Crystal clear sea, healthy air, low incidence: Island insider tip in Croatia: 8 reasons why Losinj is a vacation paradise
The island of Losinj is located in the Kvarner Bay. It combines everything that makes a holiday special in a small area. Crystal clear sea with dolphins, lush greenery, quiet bays, small harbor towns, great culture and great cuisine. FOCUS Online introduces you to the island paradise.
Looking at the map is clear and confusing at the same time: With an incidence of 35.9 (as of August 12, 2021), Croatia is one of the safest and most quickly accessible travel destinations in Europe. However, to find the island of Losinj in the Adriatic, you have to take a closer look. The island, 33 kilometers long and only up to four kilometers wide, seems to hang on the neighboring island of Cres. But in fact an eleven-meter-wide canal built in Roman times, over which a swing bridge leads, separates the two islands from each other. It clears the passage for yachts twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Otherwise the bridge can be crossed by traffic in one lane. And after just a few kilometers it is clear: another world begins here. The climate is noticeably milder, the landscape is significantly greener, full of blooming wild flowers and herbs, it smells spicy and the atmosphere is relaxed. Welcome to the Losinj microcosm, for which we have some tips.
1. Take a deep breath and detox: The air as a health booster
In the 19th century Losinj belonged to the Habsburg Empire and even then the healing effects of the extraordinarily mild, Mediterranean climate were noticeable. In 1892 the Vienna Ministry of Health named the two main places on the island, Veli and Mali Losinj, as climatic health resorts. Its positive effect on respiratory diseases, allergies and the immune system earned Losinj the nickname “island of vitality”.
Scientific studies have confirmed the special composition of the air, which depends on several factors: the interplay of the Jugo, onshore, and Bora, offshore winds, the evaporation of the sea water, which is rich in salt and minerals, the oxygen given off by the many pine forests and their fragrances . “The air alone here has a detoxifying effect, like detoxing, it is a booster for health,” says Melissa Mettler, wellness director and herbal expert at the Bellevue Hotel in Cikat Bay, from her own experience.
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2. Pure nature: the calming effect of green tones
From lush green to turquoise: even in midsummer, the color green dominates on Losinj. Cypress trees stand next to palm trees and dense pine forests – everywhere. More than 100 years ago, Austrian researchers are said to have planted thousands of the Aleppo pines that are typical of the Mediterranean region and that reproduced wildly. The dense tree population up to the sea provides shade, houses walking paths, invites you to take a bath in the forest and gives off a refreshing, ethereal scent. More than 800 indigenous plants grow on the island, including around 200 medicinal plants such as sage, lavender, rosemary and myrtle.
Sandra Nicolich knows them all. The medicinal herb specialist runs the “garden of fine scents”, an eco-paradise with fig trees, donkeys, sheep, swings with sea views and a mini-restaurant on the slope above Mali Losinj. To get in the mood for the power of herbs, which is particularly intense due to the climate, Sandra serves a homemade drink made from myrtle, her “Losinj Redbull”. With the aromas from your garden, for example curry herb, still in your nose, the next fantastic shade catches the eye: the magical turquoise green of the sea that stretches around the coast and is more reminiscent of the Caribbean than the Adriatic.
3. For sun worshipers: beaches and sunset spots
As almost everywhere in Croatia, pebble and rocky beaches dominate on Losinj. Given the number of platforms on the stones and many impressive bays, this is not a problem. The Cikat Bay on the west coast, for example, is considered one of the most beautiful on the island. It is horseshoe-shaped, surrounded by a thick pine forest, from which magnificent villas from the imperial era peek out. Anyone who glides into the crystal clear water here has the feeling of simply floating. However, you should come out at sunset at the latest, because the perfect sunset spot awaits at the entrance of the bay next to a lighthouse.
The “Lanterna” restaurant sits enthroned on a cliff with a panoramic view of the island mountains and the open sea as far as the horizon. The restaurant “Ovidence”, which is located on the range of hills behind the Cikat Bay, offers a better overview of the spectacular sunsets. From up here, paths wind down to secluded bays and pristine beaches that can otherwise only be reached by boat. Speaking of boats: a number of providers take tours to the sandy island of Susak. The small island, on which its own dialect is spoken, can be reached in just 15 minutes and makes dreams of white sandy beaches in Croatia come true.
