Cres Island Croatia is an Adriatic island, situated in the northern part of the Kvarner Gulf. 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.
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.
Beaches on Cres Island Croatia
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.
What to do and see on Cres
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.
Where to eat on Cres
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.
Shopping on Cres
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.
Nightlife on Cres
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.
Osor, is a lovely place located at the exact point where Cres and Lošinj meet. Once a single island, the two got separated by a burrowed canal that made communication and transport around the archipelago much easier; the new layout also made Osor an important port connecting Kvarner area with northern Dalmatia.
Some of the streets and the main square are dotted with sculptures made by the legendary Ivan Meštrović and other Croatian masters. Osor is also known for its music nights, a manifestation held since 1976 that has every little corner filled with magnificent classical pieces performed by skilled musicians in a unique historical ambience. Osor is more than deserving of a visit, especially in this transitional period between high season and autumn. It’s laid-back, refined, and will soothe your mind and soul; leave a couple of days aside and go see this unpretentious gem.
If you are sailing, set your course for Osor on Cres island, where you can dock in a small marina with 50 wet berths. There are also two bays north of the bridge where you can anchor: Uvala Skaline on Lošinj and Uvala Bijar on Cres.