Travel Guide To Lastovo Island, Croatia
Lastovo Croatia is one of the most remote islands in Croatia and it is a great spot to experience the stunning beauty of nature without the big crowds. This archipelago is also home to the beautiful Lastovo Nature Park where you can do plenty of outdoor activities and discover lots of hidden natural gems.
When traveling to Croatia, a few very specific things come to mind. The beaches and the nature parks are certainly included in those things because that’s what Croatia is known for. Then there’s the iconic city of Dubrovnik which is the famed filming location of the popular TV series, Game of Thrones.
But if you want to experience something different from the rest of the common travelers, you may want to take a look at Lastovo Island.
Though there are a few inhabitants here, you can still describe the island’s beauty as an untouched nature. It’s a great choice for people whose first priority in a vacation is to relax and just spend a peaceful holiday.
The island is the most forested one in Croatia, with 70% of the land covered in forests. It is also the biggest one in the Lastovo archipelago among 45 other islands. The entire island was declared an official nature park in 2007.
You can call Lastovo Island a tiny paradise because of the way of life there that attracts tourists. It has a moderate and pleasant climate with some light showers in the summer that makes for a perfect vacation. Not scorchingly hot but warm enough for outdoor and water adventures.
There is only one hotel in Lastovo Croatia so you can imagine just how secluded and private it is. Long walks by the beach is one of the best things to do in the island and it is quite a rewarding activity because you will be joined by beautiful singing birds and the tranquil sound of the splashing sea.
Location Of Lastovo Island
Lastovo Island is where you can experience living, even just for a while, in the beauty of unspoiled nature. It is a haven for nature lovers, fishing enthusiasts who like catching tuna and other trophy fish, and wine lovers. But there is so much more there because the island also has interesting traditions and a rich history.
Lastovo Croatia is located a little far out in the Adriatic. It is not a usual destination but people who have been here say that it was worth the travel. Visitors arrive to the island by ferry from nearby cities like Split and islands like Hvar and Korcula. The entrance to Lastovo is by the Ubli port.
It is not part of Split or Central Dalmatia. The island belongs more toward the Southern Dalmatia and you can say it is a remote piece of paradise. In fact, it is even considered as one of the last paradises in the entire Mediterranean.
It is among the 10 Mediterranean islands with the most preserved natural beauty so you will really find it raw and authentic. Though it is not as glamorous as other Croatian destinations, it is an ideal spot for nature tripping far from the usual tourist crowds. It offers plenty of recreational opportunities that guarantee you will have a splendid stay.
You can reach Lastovo Island by riding any of the daily catamaran ferries coming from connecting cities like Split. Ferries are available daily and it is a fast and convenient ride to the island.
History Of Lastovo island
Technically, Lastovo is part of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County in Croatia but it is physically in the southern part of Dalmatia. This municipality includes 45 other islands and a very small population of only 792 people. Majority of those residents are ethnic Croats. Lastovo is the biggest island among all the 46.
Just like many islands in Dalmatia, Lastovo Island was a Roman province where Illyrians used to occupy. The Romans conquered the area but some parts in Dalmatia remained independent. In 1,000 AD the settlement in the island was attacked by the Venetians in response to their piracy in the Adriatic coast.
When the Venetians left in 13th century, they became relatively autonomous until the French’s conquest under Napoleon.
The island came under the rule of Austria in the next century followed by Italy after the first World War till it finally went under Yugoslavia before becoming part of the Republic of Croatia.
Today, visitors can still see the Venetian architecture that has survived in Lastovo Croatia from the 15th to 16th century. You will see plenty of old churches though they are smaller than other grand churches in other Croatian cities. But it tells of the island’s history and the local’s long standing Roman Catholic traditions.
The Romans left plenty of reminders of their long rule on the island which you will still see today. In the villa rustica estates which are private farming units, it is quite evident that it has been a Roman settlement as well as the water catchment areas which the locals call lokve.
Lastovo was first mentioned in writing by a lexicographer from Byzantium who referenced an ancient Greek historian in the discovery of the island. It was known under different names, all meaning Emperor’s Island until it became Lastovo after the Middle Ages.
Based on the evidences of human habitation found in a cave, scientists note that there have been settlers in the island since the late Neolithic Age. But it was first inhabited by the Illyrians during the prehistoric period. Then, Greek explorers found ceramics that suggest Lastovo was one of the routes for Greek trades in that part of the Adriatic.
It would seem that Lastovo was mostly autonomous during the early Middle Ages because of the lack accurate historical documents. Later, the island generally recognized the Croatian kings as its rightful rulers.
