the sun's rays gently warm your face as the jewel-toned waves coax your boat forward.
Both hands are on the helm, and you're in control. So, where are you going?
If you have no idea where to start your dream island-hopping holiday, don't stress – because we've got you covered.
We'll even tell you the best islands to visit near Istria, what to do there, and where to stay.
Ready to dive in?
Ideal Starting Place for Island Hopping in Istria
Is Istria worth visiting? Yes!
Some of the best Croatian islands can be found just off Istria's heart-shaped peninsula.
Rich in history and culture, this region exudes an air of adventure. It is a mecca for foodies, boasting first-class fresh seafood, exceptional white truffles that you can hunt for with an expert guide, award-winning olive oil, and exceptional wines.
The finest of ingredients for an exceptional getaway.
This enormously popular destination is a favourite for all the right reasons. But if you tend to shy away from overpopulated beaches and typical tourist spots, the secret lies in heading sea bound where the crowds dissipate.
Choose from captivating Levan, riveting Rab, or the breath-taking Brijuni archipelago. The islands of this region extend you the luxury of reinvigoration, rejuvenation and exhilaration to the highest degree.
Best Islands to Visit in Istria
One of the jewels of Croatia, this small island is located just 300 meters off the Istrian peninsula.
Why visit Levan
Want to know, are there any sandy beaches in Istria? Absolutely. In fact, most people that make their way to this idyllic spot are drawn to its naturally beautiful sandy beaches and faultless, translucent waters.
The best way to explore this island is by foot. So take your mask and snorkel to explore the world beneath the surface, read a book, windsurf, sail, sunbathe, and enjoy this little slice of heaven.
Where to stay in Levan
Ližanj is just a stone's throw from Levan, which is where you can stay for the night:
Apartment for an active vacation – An apartment with raving reviews
Ferienhaus Joy – Access to an outdoor swimming pool
Apartment Agava - Comes with a glorious outdoor garden
Sv. Juraj (St. George) near Vrsar
This unpopulated island is also the largest of its kind in the archipelago of Vrsar.
Why visit Sv. Juraj
With dazzling sands, bountiful shade from the trees above, and a sea so blue, it glows, Sv. Juraj lures visitors with its innate natural beauty.
The beaches here are the poster child for paradise. Stretch out a towel and soak in the vitamin sea before exploring the underwater world.
Where to stay in Sv. Juraj
While there are no places to stay in Sv. Juraj, we found some quaint places to spend the night in Vrsar:
Bovi Apartments – Beautifully designed rooftop apartment
Apartments Riva – Perfectly situated on the waterfront by the promenade
Apartment Deny – Just 38 km from the Pula Airport
Sv. Katarina (St. Catherine)
This tiny island is just a five-minute boat ride from dreamy Rovinj.
Why visit Sv. Katarina
Sv. Katarina regularly delights its guests with jaw-dropping sights and spectacular Instagram-worthy stony bays.
Daredevils rejoice. There's an adrenaline rush waiting for you and the Golden, Silver and Bronze rocks, with points reaching an adrenaline-pumping 15 meters – just waiting for you to launch yourselves into the water below.
Where to stay in Sv. Katarina
Rovinj is the closest you'll find accommodation for your Sv. Katarina adventures. Here's what we've found:
Villa Carera – Exudes an air of the Mediterranean as it once was
Villa Duketis – Rustic-style rooms, just a two-minute walk from the beach
Porta Antica – Former hotel, built in 1850, restored into comfortable and prestigious apartments in 2005
A collection of 14 dazzling islands and islands make up Brijuni, just off the northern coast of Croatia. The Brijuni Islands were declared a national park on November 1, 1983. The first excursionists to the islands came in the spring of 1984.
Why visit Brijuni
Seasoned snorkellers and divers can immerse themselves in the cinematic-worthy underwater gems of this popular attraction.
Check out the ruins of a historic Roman resort and royal villa. Pula itself offers visitors a range of exciting activities, such as food and wine tastings and truffle-infused Istrian food cooking classes. Alternatively, head down further south and learn to windsurf or enjoy kayaking in Premantura.
