Did you know that Ugljan Island is known as The Green Island, but it actually has 80 kilometers of spectacular sandy beaches?
You know now, so if you are planning to visit Northern Dalmatia, Ugljan Island is the perfect destination for a memorable summer getaway.
Nestled within the Zadar archipelago and directly across the popular town of Zadar, Ugljan is not just easy to reach, but also beautiful, tranquil and truly spectacular.
And today, I am sharing my thoughts on the top Ugljan island attractions, talking about the best beaches here, the top things to do and everything else you should know about this place.
Why visit Ugljan Island in Croatia?
First of all, Ugljan’s proximity to Zadar is a major advantage. It’s just a 25-minute sail from the city, either by passenger or car ferry.
A Gateway to Insular Croatia
Ugljan is not the final destination – it can also be considered a gateway to other important attractions in Croatia. From here, you can effortlessly hop to the breathtaking Kornati Islands or the Telascica Nature Park.
The island itself has beaches galore for those looking to soak in the sun and enjoy the Adriatic sea.
With a higher count of sandy shores than many of its Adriatic counterparts, Ugljan caters to everyone – from families seeking gentle waves to naturists looking for secluded spots to connect with nature.
Ugljan stands out for its affordability – and that’s a lot to say in a country where you already have lower than the norm prices for the summer season.
Apart from the best hotels and pensions you can find in the area on Booking.com, there are plenty of private accommodation options as well, offering a bigger bang for your buck.
This makes Ugljan a smart choice for travelers who want to enjoy the Croatia’s beauty and the tranquility of island life without breaking the budget.
How to get to Ugljan Island from Zadar?
The easiest way to get to Ugljan is from Zadar in mainland Croatia by ferry. Ferries and ships regularly depart from Gazenica Port to Preko village on Ugljan.
The journey is short but scenic, taking around 25 minutes and costing around 2 Euros per person, or around 12 Euros per a vehicle. (Make sure to double-check the prices as they can change).
You can check out the ferry schedules and find ticket info on Jadrolinija, Croatia’s state-owned company.
Best Beaches on Ugljan Island
Contrary to the typical rocky Adriatic coast, Ugljan surprises with several sandy beaches, which are sure to delight any travelers reaching the island.
They’re also mostly shadowed by age-old pine trees, which make the entire experience even more pleasant.
There are plenty of amazing beaches in Ugljan, most of them being family friendly (but there are also some naturist spots available – you can read more about the best naturist beaches in Northern Dalmatia here).
Now let’s check out the best beaches on the island, as well as a few details about each!
Big Sabuša Beach
The west coast of Ugljan is home to Big Sabuša Beach, overlooking Dugi Otok. A 15-minute walk from Kukljica town leads to this sandy beach with shallow waters, ideal for children and water games.
Small Sabuša Beach
Just a 10-minute walk north of its bigger counterpart, Small Sabuša Beach offers a quiet retreat for swimming and sunbathing (clothing optional).
If it’s secluded serenity and smaller crowds that you’re looking for, this is the main beach I recommend – it’s easy to reach, too.
North of Kukljica, Kostanj Beach is a sandy haven surrounded by pine trees. The nearby St. Jerome’s Church, dating back to the 13th century and one of the main attractions in the area, can help you mix a lazy day spent under the sun with expanding your cultural knowledge.
To the south of Sabuša beaches, Jelenica caters to naturists. With a sandy bottom and encircled by olive trees and Mediterranean maquis, it is truly picturesque.
Further south lies the tiny nudist islet of Karantunić, a favored spot for scuba diving enthusiasts.
Other top things to do on Ugljan Island
Apart from enjoying the amazing sandy beaches recommended above, there are many other activities you can take part in to make for a memorable vacation.
Often referred to as the ‘green island’, Ugljan is indeed a green paradise filled with pine trees, olive groves, fig trees, and vineyards. And also filled with history.
The island’s historical roots stretch back to Roman times, as the ancient Roman summer residences still standing on the island prove. Let’s check out all the other things to do in the area!
1. Visit Califfi Castle
A notable landmark and must visit attraction is the 17th-century Califfi Castle, located in the town of the same name.
It was once the summer retreat for a noble family, but recently the castle has been restored and bears the name of the legendary basketball player, Krešimir Ćosić.
2. Explore Ugljan’s Villages
There are seven villages on the island, but four of them are the most important and should be visited during your stay:
This is the main village, with a quaint harbor and plenty to offer in terms of restaurants and activities all year-long.
It is connected to the mainland by daily ferry lines to Preko. Just 2 km away lies the island’s most picturesque sandy beach in the bay of Muline.
Positioned at the island’s eastern end, Kukljica serves as a gateway to the Kornati National Park and Telašćica Nature Park.
It’s a yachters paradise and a true pleasure to visit, even if it’s not with your own yacht, but rather to check out the ones in the marina.
Its unique location offers access to both the northern and southern shores, so a great place to set up home base in.
Kali, the largest village on Ugljan, is known as the main fishing hub on the island. Therefore, you can enjoy tasty fresh fish and shellfish in the restaurants here, after spending a day under the sun.
Preko, the island’s central ferry port, is the historical heart of the island thanks to its Roman artifacts. It’s also linked to Zadar via a short boat ride.
3. Saint Michael’s Fortress (Sv. Mihovil)
Located on the top of the highest hill of Ugljan Island, this ancient fortress offers panoramic views of the archipelago and the Zadar Channel.
It’s probably the main attraction in the area after the amazing beaches and I strongly recommend to take the hike up to the fortress as it’s really rewarding.
4. Franciscan Monastery of St. Jerome
Situated in Kukljica, this monastery dates back to the 15th century. Small, yet beautiful, it can be visited daily between 5 – 7 PM.
If you want to, you can even spend the night (or more) at the monastery and truly connect to the spiritual side of things. Prices are really affordable too!
5. Muline Roman Ruins
In the village of Muline, you can explore the remains of ancient Roman fishponds, the Ancient Oil Mill and a villa rustica, which are all part of the Roman heritage I’ve mentioned before.
It’s worth checking them out – especially if you’re passionate about history. Don’t expect something as impressive as the Coliseum in Pula, but it’s still nice.
Ugljan Island, with its picturesque sandy beaches and almost 80 kilometers of coastline offers an unparalleled Adriatic experience to its visitors.
While sunbathing is the main activity to perform here, there are plenty of other things to do in Ugljan to keep you busy and entertained.
All in all, from family holidays to solitary retreats, Ugljan is a destination that every traveler will love.
Have you been to Ugljan island or are you planning to visit? What are you most excited to see on Ugljan Island? Share your story and thoughts in the comments section below.
If not, don’t forget to head over to Booking.com and book your trip to Croatia’s paradise right away. The perfect vacation awaits – and it’s even better for your budget if you book it in advance.