Island Cres is one of the northern islands in the Kvarner Gulf, and it is the largest island in Croatia. The island is connected to Lošinj island with a small drawbridge in the town of Osor. Although it is not one of Croatia’s most popular islands, its rich history and preserved natural beauty attract many visitors. There is a strong contrast between the north and south of the island, the northern Submediterranean part is covered with dense forests, while the Mediterranean south part is mostly covered with pastures, thick macchia or bare grounds. There are also steep cliffs on the islands north and south side, while the east shore is a part of a nature reserve.
If you wish to run away from the crowds on the mainland, pay a visit to Cres; this sparsely inhabited island will charm you with its hidden bays, crystal clear sea, antic remains, locals and their interesting customs. Lake Vrana is the island’s only fresh water source and one of the deepest freshwater lakes in Eastern Europe. Rich in both flora and fauna, Cres is famous as the home of the endangered Griffon vulture.
If you plan to visit Cres, this guide will give you all the necessary information regarding the island, its beaches and campsites, nightlife, travel information and, of course, the detailed list of things to do during your stay.
Table of Contents
Getting to Cres
There are several ways of reaching the island of Cres, but no matter what type of transport you choose, a ferry or catamaran is required to get to the island.
Getting to Cres by ferry:
There are 4 ports on the island: Porozina, Merag, Cres and Martinscica. Ferry tickets are sold at ferry terminals, but you can also check the prices and buy the tickets online and in advance.
Porozina is a small town on the western side of the Cres. It is connected by ferry to Brestova on the mainland. Journey time from the mainland to Porozina is around 20 minutes. Departures to Porozina are more frequent during the high season, as opposed to other times of the year.
In the table below, you can see a schedule of a car ferry between Porozina port and Brestova:
|Porozina – Brestova||Brestova – Porozina|
Merag is a small port town located on the east coast of Cres, near the island of Krk which is connected to Cres by ferry. The estimated travel time from Valbiska on Krk and Merag on Cres is around 25 minutes. Departures to Merag are more frequent during the high season, as opposed to other times of the year.
In the table below, you can see a schedule of a car ferry between Merag port and Valbiska:
|Merag – Valbiska||Valbiska – Merag|
Cres is the largest island settlement, located on its western side. Cres is home to a Blue-Flag-status marina and it has good connections with the mainland and other nearby islands.
In the table below, you can see schedules of car ferries running between Cres and the mainland. Timetable of ferries from Cres to other islands can also be found below.
|Cres – Rijeka||Rijeka – Cres|
The journey between Cres and Rijeka lasts around 1 hour and 20 minutes. There are more departures to Cres during the high season, as opposed to other times of the year.
|Cres – Mali Losinj||Mali Losinj – Cres|
The journey lasts around 2 and a half hours. There aren’t many daily departures on this route.
|Cres – Ilovik||Ilovik – Cres|
The journey lasts around 1 hour and 20 minutes, There is a few daily departures on this route during the high and low season.
|Cres – Unije||Unije – Cres|
The travel time is around 1 hour and 5 minutes, there is one daily departure during the high and low season.
|Cres – Martinscica||Martinscica – Cres|
The estimated travel time is 40 minutes, and there aren’t many daily departures on this relation.
Martinscica is a little village located on the western coast of island Cres, south of Vrana Lake. It is the second largest settlement on the island, just after Cres town. It is well-connected to other places and nearby islands.
In the table below, you can see schedules of car ferries running between Martinscica and the mainland. Timetable of ferries from Martinscica to other islands can also be found below.
|Martinscica – Rijeka||Rijeka – Martinscica|
The estimated travel time is 2 hours, but bear in mind that there aren’t many daily departures on this route.
|Martinscica – Unije||Unije – Martinscica|
The journey lasts about half an hour, but bear in mind that there aren’t many daily departures on this route.
|Martinscica – Mali Losinj||Mali Losinj – Martinscica|
Estimated travel time is 2 hours and 20 minutes, there is a small number of daily departures during the year.
|Martinscica – Ilovik||Ilovik – Martinscica|
The travel time is around 1 hour and 40 minutes and there is a small number of daily departures during the year.
|Martinscica – Cres||Cres – Martinscica|
The journey lasts around 40 minutes, but bear in mind that there aren’t many daily departures during the year.
Getting to Cres by car:
Getting to Cres by bus:
There are several bus lines connecting Zagreb and Rijeka with the island of Cres.
The bus departs from the main bus terminal in Zagreb which is located about 3 km from the town centre and the average ticket price is around €24. The journey lasts for about 4 and a half hours.
