When people think of visiting Croatia (and a lot of them do every summer), the first two places that often come to mind are Dubrovnik or Split. Lošinj, on the other hand, often gets overlooked.
This is a huge mistake, and I’ll tell you why:
With a population of only 10,000, it’s a quieter option than Split or the cruise ship port of Dubrovnik. Not only is Lošinj a beautiful tiny island, surrounded by warm clear seas, but it also has inviting baroque fishing villages, excellent food, a quaint and simple way of life, absolutely gorgeous climate, and best of all, uncrowded beaches (which is not something you will commonly find in Croatia’s warmer months).
Plus, Lošinj is known as the Island of Vitality. It is said to have special health benefits because of the fresh air mixed with sea salt and pine trees. With 230 species of medicinal plants, no pollution and captivating pine forests, there are a lot of reasons why you should visit this little piece of Mediterranean paradise—and here are 11 of them.
Lošinj Bucket List: Best Things to Do on The Croatian Island
1. Get Pampered at a Luxury Spa
Losinj is centered around wellness. What better way to start off your trip then to get spoiled at a world class spa? The spa at Hotel Bellevue was just awarded the best destination spa by Condé Nast, and it is simply the best.
Start your pampering like I did, with a glass of fruit infused water, the relaxing sauna, Turkish bath and a dip in the indoor pool that is filled with healing seawater. Then indulge in a soothing service, like the Exotic Coconut Rub and Milk Wrap using the acclaimed cosmetic products ‘Elemis’ from one of the world’s leading laboratories. Even my simple afternoon back and neck massage relaxed my tense muscles while my stressful thoughts slowly drifted away.
What is really unique about the Bellevue Spa is their wellness programs that help with breathing and overall health. People come from all over the world the respiratory benefits of from the air, healing climate and plant life. The Bellevue Spa focuses on these aspects of the island to create short and long term treatments.
Another excellent choice for pampering is at their sister property the boutique Hotel Alhambra SPA. Try the luxurious Alhambra Dream treatment that combines a lavender facial with laurel body exfoliation and a four-hand massage.
2. Explore Mali Losinj—the Largest City on the Island
You are a tourist, so there is no shame in acting like one. Spend some time in the largest city on Lošinj island, Mali Lošinj, a seaside stunner. This historic town by the Adriatic Sea was once one of the most developed destination for merchants on this side of the Mediterranean. Now it offers you pristine beauty, the holistic Mediterranean Sea air and some impressive sightseeing options, plus plenty of restaurants and boutiques. You could easily spend the afternoon walking around the boat lined harbor shopping for souvenirs and having drinks on an outdoor patio.
While you are in Mali Lošinj don’t miss a visit to the most popular site, Apoxyomenos museum. It is a well-done exhibit centered around the 2nd century statue that was found at the bottom of the sea.
3. Take a Road Trip to Cres
As if this region wasn’t beautiful and interesting enough, there is more to be found and explored on the less populated Cres, Lošinj’s gorgeous island neighbor. You can take a very short bridge to Cres and enter into to a land with more gorgeous beaches and quaint cities. It has all sorts of beauty to offer visitors. You could:
- Take a swim at the pebbled beach in fisherman village of Martinšćica.
- Explore Cres city (visit the Venetian Tower, Old Roman Bridge, Beli Olive mill and Municipal Loggia)
- See the medieval fortress at Lubenice, that is perched on top of a 378m cliff. From here, you can enjoy panoramic views of the beautiful Kvarner Bay.
- Come lunch time, you should head out to Valun and have lunch at restaurant Tos (just trust me on this).
- After that, you can visit Osor—an ancient Roman town (visit the Archaeology Museum, Cathedral and a medieval excavation site).
4. Smell the Herbs at the Lošinj Aromatic Garden
Dubbed, the ‘Garden of Scents’, this quirky little garden is full of locally found herbs and plants (over 250!). Remember when we said Lošinj was all about wellness? To complement the therapeutic sea air this garden not only smells really good, but contains herbs with medicinal properties too.
At the Lošinj Aromatic Garden, you will get to see and smell many of these herbs. You will also get to meet, Betty, the resident donkey acting as a live weed whacker.
5. Arrive by Private Plane
Instead of driving the two hours from Zagreb and then catching the ferry to Lošinj, you could conveniently arrive by private plane. It was a bucket list moment for me (they even rolled out the red carpet upon arrival!).
When you book a room with the luxury Lošinj Hotels you have the option to be escorted over by private Beechcraft King airplane. The private 7-seater plane from Zagreb to Lošinj takes about 35 minutes and gives you one of the most scenic trips as you fly over the Adriatic.
6. Get the 360 Tower View of Veli Losinj
Veli Lošinj is older and smaller than Mali—it’s been around since the 13th century. This tiny town looks like something from a fairytale. The small harbor is full of boats and the streets lined with colorful shops and restaurants. You could easily mistake it for a seaside village in Italy. After strolling through around the harbor, climb to the top of the Tower Museum to get a stunning 360-degree rooftop view.
Hungry? Stop by Bora Bar restaurant for lunch as you reminisce on that breathtaking 360 degree rooftop view you just enjoyed.
7. Island Hop on a Chartered a Sailboat
Lošinj is very close to several other cute islands, and you’ll want to see them. Do it in luxury style by chartering a Jadranka Yacht. At around $750 per day, you can get live the posh life at a very reasonable cost (especially the more people in your group, up to 12).
