On the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea is the second largest city in Croatia, Split. In central Dalmatia, it is surrounded by sea as a peninsula and borders with neighboring mountains particularly Mosor, Kozjak and Marjan.
As you discover Split, you will be convinced that it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world as all its 180,000 inhabitants will also agree.
Sites such as Diocletian’s Palace, the Grgur Ninski Statue and St Domnius Cathedral and Bell Tower are just some of the historical places this city has to offer.
Aside from all its rich history, Split is filled with culture and offers many events that take place in atmospheric locations. Enjoy authentic Croatian food in one of the many restaurants on the Riva, fresh produce from the famous green market, or fresh fish that was caught by a local fisherman just hours before.
Split has become one of the most popular tourist destinations as well as a transport hub. Of course, some of the simpler reasons to visit would be the clear sea, historical sites, cultural landmarks, and the fine wine and seafood, but with all the surrounding islands one visit may never be enough.
What can be better than spending a vacation hopping from island to island, especially now that it’s one of the most popular things to do in Croatia.
Surely you will find an island right for you, but what’s the best hop to island hop and how do you decide which islands you should visit?
How to Island Hop from Split
So how do you get your island hopping started from Split? With many islands nearby, it has become easy and readily accessible to cruise around the Croatian coast.
The best option for you depends on how much time you have for exploring and whether you have access to a car.
Visiting the Islands Without a Car
There are a variety of options available for visiting the islands without a car. You can choose between taking a ferry, renting a boat, or an organized tour which means you can avoid worrying about parking or long bus trips.
Croatia’s most beautiful spots are best explored by an organized boat trip as they can take you to multiple islands and the top attractions in just one day, like the Blue Cave tour by Zen Travel.
With organized speedboat tours, you can enjoy a comfortable ride in small groups, accompanied by a local tour guide who can show you hidden gems you may have missed exploring alone.
If you’re short on time and want to visit a famous attraction on a half day trip, one great idea is to take a Blue Lagoon tour on the island of Krknjasi. The captivating lagoon has crystal clear waters and is ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Located just a short 15 miles from Split, it is easily accessible by boat. You can choose to take a private boat trip that ensures departure and arrival times as well as 5 hours of fun in the sun.
During peak season, it may be chaotic trying to catch a ferry to an island so make your island hopping a breeze and sign up for an organized tour.
Visiting the Islands With a Car
Island hopping independently by using ferries, catamarans, public transport or by a car is possible as the ferry terminal in Split is the main passenger port and is well-connected to many islands.
This method means you will have to plan your itinerary very carefully as there are few car ferries that connect islands. The ferries to the islands run year-round, but you may need to take multiple car ferries before arriving to your desired island.
Ferry routes to and from Split are currently served by eight companies. Jadrolinija, which is the main operator, allows you to pre-book tickets which is important in high season.
When island hopping by ferries, it is important to be mindful about the days, times, and number of trips per day the ferry will run. Also be sure to check that the ferries you select allow cars, bicycles as well as pets as not all of them do.
Split Island Hopping: Which Islands to Visit?
With so many islands to choose from, which ones should you visit? Here are our picks for the top islands you should visit from Split.
One of Croatia’s top islands, Hvar is known for receiving the most amount of sunshine throughout the year.
On the main square, you have the great cultural treasure, the first public theatre in Europe, elegant restaurants and glamorous hotels. Partygoers and posh yachties enjoy this island for its legendary beach bars, luxury and nightlife.
Wander away from just the center and visit mellow Stari Grad to see castles, museums, and picturesque squares. Hvar has some of the most beautiful isolated coves, ancient olive trees, and vineyards and is famous for its lavender fields.
Experience authentic “local” island life in this somewhat off-the-beaten-path destination.
Brac is home to Zlatni Rat, one of the most spectacular and photographed beaches in Croatia. For the tourists who love to visit churches, there are as many as 116 churches on the island of Brac.
This is an excellent destination for hikers, as it has the highest peak on the Adriatic Islands, Vidova Gora, where you’ll have a view of Bol and Hvar island.
The island is also famous for its beautiful white lime and marble stone, which has been used in constructing the White House and Diocletian’s Palace.
Nearly a suburb of Split and less than an hour trip (with frequent boat connections) is Solta, an oasis of unspoiled nature, clear sea and less crowded pebbled beaches.
Learn the art of making wine, honey, and oil on one of the family-run farms on the island. Hanging out in one of the little villages or lounging on one of the beaches is a pleasant break from busy Split.
Kayaking, boating, and biking are just a few of the activities you can do. Take your pick!
Korcula is known as the most preserved and beautiful medieval city in the Mediterranean.
Visit the house of Marco Polo where he is famously claimed to have been born as well as the Korcula Cathedral. Walk through the fishbone streets and stumble across unexpected sights of Venetian sculptures on the walls and buildings.
Check out the eight fortresses/towers remaining or explore a Renaissance palace. You can also enjoy wine tasting as Korcula has a reputation of producing some of the best wine in Croatia.
For some culture, try to catch a Moreska dance performance.
After serving as a military zone for many years, Vis has since opened to the outside world. It offers cultural heritage, history, traditions and its preserved nature.
For movie lovers, it is also known as the filming location of the sequel to the Hollywood hit Mamma Mia.
Vis has always been an island of fishermen and winegrowers, so enjoy a delicious meal of crab or lobsters found in the surrounding sea areas and pair it with a local fine wine.
You can explore Stiniva beach which is encircled by cliffs and regularly voted the most beautiful beach in Europe. On the island of Bisevo, you can visit the famous Blue Grotto (only reachable by boat) and see it glow an incredible blue each day around noon.
It’s easy to hop from island to island and explore the beautiful Croatian coast — the famous beaches, crystal-clear water, and incredible sunsets await you.
Let your island-hopping adventure in Croatia begin!
Here are more tips on what to see and do in Croatia
- Things to Do in Split That You Can’t Miss
- How to Get from Split to Plitvice Lakes: The Ultimate Guide
- Dubrovnik Boats Review: Exploring the Islands Around Dubrovnik
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