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Cres travel guide

Read our Cres travel guide for the best things to do, attractions, hotels, restaurants, bars and more...

© Dave Jepson/Time Out

One of the largest but least developed of Croatia’s islands, the relatively untouched gem of Cres contains 400 square kilometres (155 square miles) of rugged wilderness, an estimated 80 breeding pairs of the rare griffon vultures and only 3,000 full-time human residents. There are a couple of resort settlements, but not much else in the way of luxury vacations. For more sophistication, take a room in ancient Cres town; for wilderness, get a campsite in the hills. Either way, you can expect a simpler and quieter time than at many of Kvarner’s other resorts. 

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Cres overview
Things to do

Cres overview

One of the largest but least developed of Croatia’s islands, the relatively untouched gem of Cres contains 400sq km of rugged wilderness, an estimated 80 breeding pairs of the rare griffon vultures and only 3,000 full-time human residents. There are a couple of resort settlements, but not much else in the way of luxury vacations. For more sophistication, take a room in ancient Cres town; for wilderness, get a campsite in the hills. Either way, you can expect a simpler and quieter time than many of Kvarner’s other resorts. Cres is long enough to have two distinct landscapes, verdant in the north, known as Tramuntana, barren to the south. The north contains the two settlements of Beli – home to the Caput Insulae Eco Centre, which works to protect rare resident birds – and the commercial centre of Cres town. There, fishing boats bob in the café-lined harbour, behind which serpentine, car-free streets weave between attractively austere and fading pastel buildings. Cres town dates back at least a couple of millennia, and the island itself has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic era. It was successively ruled by Romans, Byzantines and the first independent Croatians around 822. The Venetians took over the island for about 400 years, beginning around the tenth century, and put up the older remaining landmarks in Cres town. Of particular note is the Church of Our Lady of Snow, in the heart of town, dating from the 16th century with a bell tower from the 18th. If you continue wes

Things to do in Cres
Things to do

Things to do in Cres

Cres town dates back at least a couple of millennia, and the island itself has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic era. It was successively ruled by Romans, Byzantines and the first independent Croatians around 822. The Venetians took over the island for about 400 years, beginning around the tenth century, and put up the older remaining landmarks in Cres town. Of particular note is the Church of Our Lady of Snow, in the heart of town, dating from the 16th century with a bell tower from the 18th. If you continue west from Cres town harbour, you reach the Lungomare seaside promenade that leads to the town’s pebbly beach. In the opposite direction you get to the town marina, and beyond that to a beautiful natural seaside walk along the wide bay of Cres town. The southern part of Cres island has the former regional capital of Osor. As a major trading port, ‘Apsorus’ was the largest Roman town on the Croatian Adriatic after Pula. Since then, Osor has been in decline, although its Archaelogical Museum (open 10am-noon, 7-9pm daily, 10kn) shows that medieval Osor was still sizeable. In between north and south are the ancient villages of Lubenice and Valun, both with nice beaches; and Martinščica, a small tourist development centred around a 16th century monastery and a good pebbly beach. The 4,000-year-old settlement of Lubenice is home to 20 ageing souls and crumbling stone buildings, including a Romanesque chapel used as storage space. On the jagged coast, a series of secl

Cres transport guide
Things to do

Cres transport guide

Ferries hop from Brestova on the mainland to Porozina; and from Valbiska on Krk to Merag. Both take 30 minutes. In summer a daily catamaran connects with Rijeka (1hr 20mins) and Mali Lošinj, all going into Cres town, some then on to Martinšćica. At least five buses a day run between Cres town and Mali Lošinj, two linking with Zagreb. Summer weekdays, some six buses a day run between Cres town and Osor, significantly fewer at weekends and also in winter. Transport for north Cres is pretty scarce. You should manage to find taxis at Cres town bus station.

Where to eat and drink in Cres...

Cres restaurant guide
Restaurants

Cres restaurant guide

Cres restaurants are casual but generally very serious about good quality food. The fish is fresh but so is the lamb: Cres island lamb is famous and the local preparation is usually superb. Arguably the best place to do this local delicacy justice is the family-run Gostionica Bukaleta 3 miles from Cres town in the hilltop village of Loznati. If you’re staying in Cres town Santa Lucia may charge a little more but it’s worth it – try the lobster or octopus slow-cooked for several hours under hot coals in a ‘peka’ – best to pre-order.

Gostionica Bukaleta
Restaurants

Gostionica Bukaleta

Do the local delicacy justice by 
heading about 5km (3 miles) from Cres town to the hilltop village of Loznati, where a family lovingly raises their own lambs and then serves them fresh. Get beyond mint jelly with lamb spit-roasted, grilled and cooked several other ways. Good fish and shrimp offer variety, and the bread and olive oil are own-made. It’s relaxing, with lush green surroundings and welcoming servers, but also popular, so book ahead.

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