Croatia’s southern islands are now internationally recognized as some of the most popular in Europe. The tourism boom has exploded on this Croatia ferry route over the past few years, and we were ready to see what all the hype was about! Traveling down from Slovenia and island hopping through northern Croatia, we were beyond excited when we got to what’s also known as the Dalmatia islands. Below we break down the best of southern Croatia, our route, and some of our favorite parts about each of these beautiful islands!
Croatia Travel Inspiration
- 16 Fun Tips for Visiting the Island of Mali Losinj Croatia
- How to Plan a Trip Anywhere: 10 Step Easy Guide
- Dubrovnik to Montenegro by Bus: Top Tips and Helpful Info
- How to Find the Best Airbnb: 8 Tips We Always Use
- How to Rent a Scooter in Mali Losinj Croatia: One Day Adventure
Understanding The Croatia Ferry and Catamaran Systems
Ferry: When talking about a ferry on the Croatian islands it is referred to as a car ferry. If you are traveling through Croatia with a car this will be your only option to get from island to island. However, you can also buy a walk on passenger ticket if you don’t have a car. For traveling without a car the ferry is often cheaper than a Catamaran, but doesn’t run as often and takes longer.
Catamaran: A Catamaran is specifically for passengers, meaning no cars. This is important to note because if you get the two confused you will be in for a much longer trip through Croatia’s northern islands! As it’s faster and slightly more expensive than the ferry, the catamarans typically have more sailing days and is the way to travel throughout the islands with no car.
Why Know the difference?
We walked into a ticket office and asked to buy a ticket for the “ferry” that was leaving the next day. We were quite alarmed when we were told that there wouldn’t be a ferry for several days.
Quickly the confusion settled when they realized we were talking about the catamaran and not the ferry. Most of the time you actually buy the tickets at separate places. This means if you’re looking to buy a Catamaran, but are asking where to get Ferry tickets you’ll end up at the wrong place!
→ This information is also found in our post about island hopping Croatia’s northern islands!
Schedule of Croatia’s Southern Islands
The benefit of Croatia’s southern islands being more touristic is that there are many more boats and routes that connect the islands. Weather pending, there are multiple ferries and catamarans that leave daily from both Split and Dubrovnik as well as hopper catamarans to some of the smaller ports.
Cost: When traveling thorough Croatia’s southern islands ferry tickets run about 10-15 Euros per island. The most expensive leg is from Hvar to Vis which can run almost triple the cost! Taking the Catamaran vs. Ferry will affect these prices, and of course having a car will play a factor.
Our Dalmatia Islands Route
- Split → Bol
- Bol → Hvar
- Hvar → Vis
- Vis → Korcula (With quick stop in Hvar)
- Korcula → Mljet
- Mljet → Dubrovnik
Croatia’s Southern Islands Weather Warning
We had a similar situation happen in the southern islands as the north when it came to weather. When leaving Bol we went to the ticket stand to buy our pass only to find out that the ferry was not running. It’s essential to know that on the smaller islands the ticket counters don’t open until 45 minutes before.
Realistically we could have called the ferry line to check it was running, or went to the tourist information center earlier. However, without a cloud in the sky we really had no reason to expect any issues. The problem is that even if the weather is clear where you are it has to be good conditions on that entire Croatia ferry route or it won’t run!
A small crowd gathered and you could see the disappointment on each traveler’s face as they learned about the ferry. When this happens you might be down, but not out! There was another ferry that was running to a different port on the island of Hvar.
We were able to take that ferry, then hire a van with some people we met. This way we still got to the port of Hvar it just took a little extra stress, travel, time, and money. Be warned that when traveling in the off or swing season this is a very real possibility.
Starting From Split
When traveling through Croatia’s southern islands you are bound to end up in Split! This port city on the mainland is packed with culture and like-minded travelers who are more than ready for the islands.
Split is a place that’s important to Croatia’s history, and a must-visit when traveling through the country. We recommend at least one night here to soak in the city before you start your island hopping adventure.
5 Best Islands in Southern Croatia
We absolutely loved Brac Island, and especially the small village of Bol. This would be the first place we would want to go back to if we were magically transported to this Croatia ferry route.
The tiny island town had the perfect mix of small cafes that lined the harbor, traditional houses built into the hillside, and beautiful beaches. At one point we even sat in the harbor overlooking the town and questioned if we could live there forever. If you love a more relaxed and laid-back island, Brac is for you!
- 15 Tips for Visiting the Charming Town of Bol Croatia on Brac Island
- Top 5 Stunning Beaches in Bol Croatia for Every Type of Traveler
- Golden Horn Croatia: Guide to Croatia’s Most Famous Beach
Have you even really been island hopping in Croatia if you don’t visit Hvar? The upscale hub in the Port of Hvar mixes old town style with an upscale modern flair. The island parties just off the coast attract world-famous DJ’s, and it’s considered by many to be the best island in Croatia.
Over the years, Hvar has become a playground for the rich and famous so it’s certainly a sight to see. Even if you only have one day on Hvar you can get out of the main town and explore the lesser-known parts of the island.
- 13 Quick Tips for Visiting the Beautiful Hvar Town in Croatia
- One Perfect Day Exploring the Famous Port of Hvar Croatia
Mamma Mia… Vis is getting popular! Vis actually used to be a secret hideaway for locals and travelers who ventured off the beaten path in the Dalmatia Islands. Still, even with its growing popularity (somewhat because of the movie) Vis remains one of the most gorgeous and unique islands on the Croatia ferry route.
Nonetheless, it is off the main drag so it takes some work to get here. Hop on one of the few ferries a week from Split or Hvar, and make the journey to this secluded island. The extra time and effort to get here will be well worth it!
Out of all of Croatia’s southern islands, Korcula might be the most special. For over hundreds of years different countries have fought to claim this port as their own, but it has truly withstood the test of time.
Dubbed as a mini Dubrovnik, Korcula town feels like you are stepping back into the Middle Ages… Just with a few more nice cafes and shops! While on the island make sure to drink local Grk wine, and visit one of the only sandy beaches on the Croatia ferry route.
Mljet will be a welcoming paradise for any nature lover visiting the Dalmatia Islands. Now that is mostly to do with the fact that the Mljet National Park takes over the majority of the island.
Nevertheless, your days will be spent hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and disconnecting from the outside world. This is also one of the most easily accessible islands to get to on the Croatia ferry route as it’s just an hour boat ride from Dubrovnik.
Back to the Mainland
Much like the coastal city of Split, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up in Dubrovnik when hopping around Croatia’s southern islands. Considered the gateway to the Dalmatia Islands, this city on the water is unlike any other you will go to. This fortress on the sea is a must-see when traveling through Croatia.
The crowds may overwhelm you, but if you take just one piece of advice from us it should be this: Don’t miss out on walking the walls of Dubrovnik! They will take you above the city as you spend hours admiring the architecture, countryside, and history of this magical place.
- 15 Helpful Tips for Your First Visit to Historic Dubrovnik Croatia
- Dubrovnik City Walls: Epic Guide to the Best Stops & Viewpoints
Let us know what was your own favorite stop through Croatia’s Southern islands! Also, if you have any questions about island hopping in Croatia please comment below and we would be happy to help.
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Pin For Later ↓
Croatia Travel Planning
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities around the country. You can book a blue cave 5 islands tour from Split, go sea kayaking in Dubrovnik, or take a day trip to the famous Krka National Park.
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to rent vehicles on our travels. In Croatia, you can even take your car on the ferries so you have wheels for the different islands!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
*We receive a commission for purchases made through links in this post. This allows us to continue our travels and keep providing great content to our readers! Also, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.