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Best Places to Swim in Croatia

Croatia is often ranked among Europe’s top destinations for those who like to swim, with many arriving to take advantage of the sea and the summer sun. The Adriatic averages in the upper 70s Fahrenheit, around 25-26 Celsius, and the European Environment Agency’s annual reports rate the vast majority of its areas for swimming as excellent, meaning mostly free of pollutants that can harm the environment and/or human health. Croatia, in particular, is among the top five countries with the highest number of such sites boasting outstanding water quality of 95 percent or more, with 99.6 percent of its 997 beaches tested declared to be of excellent quality. For the most memorable swims, you’ll want to head to at least one of these destinations.

Stiniva Beach, Vis Island

Stiniva Cove

Stiniva Beach lies in Stiniva Cove on the south side of Vis Island, the most remote of the Croatian islands. It’s framed by sheer rock walls which nearly encircle the smooth white pebbly beach with the only break 16 feet wide, opening up the beach to the dazzling turquoise sea. The surreal scene is believed to be the result of an ancient cave that’s collapsed. It’s one of the most jaw-dropping places to swim and as the land route down is somewhat treacherous, the easiest way to reach it is on a boat tour or as a stop on a small-ship cruise.

Zlatni Rat Beach, Brac Island

Zlatni Rat
View of Zlatni Rat beach

Just over a mile from the town of Bol on Brac Island, Zlatni Rat, also known as the Golden Horn, is one of Croatia’s most photographed beaches. Often named among Europe’s most beautiful stretches of sand, it’s a spectacular strip that changes shape with the waves and the wind, made up of glistening white pebbles that juts out a third of a mile into dreamy, brilliant blue waters that surround it on three sides. After an unforgettable swim, if you need a break from the sun, it’s bordered by pine trees that provide the perfect shady spot.

The Pakleni Islands

View of boats in Pakleni Islands
Pakleni Islands

By basing yourself in sunny Hvar, you’ll not only find idyllic beaches for swimming and sunbathing right on the island, but you’ll have easy access to the Pakleni Islands. A string of forested jewels, the archipelago offers many tranquil, hidden coves and secluded bays with crystal-clear turquoise water for swimming. They stretch for more than six miles off the southwestern side of Hvar, with boat trips that will allow you to take advantage of the top spots. Sveti Klement is one of the best choices for those seeking variety, with peaceful bays, sandy and rocky beaches, beach bars, and restaurants.

Mljet National Park

Mljet Monastery
Woman floating in blue saltwater lake in Mljet National Park

Mljet National Park covers about a third of Mljet Island, known as one of the greenest in Croatia. The heavily wooded park has scenic trails that wind through for walking and cycling, but its two saltwater lakes are the star attractions. The water ranges in shades from vibrant aquamarine to emerald, while sandy beaches are dotted along their shorelines, popular for sunbathing and swimming during the warmer months. You might enjoy beach-hopping to sample several beaches and perhaps take the short boat ride to St. Mary’s Islet in Great Lake (Veliko Jezero) to visit its 12th-century church and monastery. The seaside village of Pomena provides access to the park and hosts many of the island’s restaurants when it’s time to fuel up.

Lokrum Island

Just .35 nautical miles from Dubrovnik’s walled Old Town, Lokrum Island is a small, uninhabited island where peacocks and bunnies roam. Easily reached by boat or via a kayak tour, the island is home to the Dead Sea Lake, a saltwater lake where you can soothe your soul in the crystal-clear waters. There are many idyllic beaches along Lokrum’s coast for a refreshing swim in the Adriatic. The island boasts rocky cliffs of varying heights that are also ideal for leaping off into the sea. The best beach for cliff jumping is Lokrum Main, but for those who simply want to wade out into the water, there are plenty of gentle sloping areas too.

Dubrovnik City Walls

If you’re looking for one of the best places to swim in Croatia for a unique experience, clinging to the base of the walls and the cliffs of Dubrovnik’s Old Town is Buza Beach. While walking atop the walls, immediately below you’ll see the cliffs. For most of the stretch, the cliffs are inaccessible, but a hole in the wall with a small passageway provides access. Step through to find Buza Beach, where you’ll feel as if you’ve entered an entirely different world. Buza isn’t a “beach” in the traditional sense of the word. It features concrete terraces where you can jump into the sea in between sunbathing, marveling at the breathtaking views, and perhaps sipping cocktails at Buza Bar.

Blue Lagoon Croatia

Blue Lagoon
Swimmer at dusk in Croatia

An adventure to the Blue Lagoon is like taking a trip to an exotic paradise that looks as if it were somehow stolen from the Caribbean, with remarkably clear aquamarine waters, a sandy seabed, and an unspoiled white sandy beach. It’s just six miles from Trogir and 14 from Split in the heart of the Dalmatian archipelago. Lying between two small islands and Drvenik Veliki Island, it’s protected from the elements, keeping the water wonderfully calm. Snorkeling is outstanding too, with all sorts of fish and other marine life. When you want to simply relax and soak up the sun, the atmosphere is serene.

Sunj Beach, Lopud Island

Lopud Island is part of the Elaphiti archipelago, easily reached by boat from Dubrovnik, just seven nautical miles away. It’s renowned for its lush vegetation, soft sandy beaches, and crystal-clear blue waters, particularly along the bay of Sunj. Small and secluded, Sunj Beach on the south side of the island is tucked away in a peaceful cove with a gentle incline before reaching deeper water, making it especially ideal for swimming. Right above the beach, pine trees provide shade when you need a respite from the sun, although loungers and umbrellas are available for rent. Despite its remote location, you’ll also find facilities like changing rooms, toilets, beach bars and restaurants.

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