The bus departs from the main bus terminal in Rijeka which is only about 400 metres from the town centre. Average ticket price is around €15. The journey lasts for about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The island is not connected to the mainland by a bridge, so ferry or a catamaran line is required to get to the island. The bus gets on the ferry in Valbiska on island Krk and arrives at Merag from where it continues to Cres Town. Ferry fee is included in the bus ticket. Your bus will arrive at the main bus station in Cres, located only a few hundred meters from the Riva and the town centre.
Getting to Cres by plane:
There are two airports near Cres, Rijeka International Airport located on Krk and the Airport Mali Lošinj. Rijeka Airport is located near the town of Omišalj on the island of Krk, so you would have to take a bus to Cres. The journey lasts about 1 hour and 20 minutes, and the ticket price is around €12. The bus gets on a car ferry that goes from Valbiska to Merag and ferry fee is included in the bus ticket. Here you can see daily departures from Omišalj to Cres.
Airport Mali Lošinj only provides connection to bigger cities in Croatia, such as Split and Zagreb. If you are arriving to Airport Mali Lošinj you will need to take a bus to Cres. The journey lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes and the ticket price is around €8.
Getting around the island
As mentioned above there are 4 ports on the island. The island has a few settlements: Cres Town, Orlec, Martinscica, Porozina, Merag, Sveti Petar, Punta Kriza and most of them are connected by buses.
The Cres Town has one main bus station, located 100 metres from the INA gas station. There is only one bus stop in Orlec, as well as in Martinscica where the bus stop is situated in the centre of the village. In Porozina the only bus station is situated within 200 metres from the ferry port. Merag, Sveti Petar and Punta Kriza each have only one bus stop.
Also, there are a few daily buses running from Punta Križa to Veli Lošinj on the island of Lošinj, and these buses stop in or near most of the small villages on Lošinj.
Top beaches on island Cres
The island of Cres has a long coastline with plenty of beaches and little hidden bays. Here are some of the most popular beaches:
One of the most famous is Sveti Ivan beach, also called Lubenice beach. This pebble beach located below the village of Lubenice is one of the top beaches in Croatia. It can be reached by foot or by boat. German magazine Bild ranked it as the 15th most beautiful beach in the world, so make sure not to miss it if you find yourself on Cres.
There are two fantastic beaches located near Valun, a place located around 10 kilometres from Cres Town. These beautiful sandy beaches surrounded by pine trees are ideal for families with children.
Slatina Beach is located near Martinscica, it was awarded a Blue Flag, a mark of exquisite cleanliness. It is another pebble beach great for families with small children and the nearby pine trees provide shade. A camp with facilities is located nearby, as well as a restaurant and a cafe.
Shallow sandy beach called Meli is located near Ustrine and can be reached by a 30-minute walk. It is great for families with children.
Kruscice beach is located near the town of Merag. Kruscice is a beautiful pebble beach and a special area of conservation, and you can reach it by foot, as it is only a 15-minute walk through the woods.
If you’ve had enough of relaxing on lonely beaches and secluded bays, why not spend the night partying? Cres might not be the liveliest of the islands in Croatia, as it is more family oriented, but it does have something to offer to party-goers. If you’re looking for fun then head to the Cres Town, where you can find plenty of cafes, taverns and bars with live music and strong drinks. During the summer there are plenty of festivals and events that you can partake in.
Some of the places in Cres Town you could visit are: Rush Bar, Fortis and Plavica with its relaxed atmosphere and craft beers – but make sure that you try the local rakija!
During the summer you can spend the night in one of the open air bars at the beach, such as Sumica, where DJs will keep you dancing all night long. If it feels like you haven’t danced enough at the open-air party, you can always pay a visit to the nightclub Stala. It is known that Croats love to party all night long, so why not join them and have a time of your life?
Camping on Cres
The preserved natural beauty of Cres attracts many, and if you don’t wish to spend your vacation in a hotel room or an apartment, Cres has plenty of camps to choose from.
Camp Slatina is located only 1 km from the Martinscica. This 4 star camp is focused on families with small children and pets, and also offers a special program for pets.
Camp Kovacine is a 3 star camp, located on a peninsula just a few minutes from Cres Town. The surrounding pine and olive trees provide shade and a nice mediterranean ambient. Inside the camp there is a separated part and a beach dedicated to naturists. During the evenings the camp also offers many different entertainment programs.
Camp Baldarin is a 3 star camp located in the southernmost part of the island, in Punta Kriza and it is only 15 km from the historical town Osor. The camp is surrounded by thick pine forest, it also includes a store, restaurant and a bar.
The 2 star Camp Bijar is located only 500 metres from Osor. The camp includes 100 metres of pebbly beach and 500 metres of rocky shore, also a restaurant and a store.
