Osor Town on Cres Island, Where Time Stands Still
The month of September provides a perfect opportunity to bask in the summer vibe just a bit more… and spend a weekend on an island of your choice before the October rain comes around and ruins the fun.
Far from the likes of Dubrovnik and Split – or to borrow from Thomas Hardy, far from the madding crowd – lie the understated islands that somehow managed to stay out of the tourist frenzy. They are not entirely out of scope and not all of them are hard to reach; it just happened that they found a wonderful balance and while they do get a nice dose of visitors, they aren’t overrun by people. You can walk through the narrow streets uninterrupted, you will always find a table waiting at a local café, and you’ll be able to relax, breathe in, breathe out… and get in sync with the gentle pace of island life.
One such island is Vis, as you could have read in this wonderful piece penned by Tash Pericic. Look further to the north, and you’ll find the islands of Kvarner. Between Krk and Lošinj that are both considerably tourism-oriented, lies the island of Cres – the calm, unspoilt beauty that remains under the radar year after year.
There’s something to see in every town and village on Cres, but one of my favourites is Osor, a lovely place located at the exact point where Cres and Lošinj meet. Once a single island, the two got separated by a burrowed canal that made communication and transport around the archipelago much easier; the new layout also made Osor an important port connecting Kvarner area with northern Dalmatia.
It’s a place that bears witness to impressive history. The foundations of the city walls showed the town dates back to 9th century BC, when the settlement bore the Latin name of Apsoros. Remember the mythical hero Apsyrtus who got killed while trying to retrieve the Golden fleece stolen by Jason and his Argonauts? Legend has it that the battle took place on Kvarner, and the name Osor remains a token of remembrance of the unfortunate warrior. Allegedly… but it’s not a shabby piece of heritage, eh?
On the main square, you’ll find beautiful stone townhouses built in the 15th and the 16th centuries, along with the gorgeous cathedral of Our Lady’s Assumption and the adjacent bell tower. The former loggia now serves as the Town Museum, but to tell the truth, the whole town can be described as a breathing, living work of art.
Some of the streets and the main square are dotted with sculptures made by the legendary Ivan Meštrović and other Croatian masters. Osor is also known for its music nights, a manifestation held since 1976 that has every little corner filled with magnificent classical pieces performed by skilled musicians in a unique historical ambience.
Osor is more than deserving of a visit, especially in this transitional period between high season and autumn. It’s laid-back, refined, and will soothe your mind and soul; leave a couple of days aside and go see this unpretentious gem.
How to get there?
If you are sailing, set your course for Osor on Cres island, where you can dock in a small marina with 50 wet berths. There are also two bays north of the bridge where you can anchor: Uvala Skaline on Lošinj and Uvala Bijar on Cres.
The bridge connecting Cres and Lošinj opens for marine traffic every day at 9:00 and 17:00 for 30 minutes. Smaller boats can pass under the bridge at all times.
If you’re driving from the mainland, you have two options. You can take the ferry line from Valbiska port on Krk island to Merag port on Cres, and then head for an hour-long drive to Osor over the narrow, elongated island. The other ferry line is departing from Brestova port west of Rijeka and arriving at Porozina port on Cres, about 45 minutes away from Osor town.
In case you just want to kick back and leave the technical details to someone else, there’s a bus line from Rijeka to Osor. It’s operated by Autotrans and has three daily departures; you can check the schedule here.