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Šipan Island

Šipan is one of the Croatian islands in Elafiti archipelago group, also known as ‘Dubrovnik’s islands‘, situated just off the coast of Dubrovnik. Located just over 8.3 nautical miles from Dubrovnik (about 12.5 kilometres), this is the largest island of the archipelago (area 15.5 sq km/ 6 sq miles, length of the island: ‎9 km/ 5.6 miles). The island has 410 permanent inhabitants.

Conveniently connected with daily ferry boat line with Dubrovnik, Sipan is a popular island to visit from Dubrovnik. The neighbouring islands are Lopud and Kolocep. Note, the island’s name is pronounced ‘she-pan‘ as Š in Croatia is pronounced “sh” as in ‘shoes‘.

Suđurađ panorama, Sipan Island, Croatia
Photo: Suđurađ bay @ Sipan Island

When to Go

The best time of the year to visit Šipan is from May to October. In July and August, the island is pretty busy while the rest of the months are less crowded. In May and September temperatures are milder so these months are great for cycling, hiking and similar outdoor activities. September to October the average sea temperatures still above 20°C so you can still swim in the sea. May and earlier in the year, the sea is considered to be too cold to swim in.

Weather in Sipan

Weather in Sipan is seasonal and similar to other South Dalmatian islands and to Dubrovnik’s weather. Spring and autumns are milder (temperatures up to 20 C), July and August are usually hot with temperatures reaching 40 C. Winter can get pretty cold here, Bura wind is frequent in the whole archipelago, although both villages – Šipanska Luka and Suđurađ are geographically sheltered from the wind (see below map). This is also the reason that both bays are popular among the sailors as moorings that provide a safe haven for their boats.

Sipanska Luka

How Long Should You Visit

Most of the people visit Šipan from Dubrovnik just as a day trip. The island is about 1 hour and 20 minutes ferry ride from the town. Nevertheless, I would recommend you to spend there at least 2 whole days including 1 night, meaning getting from Dubrovnik in the early morning, spend the whole day on the island, overnight here, spend following day here and getting the last ferry back to Dubrovnik.

If you do this, you will have enough time to visit both villages that are located on the opposite sides of the island, walk, hike or cycle here, have few hours for swimming, sunbathing or snorkelling and the whole evening to try local food and wines. If you love nature and sleepy villages, come here out of season and spend a few days or the whole week, you will not regret it. Bring a book or two to read.

Best Things to do in Sipan

The main attraction

  • Stijepovic Skocibuha castle and tower
  • the Pakljena Benedictine monastery complex with
  • St. Mary Church that features the polyptych of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. All near Suđurađ
  • Hike or Cycle: Šipansko Polje valley between Šipanska Luka and Sudurad or/and
  • Sipanska Luka to Velji Vrh hike/walk
  • Spend a day on the beach
  • check which guided tours are available (including hiking, cycling & kayaking) and what are the current prices – check here

History

History of Sipan dates at least from the 1370s when the island’s name was first mentioned in historical documents. In the earlier documents, the island was named as Jupana, Zupana or Supana.

Historically, the island was part of Ragusa, the Dubrovnik Republic. During the 15th and 16th century, the wealthy Ragusa families built their mansions as a summer residence on the island and the remains of them are still there including remains of Rector’s Palace and Archbishop’s palaces.

The proof that the island was inhabited in Roman times is the remains of a Roman villa Rustica near Šipanska Luka bay. Numerous remains of churches from medieval times are spread around the island: St Peter’s and St. Ivan’s, at Velji Vrh and Silova Sela, both from 11th century and 14th century St. Mary’s Church, Crkva Svete Marije, part of the St. Michael’s Benedictine monastery complex in Pakljena, near Sudurad.