Cres hiking trails
There are over 100 km of organised hiking trails on Cres that are perfect for both those looking for an adventure and those trying to relax and just enjoy nature. There are trails of different difficulty levels and lengths, from easy walks along the shore to more difficult mountain trails. While hiking you will be able to see some of approximately 1400 different plant species, some of which are endemic. Endangered griffon vultures are also a common sight. There aren’t any poisonous snakes on the Cres-Losinj archipelago, so you can walk around carelessly.
In the northern and highest part of the island is the area called Tramuntana. You can see all Tramuntana has to offer if you take a walk on one of its 3 marked circular trails, all starting and ending in Beli. Here you can see different geographical phenomena like sink-holes, gulleys and cave pits, and historical monuments such as tumuli, fort remains, Roman bridges, drywalls, stone churches and many other monuments.
NOTE: If you are going on a longer hike take plenty of water with you. Also, picking flowers, plants, wild fruits and disturbing of the wild animals is forbidden.
Cres cycling trails
Cycling is a great way to explore the island of Cres and experience everything the island has to offer. With 66 km of good roads and macadams there are many routes to choose from. You can choose between the coastal trails where you can enjoy the sea view, or inland trails where you can gaze upon the mountains, fauna and even Vrana Lake. Almost every village on the island can be easily reached via the major island road, old roads or macadam.
Cres Marina – Grmov – Lubenice – Valun – Cres – Circular route 52km long that begins and ends in Cres.
Cres – Porozina – Route towards the north of the island, has one long climb and a grand descend. It is around 21 km long.
Mali Podol – Grmov – The journey will take you along the Vrana Lake, and there are two options, the shorter one along the lake’s east side and longer one in the west.
Cres – Osor – This 35 km trail will take you from the biggest town on the island to the historical town Osor, all while passing by the Vrana Lake. At Osor you can always choose to continue cycling towards island Lošinj.
Cres – Merag – This trail is 15 km long, so be prepared for a steep ascend.
Merag – Sv. Blaz – Goes along the coastline and through the inland, and it is 27 km long.
When you go cycling, make sure you are well-equipped and have enough time dedicated to the activity. Cycling can be done throughout the whole year, but Cres is very hot during the summer months, so cycling can be very exhausting. Always bring water with you!
Snorkeling and diving on Cres
Cres is praised for its rich underwater life, geological and biological treasures, various flora and fauna and, of course, the crystal blue Adriatic sea. Feel free to explore underwater caves, reefs and raptures.
There are 3 scuba diving centers on the island, located in Cres Town, Martinscica and Beli. Here you can get your scuba diving lessons and even rent scuba diving equipment. One of the places you should check out is the Blue grotto near the famous Lubenice beach, with a narrow entrance at a depth of 3 m and a tunnel that runs into the cave above sea-level.
NOTE: Swimming is not permitted in the Vrana Lake.
Cres is inhabited since prehistoric times, and there are many remnants of the island’s long and glorious past. One of the most interesting places on the island is Osor, famous for its Roman town walls. There you can also see the sculptures made by famous Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštović.
Once a gravestone, today the Valun Tablet is embedded in the wall of the church of Saint Mary in Valun. This is one of the Oldest Glagolitic monuments and its bilinguality tells the history of the Croatian language and culture.
Cres Town has a long history, but the most interesting remains would be the Venetian Tower and the old town walls. Pay a visit to the Church of St Mary and the Municipal Loggia, both dating back to the 15th century.
Village of Lubenice, located at the top of a cliff, was once an important Medieval fortress. Here you can see the Medieval fortress and remains of the town wall. Another sight is the Gothic chapel of St Anthony the Hermit.
Martinscica is famous for the remains of Ancient villas and the Church of St Martin (hence the name).
Festivals on Cres
Cres might not have many inhabitants, but it does not lack entertainment in the form of festivals and events. One of the more famous festivals is Lubenice Music Evenings that takes place in the parish in Lubenice. This celebration of classical music takes place in August.
Cres Culture Evenings takes place in summer, and the main goal is to promote the cultural heritage of the island and the Cres Town. Here you can enjoy Classical music concerts, gospel concerts and museum night.
If you need a little bit of jazz on your vacation, head to the International CREScendo Music Festival taking place in Cres Town. Besides music, you can also enjoy different cultural events and exhibitions.
Along with other events, such as the Summer Carnival, Dance of Beli and Days of Cres lamb and olive oil, you can even witness some celebration of important Catholic holidays and patron saints of local villages.
You can always check the calendar of Tourist board of Cres for event schedules.