Where to stay in Brijuni
These accommodation options will prove convenient when starting your Croatian island-hopping tour in Brijuni:
Studio Apartment Crystal – Best budget option, comes with a 100% lowest price guarantee
Glamping and Mobile Homes Lavanda – Perfect for those who want to mingle with other explorers
Villa Nina – Modern apartments with a pool in Fažana
Best Islands to Visit in Kvarner
What is the best Croatian island to visit? That’s a hard one. However, the diverse landscapes found on the island of Rab make it one of the most impressive Kvarner islands in Croatia.
Why visit Rab
Incredibly popular with island-hoppers, Rab offers favorable winds for sailors and plenty of both daytime attractions and nighttime activities.
Enjoy an authentic Croatian escape, exploring romantic town squares and its famous four churches in Rab town. Paradise beach is aptly named and will remain etched in every beach lover's memory for a lifetime.
Another highlight is definitely Kamenjak, the highest point of the island, and relish in striking views of the coastline. You can hike or take a car or quad to get up there.
Where to stay in Rab
Apartment Burin Dvor – Exceptional reviews for this family property in the Banjol district
Apartments Klara – Newly renovated townhouse with striking views and friendly hosts
Accommodation Ivan – One-bedroom cost-effective apartment just 50 meters away from picture-perfect sandy beaches
Cres is an intoxicating island, boasting soaring cliffs, hidden coves, ancient hilltop towns and chestnut forests.
Why visit Cres
If you're a fan of grand vistas and alluring coastlines – Cres is the island for you.
As far as secluded coves go, Cres doesn't disappoint, with St. Ivan beach located just below a small 4,000-year-old town by the name of Lubenice. The 45-minute descent to the beach is easy on the way down, but climbing back up might be a bit of a challenge. A better alternative is to anchor in the cove and dive straight in from your boat.
Bird lovers should keep a lookout for rare griffon vultures in Beli. Thrill-seekers can delight in the 20-meter blue cave named Plava Grota, close to Žanja Beach and home to Mediterranean slipper lobsters and spiny oysters.
Where to stay in Cres
Karlo Deluxe – Excellent two-bedroom budget option
Luxury Apartment Mary – Roomy three-bedroom accommodation, adequately equipped for families
Apartments ACI Marina CRES – These units are perfectly positioned by the local marina
As the 11th largest island in Croatia, Lošinj belongs to the Cres-Lošinj island group in Kvarner Bay.
Why visit Lošinj
Well known for its dolphin population, visitors of this island are most likely to catch a glimpse of these graceful animals.
Both locals and visitors alike are invited to visit Blue World, a conversation museum designed to educate people about the marine environment. Go diving in Mali Lošinj and discover a whole other world under the surface, with impressive Venetian cannons dating back to the 16th century and ancient amphoras aplenty.
Where to stay in Lošinj
Family House Nerezine – As the name suggests, this home is great for families and comes with a beautiful garden and barbecue facilities
Studio Apartment Lu – This property is just a three-minute walk from the beach
Holiday House Pina - For a quiet getaway, this rustic-style home is conveniently close to the Lošinj Airport
From Malinska all the way to Baška and the 60 villages in between, Krk is a mosaic of vivid azure seas, green forests and stunning beaches.
Why visit Krk
Not only is it jaw-droppingly beautiful, Krk is also convenient. With its own international airport, you can land directly on the island and take off on your Croatia Kvarner islands tour.
Nicknamed the "Golden Island," Krk enjoys around 2,500 hours of sunshine each year. So if you need a reason to sail and explore islands in Croatia – this is it.
There's no shortage of excitement on Krk. Explore the fascinating Biserujka Cave, soak up the rays at Baška Beach, and slather yourself in the mud at Meline Beach. There are also fun activities aplenty such as mesmerizing boat tours, ziplining, electric bike tours, and quad biking, to help you explore the island all over.
Where to stay in Krk
Villa May – Accommodates up to six people and comes with a swimming pool
Apartments Porat – Pet-friendly and just two minutes away from the beach in Malinska
Apartment in Baška – Not only does it offer striking views of the coastline, but this is also both a pet-friendly and budget-friendly option
Your Island-Hopping Adventure in Istria Awaits
From sandy, secluded coves to tiny pebble-strewn beaches, Istria is a true vision. Offering cultural, historic, adventurous, and gastronomic delights galore, your little piece of paradise lies right here.
Zig-zagging through some of the most scenic Adriatic islands is a breeze now that you know which islands to visit near Istria. All that's left to do is choose one to start from and go.
What are you waiting for?