Beyond the tourist map: Croatia's top 5 secret destinations

Croatia off the radar!

When you think of Croatia, your mind probably drifts to its breathtaking coastline, the ancient city of Dubrovnik, and renowned islands like Hvar or Brač. However, you might be surprised to learn that Croatia is home to over a thousand islands, islets, and reefs hidden from the usual tourist wave.

So, are you ready to explore the lesser-known side of Croatia? Find the top 5 secret destinations in Croatia on Ferryhopper:

  1. Lastovo
  2. Vis
  3. Silba
  4. Šipan
  5. Susak

The long coastline of Silba dotted with houses in Croatia, northern Dalmatia

The breathtaking shores of Silba surrounded by greenery

1. Lastovo, the pristine hideaway

Lastovo, one of Croatia's most remote islands, is a paradise for nature lovers and those seeking tranquility. Dotted with dense forests, striking cliffs, and a rich maritime history, this island beckons with its serene charm.

As soon as you hop off the ferry, you’ll see its charming houses, ancient churches, and the local observatory around the medieval town. Start your walk from Ubli, the island's main port to explore the ruins of the ancient basilica nearby.

Wander around the medieval town to see the picturesque stone houses with characteristic chimneys also known as fumari. They are considered to be a symbol of Lastovo and reflect its rich architectural heritage.

From there, move towards the church of St. Kuzma and Damjan, located on the highest point of Lastovo town. It is a great walk that may require some stops to get to the top but the stunning views definitely worth the effort. 

On your way back, visit the pebbly beaches of Skrivena Luka and Zaklopatica, ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxation. And what better way to finish a day on the beach than a delicious dinner accompanied by a glass of local wine?

Ah! Don’t leave the island unless you try tartajun, Lastovo’s pie made of anchovies, onions, and tomato! 🤤

How to get to Lastovo: you can get to Lastovo by ferry from Dubrovnik or Split. Alternatively, you can reach Lastovo from the islands of Hvar and Korčula.

A traditional stone house adorned with a characteristic chimney, fumari in Lastovo, Croatia

 A stone house decorated with the beautifully shaped chimney, fumari in Lastovo

2. Vis, the oldest Greek settlement in the Adriatic

Away from the usual tourist trails, Vis is the farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland and a haven of pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rich history. 

Wander through the town's narrow alleys and discover its rich history from Roman times to recent history as a military base. Here, you can explore numerous tunnels, bunkers, and military installations in the heart of Vis.

As Vis is a small island, we recommend you rent a scooter to take a tour across the island and visit the picturesque fishing village of Komiža on the west coast. On your way back to Vis town, you can take some dives on the heavenly beaches of Stiniva and Oključna

Then, you can head towards the imposing Stončica lighthouse located on the eastern side of Vis and enjoy a picnic while watching the sunset. Make sure to include pogača (bread stuffed with anchovies, onions, and tomatoes) and Plavac Mali wine on your picnic basket.

Tip: hiking to the highest peak of Vis Island, Mount Hum will reward you with stunning views across the Adriatic Sea.

How to get to Vis Island: you can reach the island of Vis from Hvar by ferry. Alternatively, you can take the ferry to Vis from Makarska

Anchored boats alongside the fishing village of Komiža on Vis Island, Croatia

Fishing boats moored near the picturesque village of Komiža in Vis

3. Silba, the serene oasis of Croatia's archipelago

Often referred to as the "Pedestrian Island", Silba is a car-free island, making it a perfect escape for those seeking tranquility. Therefore, the best way to explore its sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and relaxed pace of life is on foot.

Alternatively, you can take a boat tour to experience the coastline from the water and go beach hopping (Sotorisce and Dobre Vode beach) to enjoy the crystalline waters and explore the underwater world of Silba.

Aaand there is more! The beautiful watchtower of Toreta offers panoramic views of the island and it’s also only a 10-minute walk from the picturesque church of Saint Marko.

As you leave the church imagine a gentle breeze on a Silban evening as the aroma of something sweet and fried wafts through leading you to fritule, delicious dough balls sprinkled with powdered sugar. Would you say no to that?

How to get to Silba: Silba is connected with other islands in the Adriatic Sea and the Croatian mainland by ferry. Pula - Silba ferries and Zadar - Silba crossings are operated by Kapetan Luka-Krilo throughout the year. Alternatively, you can reach Silba from the islands of Susak, Unije, Ilovik, and Lošinj.

Sunset panorama with sailing boats over Sotorišće bay on Silba island, Croatia

Golden hour spectacle against the backdrop of Sotorišće bay in Silba

4. Šipan, the golden island 

Dreaming of a place that is adorned with lush vineyards, olive groves, and fig trees while being less commercialized with no crowds? Then, welcome to Šipan, the largest of the Elafiti Islands!

At about 17 kilometers northwest of Dubrovnik and far from the bustling tourist hubs of Croatia, the island of Šipan allows you to dive into its past by visiting its numerous churches and chapels that tell tales of centuries gone by.

Given its size and the relative lack of traffic, Šipan is perfect for cycling. Rent a bike and explore the island's hidden corners, pedal parallel to the centuries-old olive groves, and see the quaint village of Sudjuradj on two wheels. 

Amidst the aroma of citrus orchards and vineyards, you'll stumble upon Šipan's treasures: the 16th-century Pakljena Tower and the ancient St. Spirit Church.

Tip: you can book your accommodation in the area of Šipanska Luka, the larger of Šipan’s two main settlements, offering charming harbor views.

How to get to Šipan: you can easily reach the island of Šipan from Dubrovnik by ferry. You can also get to Šipan from Mljet as well as the neighboring Elafiti Islands of Koločep and Lopud.

The village of Šipanska Luka surrounded by palm trees on Šipan island, Croatia

The picturesque village of Šipanska Luka, dotted with palm trees

5. Susak, the sandy jewel in Dalmatia

Situated south of Istria and west of the island of Losinj in Dalmatia, Susak beckons travelers with the allure of its unparalleled sandy terrain and vast reed expanses. This rare topography is perfect for nature walks on beautiful hiking trails and mesmerizing sandy beaches, like Bok Bay and Spiaza.

Susak village, the island's heart, entices with its kaleidoscope of multi-colored houses and winding streets. As you wander, let the charm of the Upper Village pull you in, where time seems to stand still amidst traditional architecture.

Dive deeper into Susak’s culture, and interact with locals and you might just get to hear the island’s unique dialect or witness the vibrancy of their traditional costumes, especially during festive occasions. 

As your day winds down, indulge in the island's culinary offerings. Let the distinct notes of Grk wine tantalize your palate, relish dishes enriched with wild asparagus, and savor the freshness of seafood like seabass or mussels, straight from the Adriatic's embrace.

Tip: take a ferry trip to Mali Lošinj from Susak and spend the day there as it is only 30 minutes away with cheap ferry tickets around €2-€5

How to get to Susak: you can take the ferry to Susak from Pula and Zadar (mainland). Alternatively, you can get to Susak from the islands of Unije, Silba, Ilovik, and Lošinj.

A seaside town filled with trees and stone houses on the island of Susak, Croatia

A coastal town brimming with trees and white-washed houses on Susak Island

Tranquility, heavenly beaches, and genuine Croatian charm await just off the main tourist trail. At least one of the top 5 secret spots in Croatia is about to be your next destination! So, check our Map of ferries to pinpoint the lesser-known islands in Croatia, book your ferry tickets, and bid zbogom (goodbye) to the crowds!

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