This one’s a beauty!!! My absolute favourite Croatian island, Lošinj (pronounced Lozhinya) or Lussino in Italian, is one of the most photogenic places I have visited so far – just stunning! The scenery, the towns and villages, the clear sea, mountain views, the sunrises and sunsets – everything was wonderfully colourful and scenic. Even the drain covers are pretty! This one more than makes up for the last, rather colourless island!
I travelled to Lošinj by public transport from Krk. The bus starts in the capital Zagreb on the mainland and picks up in Malinska on Krk island then onto the ferry across to Cres and finally drives down through Cres to Lošinj, the bus’s final destination. Cres and Lošinj used to be all part of one island but someone built a channel between the two and they are now officially classified as two separate islands. Lošinj is 33 km long, with the width varying from 4.75 km in the north and middle of the island, to just 0.25 km near the town of Mali Lošinj. The island has a total coastline of 112.7 km.
The bus dropped me in Mali Lošinj, the island’s main town where I had rented an airbnb apartment for a few days. The owner said she would send her Dad to meet me from the bus but he was not there and it took about 10 minutes of standing around before I realised that the old lady who had asked me if I needed an apartment when I got off the bus was, in fact, her Mum who had come instead!! Lost in translation! Luckily, the lady, Signora Neda, spoke good Italian so we were able to communicate in the end! Signora Neda walked me to my new home – a beautiful attic apartment at the top of an old building (above the floor she shared with her husband) with huge spacious rooms and stunning views across Mali Lošinj. It was one of the nicest places I have stayed so far.
During the five days I was here, there were some glorious sunny days when I was able to swim in the sea and some other days when spectacular thunderstorms raged for hours and Signora Neda came and warned me to close all the window shutters. This was a lovely apartment to spend a few days in, especially when it was raining outside.
Mali Lošinj (which actually means Little Lošinj) is the biggest town on the island and an important port, set in a natural harbour on the west side of the island. It is a beautiful town with a large square and a wide promenade which runs around all around the three sides of the deep natural harbour. Bars, restaurants and shops line the harbourside and there is a daily fish market, open seven days a week. Steep, narrow streets and long stairways lead up and away from the port to the higher parts of town. There are flowers everywhere – bright pink and red bougainvillea, blue plumbago, white jasmine.
The buildings are painted cream, pale yellow, blue and pink with roofs of red terracotta tiles and colourful wooden shutters. Huge palm trees are dotted around the town and an enormous church looks down from its position high up on the hill. My place was just along a narrow street from the church – easy to find! Boats and ferries leave from the harbour for neighbouring islands and/or Rijeka. As well as the private yachts, there are some large ‘pirate’ boats offering boozy day trips and dolphin-watching for tourists (which I didn’t take part in!)
The island of Lošinj has a reputation for promoting health and well-being and is known for the longevity of its native population. There is a good network of well-signposted walks around the island and there are a lot of people using them – locals and tourists alike. The Croats love the sea and believe in the health benefits of swimming in it. Beaches are clearly marked whether they are dog-friendly or not and there are even ramps and railings into the water at some beaches to enable wheelchair users to get in and out of the water. One of the highlights of my time in Mali Lošinj was the coastal walk to Veli Lošinj (3.5 kms south) and onward another kilometer to the tiny port of Rovenska with its seafood restaurants clustered around the water’s edge, wide pebble beach and crystal clear water.
These days Veli Lošinj (large Lošinj) is much smaller than the neighbouring town of Mali Lošinj and the names are confusing. Veli Lošinj used to be an important town involved in the manufacture of sailing boats. Unfortunately, sailing boats were replaced by motor-powered boats and the new boatyard in Mali Lošinj took over in size and importance. Modern day Veli Lošinj is mainly a tourist destination very popular with Italians, Swiss and Americans and is picture-postcard pretty. Its tiny, narrow harbour is packed with boats and the brightly coloured façades of the surrounding buildings are reflected in the still waters of the harbour. A huge pink church dominates the little port, perched on the hillside looking down at the harbour. It’s a lovely place to have a coffee, drink or lunch. I stopped for an espresso by the water’s edge before continuing along the path south to Rovenska.
The path carries on with steeply sloping pine forests on one side and craggy rocks leading down to clear turquoise waters on the other. The blue sea stretches as far as the eye can see and the mountains of the mainland can just be made out on the horizon. The path slopes down to the tiny harbour of Rovenska. Pastel coloured houses and a handful of restaurants cluster around a tiny port lined with little boats.
The path snakes around the port and climbs up through some ancient pine trees for breathtaking views back down to the little port. The path crosses a wide pebbly beach with a beach bar and sunloungers and continues along the coast for another kilometer or so before it peters out. I walked as far as I could, then came back and had an hour on a sunlounger (but not a swim) before finding a fantastic quayside restaurant for a delicious lunch of seafood spaghetti and some lovely chilled white wine sitting right by the water. My dream lunch!
The Čikat area is a hilly and wooded peninsular situated to the west of Mali Lošinj. It’s on the western side of the island and is the perfect place on Lošinj to watch the spectacular sunsets found in the Kvarner Bay. The area is covered in dense pine forest with a clear path along the waters edge. There are a few nice hotels nestling amongst the trees and some small yachts are moored to rickety, wooden jetties sticking into the water. At sunset there are a lot of people walking with and without dogs, running, cycling and on the day I went, playing the bongo drums! I’d walked a lot on the day I visited Čikat so I found a tiny pebble beach and went for a sunset swim. The water was calm, cool and beautiful and perfect on my hot feet and it was a lovely thing to do at sunset!
The sunsets here are just awe-inspiring and it’s a fabulous time for a walk along the coast. I loved this island. It was definitely one of my favourites so far. Lovely apartment, friendly people, stunning scenery, great food, wonderful walks, beautiful water and the best sunsets of all the islands so far. I even enjoyed being tucked up in my attic apartment with a bottle of Croatian wine, watching the lightning and listening to the rain tipping down on the sky light windows in my apartment. An island to return to!
NEXT ISLAND: Staying in Croatia, the next island is lovely little Ilovik