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.
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.
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.
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.