Typically you need to rent for a minimum of 3 days, during peak season it is a week.
Pack some snacks and a few bottles of local Croatian wine and live a posh life on the lap of luxury as you take in the various islands, beaches and crisp, clean sea air. Make sure to make a stop at Ilovik for a fresh fish lunch at Dalmatia restaurant. They can also take you to the beach at the bottom of Lubenice that you can only otherwise reach by foot which would take 1/2 hour hike down and up to 1 1/2 to get back up.
8. Have a 5-Star Dining Experience
Alfred Keller restaurant at Boutique Hotel Alhambra has been dubbed the ‘ultimate Croatian Restaurant’. It is a true gastronomic experience! With classic fine dining (think white tablecloths and synchronized serving), this romantic restaurant offers you so much more than just views of the gorgeous Čikat bay.
Serving foods prepared from local ingredients such as Adriatic fish, island herbs, lamb from Cres and Kvarner scampi as well as vegetables, either sourced from the local farmers or from their rooftop garden. Everything you eat here will be scrumptious, fresh and very well served. I had the best (and most tender) octopus on my visit.
They also have an exceptional wine list!
9. Eat Al Fresco by the Seaside
Since Lošinj is an island, there will be no shortage of restaurants that have outdoor dining by the water. One of my favorites was Borik Mediterranean Bar, a unique place located on one of the most gorgeous beaches of Mali Lošinj. The menu features delicious local offerings, but you also get gorgeous views of the Sea and a place just steps away to jump in the water to cool off if needed. Come just before sunset to get the best seat for a priceless sky!
Apart from the Restaurant Borik Mediterranean bar by the sea, the Lanterna Grill is also another nice choice.
10. Sleep in Luxury
You cannot go wrong if you choose to sleep either at Hotel Bellevue or Alhambra.
- Hotel Bellevue: Defining itself as a ‘dream place’, the Hotel was completely refurbished back in 2014 and is now a modern stunner. It still offers absolute elegance from the outside and pristine privacy on the inside. We’ve already touched on how advanced and relaxing the spa is, now you should try the rooms and fine dining here as well.
- Boutique Hotel Alhambra: Also situated at the idyllic Čikat Bay and surrounded by crystal clear waters, palm and pine trees, Alhambra is luxury redefined. As a member of the ‘Small Luxury Hotels of the World’, Alhambra has tasteful decor that leads you to gorgeous suites featuring natural bathroom amenities. With their concierge service at your beck and call, it is safe to say that you will find and experience every luxurious comfort here.
11. Rent an Entire Luxury Villa
Built in 1900 and renovated in 2015, Villa Hortensia is the absolute definition of luxury. People used to come here to heal themselves and, to some extent, they still do. Since the outside was considered a heritage, it has been preserved as is but the interior was renovated to a 10 room villa. Just to tell you want kind of facility you will get, renting the whole entire villa will set you back a cool 55,000 euros per week; it sleeps up to 20, has full concierge service, outdoor Jacuzzi, heated sea water swimming pool and a private beach with deck chairs to boot. Yes, please!
You could also go for Villa Augusta: Built in 1908 and connected to Alhambra, you can rent this luxury facility suite by suite or the entire villa if you wish. Something worth mentioning is that when people come here, they do so for more than just the sheer luxury offered to them; they come for the privacy. It is totally discreet and they can do a private checking.
Although Dubrovnik and Split are extremely breathtaking in their own right, if you want to relax and get rejuvenated away from the well-beaten path that these two Croatian gems represent, you should make the trip to Lošinj. Not only are there fewer people, but there are more luxuries on offer. From the sites to the hotels and the locals, your week will go by faster than you can say ‘Adriatic Sea’.
Essential Tips for Visiting Lošinj
Getting There: The best way to get to Lošinj by air is to fly into Rijeka Airport on the island of Krk. Lošinj has an airport but it accommodates very few flights by Silver Air from a few Croatian cities. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. From the Rijeka Airport, you can get to Lošinj by Arriva Buses, which will take 4 hours. You can also get to Lošinj from Rijeka by the Kapetan Luka Ferry.
Where to Stay in Lošinj: It’s best to stay near the city center, public transportation or the area that you will be spending the most time in. Boutique Hotel Dolphin Suites (moderate) and Hotel Vila Conte (moderate) are great choices in Veli Lošinj. For something on the less expensive side, try Anka located in Nerezine. For moderately priced hotels in Nerezine, try Apartments Galboka or Apartmani Danica. For a hotel with a little more extravagance, book a room at the Hotel Bellevue or the Boutique Hotel Alhambra in Mali Lošinj. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to Airbnb that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Getting Around: Renting a car in Lošinj is the best way to really experience the island and its surrounding areas, and RentalCars.com has some great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of options. Exploring the island by moped, bicycle or electric bicycle are great options as well. Taxis and Uber are also available at the airport.
Best Tours in Lošinj: You can find some of the top tours at Get Your Guide or Viator, and here are some of the top ones:
Insurance: It’s always a good idea to travel fully insured so you are protected in case of trip cancellations or medical emergencies. You can check out pricing at Travelex Insurance.
Universal Adapter: Your American plugged equipment will need an adapter. I use the Celtic Universal Adapter, which has brought me around the world with no problems.
My stay in Lošinj was courtesy of Lošinj Hotels, all opinions my own.