The group of over 100 islands, called Zadar archipelago in Norther Dalmatia, represents the real paradise of unspoiled nature, far from the mass tourism like those in the south.
Although more numerous but in relatively limited area, often bare, mostly semi abandoned islands, boast with beautiful bays, beaches and lush inland scenery.
Most of these off the beaten track islands, mostly lacking in significant tourist facilities, still represent an unavoidable summer destination, sometimes unreasonably bypassed by the major tourist flow. Let's see what is the reason for this!
The most of 14 bigger islands, Dugi Otok (Long Island), Ist, Iz, Rava, Molat, Olib, Silba, Premuda, Pasman, Ugljan, Rivanj, Sestrunj, Zverinac and Vrgada, are regularly connected by car ferries, fast catamarans and ships from Zadar town, the capital of Northern Dalmatia.
Don't be surprised if you don't find island Pag, among these islands as the northern part of the island (Novalja) belongs to Lika-Senj county while a southern part (Pag town) makes the part of Zadar county.
With 24 lines a day, 15 ferries crossings and nine ships and catamaran lines, Zadar is after Split port the most important Croatia's ferry harbor. The most of the ferry lines are handled by state owned Jadrolinija company.
All information and ferry schedule from Zadar are regularly updated usually from January each year. At this moment is still in effect 2016 winter timetable, but if you visit this page regularly, you will find a new 2017 ferries and catamaran schedules.
Zadar archipelago is without a doubt one of the most beautiful vacation spots in Croatia. Although Zadar islands are less famed than those in Split or Dubrovnik counties, they still offer everything you need for a vacation in style.
The easiest way is to hop on one of many ferries from Zadar to explore different islands, idyllic villages, stunning diving and snorkeling sites, secluded beaches and parks of nature.
The most of the islands are a little more than one hour sailing from the mainland, some like Preko on Ugljan island takes only 25 minutes or islands Ist, Olib, Silba and Premuda, ideal set for island hopping.
A long and barren Dugi Otok, with its beautiful Telascica Bay is on only 1,40 minutes sailing from Zadar's Gazenica ferry port. Each of these numerous islands offer everything you’ll need to make the most of your time there.
Visiting Zadar you'll have many possibilities for a day or more day trips to this archipelago situated between the sea and the mountains which makes it attractive for all kinds of vacation activities.
Here are some of my personal top vacation ideas for a trip to Zadar islands:
It is nothing new considering sea kayaking to be the most convenient and enjoyable way to explore the best of the islands.
Kayaking gives you access to some of the snorkeling and diving sites and beaches which are otherwise out of reach. It´s the most enjoyable way to travel around moving only using your hands' force. And more exciting, when you realize that you are followed by dolphins.
For those more adventurous visitors, bike tour is a great occasion how vacation can be active and fun, but still, totally relaxing.
On the Internet you can find many cycling offers, away from civilization in absolutely unspoiled nature, wild and beautiful nature like Kornati kayaking and cycling day trip or Ugljan Island self-guide bike tour.
The particularity of this region is in the beauty of the Zadar archipelago that is rich with many walls, reefs and caves, often filled with fish, particularly in the geological part of the outer Kornati wall. For more diving excursions, the best resource is diving center Zlatna Luka and Dive Dugi Otok center.
If you want enjoy the sea, sun and wind then this is the right activity for you. Choose one of sailing boat and allow yourself to enjoy the unique experience of Zadar archipelago.
Most of travel guidebooks advise Paklenica National Park as the the best trekking place around Zadar. The Park is called "the rock climbers paradise" and is the most famous hiking and rock climbing National Park in Croatia. Viator proposes exciting 5 hours trekking tour in this park.
If you feel that Paklenica NP is not a place for you, than Zadar islands offer a vast possibilities for trekking. The islands, Ugljan, Pasman, Pag, Dugi Otok have a lot of marked trails.
The choice is vast, the trails are marked, just get the maps of these islands and set off for light recreation and exploration each of this islands. You can find all info and maps on Zadar Region Tourist Board website.
Two islands stand out as the most interesting whether for beginners or more active walkers, or hikers as there are some steeper tracks that partly pass over more difficult ground.
On the Pasman Island besides walking, you can enjoy the scents of rosemary, figs and other plants the island abounds in and the lovely views of the Kornati archipelago.
Ugljan island, the closest to the mainland, offers impressive views from the Venetian St. Michael´s fortress (Sveti Mihovil) above Preko (265 m above the sea level) from which you have a spectacular view on most of Zadar archipelago islands, including Kornati islands.