The rocky seabed around Lošinj means there’s no sand to cloud the water, and you can see straight down for a long way. Thanks to this seabed, the currents and conservation, the water around the island is some of the cleanest in the Adriatic, which is why this area is a magnet for dolphins; you may see the beautiful creatures chasing the ferry boat that brings you to this island. The clean water is also an attraction for spearfishers, who hold regular tournaments here, as well as ordinary holidaymakers, who enjoy swimming in the clear waters. Back on shore, the attractions of Lošinj include beautiful nature as well as luxury resort settlements full of quality bars and restaurants.
Cres and Lošinj used to be one island until the ancient Liburni tribe dug a canal at Osor. The healthy effects of its sea breezes, clean water and 2,600 hours of annual sunshine earned Lošinj an official designation as a health resort in 1892. Habsburg royalty followed and now tourism is the island’s main industry. Activity centres around two towns with misleading labels. Mali Lošinj, ‘Small Lošinj’, is the bigger settlement, about four kilometres from quaint little Veli Lošinj, ‘Great Lošinj’. Mali Lošinj, the largest island town in the Adriatic, with a population of 7,000, is set around a long, wide harbour, lined with Habsburg-era facades. Strolling from one end of the harbour to the other takes 20 minutes – it’s a nice waterside lined with great restaurants and bars. Trg Republike Hrvatske is the big square. Pop into the Art Collections modern Croatian pieces as well as Italian art works from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Museum of Apoxymenos is one of Croatia’s cultural highlights.
Lošinj Sunset in Mali Lošinj © Lošinj Hotels & Villas
There are good beaches near Mali Lošinj, including the popular rocky and pebbly stretches in wooded Čikat, just on the other side of a hill from the harbour. The Čikat bay features luxury hotels Bellevue and the smaller, boutique Alhambra with destination Japanese restaurant Matsunoki and their flagship Alfred Keller.
Neighbouring Veli Lošinj is centred around a small harbour surrounded by steep hills. On one rise, right on the harbour, is the boxy pink church of St Anthony, which contains seven Baroque altars and works by Italian masters. The sinners hang out down below, in a bustling clutch of good bars and restaurants. On another hill above the harbour is a crenulated Venetian tower, built as a fortification in 1455 and used for exhibitions. Walk along a ridge above the beach for the other harbour, tiny Rovenska: three restaurants and a pebbly beach. The Marine Education Centre in Veli Lošinj promotes conservation with a special focus on the nearby bottlenose dolphin colony.
Veli Lošinj © Lošinj Hotels & Villas
Lošinj airport is served by seasonal flights from Zagreb, Venice and Lugano, Switzerland. In summer, a daily catamaran runs from Rijeka to Mali Lošinj (2hr 50mins). Several buses a day link Cres town and Mali Lošinj; two link with Zagreb. From mid June to September, a car ferry runs twice weekly to Mali Lošinj from Zadar and Pula.