Croatia Islands Unveiled: 5 Lesser-Known Escapes to Disappear from the World

Stretching along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia's archipelago reveals 1,244 natural formations. Among these lie 78 captivating islands, beckoning exploration. From the vast expanses of Cres and Krk to hidden treasures awaiting discovery, Croatia Islands offer distinctive experiences. With a population of 132,756, these paradises cater to diverse tastes. Notable among them are Korčula, Hvar, Vis, Brač, Mljet, Pag, and Rab. Embark with us as we unveil five lesser-known gems, inviting you to immerse yourself in their serene tranquility, far from life's bustling pace.

Premuda Island

Situated in the Zadar archipelago, Premuda Island emerges as the westernmost gem of Croatia's Adriatic coastline. Spanning approximately 10 km², this intimate sanctuary lies southwest of Silba and northwest of Škarda. With its lush evergreen pines, fragrant herbs, and olive trees adorning the landscape, Premuda exudes natural charm.

Protected by natural barriers, including surrounding islets and cliffs, Premuda boasts a coastline marked by dramatic cliffs and serene bays. Accessible only through private speedboat excursions, this secluded retreat promises solitude amidst captivating Mediterranean vistas.

Premuda's allure extends underwater, drawing divers to explore its renowned sites like the Cathedral cave system and the wreckage of the SMS Szent István battleship from World War I. Snorkeling opportunities abound, offering glimpses into a mesmerizing underwater realm teeming with life.

With its strategic location, Premuda remains well-connected to neighboring islands and the mainland through its ports of Loza and Krijal. A stroll through the island's village reveals essential amenities and a glimpse into local life.

Experience the irresistible beauty of Premuda Island with Zadar Archipelago speedboat tours, where every cove and coastline beckons exploration. Discover the harmony of land and sea in this Mediterranean oasis, where nature's majesty reigns supreme.

How to get to Premuda Island

Regular ferry and catamaran services link the port with Zadar and neighboring islands like Silba, Olib, and Lošinj. The ferry route to Zadar, operated by Miatrade, provides one daily journey in both high and low seasons, with a travel time of 1 hour and 20 minutes. Foot passenger ticket prices range from 3.98 to 7.03 Euros.

We encourage travelers to double-check the  ferry schedule and ticket prices to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey.

Unije Island

Nestled within the Cres-Lošinj archipelago in northern Croatia,  Unije Island emerges as a serene sanctuary beckoning travelers seeking respite from the clamor of modern life. Spanning 16.92 square kilometers, this idyllic retreat captivates with its pristine landscapes, dotted with verdant hills, secluded bays, and inviting beaches. The island's only settlement, also named Unije, exudes charm with its quaint fishing village ambiance, boasting 280 picturesque houses nestled along a gentle slope.

Despite its small size, Unije Island boasts a rich tapestry of history and culture, evident in its historic landmarks, local traditions, and warm hospitality. As you wander through the narrow streets and alleyways of the village, you'll encounter remnants of centuries-old architecture and the timeless allure of island life.

Unije's allure extends beyond its shores, drawing visitors with its unique natural attractions and outdoor recreational opportunities. Whether you're hiking along scenic trails, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, or simply unwinding on a sun-drenched beach, Unije offers a myriad of experiences to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul.

The island's culinary scene delights with fresh seafood delicacies, showcasing the bounty of the Adriatic Sea. Indulge in local specialties like squid, prepared in various mouthwatering dishes, or savor traditional Croatian cuisine at charming taverns and eateries scattered across the village.

With its year-round population of fewer than 85 residents, Unije retains an aura of tranquility and authenticity, making it the ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat. Whether you're strolling through fragrant olive groves, gazing out at panoramic vistas, or simply basking in the warm Mediterranean sunshine, Unije Island invites you to slow down, unwind, and savor life's simple pleasures amidst its unspoiled beauty.

How to get to Unije Island

By Sea

 Jadrolinija operates daily ferry services from nearby Lošinj and from Rijeka on the mainland.

There is also a round-trip service from and to Mali Lošinj, passing through Srakane Vele and Susak before/after Unije.

Note: The boat may not stop at Srakane Vele on certain days. A daily catamaran sails from Rijeka via Cres to Unije, continuing to Susak, Ilovik, and Mali Lošinj. However, the catamaran doesn't stop at Unije every day of the week. 

Worth checking the schedules with the operator.

By Air

Unije Island can be reached via a small airfield, although there are no scheduled services from other parts of Croatia. Private air transfers may be arranged through  Mali Lošinj Airport or other nearby airports.

Žirje Island

Located at the southern entrance to the breathtaking Kornati Archipelago,  Žirje Island stands as a haven of tranquility amidst the azure waters of the Adriatic. Named after the abundant oak forests that once adorned its shores, Žirje offers a timeless escape where time seems to slow down, and the coastal landscape beckons to be explored.

