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Mountainous Lošinj is etched with trails / Image: Mónica R Goya

Unspoilt, authentic and covered in walking trails and beaches, the islands around Croatia’s Istria peninsula are the perfect alternative to the country’s usual party circuit. Chart a course from the city of Pula for these four idyllic holiday spots.

Exploring the whole country? These are Croatia's best national parks

A rocky promenade on the island of Lošinj / Image: Mónica R Goya


Known as the ‘island of vitality’, Lošinj’s astonishingly beautiful, mountainous terrain is crisscrossed by more than 250km of pine-lined trails for walkers and cyclists. You can also click with the 180-strong bottlenosed community based around the island’s archipelago on a dolphin-spotting tour.

Cres island is an unspoilt blip in the Adriatic / Image: Mónica R Goya


No luxury resorts. No tourist traps. No souvenir shops. Instead, Cres has… sheep. Happy ones, that gallivant across the 66km-long island’s rugged terrain. Think weather-beaten mountains, winding roads through forests of pine and ancient oak and rocky footpaths zigzagging between dry stone walls.

Veliki Brijun
The Brijun islands have history and a national park / Image: Mónica R Goya

Veliki Brijun

The largest of the 14 Brijun islands, Veliki Brijun is home to one of Croatia’s eight national parks. Day-trippers are drawn by the history – the island was also a hotspot for the Romans, who built villas and planted olive trees here – the exotic flora and the wild rocky beaches.


An island with a refreshingly chilled feel, Rab’s beaches are covered in glorious golden sand, rather than the usual Croatian pebbles. Serious sunbathers head to the northerly Lopar peninsula for the crescent-shaped Paradise Beach. The clue’s in the name: Paradise is wading distance away from a tiny island, perfect for when you want heaven to yourself.


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