Calling all honeymooners – pure romance awaits on the best Croatian islands for couples. These are places that offer heart-string-pulling trips to the lands of Dalmatia and beyond. They’re the rocks where you and your other half will come to understand the allure of the Adriatic, its sparkling waters, and terracotta-topped towns.
Our guide picks out just seven choices that we think are bound to get Cupid slinging his bow. There are some famous ones, like Hvar, with its bumping party town and yacht moorings, or Mljet, the nature isle. But we’ve also got some secret destinations that beckon to wilder reaches in the seas, where you can hike together, go wild swimming, and taste traditional Balkan foods in seafood taverns.
Generally speaking, the best Croatian islands for couples are best visited in the summer months. That’s when the weather and the water is at its warmest in this corner of the Med. However, if you’re determined to escape the crowds, trips in May and September can be a great alternative, not to mention easier on the wallet.
Pag is often said to feel like something out of a dream. It’s like a bit of the Moon has been chopped off and towed into the Med, as it rises from an inky Adriatic Sea to form khaki headlands of dust-billowing stone. The inland is barren but beautiful, strewn along a series of mountain ridges that top out at bald peaks blasted by the sun.
Occasionally, the island will dip into a quaint harbor town where boats bob hauntingly on the quaysides. Other times, it will reveal a secret bay with a yacht at anchor, its slender broadside reflected perfectly in the mirror-like surface beneath.
The one place you’ll almost certainly want to avoid in Pag as a couple is the party mecca of Zrce Festival Beach (unless, of course, boogying the night away to EDM deck spinners is your idea of a great honeymoon!). Much better are the quiet villages of Košljun in the south and the lapping coves of Jadra up north.
What Vis has going for it that a lot of the other Croatian islands might not is pure and utter seclusion. While other rocks like Hvar and Brac are wedged into the middle of ever-popular Dalmatia, this one’s out in the middle of the Adriatic all on its own. And it’s secluded by more than just geography…
Vis spent a long time in the last century as a base for secret Yugoslav military operations, totally out of bounds to visitors. Today, that translates into a place that’s hardly developed compared to the main rivieras, though there one or two enigmatic concrete submarine docks to balance it out!
More recently, Vis has featured in the Mama Mia! film series and it’s worked wonders for the island’s incoming traffic. The villages of Komiža and Vis itself are the main hubs, while the coves of the south coast – especially idyllic Stiniva – are where you go to unwind. Vis also happens to be a fine jump-off point for seeing the Blue Grotto over on next-door Biševo Island.
Hvar is mainly known on the world stage for its thrumming party town: Hvar Town. Slide in there on a 40-footer in the summer months and you’ll be guzzling champagne and rocking the night away in dive bars, all in the midst of UNESCO-tagged piazzas and alleyways that date back centuries. But there’s more to Hvar than meets the eye…
Whiz out of the heady harbor in the west on a bike or with a car rental and a whole 41-mile isle of adventure and excitement awaits. Not long after leaving the yachts in the dust, you can be lost amid seas of lavender farms and Aleppo pines, hopping south-coast coves where there’s epic snorkeling, and clambering ridges to see panoramas of the Med.
We’d recommend either the historic village of Stari Grad or the much-quieter eastern towns of Sućuraj and Bogomolje for couples who want some seclusion. For deluxe hotels bursting with spas and water-view suites, there’s nothing for it but a base in Hvar Town!
Mljet is arguably the greenest of all the Croatian islands. It’s basically covered from head to toe in forests of Aleppo pines and twisted stone pines. Mhmm…the whole thing is like one big air freshener, dangling in the midst of the salty Adriatic, only it’s got the added bonus of empty pebble coves and even inland lakes.
There are really two halves to Mljet. The first is the western portion, which you’ll notice is covered by a national park. It’s the busiest because it’s the home of the charming tourist village of Pomena, the stomping ground of the best hotels. Then you have the eastern side of the island, which is super-quiet, super-chilled.
The main draw here is the large and little lakes that fringe Govedari town. They’re entirely ringed by a lovely walking path where you can wander between the trees hand in hand. The middle of the lake is capped – Bled-esque – with a charming Benedictine monastery dating from the 12th century. It’s bliss.
Korcula is one of the best-balanced of all the Croatian isles. It’s large enough to boast lively medieval towns with bars and Balkan eateries, wild inlands dressed in forests and topped by limestone ridges, and oodles of swimming coves submerged in glistening Adriatic waters.
The greatest place to begin here is Korcula town. It’s a beautiful settlement, laid out on a tidal islet on the east coast. Notice how it’s still organized in its original 14th-century herringbone pattern, a method of urban planning that was thought to fend off the strong sea winds.
If you want a more resort-feel honeymoon, then Lumbarda to the south is the perfect pick. That has bumping beach clubs that play chill-hop for the boaters that pull into the bays. Further east is where the isle gets truly quiet and romantic, out on the rugged capes of Martina Bok and between the lux yachts of Vela Luka.
Calling all honeymooners looking for a break from the buzz of Dubrovnik. Šipan is the largest of the lovely Elafiti archipelago, which dot the Adriatic just north of that famous castle town in the far depths of the country, just a stone’s throw from the border with Montenegro. There are direct ferries over from Dubrovnik itself, taking around 45 minutes in normal conditions.
You’re likely to step off the boat in bijou Suđurađ, the tiny port at the south end of the isle. It’s a handsome string of stone-faced villas that jostle for space above a sliver of pebble rock. The town also has a couple of romantic konoba (Croatian kitchens) and a tiny urban beach.
From there, venture north. There’s a vineyard or two to taste your way through. There’s also the smaller port town of Šipanska Luka, from where you can launch snorkel trips and yacht outings to the lesser-known members of the Elafiti chain.
Cres is content to let next-door Krk hoover up the big summertime crowds. Meanwhile, this one and its twin of Lošinj (for all intents and purposes the same island since they are joined by a causeway) tick over to a more rustic, more laid-back rhythm come the peak months between May and August.
We’d say this is among the best Croatian islands for couples who like to go off the beaten track. Wild and untouched, Cres is all about the wooded peaks and the dramatic cliffs, some of which plunge 20-30 meters from groves of ancient oak trees to a deep-blue Adriatic below.
There are umpteen ways to explore. The roads themselves are special. Winding and wiggling around the twists and turns of the shoreline, they reveal eye-watering broadsides of Istria and the Kvarner Gulf at every turn. There are also some fantastic hiking paths, which you’ll almost certainly be doing with your other half and not a single other soul.