The 20 best beaches in Croatia

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  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    1. Stračinska, Island of Solta, Central Dalmatia

    Solta is a lesser-known island than Hvar and Brač, a bit more rugged and usually with fewer visitors. This beach is on a bay that can be reached via boat or on a bicycle by land. It’s very secluded – a place for getting away from it all and recharging to the sound of crickets and the sea splashing against the shore. Like most beaches in Croatia it is pebbly, surrounded by rocks and low bush. It’s a great spot for a swimming expedition for those who do have a boat.

    Insider’s tip: There are also a few houses to rent overlooking the beach, if you want to stay the night.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    2. Murvica, Island of Brač, Central Dalmatia

    Quite a small beach, but absolutely beautiful, and quieter than those of nearby Bol. With fine gravel underfoot and large rocks on each side, it has views of Hvar island in the distance and vineyards behind. There’s nothing on the beach itself, which is part of the appeal. A short walk up the hill is a different perspective over the water. Murvica is accessible by road about three miles from Zlatni Rat beach. A short hike away is the mysterious Dragon’s Cave, a monastery carved in the rock along with figures from pagan mythology and Christianity – among them the dragon after which the cave is named.

    Insider’s tip: Just a short walk up the hill from the sand is a tavern for local dishes.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    3. Borak, Island of Brač, Central Dalmatia

    A pebbly stretch, along the promenade to Zlatni Rat, that’s a favourite among windsurfers and other active sorts, as there’s also a diving school and beach volleyball court. Alternatively, there are deckchairs and parasols for hire.

    Insider’s tip: There are also great views across the clear water to Zlatni Rat beach.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    4. Bačvice, Split, Central Dalmatia

    This is Split’s famous city beach and one of the few sandy stretches in Croatia – so don’t expect to have it to yourself. The shallow water is ideal for children, and because of the soft sand and sea depth the beach is the locals’ favourite spot for picigin – a particularly regional ball game played in ankle-deep water and adapted from water polo in the early 20th century. Local kids can often be seen jumping from the small cliffs further out, where the water is deeper.

    Insider’s tip: Another locals’ favourite is Zbirac beach bar, a prime spot for people-watching.

    5. Pokrivenik, Island of Hvar, Central Dalmatia

    A quiet pebbly beach with just a couple of small bars and restaurants, and a little dock on the side for boat arrivals. Climbers are drawn to the steep hills just behind and a small, secret cave in one of the coves nearby Pokrivenik is often explored by divers for the rainbow-coloured sea sponges that inhabit it.

    Insider’s tip: There’s another cave nearby, 65 feet above sea level, called Badanj, where remains from the Neolithic period have been found.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    6. Zlatni Rat, Bol, island of Brač, Central Dalmatia

    Seeing as this is Croatia’s pin-up beach, you’ve probably already seen it on posters. A remarkable 1,476ft fine-pebble spit, Zlatni Rat changes shape depending on prevailing local winds and currents. Located on the sunny south coast of Brač, one of the best Croatian islands, it’s also the country’s top windsurfing destination. Water sports providers arrange surfing and scuba diving, and for children, there’s an inflatable green-and-yellow aqua park. From the beach, a lovely waterside promenade, shaded by pine trees, leads to the village of Bol. Beyond is the Vidova Gora mountain which, at 2,552ft, is the highest peak on the Adriatic islands.

    Insider’s tip: Try windsurfing with Big Blue Sport, based on Borak Beach, between Zlatni Rat and Bol.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    7. Punta Rata, Brela, Makarska riviera, Central Dalmatia

    In the shadow of Biokovo, a 5,780ft mountain, the 37-mile-long Makarska Riviera reveals a succession of fine-pebble beaches giving onto deep, turquoise water. Some of the nicest, such as Punta Rata, are in the village of Brela, where leaning Aleppo pines become natural umbrellas that create shade and modern hotels cater for holidaying families. For a quiet spot, follow the seaside promenade and rocky footpath east towards Makarska town – along the way you’ll find plenty of secluded little coves, some nudist-friendly.

    Insider’s tip: Spend a day hiking the footpaths that criss-cross the rugged slopes in Biokovo Nature Park.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    8. Pasjača, Popovići, Konavle, south Dalmatia

    Backed by plunging cliffs (a nesting spot for pallid swift birds), this wild and isolated rock-and-pebble beach is approached down a steep, narrow, winding path and through a small tunnel carved into the rocks. Looking out across the inky blue Adriatic, this beach is a back-to-nature experience – nothing is provided, so bring water, a towel and a roll-up beach mat. To get here, drive 40 minutes south of Dubrovnik to the village of Popovići, passing through rural region Konavle, its vineyards and olive groves surrounded by rugged slopes that are dotted with old stone farmhouses and cypresses.

