The islands are the real treasure of Croatia. The cities are good too, but it is the island dotted coast that makes a trip to the Adriatic truly remarkable and inspires vacation envy in your coworkers.

Zagreb, the largest city in Croatia and the nation’s capital, accounts for nearly 25% of the country’s population and at one million people is the largest urban area in Croatia. But it’s popularity as a tourist destination is eclipsed by the comparatively tiny Dubrovnik, which weighs in at 40,000 people and has its own international airport. What accounts for this difference? Islands.

If you’re not willing to choose between a history-rich urban center and a sun soaked island paradise, check out the city of Split. Split weighs in at 410,000 people and is both Croatia’s second largest metropolis and its fastest growing city.




Just off Split’s coast, the island of Brac sits just a short ferry ride away and hosts not only Croatia’s most popular beach, Zlatni Rat, but the pebble-sand peninsula of Bol extends into the sea, sheltering a cove for the beginner kite surfers and windsurfers learning the sport.

The most popular beaches in Croatia, Bol included, can fill up with tourists in the summer, but the boat ride required to reach each island can prove prohibitive for most crowds. You’re much more likely to find a nice swimming spot on an island than at the oft-crowded concrete swimming piers in many of the cities.

There is no better way to feel like you’re “getting away from it all” than a private patch of a perfect island in Croatia. Much of Croatia’s coast is rocky however, so bring a blanket or towel to lie on. Also, leave the flip-flops at home, or at least bring some real shoes. Depending on the island, you may have a hike and a scramble over some boulders between you and your perfect spot when you get off the ferry.

Croatian islands offer the savvy traveler a secluded way to enjoy their vacation, spend time with family or alone, and soak up some sun while watching the hulking, luxurious private yachts of the rich and famous float by your island without feeling the slightest twinge of jealousy.

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