4. Tour with a wow factor: Surrounded by wild dolphins
The ride out to sea feels incredibly good: the guests of the dolphin tour sit one behind the other like on horse saddles with a handle. The bow of the dinghy rises, but not a single drop of water splashes into the boat. The sea is calm, hardly any waves. Suddenly, tour guide Barbara calls out: “There on the right, there they are!” Three dark gray, triangular fins point out of the sea. Bottlenose is the name of the dolphins, of which around 2000 specimens live off the west coast of Losinj and can be seen regularly. The marine mammals known from the Flipper series can grow to be five to seven meters long and up to 60 years old.
There, now they appear to the left of the boat! Their movements are calm and smooth, in sync with the waves. Pure aesthetics. One would like to go overboard, but swimming with the dolphins is forbidden. To protect the marine mammals, each tour boat is only allowed to stay for 30 minutes. It is difficult to say goodbye because the group of around 30 curious dolphins keep coming very close to the boat. What an emotional experience!
5. Magical harbor towns of Veli and Mali
They are the two largest places on the island: Veli Losinj and Mali Losinj are right by the sea. Veli has a good 900 inhabitants and, according to the meaning of its name (“big”), can look back on an impressive shipping history. Like its big sister Mali (which actually means “small”), but which has 6500 inhabitants, it nestles picturesquely around a bay with colorful houses from the turn of the century.
Travel guides like to compare the two well-kept harbor towns with the Italian Portofino. Only that there is much less hustle and bustle here. And the cappuccino in a nice cafe on the harbor promenade with a view of expensive yachts costs only two euros.
6. Apoxyomenos: A museum for a statue
The story sounds like something out of a fairy tale book: In 1997 a Belgian diving tourist discovered a 2000 year old Greek bronze statue on the seabed off Losinj, at a depth of 45 meters. And what a! The athlete Apoxyomenos is 1.92 meters tall, has curly hair and the toned body of a wrestler. It is in better condition than almost any other bronze statue from this period, thanks to the conservation effect of the sand and coral vegetation. Only the eyes and the little finger of the right hand are missing.
The rest is of such artistic perfection, attention to detail, beauty and aesthetics that an entire museum was built in its honor. The approach to the globally unique object is as creative as it is innovative, so that this small museum casts a spell on everyone – including children and museum grouches. It goes up to the Sanctum Sanctorum via various floors, which are designed as a ship’s hull or seabed and equipped with multimedia. An empty room, in futuristic white, in which the athletic Apoxyomenos stands like a deity and burns himself into the memory.
7. New tennis academy from the star trainer
What does the best tennis player of all time have to do with Losinj? Lately a lot, because Roger Federer’s Croatian trainer Ivan Ljubicic opened a tennis academy on the island in the summer of 2021 – at the Hotel Punta near Veli Losinj. The world elite and everyone who wants to become one now trains on nine clay courts, three brand new hard courts, which the master called “one of the best in the world”.
Matteo Berretini, currently number eight in the world, only recently played on the spacious course with a view of the sea. A tennis hall will soon be added to the new training, fitness and physio rooms in the 4-star hotel. The best conditions for tennis freaks also in winter.
8. From star chefs and beach bars
First of all: the fresh fish on Losinj tastes world-class – in the truest sense of the word. Because the four-time world champion in spearfishing, Daniel Gospic, 36 years old, lives on the island and goes underwater hunting with his harpoon on request. One of his regular customers is the gourmet restaurant of the 5-star boutique hotel “Alhambra”, a branch of the best chef in Switzerland. Christian Kuchler from the “Taverne zum Schäfli” in Wigoltingen has been awarded 2-star and 18 Gault & Millau points.
His new head chef is the young Austrian Michael Gollenz, who is considered a huge talent in the scene. The 26-year-old raves about the quality of the island fish and the aroma of the island’s herbs, vegetables and fruits. Guests at the Mol restaurant in the tiny fishing village of Rovenska, which is known for its spaghetti with lobster, also go into raptures. If you want to sit directly on the water in the small bay, you have to reserve in advance. Because the octopus carpaccio also attracts gourmets magically.
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