The Most Charming Hidden Islands to Discover on a Croatian Cruise

Just about everyone looks forward to visiting Croatian island favourites like Hvar and Korcula, but what about the hidden islands that offer plenty of charm without the crowds? Croatia small ship cruises are ideal for discovering some of the best, including these options.

Lopud island, Lafodia hotel and resort
Kornat archipelago


While Lopud is just an hour by boat from busy Dubrovnik, it’s worlds away from the hustle and bustle. Part of the Elaphiti archipelago which is explored on many Croatian cruises that include Dubrovnik on the itinerary, the car-free island has just one town, also named Lopud, but its panoramic vistas are practically endless. Take in views of the glistening blue waters, the mountains and the mainland while enjoying a tranquil atmosphere, with just 220 year-round residents. While it may be small, it has a lovely waterfront promenade with restaurants for dining with a view, along with tiny boutiques and ice cream shops. Discover a 15th-Franciscan monastery that has a church still in use, and take a stroll along the narrow path from town to enjoy a beautiful sandy beach on the other side of the island – it only takes about 20 minutes to get there as the entire isle is around three square miles. There are fascinating ruins of palaces, churches, monasteries and more to be found across Lopud, many of which date back to Greek and Roman times.

Discover the stunning Elaphiti archipelago on our 7 Night Signature Dubrovnik to Split Cruise>


Kornat, covered with sage, fig and olive trees, is one of around 90 little islands in the Kornati archipelago, a national park which lies just south of Zadar. Croatia small-ship cruises that include Zadar may bring you to explore this magnificent region where you’re likely to see few others with the land and waters that surround it strictly protected. For anyone seeking the sea, sun and silence, outstanding swimming, snorkelling and hiking, there are few better spots. 

Telascica bay nature park, Dugi Otok
Cres island

Dugi Otok

One of the largest northern Dalmatian Islands, and one of the most stunning in Croatia, Dugi Otok, or Long Island, lies south-west of Zadar and offers many tranquil spots, including secluded coves for escaping the crowds and enjoying nature. In fact, in the south-east region, you’ll find Telaščica nature park, renowned for its striking unspoiled beauty. Here there are peaceful beaches, wild steep cliffs, and fields covered with olive groves and vineyards. The island’s most famous beach is Sakarun, located near its northern tip. The intensity of the colours here are absolutely jaw-dropping, with white pebbles shimmering in the sun framed by a crystal-clear turquoise sea and backed by dark green pines. The local restaurants in the village of Sali offer mouth-wateringly fresh seafood, perfect for feeding your appetite after a swim. 


The island of Cres is often included on Croatia cruise holidays that depart from Opatija. The least developed island in the country, it lies in the northern corner of the Adriatic, dotted with cliffs, forests and charming hilltop towns. Ideal for immersing yourself in nature among unspoiled wilderness, there are postcard-perfect beaches, caves and abandoned hamlets to explore along with vineyards and olive groves, providing diverse and serene landscapes. The island is known for its population of griffons – be sure to look up to see if you can spot one spreading its wings as it soars through a colourful Adriatic sunset. Cres town has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic era, with influences by the Romans, Byzantines, the first independent Croatians and Venetians. Here you can visit a 16th-century Venetian Tower, Arsan Palace, and the Cres Museum which exhibits a variety of relics, weapons and costumes.

Ms Bella sailing to Susak
Ms Desire sailing to Lastovo


Roughly 89 miles south-west of the capital city of Zagreb, Susak is just under two-square miles in size and home to population of less than 200. Unique in this country as it’s made up of almost entirely of golden sands, there are no roads here, only trails that zig-zag across the island, along with herbs that grow wild, like oregano, which is where Susak got its name, derived from the Greek word for the popular spice. Enjoy its scenic beauty, including picturesque coves and alluring beaches, as well as interesting locals who don traditional costumes and speak a unique island dialect.


Facing Korcula Island along Croatia’s southern coast, Lastovo is a fabulous hidden gem, best-known for its annual carnival where visitors can see the locals dressed up in their beautiful folk costumes. Ideal for getting off the well beaten track and discovering the beauty of an authentic Croatian village, many of its treasures are beneath the sea, jam-packed with vibrant coral and colourful fish. A nature lovers’ dream, there’s plenty to see on land too, with multiple ways for enjoying the outdoors, including walking and biking trails that run through vineyards and forest. Relax at one of the small bays with pristine, clear water for swimming, and enjoy exploring the main village. Also called Lastovo, it sits on a steep slope overlooking fields that grow olives, grapes and vegetables. Wander the streets, exploring churches like the 15th-century Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian, and the old stone homes with traditional red-tiled roofs. 

Discover these hidden gems of Croatia in our Croatia luxury cruises here or call our travel experts on +44 208 004 2345 and let us help you plan your ultimate holiday. 

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