    Insider’s tip: While driving through Konavle, stop in Gruda to visit painter Antonia Rusković Radonic’s atelier – she paints local scenes and ceramics, which are fine gifts to take home.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    9. Sahara, Rab Island, Kvarner

    In 1936, King Edward VIII whisked Wallis Simpson to Rab for a romantic break – they got special permission from local authorities to skinny-dip at Kandarola beach, an event now seen as the birth of naturism in Croatia. Kandarola remains nudist-friendly to this day, but better still is Sahara, one of Croatia’s rare sandy beaches, close to the town of Lopar on Rab’s north coast. If an all-over tan doesn’t tempt you, nearby Paradise Beach is an almost mile-long arc of sand, giving onto a shallow bay complete with water sports and volleyball.

    Insider’s tip: Join a guided sea-kayaking tour around the coast with Rab-based Sea Kayak Croatia.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    10. Sveti Ivan (St John), Lubenice, Cres Island, Kvarner Gulf

    Remote and largely undeveloped, the island of Cres is known for sheep farming and griffon vultures. On the west coast, the hilltop city of Lubenice is a huddle of medieval stone cottages and chapels. From here, a steep winding footpath leads down to a secluded bay – it’s a 40-minute walk, so good walking shoes are recommended. The reward is a blissful white-pebble beach that looks out across the sparkling Adriatic, and the Blue Cave, which you can swim into, in the nearby Žanje Bay. There are no provisions here, so bring water and a towel. Rather than hiking, you can also get here by boat.

    Insider’s tip: If visiting by private boat, ask your skipper to also make stops at Cres town and the village of Valun.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    11. Val Maro Family, Rabac, Istria

    On Istria’s east coast, looking out across the sea to Cres Island, the Valamar Collection Girandella retreat uses lush landscaping to hide smart, modern places to stay and a string of beaches. If you’re travelling with small children, the Val Maro Family Beach is ideal, with fine, white pebbles, umbrellas, translucent water and an inflatable aqua park, while the neighbouring Val Sundance Sandy Family Beach appeals to teenagers with its banana boats, water skiing and parasailing.

    Insider’s tip: Explore the depths of the Adriatic with Girandella Diving, which offers scuba courses for adults and children of all levels.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    12. Banje, Dubrovnik, south Dalmatia

    Immediately outside Dubrovnik’s city walls, this madly popular pebble beach is lined with sunbeds and white-chiffon-draped baldachin beds, and has views of the green island of Lokrum rising on the horizon. In high season, sporty types try water skiing and kayaking, while others chill to the beach club DJ’s tracks, have massages and sip pricey cocktails. It’s particularly lovely at sunset, when the medieval buildings are floodlit. After dark, the place is illuminated by flickering candles and flaming torches as the restaurant serves Mediterranean dishes on the terrace.

    Insider’s tip: Above Banje Beach, Life According to Kawa is a welcoming concept store that stocks home products and clothes by Croatian designers.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    13. Mulini, Rovinj, Istria

    Float across Lone Bay on a stand-up paddleboard for views of Rovinj’s old town, with its pastel-coloured façades, hilltop church and pretty fishing harbour. Behind you, Mulini Beach is a pebble cove with a polished-concrete bathing deck, sunbeds, parasols and a bar serving cocktails and colourful salads. Stay until early evening for DJ music and Mojitos with crushed ice and fragrant mint. Or walk south of Mulini to Zlatni Rt, a lush forest with pines, cypresses, cedars and rock-and-pebble coves, for more secluded bathing.

    Insider’s tip: Inland Istria is famed for its tartufi, or truffles – drive to restaurant Toklarija in Sovinjsko Polje near the town of Buzet to feast on the delights.

    Read more about Istria, Croatia’s reclusive north coast

    Istria, Croatia’s reclusive north coast

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    14. Mala Kolombarica, Premantura, Pula, Istria

    The glistening Adriatic curves around Mala Kolombarica, a dramatic expanse of flat rock slabs, on the southernmost tip of the Istrian peninsula. With cliffs of up to 30ft high that challenge bathers to leap into deep blue water, exhibitionists vie to perform the most daring stunts. Above the rocks, hidden among bamboo and palm fronds, the much-loved Safari beach bar serves chilled drinks and seafood snacks. To reach Mala Kolombarica, trek or cycle along marked trails in Cape Kamenjak Nature Park on the Premantura peninsula, 10 miles south of the city of Pula, with its Roman-era amphitheatre.

