Let me guide you to Cres, a truly magic island in the Adriatic Sea.
Just an hour from the Croatian mainland, you’ll find unspoiled nature, coastal towns, and clear waters.
One of my favorite European cities is Venice. And the sight from Riomaggiore over the Sea left me speechless.
God knows that.
Sometimes he likes to amaze me with a nice surprise.
So he thought a bit and then remembered that there was still a little room left on this Adriatic island called Cres.
So God thought: Why not just combine the beauty of Venetian architecture and the natural splendor of the Cinque Terre in one spot?!
Said and done, cute little houses were built around an unpretentious jetty. Then, lush hills and narrow pebble beaches were added – and eccolo: Paradise on Earth!
Is it an Island? Is it a Town?
I have to be precise here: Cres is an island and on this island is a town also named Cres.
And that’s the jewel.
The island of Cres is connected to another island called Lošinj which is more popular and therefore also touristically more developed.
I had my share of touristically developed in Poreč, so coming to Cres to me was like entering paradise.
There is the atmospheric center – somewhere between cute and sophisticated.
There are the expensive yachts in the small port.
But there are also the old men with weather-beaten faces, drinking Rakija and having heated discussions in Italian, albeit, the times that the Venetians ruled Cres are long gone.
The cold, clear waters can be enjoyed from small beaches within walking distance or larger beaches where different types of boats take you.
I Don’t Splurge
Wonderful Cres is a good opportunity to write a little bit about where I am staying during my road trip.
The Croatian Apartman
Since usually, I’m spending just the night at my room, I’m a little cheap when it comes to accommodation.
Although I appreciate a nice room, the price matters. But I’m not doing hostels.
I love hostels – young, fresh travellers hanging out, exchanging experience…great energy.
But I’m very, very, veeery uncomfortable sleeping in one room with people I don’t know.
To be precise, I’m also uncomfortable to sleep in one room with people I do know.
Well, Croatia caters perfectly to people like me.
Are you familiar with the Casa Particular system in Cuba? People rent out a spare room they have polished according to some very strict rules established by the Máximo Líder and rent them to…people like me.
Here in Croatia, you hardly ever use the common area together with your host, however, sometimes they just live next door.
What you get is a small Apartman or studio. Not always furnished like in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, but with lots of love.
You certainly find everything you need: A clean bedroom, a tidy bathroom, a small kitchen or kitchenette – and lots of care by your host.
Actually, I think this is why it reminds me so much of Cuban Casas Particulares: The hosts get out of their way to make you feel at home. They offer to pick you up wherever you arrive, they don’t stop to tell you to let them know whatever you need – they are just so nice! Genuinely nice!
When I got to my first Apartman, the Art Room*, in Zagreb and met Irena, the art aficionado who rents out rooms decorated by her artist friends, I thought it was just a lucky shot, that we got along since we are both so art buff.
But then I came to Poreč, and Martina was also so welcoming and nice and sent her husband to pick me up at the bus station although it was only a ten minutes walk to the Apartman Oliva*.
Once there, he wouldn’t stop fixing the TV so I could watch German television.
I had told him about five times that I didn’t want to watch TV in general and particularly no German television…in Croatia.
He finally fixed it.
I never turned it on.
Yesterday I came to Cres and finally met Dolores, the sweetest woman ever, who had sent me about twelve WhatsApps to explain precisely how I’d get from the jetty to the Apartman* – we’re talking about 150 meters here.
Guys, if you ever happen to feel lonely in your life, just rent an Apartman in Croatia – your host will shower you with affection.
I’d like to know: What are your favorite accommodations when you travel – rather luxury or rather homestays or….? Share it with me and my readers in the section below.
On Cres. Or In Cres.
Surprisingly, Cres is the same size as the far more famous island of Krk, but only populated by a little over 3,000 people. And also tourism is by far not as massive as on the more popular islands. Only on Cres’ sister island Lošinj, tourism is more developed. That’s the reason why, after having pushed my way through tourist-groups in Poreč, I stayed on Cres.
And in Cres.
Croatians are a bit chintzy with names and call a town after the islands where it’s located.
So Cres on Cres.