The 16th-century polyptych in St. Mary's parish church, in Pakljena bay, Sipanska Luka
The 16th-century polyptych at altarpiece in St. Mary’s parish church (Crkva Svete Marije) in Pakljena, Sipan island. Painting by Kristofor Antunović, Dubrovnik painter from 16th century. More info

Sipan With Kids

Kids love Sipan. It is a quiet island with very low traffic and just a few roads with cars. All swimming spots are on walking distance from both villages. Hikes and cycling are easy and pretty safe. There is plenty of places to get ice-cream or cold drinks in both villages. Evenings and nights are quiet as there is barely any nightlife on the island. If your family is after some peace and quiet and gentle hikes, this is one of the best islands to be.

Beaches

Beaches on Sipan are less popular than one on Lopud, but there are numerous small swimming spots dotted along the coast with small pebble patches we call a beach. Both in Sudurad and in Šipanska Luka small gravel village beach is right in the centre of the village. You will find secluded beaches and isolated spots for bathing along the whole of the island’s coast. Check the map.

An early morning fishing @ Sipan
An early morning fishing @ Sipan

Best hikes/walks and cycling routes

The highest peak on the island is only ‎243 meters so all hiking/walking/cycling trails are easy or moderate to follow. The routes are well marked, some of them pass through the vineyards and olive groves, near low bushes and under the pine trees.

Sipan island walks include the popular route from Sipanska Luka to Velji Vrh. This 4 miles long hiking route leads from Sipanska Luka and takes you to the top of the highest hill of the island, Velji Vrh (243m) that offers truly breathtaking views over the village and bay below, the whole archipelago and further to Mljet island and Peljesac peninsula.

Other popular trails are through the fields between Šipanska Luka and Suđurađ where a network of ancient routes takes you around the fertile fields covered by vineyards, figs and olive groves. If you are planning to visit from June to September, make sure you have plenty of water and wear a hat + sunblock.

Find out more on walking or cycling map of the island

Video – Cycling on Sipan


This video shows a short cycling tour on the island (taken by local cyclists)

Note: The island is small enough to easily be explored without a car. You can rent a bike in both villages, either in Sipanska or in Sudurad and last time I visited, there was an option to rent a bike in Sudurad and drop off in Sipanska and vice-versa.

Where to Stay – Sipan island hotels

There are only two hotels on the island, Hotel Sipan, 3 stars in Sipanska Luka and Hotel Bozica, 4 stars in Sudurad. However, there is more than enough of private rooms, BnB’s and apartments available in both villages. As the village is pretty small, any location should be good and from most of the houses, you will have a sea-views from at least one room.

When to Make Your Reservations

If you are after booking the best places with the best views, make your booking as soon as you can. July and August are pretty busy but the rest of the year is easier but still, you should book your accommodation in advance. To see what is currently available, which local hotels and see the latest offers – check here

Where to Eat

Both villages offer basic restaurants, tapas and konoba with simple and tasteful meals, ice cream, seafood prepared with traditional cooking recipes. A well known upmarket restaurant/ beach bar is Bowa ( bowa-dubrovnik.com ) which is about 30 minutes walk from Sudurad. Their offer includes fresh oysters from nearby Ston, Peljesac and fresh seafood but it is pretty pricey.

Getting to Šipan

By Ferry from Dubrovnik

Frequent daily car and passenger ferries connect the Island with Dubrovnik all year round – see below map. For detailed timetables, schedules and ferry ticket prices check croatiaferries.com

Ferry Map

Sipan Ferry Map
Sipan Ferry Map

Here is some info about getting here from other places in Croatia:

By ferry from Lastovo, Split, Brac, Hvar, Korcula or Mljet

From April to October, there is a fast ferry from Split, Brac, Hvar island, Korcula or Mljet to Dubrovnik. Change there for a ferry to Sudurad, Sipan. In July & August, there is twice a week fast ferry catamaran to Šipanska Luka from Lastovo, Korcula and Mljet. As a good starting point for planning your trip to the island, consult croatiaferries.com website.

If you are visiting Croatia for the first time see info about how to get to Croatia and
about getting around Croatia

Map of Sipan island

On the above map, you can see the location of Dubrovnik ferry port from where you can take a one-hour boat ride to get you to the island as well as a location of places of interest, main villages. See also a map of all Croatian islands that includes Sipan too.

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