Cres is an Adriatic island in Croatia, situated in the northern part of the Kvarner Gulf; the island can be reached by ferry from the island Krk or from the Istrian peninsula. With an area of 405.78 km² Cres has the same size as the neighbouring island of Krk even though Krk was considered the largest Croatian island for many years. Cres has approximately 3,184 inhabitants.
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From the distance the island appears as a rugged chain of hills; even when you visit the island you often find it bare. One reason for that is the location of Cres; the island is not protected from the cold wind Bura blowing from the mainland, so there is mainly low-growing vegetation in the western part of the island and only on the eastern side of Cres you can find deciduous trees.
A road leads from the north to the south where a swing bridge connects the island with the island of Losinj. In ancient times two islands were separated by an 11 meter wide channel. The channel was built either by the the Illyrians or the Romans, there is no exact information about it. Approximately in the middle of the island lies the Vrana Lake. Swimming and fishing are forbidden in the lake. The reason for that is that since 1953 the drinking water for the town of Cres and also for the cities on the neighbouring island of Losinj comes from the lake. The water surface of the lake is 13 meters above sea level, the ground 75 meters below sea level.
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The beautiful beaches, the preserved environment and the clean sea are the main tourist attractions of the island. On the island of Cres you can find all kinds of beaches, you can chose between small, big, stone, pebbly, shingle or sandy beaches, depending on what kind of beach you prefer.
Beach Mali bok, Orlec: The Mali Bok is set in the small village of Orlec, not far from Cres. This is a pebbly beach sheltered by high cliffs which provide the beach with shade on hot summer days. A steep path runs to the beach, but you should take the effort because it is worth it.
Beach Valun, Valun: Valun is a small coastal village with a beautiful shingle beach which is rimmed by a pine forest. In the vicinity of the beach you can find everything you need; a shop, restaurants and coffee shops.
Beach Sv. Ivan, Lubenice: This beach is located in the bay under Lubenice. The snow-white pebbly beach is, thanks to the crystal clear sea, known as one of the most beautiful and most popular beaches on the island. There are no tourist activities and the beach is quite isolated which makes it perfect for a relaxing and peaceful vacation.
There are only two hotels on the island but both of them are very cosy and they offer a beautiful location, right at the beach.
One of them is the three-star hotel Kimen which offers 128 rooms of which every has a balcony. The hotel is located at the beach, a 10 minute walk away from the centre of Cres. This environmentally conscious hotel was awarded the Green Key eco-certification. The hotel offers a sauna and a fitness room. Other activities include tennis, mini golf, hiking, biking, scuba diving and boat trips. In the hotel there are also massages, beauty treatments and hairdressing services available.
The other hotel on the island of Cres is the hotel Zlatni lav which offers 29 rooms. This hotel is situated at a unique location near the bay Martiniscica and a picturesque sandy beach. The comfortable rooms have all the necessary facilities and the bathrooms are elegantly and practically arranged. From the balconies you can enjoy a beautiful view over the sea or the forest. The hotel also offers activities like fishing, billiards, darts, canoeing, hiking, cycling, diving, mini golf, bike hire.
If you are looking for private accommodation, you can choose between many home stay offers. Houses and apartments can be rented in both new parts of the town but as well in the very old city centre.
If you prefer to spend your vacation in the nature, you might be interested in one of the four campsites on Cres. The parcels of the Camp Kovačine are located on magnificent 23 acres of very well forested area. The camp is surrounded by clear sea and pebbly beaches. The camp has a total of 150 mobile homes for 4-6 people, located in a pine forest, close to the sea and new mobile homes for 2 persons.
Camp Slatina has several times been awarded as the best campsite in Croatia. Accommodation is provided on terraced stacked plots which offer a view of the sea. In the camp there are three types of plots: Premium, Comfort, Standard and the accommodation is available in mobile homes that are fully furnished.
Camping Zdovice is a small, simple, yet idyllic camp which is located in the picturesque bay Valun. The camp is located on a partially wooded area and a pebbly beach. It can accommodate up to 220 guests. In the camp it is only possible to stay in tents, cars and campers are not allowed. In the vicinity of the campsite you can find bars, restaurants and kiosks.