Like everywhere else in Croatia, you can rent an Apartman – the one I rented was in a prime location about three minutes walk from the ferry overlooking the small yacht harbor.
I could walk from there to the beach or to some supermarkets in a couple of minutes. The owners got out of their way to make me feel comfortable – a perfect stay.
The Apartman is located on one of the main squares so that there are about five different restaurants as soon as you open the door.
You reach a small beach in five minutes.
It’s not a great beach.
Come to think of it, there are no really great beaches in Croatia.
But it doesn’t matter since everything else is so perfect.
However, this one is a beach where you can stretch out on pebbles and relax and take a dip in the crystal clear waters.
Out of Cres
Like I said, there are a bit over 3,000 people on Cres island, and almost 2,900 are living in the town of Cres; which tells you a lot about the density of population in the villages.
The most famous should be Lubenice, an untouched place about 20 km from Cres. There is actually a bus going, but only on certain days and at around 5 a. m.
I wouldn’t mind going on a certain day at 5 a. m. to a village up the mountain inhabited by seven women. But I spent only two days in Cres and simply didn’t have the time. I absolutely need to come back with much more time to…..do basically nothing.
Since I didn’t have the opportunity to visit this enchanted village, I at least wanted to see some….water. And there is a lot of water around Cres and it’s crystal clear and deep blue and just amazing.
Cruising Around Cres
In the harbor, there are tour operators offering trips to a beach below Lubenice. It’s totally worth the 270 Kuna to spend hours on the ship just observing how the landscape around the petrol blue waters changes.
Once you get to the beach, there is a guided tour of the blue grotto included in the trip. You have to swim, though, and the water in the grotto is freezing. But the cave illuminated by some rays of sun is just mesmerizing.
Also included is a – let’s say not too heavy – lunch on board – choice of fish or chicken, and water, lemonade, and wine.
After about 90 minutes on the beach, the pirate ship heads back to Cres.
They promise you to spot dolphins on the way – and they actually keep their promise: We saw a group of three big, jolly mammals jumping around – the cherry on the cake that was this wonderful day trip.
I went on the a bit silly pirate ship Korsar which is to be found in the harbor. You can get info online, but I have the impression that you get a better deal when booking on the spot. Just go to the small counter in front of the ship.
For me, unfortunately, that was it for Cres, since I had only three weeks for my entire trip.
So when I come back to Croatia, I’ll stay at least four to five days on Cres.
How to Get There
You can get from Rijeka to Cres in a bit over one hour with Jadrolinija and the fare is 35 Kuna – which is really cheap since you are travelling on a very comfortable catamaran. You can buy your ticket online or at the harbor, it’s very easy.
There is only one ferry going from Rijeka to Cres, it leaves at 2:30 p. m. and arrives at 3: 50 p. m. To catch it, I had to leave Poreč on the morning bus around 8 a. m. and had about five hours in Rijeka.
No problem, there is a locker room at the bus station and Rijeka is a really pleasant and authentic city.
The Downside of Public Transport
As I said, I was coming from Rijeka and initially intended moving on to Krk island.
In general, that’s possible since from the village of Merag on Cres leaves a ferry.
However, it is a little complicated and quite time consuming since the buses and the ferry are not in sync.
It simply was not worth it losing an entire day getting to Baška just to stay there for two nights.
It might be much easier if you have your own vehicle, though.
Since for me, it didn’t make really sense, I finally refrained from going there at all and I went back to Rijeka instead.
Which was totally fine since during my forced stopover on the way from Poreč to Cres, I fell in deep love with the city and was looking forward to having another stay there.
Best Place to Sleep
At night, you open the door and there are uncountable restaurants.
You walk ten minutes and you find yourself on a tiny, but pretty nice beach.
Walk twenty minutes and the beaches get bigger but also more crowded.
The apartman is pretty spacious with a big bedroom that easily houses three. There is a very well-equipped kitchen with every appliance you might need and a bathroom of a good size.
But besides the lovely owners, it’s the location – location – location.
Best Place to Eat
Like I said, you just open Dolores’ door and….don’t look too far, at the next corner of the square is Buffet Marittimo serving basically what every restaurant in Cres is serving – fish and shellfish; but here you get really generous portions at a good price.
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