This summer Josh and I were invited to a wedding in Porec, Croatia, which is on the coast of the Istrian Peninsula in the western part of the country. We couldn’t turn down the opportunity to also do a bit of our own exploring before attending the wedding.
With only a few days, we decided to visit the sleepy island of Cres, Croatia in the Adriatic Sea.
Croatia increasingly seems to be the place to be, especially in the summer months! I’m sure you’ve lusted over the same beautiful Instagram photos of Croatia as I have. Or maybe you are just a major Game of Thrones fan (hello King’s Landing aka Croatia’s city of Dubrovnik!).
The island of Cres is SO different than the madness of many other Croatian islands and cities in the summer months. It’s one of the country’s largest islands but also one of it’s least developed. There are a few towns that draw in tourists, but for the most part the island is rugged wilderness of pine trees and rocky cliffs, surrounded by the bluest and clearest water I have ever seen.
The closest airport is in Pula, Croatia. From there we rented a car and drove an hour and a half to the port of Brestova where we caught the ferry to the port of Porozina on the island of Cres. The 20 minute ferry ride costs around £15 each way for a car. The ferry timetable can be found here. We didn’t find that this matched when the ferry actually left though. The ferry seems to leave fairly regularly so it’s probably worth just showing up. But keep in mind that in the summer months the ferry fills up fast!
From the port of Porozina, on the northern part of the island, we drove down some seriously tiny and windy roads – past olive trees and tiny villages perched on the cliffside to Cres town where we stayed.
Where to Stay:
We settled on staying at an AirBnB with a family in the ancient Cres town. I enjoyed this because we were able to escape to the quite beaches and country-side during the day, but were also able to spend the evenings at restaurants and bars in the more populated Cres town. There are also a lot of other options around the island. Next time I’d love to do some camping in the rugged hillside! Other options include:
- Pansion Tramontana (from £42) is near the small town of Beli. It’s a great base for setting off for for diving, hiking or biking.
- Villa Neho (from £72) is a guesthouse in the town of Cres
New to Air BnB? Get £36 off your first stay with my code here.
What to Do on the Island of Cres:
The island is only 65 km long and very narrow. You can literally see the Adriatic Sea on both sides at some points! Despite its size, there are so many beaches, tiny cliffside villages, hiking trails and things to explore on Cres. We only had a few days on the island, so below are just a few highlights of what I enjoyed doing while we were there.
The town of Cres is the administrative center of the island and the most populated city. But don’t worry, with a population of under 3,000 people, Cres is still as relaxed as the rest of the island. The old city in Cres is only accessible by foot and once you’ve wandered the narrow alleyways of the old city you’ll find it opens up in the middle to a colorful piazza surrounded by fishing boats. If it reminds you a bit of Venice, that’s because it was in fact under Venetian rule at one point.
There are many spots in Cres to wine and dine but keep in mind that some of the restaurants right along Cres port can be a bit touristy during the summer months. I would recommend having seafood at Gostionica Belona, early morning pastries at Loznati bakery and wine in the port area at Vina Miramar.
TIP: If you don’t want the trouble of hiking or boating to many of the other more secluded beaches on the island, there are beaches on either side of Cres town that you can easily walk to. Just keep in mind that these will be more busy, especially in summer months.
Lubenice is a 4,000 year old settlement situated on a ridge line overlooking the sea on the islands west coast. The tiny village – with its stone houses, medieval remnants, chapels and fig trees – will take you back in time. If you are visiting during the summer months, there are often concerts organized in the square in front of St. Mary’s Church.
If you go to Lubenice by boat there are so many caves, coves and beaches to visit. One such beach is Sveti Ivan, which sits under the village of Lubenice. You can also access the beach by foot from Lubenice village. It takes 45 minutes to walk down but can take up to twice as long to walk back up! Next to Sveti Ivan beach is the Blue Grotto – a hidden cave with a big lagoon inside.
The town of Beli is perched on a hill in the Tramotana forest on the northern part of the island of Cres. It has been inhabited for 2,000 years but, like many of the villages on the island, the population has shrunk dramatically in recent times. Below the town is a small fishing port and unspoilt pebble beach. Beli is a great town to be based in if you would like to do a lot of hiking or outdoor activities. The hotel Pansion Tramontana is situated near 7 walking trails, which wander by abandoned villages or lead you to the highest peak on the island, Gorice (648 m). Beli also has a sanctuary where you can try to spot the elusive and protected Griffon Vulture.
Mali Bok Beach
Most of the beaches on Cres take a little bit of work to get to – either by foot or by boat – but the crystal clear blue water always makes it more than worth it. The small pebble beach of Mali Bok is one of these beachs. To get there, head to the town of Orlec and from there you will see signs to the beach. At the end of the main road you will have to walk downhill 15 minutes or so. The harder part will be walking back up in the heat! After a long day at the beach, Konoba Mali Bok restaurant in Orlec is a great spot to grab something to eat.
TIP: Pack water shoes! Most of the beaches on the island are pebble beaches and it can be painful to walk out into the water barefoot. I REALLY wish I would have brought some with me on my trip.
La Plaza Beach
This beach is only accessible by boat. It’s a great spot for diving or snorkeling, with reefs on both sides of the beach. There is also a nearby cave for exploring or trails for doing some more hiking. Use Tramontana Outdoor to help you book a boat tour to the beach. Boat tours can also be booked from the old port in Cres town.
TIP: Bring plenty of water and snacks when you hike or visit some of the secluded beaches on the island. There is often no shade or facilities.