Camping Brajdi is a simple and idyllic camp on the coast with beautiful pebbly beaches and small pier. The camp’s capacity is a maximum of 250 guests and the plots are located on a partially wooded terrain.
The round Venetian tower is the only one from four towers that has been preserved. The tower dates back to the 15th century and it is placed in the northwest of the city. During your stay in Cres you should also visit the remnants of the city walls. Cres was walled already in the Middle Ages. Those walls have been renovated in the 16th century and the inhabitants of Cres lived solely inside the city walls until the end of the Venetian era. Don’t miss visiting the 8 kilometre long Roman bridge at the city entrance which goes over the canyon. This is the only Roman bridge on the east cost Adriatic which has been fully preserved.
The museum of Cres is placed in the Gothic-Renaissance building Arsan. This beautiful building was built at the beginning of the 16th century by the bishop Antun Marcello Petris. Legend has it that Frane Petric, a Renaissance philosopher from Cres, was born there. Since the museum is in the process of renovation, occasional exhibitions try to show all segments of the life on the island since the ancient times.
If you are interested in visiting some churches during your vacation, in Cres you have plenty to see. The parish Church St. Mary of the snow, which has been built in the 15th century, is a three-nave church which holds a collection of old masters. The most valuable is the St. Sebastian polyptych with saints from the 15th century. Another interesting thing to visit is the Franciscan Convent from around 1300. In the convent you can find a museum with a collection of paintings and sculptures of old masters.
If you wish to see something more than the island of Cres, you can organise a daytrip from Cres. The neighbouring island Krk is easily reachable by ferry from Cres. From the ferry port Merag in Cres there are, during the summer season, connections to Krk.
Another possibility is to take a catamaran from Cres and visit another neighbouring island – Mali Losinj. Travelling with the catamaran you can also visit the mainland and enjoy a day in Rijeka. If you would like to continue your trip and not only stay in Rijeka, you can take the bus to almost every Croatian city, since Rijeka has a great bus connection to all the bigger cities in Croatia.
If you are staying in Cres you should visit one of the plenty restaurants. If you are not sure what to eat, Cres is well known for its excellent lamb, so make sure to try that. The lamb has an extraordinary taste thanks to the traditional free sheep grazing. If you are more into fish and seafood, you should also try some fresh fish, shrimps, lobsters and other crabs and shells prepared in many different ways.
Some of the restaurants are the restaurant Caruso, Cres or Riva. You shouldn’t miss visiting one of the famous konobas – Croatian traditional taverns where you can usually find great homemade food and a great domestic atmosphere. Some of the konobas on Cres are; Bonaca, Busola, Mare… On Cres you can also find quite a few pizzerias; Palada, Capitano or Luna Rossa.
In Cres you can find small shops where you can find everything you need for your vacation. For your everyday groceries those little shops will be enough, but you should bear in mind that the prices on islands are usually a bit higher then on the mainland. So, if you need something bigger, make sure to buy it earlier on the mainland.
After the whole day relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Cres you can enjoy your evening at one of the many festivities on Cres. If you like classical music, you shouldn’t miss the Lubenice Music evenings in the parish church Lubenice.
For all the Jazz music lovers there is the CREScendo Music Festival. World class domestic and foreign Jazz musicians perform every year at this event.
Another important happening on the island of Cres is the summer carnival in Cres. A large group from Cres, but also more and more groups from Italy are part of this carnival. The summer carnival in Cres is for sure one of the most appealing events in the Adriatic.
No matter which means of transport you are using, you will have to travel by ferry to get to Cres. You can travel either via Krk (Krk bridge – Ferry Terminal Valbiska Krk – Ferry Terminal Merag Cres) or via Istria (Ferry Terminal Brestova Istra – Ferry Terminal Porozina Cres).
If you are travelling by plane, the nearest airport is the one on the island of Krk, from where you will have to continue your journey by ferry to Cres.
Here you can see in detail how to get to the island of Cres.