5 small rural islands to discover in Croatia

Les petites îles rurales et authentiques de Croatie

Want to discover Croatia differently? Embark on an authentic journey to some of Croatia’s lesser-known, more rural islands.

Croatia is a country rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage. While most tourists focus on popular destinations such as Dubrovnik or Split, there is a real hidden treasure: the small, rural Croatian islands. These lesser-known but equally charming islands offer an authentic world where traditions are preserved and thrive. With their picturesque landscapes, traditional villages, farming and craft practices, festivals and cultural events, Croatia’s small rural islands are a haven for lovers of authenticity. Get off the beaten track and discover them, for a unique experience, far from the tourists, in the heart of authentic Croatia.

The island of Mljet

L'île de Mljet en Croatie

Shutterstock – Novak.elcic

Visit the island of Mljet, a hidden treasure among the small rural Croatian islands. Located between Korcula and Dubrovnik, this island offers an exceptional natural setting. A large part of the island is classified as a National Park, offering breathtaking scenery with lush vegetation stretching right down to the sea. Explore this unspoilt nature on the hiking trails, and don’t forget to climb Montokuc for magnificent panoramic views.

Mljet is also full of cultural and picturesque treasures: the lakes of Malo and Veliko Jezero are true jewels of the island. Immerse yourself in the authentic atmosphere of the villages of Babine Kuce, Pristanieste, Govedari and Soline, where you’ll discover traditional rural life. The charming harbours of Pomena and Polace are also charming ports of call. For lovers of environmentally-friendly sports, Mljet offers activities such as diving, windsurfing and kayaking. The island of Mljet can be reached by ferry from Dubrovnik or Trstenik in around 1 h 30.

The island of Losinj

Le village de Veli Losinj sur l'île rurale croate de Losinj en Croatie

Shutterstock – Creative Travel Projects

Welcome to Losinj, one of the most charming rural Croatian islands in the Kvarner Bay, north of the Adriatic Sea. Here, you’ll discover a truly unspoilt paradise, and be amazed by the diversity of ecosystems that are home to over 1,200 species of vegetation, including 231 medicinal plants. Losinj’s crystal-clear waters also offer ideal conditions for shallow-water diving. But what really makes this island special is its dolphin population. Every year on August 7, Losinj celebrates « Dolphin Day » since 1993, a unique opportunity to discover these animals and raise awareness of their protection.

During your visit to Losinj, don’t miss Veli Losinj, a picturesque village that was declared a « climatic medical resort » in the 19th century. Stroll through its narrow streets, admire the traditional stone houses and enjoy the gentle pace of life here. What’s more, you can visit the educational center dedicated to the Adriatic Sea to learn more about the island’s flora and fauna through exhibitions, workshops and courses.

The island of Pag

Les paysages désertiques de l'île de Pag en Croatie

Shutterstock – Xbrchx

Located just 30 km from Zadar, the island of Pag is a unique destination with its lunar landscapes, characterized by white rock and an absence of vegetation. The island is renowned for its traditional way of life, which continues to thrive today. Rooted in salt production and sheep farming, Pag offers you the opportunity to discover age-old traditions. Pag lacemaking, dating back to antiquity, is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can also taste the famous Paski Sir cheese, made locally and renowned for its unique flavor.

With over 30,000 sheep – 4 times as many as the island’s population – Pag is a true pastoral paradise. From October to April, you can immerse yourself in a calm and peaceful atmosphere, while the island comes alive during the summer months with the influx of young revelers on the beach at Zrce, near Novalja. Pag is easily reached by bus or ferry from Zadar, with a journey time of just one hour.

Lastovo Island

L'île authentique de Lastovo en Croatie

Shutterstock – Simun Ascic

Another of Croatia’s unspoilt treasures is the island of Lastovo. Located in South Dalmatia, near Dubrovnik, this small island offers an authentic immersion in Croatian rural life. Here, livestock rearing, farming and fishing punctuate the daily lives of the inhabitants, creating a warm, traditional atmosphere.

The island of Lastovo is the ideal place for those wishing to immerse themselves in Dalmatian agritourism and gastronomy. Explore the hiking trails that reveal secret coves and the magnificent Pleševo peak, reaching 417 meters above sea level. Diving enthusiasts will be delighted to discover Lastovo’s incredible seabed, which rivals even those of the Kornati archipelago.

Less well known than other Croatian destinations, the island of Lastovo retains an unspoilt, soothing character. Ferry connections from Dubrovnik are less frequent, but offer the perfect opportunity to get off the beaten track.

The island of Šipan

Village de Sudurad sur l'île de Sipan en Croatie

Shutterstock – Witr

Discover Šipan, the largest of the Elaphite Islands, just 17 km northwest of Dubrovnik. This charming rural Croatian island is a true rural paradise where you can swim without the crowds. As you roam the island’s sun-drenched hillsides, you’ll discover an incredible diversity of fruits such as oranges, lemons, grapes, figs, almonds and olives. In fact, did you know that Sipan holds a world record for the number of olive trees in relation to the number of inhabitants?

With around 500 inhabitants divided between the two picturesque villages of Sudurad and Sipanska Luka, Sipan exudes a warm, authentic atmosphere. Meet the locals in the friendly restaurants and bars. Taste the unmissable fish grills regularly held on one of the beaches. In addition to its bountiful nature, Sipan also boasts a remarkable religious heritage, with 34 buildings scattered across the island. Be sure to visit the Sveti Duh church, a flat-roofed jewel and the largest of its kind in the Adriatic. And for your convenience, Sipanska Luka has a direct ferry link to Dubrovnik, just 45 minutes away.

Visit Croatia in a different way and let yourself be seduced by the rural charm of these small Croatian islands. Don’t hesitate to share your destination suggestions in the comments!