    Insider’s tip: Premantura is also a great spot for windsurfing – try Windsurf Station on the nearby Skoljić beach.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    15. Sipar, Mošćenička Draga, Kvarner Gulf

    A long stretch of pebbles, lined with sunbeds overlooking the Kvarner Gulf towards Rijeka and Krk and Cres islands, Mošćenička Draga’s beach, Sipar, is slumberous and villagey for most of the year. Only in high summer does it fill up with visitors who arrive by excursion boats from Opatija. The beach backs on to a row of old stone cottages that host seasonal cafés and ice-cream parlours. Behind Sipar rise the pine-wooded slopes of the Učka mountain – a vertiginous path leads up to the medieval village of Mošćenice.

    Insider’s tip: While in the area, be sure to walk the five-mile seaside promenade from Lovran village to the city of Volosko in Opatija.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    16. Saharun, island of Dugi Otok, North Dalmatia

    As the day progresses, colours change from turquoise to emerald to inky blue at this wide, south-facing bay with a shimmering white-pebble beach and pinewoods. This is Saharun (also known as Sakarun), near the northern tip of Dugi Otok island, a beach perfect for children, with a sandy seabed and shallow water – wade in far from the shore and the sea will remain only knee-deep. It’s undeveloped, with nothing but sunbeds, straw parasols and a couple of makeshift beach bars. The nearest village, Božava, lies around three miles away, and is served by boat from the city of Zadar on the mainland.

    Insider’s tip: On Zadar’s seafront promenade, don’t miss two quirky contemporary installations, the Sea Organ and The Greeting to the Sun, both best experienced at sunset.

    Read more about Zadar

    Zadar: Croatia without the crowds

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    17. Moro, Vela Stupa, island of Korčula, South Dalmatia

    Tiny, rocky Vela Stupa is one of an archipelago of largely uninhabited islets rising from translucent turquoise sea between Korčula Island and Pelješac peninsula. Accessible by speedboat from Korčula town, the spot is ultra-Instagrammable, with a pebble beach, wooden sunbeds, bean bags and two swings in the sea. There’s also a restaurant and bar serving fresh, Adriatic seafood, where the menu changes daily depending on the morning’s catch. The place also has a vegetable garden and makes its own bread and ice cream – plus everything is powered by solar panels.

    Insider’s tip: If you’re travelling with children or like doodling, call at Boya in Korčula Old Town, which sells its own brand of cleverly designed and packaged crayons.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    18. Hvar Beach Club, island of Hvar Town, Central Dalmatia

    Designer sunglasses and a golden tan are de rigueur in trendy Hvar town. Reserve a baldachin on a private pontoon at swanky beach venue Hvar Beach Club (formerly known as Bonj les Bains), a secluded bay rimmed with a curving stone-and-concrete quay, complete with white stone 1920’s cabanas. On an upper terrace, the Sensori O spa offers a Scents of Hvar massage, using fragrant essential oils (lavender, rosemary, sage). Meanwhile, the restaurant serves wholesome smoothies such as the raspberry heaven, with apple, raspberry, mango and blueberries, under the shade of trees overlooking the water.

    Insider’s tip: Shop for super-cool Croatian-designed beachwear at the More (pronounced mor-reh) flagship store on Hvar’s main square.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    19. Šunj, Lopud Island, south Dalmatia

    Dubrovnik aristocracy built weekend villas on Lopud back in the 17th century. Nowadays, visitors use it as an alternative base – perfect for escaping the summer crowds, but close enough to the city for day trips. The car-free, and certainly carefree, island of just 220 full-time residents has a small harbour, faded stone houses set among cypresses and palms, and a superb sandy beach – a rare thing in Croatia. Hike across the island, following a path through fragrant Mediterranean vegetation, to arrive on Šunj, a horseshoe cove with beach bars, shallow water and a soft seabed, making it ideal for children.

    Insider’s tip: Lopud is served by Jadrolinija ferry from Dubrovnik’s Gruž port, which also calls at the neighbouring islands of Sipan and Koločep, so you can visit them, too.

  • The 20 best beaches in Croatia

    20. Vela Plaža, Baška, Krk, Kvarner Gulf

    The sleepy town of Baška sits in a wide, sheltered bay, on the island of Krk’s south coast. It’s built around the impressive, mile-long curving sand-and-pebble beach of Vela Plaža (meaning big beach), giving onto shallow turquoise sea and backed by a promenade lined with cafés, restaurants and hotels. Organised bathing began on the island in 1908 – today, this beach is lined with sunbeds and umbrellas and offers jet skiing, parasailing and scuba diving. It does, however, get very busy in peak season. For something quieter, head to the village Stara Baška, where you’ll find pebble beach Oprna Bay – park and hike the last stretch on a steep, narrow footpath.

    Insider’s tip: The Baška Glagolitic Path is a hiking route marked by 34 stone sculptures, celebrating Glagolitic script (the oldest Slavic alphabet, dating back to the 9th century).

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