Located along the northern Croatian coast. Rab Island was first mentioned in 360 BC as Arba Island, a name that belonged to the oldest inhabitants, meaning dark and green forest. Known as the ‘island of love,’ it boasts some of the most diverse landscapes in the region with the southwest coast known for its beaches and pine forests while the northeast coast is a region with few settlements, high cliffs, and a more barren look.
Protected by mountains, the fertile interior allows for the cultivation of grapes, olives and vegetables. Rab Town is a definite highlight when it comes to culture and history, with four bell towers that rise from its ancient stone streets. Even during the peak of the summer season when the island is busy with tourists, one can enjoy the fabulous atmosphere in the town’s old quarter and escape to nearly deserted beaches just a short ride away.
The most charming and picturesque town on the island is Rab and the only one that offers some nightlife. It offers many restaurants and bars, ideal for those who plan to tour the island during the day while staying close to city amenities in the evening. Banjol is another option with several good beaches while being just a short drive from Rab Town. Lopar in the north is the main tourism centre, arguably the best for families with small children, offering sandy beaches with calm, shallow water.
Surrounded by ancient walls, Rab’s Old Town instantly transports you to yesteryear. In the Santa Maria main square, you’ll find a majestic mansion that dates back to the early 1800s. Visit the Church of St Justine, and explore the Museum of Sacred Art that is located there. Some of the sacral treasures on display are 1,000 years old. The Franciscan Monastery of St Bernardin also features a selection of gems that you must seek out.
Enjoy A Day Trip To Kornati Nature Park
Kornati Nature Park is a designated nautical paradise that boasts a spectacular and unique landscape. On a day trip, you can explore the caves and grottos that embellish the karstic terrain, and admire the stunning white rock formations. Venture through the forests of evergreens and holm oaks, and enjoy a nature ramble in Croatia’s largest and densest archipelago. You can look out for the perfect lunch picnic spot, and cool off in the crystal-clear sea.
Sample Delicious Traditional Treats
When visiting the island of Rab, it’s customary for tourists to sample a delicious traditional treat. Rabska Torta (also commonly known as Rab cake) is a sweet pastry made with marzipan that is flavoured with Maraschino cherry liqueur and grated citrus fruit. The thin and flat, spiral-shaped cake is decorated with tiny ruffles and dusted with icing sugar. Modern versions of Rab’s famous treat may feature alternative shapes, but the recipe remains authentically the same.
When to visit Rab Island
It’s hard to go wrong when choosing to visit Rab Island, but it can be windy and chilly in the winter, so you’ll want to visit in the spring, summer, or fall. It will be the hottest and sunniest in July and August, averaging in the upper 20s Celsius, and you can expect the biggest crowds during these peak months too. Plan to go in June or September for warm but not too hot temperatures and fewer tourist crowds. If you want to take part in Croatia’s biggest and oldest medieval festival, Rabska Fjera, you’ll need to be here in late July.
Rab Island FAQ
Ally Our Croatia Expert
How many days do you need on Rab Island?
You’ll need at least two days to properly explore Rab, but ideally three or more in order to enjoy a day at the beach too. Paradise Beach, which hems the southern flank of Lopar, is one of the best in Croatia and backed by a wide range of attractions while also being ideal for swimming or kayaking. The Old Town of Rab deserves a day of its own with its stone streets and centuries-old architecture. Plus, a walk north brings you to the 13th-century Franciscan monastery where the monks host a small museum with religious paintings and old manuscripts.
What is the best time to visit Rab Island for the beaches?
Visiting anytime during the tourist season from May through September, you’ll find the weather warm and conducive for a relaxed holiday at the beaches. During the early part of the season, in May and early June, the sea temperature is likely to be a bit too chilly for comfortable swimming at 18 to 21 degrees Celsius. If you come toward the end of the season in September, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy warm water for swimming with the sea having warmed all summer, averaging around 24 Celsius.
What are the essential sites to see on Rab Island?
Don’t miss wandering the narrow, cobblestone streets in Rab Town which are lined with Renaissance mansions and over two dozen Romanesque churches, four of which contribute to its distinct skyline with bell towers. The protected forest of Dundo on the small Kalifront peninsula extending to the southwest of Rab is one of the Mediterranean’s most well-preserved forests and you’ll also find a trail leading to fabulous, secluded beaches. Of all the beaches on the island Paradise Beach, or Rajska plaza, is the most famous, named among the best in the world and ideal for kids with expansive shallow water areas.
Is Rab Island worth visiting?
Known as the ‘island of love’ and the ‘happy island,’ Rab is a beach paradise for relaxation, but it also offers manmade beauty with historic, centuries-old attractions like its main town, surrounded by ancient walls, recognisable by its four church bell towers. With some of the best sandy beaches in the country, crystal-clear blue waters, and many hidden coves for tranquil, romantic moments, Rab Island is well-worth visiting.
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