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Croatia: Love islands

Mjet National Park. Image: Getty

With hundreds to choose from, getting a Croatian island holiday right requires a little inside knowledge. Ben Lerwill matches up travellers with their perfect place

 

Mljet
Best for:
A green escape.

Laid-back Mljet is all about the landscape. Its northern third is a national park, complete with saltwater lakes and stunning coastal scenery, while the whole island is one of broad coves and cypress-covered slopes. Legend has it that Odysseus spent seven years here, and it’s not hard to see why he hung around.
How to do it: Prestige Holidays offers seven nights at the Hotel Odisej on Mljet from £472.75 per person. prestigeholidays.co.uk
If you like this, why not try: Cres — a haven for hikers and birdwatchers.

Brač
Best for:
Beaches.

Brač is a photogenic spread of pine forests, sheer cliffs and enticing beaches — the best-known of which is the spectacular Zlatni Rat, a headland of white pebbles spearing into the blue of the Adriatic. The island is also a popular spot for watersports. Brač’s pale stone was famously used in the construction of the White House in the US.
How to do it: Jet2Holidays.com has seven nights at the Bluesun Hotel Borak on Brač from £391 per person. jet2holidays.com
If you like this, why not try: Susak — home to some of the best beaches on the Adriatic.

Festivalgoers in Murter. Image: Getty

Murter
Best for: Festivalgoers.

The island of Murter, easily reached from the central mainland, hosts several big-name festivals each year, all of which take place in the coastal town of Tisno over the summer months. Tickets for Soundwave Croatia 2018 are on sale now from soundwavecroatia.com. The festival takes place between 26-30 July.
How to do it: Hellene Travel has an eight-day tour of Croatia that includes Murter and numerous other destinations, from £679 per person. hellene-travel.com
If you like this, why not try: Pag — another Croatian festival hotspot, hosting the likes of Sonus and Hideout.

Dugi Otok
Best for: Getting away from it all.

Overlooked by most tourists and still operating at a deliciously slow pace, Dugi Otok is easily reached from the Dalmatian city of Zadar. The island’s name translates as ‘Long Island’ — it measures a little under 30 miles in length and just over three across — and within its borders you’ll find near-empty beaches, secret coves, ancient ruins and nature parks. Zadar itself has become a lively spot; Dugi Otok is its unhurried neighbour.
How to do it: Flexitreks has a ‘Dalmatia National Parks Bike & Boat’ itinerary that includes Dugi Otok from £859 per person, without flights. Accommodation is on the boat. flexitreks.com
If you like this, why not try: Vis — a foodie hotspot and the furthest-flung of all the
country’s islands.

Korčula
Best for: History.

Korčula’s glorious medieval walled town is full of gothic and Renaissance buildings, and provides a jumping-off point for a lush coastline of fishing villages and sweeping woodlands. Locals claim that Marco Polo was born here: that’s disputed by Venice, but there’s a museum here dedicated to the legendary explorer.
How to do it: TUI offers seven nights at the new Port 9 Family Island Resort on Korčula from £514 per person. tui.co.uk
If you like this, why not try: The Brijuni Islands — a national park complete with Roman ruins.

Hvar
Best for: High-flyers.

With its glitzy reputation, Hvar has long been synonymous with yacht-crowded marinas and summer parties. However, reasonably priced accommodation isn’t hard to come by. The island’s beach bar scene is a high-energy affair, particularly around the historical capital of Hvar Town. The interior, by contrast, offers vineyards, old hamlets and gorgeous lavender fields. The ferry from Split takes around two hours.
How to do it: Jet2Holidays.com has seven nights at the Pharos Hotel on Hvar from £412 per person, based on departure from Stansted in May 2018. jet2holidays.com
If you like this, why not try: Mali Lošinj — a forested island with a number of luxury hotels.

Rab
Best for: Natural diversity.

King Edward VIII famously brought his married lover Wallis Simpson to Rab in 1936, allegedly casting off his regal swimming trunks for a dip in the sea. Eight decades on, it remains a liberating, nature-friendly island. Sitting pretty in the Kvarner Gulf in northern Croatia, it packs in sandy beaches, limestone ridges, charming wooded bays and a geopark full of rare plants and flowers. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful islands in the country.
How to do it: Arena Travel has a 10-night half-board stay at the recently refurbished Padova Hotel from £1,249 per person, based on a June 2018 departure. arenatravel.com
If you like this, why not try: the Kornati Islands — 140 islands with great marine life.

Krk
Best for: Easy access.

A toll bridge just under a mile long separates Krk from the Croatian mainland, making it straightforward to factor this northerly island into a wider itinerary. This is partly why it draws so many annual arrivals — it has its own airport too — and the result is that visitors can expect a well-developed holiday infrastructure. Aside from the beaches, the island also has historical charm (there’s a Romanesque cathedral in Krk Town), good wine and some great hiking trails.
How to do it: Classic Collection Holidays offers seven nights at the Hotel Malin on Krk from £724 per person, based on a May 2018 departure from Heathrow. classic-collection.co.uk
If you like this, why not try: Čiovo — reachable by bridge from the medieval town of Trogir.

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