Croatia has quickly become a favourite holiday destination for people from across Europe. It is a colourful and vibrant country with friendly locals and lots to see and do. When you’re organising your holidays to Croatia we recommend planning your itinerary in advance so that you’ll get to see and do exactly those things that are most important to you. |
One of the “must see” stops is, obviously, the ancient city of Dubrovnik. But, just to the northwest of the city, in the Adriatic Sea and just a short distance from the coast, is a small group of islands covering just 12 square miles (30 square kilometres) – the Elafiti Islands. The name “Elafiti” means “deer” in Greek and, way back in the past, the islands had a very large deer population. Today, however, the people of these islands (the three main islands, Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan have a combined population of less than 1,000) are dependent primarily on fishing.
One of the great things about the islands and what makes them perfect for a quick tour during your holidays to Croatia is that they offer you a totally different Croatian experience.
On two of the islands, Kolocep (population 300) and Lopud (population 200) there are no cars and the only way around is by foot. But this proves to be a great advantage, because the islands abound in natural beauty and are a perfect quick break from a hectic holiday schedule.
Let’s take a quick look at the three main islands.
This is the smallest of the three main islands and the closest to Dubrovnik. On the island there are two fishing villages, Gornje (upper) Celo and Donje (lower) Celo. Take a 35-minute ferry trip from Dubrovnik to get there and enjoy your time by exploring the many paths that criss-cross the island and meander through its dense pine forest. The island is also home to some old churches dating back to the 9th, 11th and 12th centuries.
Kolocep has a number of coves and inlets and some really nice beaches, perfect for the swimmer keen to explore.
Set between Kolocep and Otok, Lopud has a population of just 200 concentrated in one small fishing village. The island is served by the same ferry that sails to Kolocep and Sipan and the trip takes about 55 minutes.
Car-free like Kolocep, you can spend a relaxing day walking and exploring the ancient churches and the remains of an old fortress and 15th century monastery that overlooks the village of Lopud.
For beach lovers, check out Sunj Bay on the opposite side of the island from the village. You can also hire a bike to explore the island or a kayak to explore its great coastline.
Despite its size, the island has quite a few hotels and resorts (four and three star).
The largest of the three main islands with a population of around 500, Sipan does have cars and a road and even a bus service between the island’s two villages – Sadjuradi on the island’s south-eastern tip and Sipanska Luka on the western coast.
Getting to the island from Dubrovnik is possible via a catamaran ferry which takes about 40 minutes and in the summer months continues on to two smaller islands. You can also take the ferry (the one that sails to Kolocep and Lopud – a trip of around an hour and a quarter.
As with the other islands, the scenery is beautiful and, despite the road, it’s a very quiet place. Look for the Church of St. Peter (11th century) and the Church of the Holy Spirit (1569).
The island also has a locally famous fish restaurant, Kod Marka, which serves delicious fresh fish and seafood dishes.
If you want to stay a bit longer, there are couple of good quality hotels (3 and 4 star).
So, if you’re planning holidays to Croatia, we recommend taking at least one day to explore these almost untouched islands.
John Dixon is Managing Director of Prestige Holidays and visits Croatia at least twice a year. He has been providing luxury holidays to Croatia as well as luxury holidays to many other destinations worldwide for over 30 years.
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