Since vehicles are not allowed on this island in the Sibenik archipelago, getting around quickly requires walking or riding a bike. That’s not much of a test, considering the island is only eight square kilometers. A boat journey of about half an hour will transport you from the metropolis of Sibenik to the island’s single settlement. Zlarin is a very verdant island and made history in Croatia two years ago when it banned single-use plastics.
As the starting place for boat excursions to the Brijuni Isles national park, this tiny harbor on Istria’s southern shore is hardly hidden from sight. While Pula and Rovinj, two of Istria’s major attractions, are only 15 and 30 minutes away, the more family-friendly Faana is often neglected. You can enjoy a more laid-back flavor of Istria in this charming fishing town.
Dugi Otok translates to “long island,” which truly lives up to its name. The island is 43 kilometers long but only 4 kilometers across. Dugi Otok, the most picturesque island in the Zadar group (accessible via boat from Zadar in about eighty minutes), is known for its enticing wilderness. The island is home to just a handful of small communities and a landscape with wild plants, forests, fig trees, and olive gardens.
The tiny lift bridge at Tisno, a hamlet that spans Murter and the shore, makes the biggest island in the Sibenik group the most accessible. Tisno’s July and August dance events initially brought the town to prominence, and they are set to resume this year. In contrast, Murter has never been more than a quiet fishing village.
Cres, along with neighboring Krk, is one of the two biggest islands in Croatia and is still largely undeveloped despite its closeness to Rijeka and Istria. The island’s northern half, Tramuntana, is verdant and green. Still, it quickly gives way to the arid limestone terrain typical of the Adriatic. Although Cres is accessible by ferry from Rijeka, Krk, and Brestova on the Istrian shore, and Loinj is linked at its southern point via a swing bridge, the island still feels remote.
Peljeac’s steep wineries, which produce strong privacy mali, dinga, and post-up reds, and the shellfish beds of Mali Ston have made the region a popular destination for foodies. Plus, fans of the epic series flock to Ston to see the 14th-century fortifications that doubled as King’s Landing. Fabulous beaches can be hidden away in the tree-lined nooks and harbors of this 90-kilometer-long promontory located north of Dubrovnik.
Even though Nin is relatively tiny, it contains a wealth of diverse landscapes and cultural experiences. This small town, located 16 kilometers northwest of Zadar, served as the capital of Croatia during the feudal era and has a distinct fantasy feel to it. Its historic core is located on a small island within a harbor, almost completely surrounded by a grassy promontory. It is connected to the shore by two small stone bridges. This little anomaly is surrounded by saltpans and powdery beaches, with the blue Velebit mountains in the backdrop, adding to the otherworldly feel.
Between Osijek and the Serbian boundary is one of the biggest lakes in Europe. The extensive expanse of Kopa’ki Rit is hypnotically gorgeous because of the convergence of the Danube and Drava rivers. Over this vast nature reserve, which includes lakes, ponds, backwaters, flower-rich meadows, and oak woodlands, soar nearly 300 kinds of birds.
Lovran, a small village on the western shore of Istria, has preserved the Imperial refinement that made nearby Opatija the winter pastime of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Lungomare is a seaside boulevard stretching 12 kilometers past Opatija and Volosko. It is lined with grand Italianate hotels and mansions.
Located on its own little island off the shore of the main route between Split and Sibenik, Primoten has one of the most picturesque ancient villages in Croatia. A bridge links the cluster of medieval homes to the island, and the finest beaches in the region can be found on a nearby pine-covered headland.