Like other Mediterranean islands, the Lastovo Island’s main livelihood was centered around agriculture and tourism. Most of their lands were used for agriculture and some of them were used for vineyards so you will also find great wine in Lastovo. Olive trees are also numerous so there is a wide production of olive oil.
The reason why Lastovo Croatia is so attractive to travelers even today is because it still is largely undeveloped and it is a great place to experience the untouched beauty of nature.
The Big Picture: Lastovo Island, Croatia
Lastovo is a fantastic place for nature lovers and people who love outdoor adventures. Animal lovers will also have a wonderful time because there is plenty of wildlife. Of course, just like any vacation spot in Croatia, you will have unlimited views of the beautiful deep blue Adriatic waters.
The biggest town in Lastovo Island is Lastovo but there are other villages that you can explore. It is part of an archipelago of 46 smaller islands so there are lots to explore and you can go island and beach hopping even in just one day. The island is not just relaxing, it also offers a romantic atmosphere so this is a perfect destination for lovers whether you are on your honeymoon or your yearly romantic trip.
You can easily reach the island from Vela Luka on Korcula by riding one of the catamaran ferries. The ride is fast and convenient and it only takes one hour to reach Lastovo Island. Driving by car is also a good way to get to Lastovo Croatia and it is a 2 hour drive from either cities.
It is a favorite destinations for people who love to explore the seas in yachts because of its beautiful little bays. It the town of Lastovo, you will see a striking collection of old stone houses and the chimneys which once served as status symbols for old local families.
The town is also famous for its delicious spiny lobsters, some of the best you will taste in the world. They are best paired with the exquisite local wines. The Marastina is the most famous dry white wine in Lastovo which is a full-flavored wine famous across Croatia.
Lastovo Island is a great example of unique natural habitat and the entire area is rich in marine life, wildlife and it has a diverse vegetation. It is home to sea corals, sponges, dolphins, and sea turtles among others.
In your stay, you should take the opportunity to take long walks by the sea where you will be joined by birds. Imagine the soft sand on your feet and the sound of the splashing sea and singing birds in the background.
When you get to the island by ferry, the first thing you will see is the port at Ubli. You will be greeted by ancient stone stairs that go all the way up to the town’s hilly streets. And before you head to the main attractions, you can stop by the nearby Renaissance church to admire its architecture.
Ubli also has good connections by bus with other towns and cities. And near the port, you will find a supermarket, a local dining place, and a bar. From there, you can go to different parts of the island by bus as well.
If you climb the stairs going to the church, you can get to the hill where the meteorological station is located. This was once a forecastle or a Kastel that was built by the city government of Dubrovnik. From here, you will be rewarded by spectacular views of the islets down below, scattered all around the crystalline blue waters.
Another thing that is unique in Lastovo Island is its local Carnival. In this festival, the locals go around wearing traditional clothes and perform their cultural dances as their traditional music plays. It is a great event to witness and you will learn a lot about the local culture.
The island is mountainous so nature lovers can take a good hike up its hills. It is mainly covered in forest so you will be under the shade of big trees even in the hot summer days. You can also go cycling around the mountain trails. Bikes are available for rent in the town of Pasadur.
Divers will also enjoy the waters in Lastovo Island. They can choose from two diving centers, one in Pasadur and the other in Zaklopatica.
You can go sailing around the waters and explore the other nearby islets and sample their local foods. But if you just want to relax, you can simply hang out by the sea or take a leisurely swim. Others join boat excursions that start from Lastovo Island to the islands of Mljet and Palagruza.
Perhaps, one of the most unique things you will see in this place are the chimneys which we mentioned were status symbols in the old days. This is because the locals competed with each other on whose house has the most beautiful and unique chimney design.
If you decide to sail the waters or rent a boat, you should pass by Skrivena Luka where you will see one of the oldest lighthouses on the Adriatic. It is a great view from the waters and at night, you will witness how it guided the boats that passed through these parts from a long time ago.
This lighthouse is called Struga and it stands tall on the cliffs that curve around the bay. It looks almost detached from the island by a water-filled gorge. If you stop by, you might even meet the keeper of the lighthouse who looks after the light.
The island also has its own old religious buildings including the church of St. Kuzma and Damian which has been there for at least 7 centuries. Inside is a collection of valuable pictures and interesting relics that say a lot about the town’s history. You can also visit the church’s treasury.
Exploring Lastovo Island
From your arrival at the port of Ubli in the town of Lastovo, you will immediately see how this island is different from the rest of Croatia.
The Port at Ubli and Ubli Bay
There is only one port that serves as an entry to Lastovo Island and that is the port at Ubli. It is a ferry port which has good connections with other towns, islands, and cities. You can go island hopping from this port and see what the rest of the archipelago has to offer.
