Travel Guide to the Zadar Archipelago: Northern Dalmatia’s Jewel
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!
Zadar Islands Map
Exploring Zadar Archipelago
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.
Most of kayaking adventures start from Zadar, choosing same tours that last from 3 to 4 hours, day trip to 3 islands of Zadar Archipelago, or more romantic sun set kayak tour.
For those more adventurous visitors, bike tour is a great occasion how vacation can be active and fun, but still, totally relaxing.
Cycling vacation gives you occasion to experience bigger island (Ugljan, Pasman and Dugi Otok) and if combined with kayaking, opportunity to know how the life on these islands really looks like.
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.
Diving and snorkeling
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.
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.
- Kornati Archipelago: Small Group Sailing Trip from Zadar
- Zadar Canal Half-Day Sailing Trip
- Private Saharun Beach Boat Trip from Zadar
- Croatian National Parks 7 Day Sailing Adventure from Zadar
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.
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.
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.