As the most remote inhabited island in the Šibenik archipelago, Žirje boasts a unique charm shaped by its rich history and untouched natural beauty. From its rugged limestone ridges to its fertile valleys, the island's diverse landscape is a testament to its agricultural heritage, with vineyards, olive groves, and fruit orchards dotting the countryside.

Despite its secluded location, Žirje remains a vibrant community, with a population of 103 residents. While tourism on the island has remained largely undeveloped, visitors are drawn to its unspoiled shores, abundant fish stocks, and picturesque coastline.

For those seeking a rural island retreat, Žirje offers a glimpse into traditional island life, with opportunities for cycling, hiking, and water sports amidst its pristine surroundings. Whether exploring the historic fortresses and walls dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries or simply soaking in the sun on one of its secluded beaches, Žirje invites travelers to embrace the rhythm of island living in its purest form.

How to get to Žirje Island

To reach the tranquil shores of Žirje Island, travelers can rely on boat and ferry connections provided by  Jadrolinija. Boat lines operate twice daily, ensuring regular access to the mainland. During the off-season, ferry lines run to Žirje twice a month, ramping up to once a week during the peak season. With Jadrolinija's car ferry services, passengers can embark on a scenic journey from Šibenik, Zlarin, or Kaprije, immersing themselves in the pristine beauty of the Šibenik archipelago.

Goli Otok

 Goli Otok, known as the "Barren Island," stands as a stark reminder of Croatia's tumultuous past. Located in the northern Adriatic Sea, its desolate landscape once housed a political prison, operational from 1949 to 1989. As a high-security labor camp, it detained political dissidents, alleged Stalinists, and various nationalists, subjecting them to harsh conditions and forced labor. Despite its chilling history, Goli Otok has evolved into a tourist attraction, drawing visitors to explore its haunting ruins and reflect on its significance in Croatia's history.

How to get to Goli Otok

During the summer season, various tourist agencies and local passenger vessel operators offer day trips to Goli Otok from nearby towns and islands like Jurjevo (Sv. Juraj), Krk, and Rab. Excursions typically include lunch and depart from these locations. Additionally, shorter 3-4 hour-long trips are available from the San Marino resort on Rab. Outside the summer season, arrangements can be made with tourist agencies and vessel operators for transportation to Goli Otok.

Island of Susak

 Susak, located in the warm Adriatic sea, is renowned for its sandy beaches, unique folk costumes, and yellow dust, making it distinctive among Mediterranean islands. Accessing Susak can be challenging, and finding accommodation is even more so, which has kept it off the radar of most tourist agencies. However, during the summer season, day trips to Susak are offered by tourist agencies and local passenger vessel operators from nearby towns and islands like Jurjevo (Sv. Juraj), Krk, and Rab. These excursions often include lunch and depart from various locations. Outside the summer season, arrangements can be made with tourist agencies and vessel operators for transportation to Susak.

Geographically, Susak is situated in the Kvarner Bay, southwest of the Istrian peninsula, with an area of under 4 square kilometers and a permanent population of about 150 people. The island's landscape, predominantly sandy, differs from other Adriatic islands, with fine sand laid on a limestone rock base. Despite its small size, Susak boasts a rich history, with origins dating back to antiquity, although much of its early history remains shrouded in mystery.

The population of Susak resides in a single settlement, divided into Gornje selo (the upper part) and Donje selo (the lower part). Over the years, Susak's inhabitants have preserved unique customs and traditions, including a distinct dialect spoken nowhere else in Croatia. The island is also famous for its elaborate folk costumes, worn primarily for special occasions, and its diverse cuisine, blending Italian, Croatian, Austrian, and Mediterranean flavors.

Due to its remote location, there are no cars allowed on the island, making foot travel the primary mode of transportation. Visitors can explore Susak's sandy beaches and picturesque village on foot or by private boat, offering a glimpse into a simpler, slower-paced way of life. Despite its relative obscurity, Susak's natural beauty and cultural heritage make it a hidden gem worth discovering in the Croatian Adriatic.

How to get to the Island of Susak

 Jadrolinija operates a car ferry service once per day between Mali Lošinj and Susak, with a journey time of 2 hours and 25/35 minutes.

Additionally, there's a foot passenger-only catamaran connecting Rijeka, Cres, and Susak, continuing to Mali Lošinj. Travel time varies.

 Kapetan Luka offers a service from Pula to Zadar with stops on Susak. Travel time from Pula to Susak is about 2 hours and 15 minutes, and from Zadar, it's just under 4 hours. The catamaran operates several times a week, depending on the season.