There are ferries from Split, Dubrovnik, Mljet, and Korcula island ferry port Vela Luka going to Ubli regularly. And from the port, you can take the local buses going to the different towns in the island.
When you arrive, the port is already a sight to behold. You should take some time to just see the views and maybe watch the ferries come and go. If you are headed to Lastovo village which is about 10 kilometers away, you could go around Ubli first and see the famous stone houses and chimneys.
From Ubli, you can climb the stairs going to the church and get to the top of the hill where the meteorological station is located. This was once a forecastle or a Kastel that was built by the city government of Dubrovnik. From here, you will be rewarded by spectacular views of the islets down below, scattered all around the crystalline blue waters.
Stone Houses & Lastovo Fumars
The famous chimneys in Lastovo were called fumars. It is a distinguishing feature of the island and one of the most unique things you will see in Europe. These chimneys protrude from the famous stone houses and quite a strange but enjoyable sight to see. Their designs are quite unique and imaginative because of a unique tradition.
These chimneys were built by the locals who were trying to compete with each other as to which house would have the most unique and most beautiful one in town. It served as a status symbol on which family was superior than the rest.
They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors that it is impossible to see two similar chimneys in this part of the town. There is one that looks like a tower and others with strange industrial designs. Some even look like sculptures. Just like the houses, the chimneys are also made of stone that is why they have stood strong through the ages.
The stone houses themselves are also quite charming and unique. It is like walking back in time when you explore this neighborhood. It is not really clear why the locals developed such a tradition but if you visit and see for yourself, maybe you will come up with your own theories.
Lastovo Nature Park
The entire island itself was declared as part of the Lastovo nature park. The park includes all 46 islands and the reefs. It is one of the most preserved marine areas in the Adriatic and has a great national and international importance when it comes to ecology. It is protected by the government to preserve its inherited landscape and cultural values.
This is part of the efforts to preserve the biodiversity in the Mediterranean.
Once you get to the town of Lastovo inside the island, one of the fun things you can do is hike on its mountains. It is not as steep as in other nature parks of Croatia but it is an enjoyable and challenging enough hike.
There are plenty of hiking trails that you can take and all lead to great spots for you to enjoy a stunning view of the ocean and the nearby smaller islands. The entire island is covered mostly by forests so you will be under the shade of trees even in the hot summer days but still try to wear sunscreen to protect your skin during the summer.
You don’t have to be an experienced hiker to hike around the Lastovo hills. There are no guided walking tours but you can create your own itinerary so you can enjoy exploring the mountains at your own pace.
There are also biking trails all around Lastovo and it’s fun to ride around then stop by different areas to see the sights. Bikes are available for rent in Pasadur so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own.
Walking by the Sea
One of the simplest things you can do which can actually have the most impact in your vacation in this island is just walking by the sea. Long walks are preferable and it’s a great idea to start your journey early in the morning.
You will have the stunning view of the sea right beside you as you journey to the intricate neighborhoods where you can see more of the island life. And if you end up walking all day, consider staying by the shores and waiting for sunset so you can enjoy one of the most memorable sunsets you will ever experience.
Lastovo Croatia is also a famous fishing spot especially for those who like catching tuna. Locals and tourists alike can rent a fishing boat from the town and engage in recreational fishing. If you were able to get a good catch, you can take your fish to the town, have one of the restaurants cook up a meal for you and have a fish picnic by the sea.
Fishing is a relaxing activity that you can do whether on your own or with your family and friends. It’s a great way to enjoy the view of the sea and refresh your mind.
If you are feeling more adventurous, you can try to go scuba diving in one of two scuba diving centers. The waters in Lastovo Island are rich in marine life and you will see lots of colorful fishes, corals, and sponges on your scuba diving adventure.
Don’t worry if you are not an experienced diver because you will be guided by a professional. You can rent the diving outfit and gear from the diving center for a fee which will be separate form any entrance fees.
This is a fun activity for friends and families though it is only for adults. You can go diving in groups so you can film each other with underwater cameras and take the memories home with you.
In the summer, you will witness the town’s unique festival called the Carnival. The locals celebrate this day by dressing up in traditional costumes as they dance their traditional dances to the traditional music. It’s a great way for you to see how these islanders lived in the past and their forms of recreation.
Lastovo Island’s most popular dish is its delectable spiny lobsters. It is a port town so it is naturally a featured delicacy. You should not leave town without sampling one of their local lobster dishes which are usually home cooked and served hot. Though you cannot take the lobsters home with you, its memory, taste, and smell with stay in your mind and heart for a very long time.
Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian
This is the main church in Lastovo Island and is located in the oldest part of the town square. The structure dates back to the 14th century. One of the things you will see is the old painting of the church itself which was a work of the Italian artist Master Giacomo Lanfranco. There is also the painting of an anonymous Venetian artist from 1545.
