The extraordinary beauty of Croatian islands reaches its peak in the Zadar Archipelago.
Dozens of smaller and bigger islands adorning the Archipelago make this place a true sailor’s paradise and an unmissable stop on a sailing route across the Adriatic.
We picked 11 extraordinary islands and islets from the Zadar Archipelago you might find interesting because of their unique beauty, interesting nature spots and quirky customs.
Here they are in no particular order. Enjoy!
Quaint fishing villages and hidden coves and beaches on Ugljan offer a wonderful escape and a delightful insight into the Dalmatian culture.
Ample ruins of ancient forts dotting the island speak of Ugljan’s importance and recognition even in the ancient times. A must see is the St. Michael Fort. The impressive structure was built by the Venetians in the 13th century and offers the most spectacular views of Zadar and Kornati Islands.
Particularly popular with sailors is Kukljica on the southeastern side of Ugljan. It is a traditional fishing village, located in a large natural bay.
There’s not much to do, but to relax and forget about your daily worries. But then again – that’s what summer is about, right?
Blanketed with thick cypress and pine woods, the smallest inhabited island on the Adriatic is the best place to escape modern technologies and experience the Mediterranean as it once was.
It takes about half an hour to walk around the island, but make sure to bring you camera with you – Ošljak guarantees some fantastic shots of the Adriatic and the island’s striking nature.
Trade the chaos and traffic of your everyday life for this small piece of paradise that will make fall in love with its serenity and simplicity of life.
Pag is the island with the longest coastline in Croatia, with miles of sandy and gravelly beaches. It can satisfy even the people with the most selective tastes.
For the adventure seekers the island offers hundreds of miles of hiking and cycling trails. History enthusiasts can delve into Roman ruins, scenic churches, kilometers of the dry stone walls built by the Pag farmers throughout the centuries, grape and olive groots, the first Croatian wind farm and much, much more.
If you are a party animal, then you must visit Zrće, often called „Croatian Ibiza“. This beach is know for its rich and bustling nightlife and performances of some of the world’s most influential DJs.
For the UFO enthusiasts there is the Pag Triangle, the location of what’s thought to be an UFO landing site. If you’re interested in gastronomy, indulge in Paški sir, the traditional cheese made from the milk of the Pag’s autochthonous breed of sheep.
Dugi otok (eng. Long island) got its name due to being only 45km long and between 1km and 4km wide. Considered an oasis of peace for travellers searching for a getaway from the rush of everyday life, Dugi otok is an island that has it all!
Twelve picturesque villages are spread across the island, secluded sandy beaches collide with majestic cliffs and lush vegetation, while the underwater is rich in coves and caves.
Dugi Otok is also home to the striking Telašćica Nature Park, one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Croatia.
This priceless beauty is not quite on the itinerary of conventional tourists. Nestling comfortably between the islands of Pag and Silba, Olib is known for having the most spectacular sandy beaches.
Although Olib was inhabited even in the ancient Roman times, today it counts only several hundred inhabitants. With its quiet beaches, safe harbours and mellow feel, Olib is just the spot for summer enthusiasts in search of hidden spots in midst of the whirlwind of the tourist season!
Often referred to as „The Gates of Dalmatia“, Silba marks the beginning of the glorious Dalmatian region.
This watery wanderland is a treasure chest for divers, windsurfers and sailors. The absence of traffic on the island supports the diversity of outdoors activities. During the summer, visitors can participate in volleyball, football and basketball tournaments, go cycling or take part in the annual running event trailing across the island.
One of the most popular attractions on Silba is the 19th century “Tower of Love”. According to legend, it was built by a sailor for his fiancée who had married to another man before he managed to return to her from a long sailing journey. He later went on to marry her daughter.
It is a strange tale, and just one of many stories accompanying romantic places in Croatia.
What should you expect on Premuda? A peaceful atmosphere infused with the authentic Mediterranean charm.
Premuda is a diving location like no other. The Cathedral – a series of entwined underwater caves alight by golden sunrays seeping through the caves’ ceiling – provides the ideal exploration grounds, whilst the nearby wreckage of a World War I ship is a special treat for experienced divers.
Or you can spend the days unwinding at Premuda’s gorgeous beaches – you simply cannot make the wrong choice!
Rimmed with spectacular cliffs in the southwest, the rest of the island is easily approachable and decked with numerous coves, a perfect shelter for sailors.
For a long time Molat was the property of the Venetian Republic, lent to prominent Zadar families. Several times the island was the victim of several pirate invasions; it was even visited by the British King Edward VIII and his wife Wallis in 1939.
One of the island’s most attractive features is its library. It holds over 6,000 titles. Basically, there are more books on the island than inhabitants!
Ist’s most distinctive feature is it’s peculiar shape. This wonderful island looks like a gentle butterfly and is a haven for anyone looking to escape the overwhelming summer crowds.
On Ist you’ll find nothing but clear air and even clearer water, the soothing sound of waves and the buzzing and chirping of criquets. The island is a popular diving and sailing spot, but what you’ll appreciate the most is the spectacular view stretching over Kornati National Park from a tiny church atop a hill called Straža (“The Watch”).
Located halfway between Zadar and Šibenik, this enchantingly green island is marked with luxurant pine forests. Vrgada is rimmed with stunning golden beaches, often popular with naturists.
The only settlement on the island is the small town bearing the same name as the island. It has only 200 permanent residents, who mostly involved with agriculture and fishing. In contrast with Vrgada’s incredible natural beauties and richness, the life and people on the island are tremendously simple and humble.
Known as one of the biggest Croatian islands, Pašman prides itself in having the cleanest sea on the Adriatic! The reason for that are the constant changes of currents along the island that make its crystal-clear sea abundant in almost all types of shells and fish found on the Adriatic.
There are several gruelling biking trails on Pašman, as well as a multitude of old churches and chapels testifying about the island’s ancient history.
Pašman has some quirky traditions, such as celebrating carnival in the summer, as well as a slingshot competition. Pašman also hosts an international folklore festival, as well as delightful fairs that showcase local food producers and handcrafters.
Have you had the chance to visit one of these gems?
If not, which one would you like to sail to the most?
Photo Credit: (1) Ivo Dunatov, Photonet, (2) Boris Kačan, Photonet, (3) Maarten van der Bent, Flickr, (4) Mladen Radolović, Photonet, (5) Mladen Radolović, Photonet, (6) Tomislav Mavrović, Flickr, (7) Aleksandra Uzelac, Flickr, (8) Aleksandar, Flickr, (9) Mladen Radolović, Photonet, (10) Ivo Dunatov, Photonet, (11) Ivo Pervan, Photonet, (12) Boris Kačan, Photonet