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Cres and Losinj are really a single island, separated only by a 48m-wide (30-ft.) man-made channel that has been bridged by roadway. Despite their proximity and historical link, these destinations couldn't be more different. Cres stretches 60km (40 miles) from tip to tip and is twice as long as Losinj. Both islands are covered with biking and hiking trails, but it is Cres that is a haven for campers who like to rough it and for hikers who like a challenge. Losinj, on the other hand, is the island of choice for yachters and tourists looking for relaxing cafes and beaches.

More than half of Cres is covered with rocks and scrub grass, a landscape interrupted only by intersecting rock fences and sheep shelters that create a crisscross pattern on the inhospitable terrain. Osor on Cres is home to the protected griffon vulture. Losinj is blanketed with a thick tree cover, well-groomed pebble beaches, lots of shops and restaurants, and several large resort hotels.

Cres and Lošinj are really a single island, separated only by a 48m-wide (30 ft.) man-made channel that has been bridged by a roadway. Despite their proximity and historical links, these destinations couldn’t be more different. Cres stretches 60km (40 miles) from tip to tip and is twice as long as Lošinj. Both islands are covered with biking and hiking trails, but it is Cres that is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Lošinj, on the other hand, is the island of choice for the yachting set and tourists looking for waterside cafés and hotels with wellness centers. More than half of Cres is covered with rocks and scrub grass, a landscape interrupted only by intersecting rock fences and sheep shelters that create a crisscross pattern on the inhospitable terrain. Lošinj is blanketed with a thick tree cover, well-groomed pebble beaches, lots of shops and restaurants, and several large resort hotels.

Cres’s main tourist destination is Cres Town, which could double as a fishing village in Italy. (Cres and Lošinj have been popular vacation destinations for Italian tourists for years, probably because of the islands’ proximity to Venice, and because both were once under Venetian rule.) Near Cres Town, several minuscule, remote villages—Beli, Lubenice, and Valun among them—are worth a detour. Lošinj’s main villages are Mali Lošinj and Veli Lošinj. Both attract a large number of tourists, but it is Mali Lošinj that is the more developed center, probably as a result of Lošinj’s former status as a shipyard and winter vacation destination for wealthy Austrians. Today, both islands retain their own character, while reaping most of their revenue from tourism.

Cres and Lošinj have been inhabited since the Stone Age and followed the familiar settlement pattern of the rest of Croatia’s offshore islands. The islands were home to the Illyrians (more than 3,000 years ago) until the Romans came along in the 1st century, followed by the Byzantines and the Slavs. The Venetians, the Croat-Hungarians, the Austro-Hungarians, and the Yugoslavs followed, until the islands finally came under Croatian control in 1991. Today, Lošinj in particular is a thriving tourist destination.