The design of this triple nave church was inspired by two different periods. Its central nave is from the 15th century and the adjacent two were from the 16th and 17th centuries.
You should take some time to explore the church’s interiors which is filled with stone furnishings. Some artifacts are also housed inside the church which tell interesting stories about its past. If it’s open for viewing, you can go inside the church’s treasury which holds some precious silver and gold-plated chalices from different periods including Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance among others.
There are old candle lamps, candle holders, and other unique artworks that you will not find in other historical places in Europe. One of the most special artworks in the church is the Renaissance vessel that has been once used as a container for holy water.
Towns and Villages
In the west side of the island is the Pasadur village where you will find a local hotel. In fact, it is the only one in the island so if you want to stay for more than just a day tour, this is where you will definitely be staying. The town also features a restaurant which serves local specialties which are a must try in Lastovo Island. There is a bar where you can enjoy a nice cocktail or maybe one of the local wines.
Pasadur is also where one of the diving centers is located so take note of that if scuba diving is one of your main interests in Lastovo Croatia. You can go to the town either by bus or you can sail to it by renting a boat from Lastovo village. You can park your boat in the town port and explore the village. There is also a bridge connecting the town to Prezba island which could be of interest.
Zaklopatica features a pretty little bay that gives you a view of the nearby island Korcula. You will find a few restaurants here that serve a different variety of local dishes. This is where the other diving center is located so you could go here for scuba diving.
Since Lastovo Island is a port town, you can easily go to and explore some of the nearby islands as well as the other smaller islets in the archipelago.
One of the nearby islands that is usually visited by tourists coming from Lastovo Island is Hvar. Hvar is an interesting spot because of it ancient history. It is where you will find the fortress Forica and the Hvar cathedral. Other holiday destinations you can visit are Split and Vela Luka on Korcula island.
Split is the nearest major city to Lastovo Island and it could be your main destination in your Croatian trip if you want to take a tour of Lastovo Croatia. Spit Croatia is the second largest city in the country next to Zagreb but some people, especially the locals, argue that it is the most beautiful!
It is where you can find the Diocletian Palace is the main attraction in Split Croatia and is quite a significant Roman ruin, one of the few that survived since the Roman era. There is also the Bacvice Beach which was awarded a Blue Flag which means it is one of the cleanest beaches with the highest quality water in the world.
It’s great for families, lovers, and even those traveling alone. There are slides and rubber castles for kids and bars in the surrounding area.
Getting to Lastovo Croatia
The island is easily reachable by catamaran ferries from different towns and cities. Ferries are available every day but make sure to check their schedules from the city you are coming from.
If you want to take your car, you can ride one of the car ferries that sail from Split to Ubli which is the main port in Lastovo. There is only one port that gives you entry to the island and that is the port in Ubli. The car ferry stops at Vela Luka on Korcula then heads to Ubli.
Taking the car ferry is sometimes more practical because you can get a cheaper price paying for the car fee and you as a passenger. But if you don’t want to take a car, you can ride the faster catamaran ferries as an alternative. It only takes one hour to travel by ferry from Split to Lastovo Croatia.
The catamaran ferries are only available from the 30th of May to the 29th of September so if you want to include Lastovo Island in your Croatian trip itinerary, make sure to schedule it at these times. Another option is to take a high-speed boat though the fees are a bit higher.
Ferries are also available from Dubrovnik from July to August. Take the ferry route 9807 which sails every Tuesday and Thursday from 8am onwards.
When you get to Ubli by ferry ride, you will find the local buses that will take you to the different parts of the island.
Best Time to Visit
Though Lastovo Croatia is beautiful all year round, accessibility may be an issue so it is best to visit the island when the ferries are in operation. That is generally during the summer season and it is also when the town comes to life. Most of the activities featured in Lastovo Island are also best enjoyed during the summer.
Take note that ferries from Split are only available from the 30th of May to the 29th of September so if you want to include Lastovo Island in your Croatian trip itinerary, make sure to schedule it at these times. From Dubrovnik, the ferries are in operation from July to August. Take the ferry route 9807 which sails every Tuesday and Thursday from 8am onwards.
The great thing about visiting Lastovo Croatia during the summer is that it does not have an extremely harsh climate. So, don’t worry about scorching hot sun. It is mostly warm and humid but the heat is tolerable. You can enjoy a nice hike in the mountains, walk by the sea, or go cycling in the different biking trails.
This is also when the local Carnival festivities happen and it will be a great event to witness. See how the locals dressed in their traditional costumes in the old times and hear their unique and lovely music as they dance with each other.