Food and supplies
On Cres island you can easily find grocery stores, bakeries, butcher shops, pastry shops, pharmacies and other kinds of small shops, so you can buy anything you want right there on the spot without bringing anything from the mainland. There are more shops in bigger towns and villages, such as Cres, Osor and Martinscica. If you are staying in a smaller place with less offer, the best would be to get to Cres or Osor at some point and buy all the necessities. Besides a number of small local stores there are also Plodine, Konzum and Jadranka markets.
You can’t leave without trying the local food! There are numerous restaurants around the island serving both local and international food, some of the more popular ones are Konoba Bukaleta, Bistro Melin, Gostionica Belona and restaurant Na Moru.
Dalmatian cuisine is a Mediterranean style cuisine which is similar to the Italian one, so you will find a lot of olive oil and herbs like rosemary and sage, garlic and tomatoes in almost every sauce, a lot of vegetables and fruit, etc.
You should definitely try some of the fish specialties, like grilled fish or scampi, “black” risotto with squids, octopus with potatoes baked under the lid on an open fire.
Not in the mood for fish? Well, the most famous treats of Cres are lamb, homemade sheep milk cheese and prosciutto, so try roasted lamb with potatoes and rosemary, homemade prosciutto served with cheese and olives or grilled steak with fresh vegetables. You should definitely try the local wine, and you can’t go wrong with gegić, krezol (marastina) or susac (sansigot).
ATMs and exchange offices
Remember that the official currency in Croatia is kuna and most places accept kuna only. make sure you always have a local currency with you and some cash because not every restaurant, bar or market accepts credit cards. Still, larger supermarkets and pharmacies, usually accept them but in case you need something from the bakery, mini markets or newspaper stand, always bring cash. All hotels should accept all major credit cards.
The banks’ working hours depend on the season, but you should go there in the morning, just to be on the safe side, and bear in mind that on the weekends and national holidays banks might be closed. In case you need a bank or an exchange office, or you wish to withdraw some money from an ATM, you can find them in the main places on the island: Cres, Osor and Martinscica.
Emergency contact info
In case of an emergency, or if you require immediate assistance of any kind – medical or police assistance, fire department, mountain rescue services, you can call the toll-free number 112 from any location in Croatia (the calls can be made via landlines, cell phones or phone booths) at any time of day or night.
Area code is +385, so keep in mind to dial it before any other service number.
→ Ambulance: 193
→ Emergency telephone number 112
→ Road assistance: 987
→ Pharmacy Cres, Trg Frane Petrića 4: +385 (0)51 571 243
→ Health Center Cres, Turion 26: +385 (0)51 571 116
→ Health Center Martinscica, Martinščica 92: +385 (0)51 574 127
→ Tourist information: +385 (0)51 571 535
→ Tourist Board of Cres, Cons 10, Cres: +385 (0)51 571 535, firstname.lastname@example.org
FAQ – Island Cres
Q: Can I bring my bicycle on the catamaran or ferry?
A: It is possible to bring your bicycle on car ferries to Cres, but you will have to buy a ticket for the bike, it costs approximately 20 kuna (~€3). Bringing a bicycle on the catamaran is, in most cases, not possible as there is simply no space available. If you are traveling off season when there is not many passengers on catamaran lines, the boat crew might allow you to bring your bicycle.
Q: Can I buy / reserve ticket for a specific departure?
A: In case of catamaran you can buy a ticket for a specific departure. If you are taking a car ferry you can buy a ticket for a specific travel date and departure time.
Q: Can I bring my dog on the ferry / catamaran?
A: Passengers are not allowed to bring their pets on catamarans. On the car ferries the passengers can bring their pets as long as they don’t take them into the closed areas where passengers are sitting.
Q: How much luggage can I bring?
A: On ferries up to 100 kg, on catamarans up to 20 kg but as the luggage is not weighed, it is normally not an issue if you bring a bit more.
Q: Which airport should I fly to if I want to go to Cres?
A: You should fly to Rijeka International Airport located on island Krk, and from there you can easily catch a bus or a ferry to island Cres.
Q: When is the best time to visit Cres?
A: The best time is summer, because you can spend your days on the beach, relaxing, swimming and sunbathing. The days are long and it is really warm, plus all the events and festivals are at their peak. The downside is that the island is packed during the summertime since everyone is visiting then. If you wish to avoid the crowds or you don’t like the heat, then you should consider going in the preseason or postseason.
Q: Can I make a day trip to Cres from Rijeka?
A: Rijeka is the closest bigger city on the mainland, so it is possible to make a day trip, especially during the summer when the lines are more frequent. You could also spend a day on the neighboring islands Krk and Lošinj, as both are easily reachable by ferry or bus from Cres.
Q: Is there a gas station on the island?
A: There are INA gas stations in Cres Town, one near the main bus station in Cres and the other south of the ferry port.