Experience Cres - The Largest Island in Croatia

20 May 2024

The moment you arrive on Cres, your troubles back at home melt into the distant past. Scrub and olives contrast with white rock and give way to azure seas and blue skies. Somehow, Cres island has been relatively unscathed by the ravages of the tourist industry, leaving both its natural environment and its towns and villages just as they should be.

Beach of Koromačno on Cres Island, Croatia © Tim Ertl, Flickr CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0

Cres town is today’s capital of the island. The gothic architecture you’ll find here owes much to the island’s long connection with Venice – it was annexed to the Venetian Republic for much of the period between the year 1000 and 1797. There are a number of fine churches and palaces, one of which houses the Cres museum with its collection of sculptures, icons and prehistoric and Roman artefacts. The town’s main square has been renovated, and the atmosphere there is supremely relaxing. Cres town has a large marina and a string of shingle beaches, and although it’s largely unspoilt, retains an unpretentious feel.

If you have the opportunity to tour at all (Cres is difficult to negotiate if you don’t have your own wheels), the town of Lubenice is something you should definitely not miss. This old village’s setting on a high cliff against the backdrop of the sea is absolutely spectacular. Hundreds of metres below you, the colour of the sea against the yellow shingle beach is incredibly inviting, but the idea of the climb back up the hillside is equally off-putting for all but the most determined pleasure-seekers. Lubenice is known for hosting exhibitions of photography and for its musical evenings.

Moving south again towards the point where a short road bridge connects Cres with the island of Lošinj, you pass by beautiful freshwater Lake Vransko. It’s fenced off since it ensures the islanders’ supply of drinking water. Finally, Osor town, which once used to be the administrative centre of the island, is now a quiet stone village basking in the sunlight and its reputation as an artists’ colony. You’ll see modern sculptures adorning the streets and squares, and the former town hall on the main square now houses the Archeological Collection of Osor.

Things to do on Cres

  • Take a walk through Valun, a charming fishing village that is a picture of traditional life on Cres
  • Hike 380 metres up to the hill fort of Lubenice for stunning views of the Adriatic Sea
  • Explore the enchanting Tramuntana forest, packed with giant oaks and imposing chestnut trees from centuries past, as well as educational trails, cycling and hiking routes, and seven challenging labyrinths
  • Feast at Mesnica Cres, a delicatessen selling traditional Cres produce like sage honey and lamb sausages
  • Experience the maritime heritage and traditions of Cres at the annual Creski kaić festival, held the first week of June
  • Get melodic at the Osor musical nights, which take place every August in gorgeous Osor, a town famous for its series of monuments and sculptures lining the walk to the Cathedral
  • Fill the camera roll with snaps of the views from Sis, a gorgeous peak 639m in the area serving stunning vistas of the Gulf of Rijeka and more

Getting to the island of Cres

To get to Cres, visitors need to jump on a ferry at Brestova on the mainland or Valbiska on Krk. There are also daily catamarans (in summer) running between Rijeka and Cres, and the journey takes about an hour and 20 minutes. Rijeka is the largest city in the vicinity of these islands, and Rijeka International Airport is actually located in the town of Omišalj on Krk. 


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