The island of Cres is part of the Dalmatian group, a beautiful land rich of nature, set off the Croatian coasts in the Gulf of Kvarner. Despite the number of tourists invading it every summer, Cres still manages to keep its identity and friendly attitude. Lush green olive trees and maritime pines will go until your eyes can reach, only interrupted by the turquoise sea, bordered by gravelly beaches hidden in majestic cliffs.
How to get to Cres
Now that Croatia has joined the EU, crossing the border will probably prove easier. However, until now, reaching Croatia driving through Trieste (Italy) and Slovenia is a long rite of passage that might put many people’s patience at a test. Flying to the country and renting a car would be much easier. Once there you will need to drive to the coast in order to take one of the ferries, as explained below Important: There is only one gas station on the island, it’s in the town of Cres.
There are many companies flying to Croatia. The closes airport is Rijeka, even if the cheapest flights usually arrive in Zagreb or Zadar. Dubrovnik and Split are popular destination too, a bit further away from Cres but ideal for exploring further the Dalmatian coast. Here’s a list of croatian airports on skyscanner. The airport of Trieste (Italy) is roughly 120km from Cres, from there though you will have to either drive or take the bus…
Trains are non existing in Istria and in the Gulf of Kvarner area so, wherever you’re coming from, you’ll have to take a bus. The main company here is Autotrans (http://www.autotrans.hr/en-us/home), on the website you’ll find the updated timetables and prices.
The Autotrans website doesn’t work out the route if there is a change so, if you are not coming from Zagreb (three busses a day), you have to get to Rijeka first and then take a bus from there. There are only 4 busses a day so make sure you get there on time.
During high season busses might get stuck in the traffic and the connections are likely to be messed up, especially towards the end of the day. However our bus driver has been very helpful last time we went there: he caught up another bus in the middle of nowhere, and make us board there so that we could get to destination. This happened also thanks to a couple of guys that helped us with english/croatian translation. Once you get on your bus, make sure the bus driver knows where you’re going.
There are 4 ferry lines going to Cres Island, three of which operated by Jadrolinija (Check: www.jadrolinija.hr for timetables and infos):
1. Rijeka to Cres and Martinšćica. Ideal if you get to Rijeka by train, bus or plane. The last ferry departs at 5pm, as we learnt to our cost!
2. Brestova – Porozina. Best solution arriving by car form Rijeka: you drive down along the Istrian coast for about 30 miles to Brestova. A short ferry ride will take you to the northern part of the islant.
3. Valbiska – Merag. The ferry connecting the islands of Krk will come very handy if you’re driving from, say, Zadar or Split.
4. The fourth option is the catamaran Venezia – Istria operated by Venezia Lines (www.venezialines.com for timetables and tickets). This is a bit expensive (about 80€ per adult) but it’s worth checking if you’re going to Croatia from Italy as there might be some special offers and allows you to cut a good part of the road, especially the slowest bit. It reaches the main towns in Istria and Mali Lošinj (Lussinpiccolo), which is about 55Km south of Cres.
Obviously the car is the best way to get around the island, as it’s not served by public transport, with the exclusion of the busses mentioned above. If you’re based in the town of Cres there are many pleasant walks to do, or you can explore the seas on a kayak, or a boat.
Cycling is my mean of transport of choice, and Cres is no exception. However the roads might be quite narrow and the cars are carelessly speeding through, so you’ll need to be extra careful. The island is rich with off-road paths, between olive trees, rocks and beaches, for which you’ll need a mountain bike.