Top Places to Do and See around Zadar, Croatia

Missing to visit some great places in Zadar surrounding areas, will be a great mistake, which are considered as the very top of the Croatian tourist offer.

With particularly indented coast with archipelago of 24 bigger and about 300 smaller islets and rocks, is a main challenge for many boaters to this region.

Should we add to this untouched nature, three Nature parks – Telascica, Velebit and Vransko jezero (lake) and two National parks, Paklenica and Sjeverni (Northern) Velebit, than it’s clear why this areas, are ‘must to see’.

For an easier orientation, I’ve subdivided the area around Zadar in three zones covering the coastal district and Zadar archipelago.

Northern Zadar surrounding area

If you decide to visit this region in Zadar county, than two small tourist places of Nin and Zaton will for sure astonish you with their history and particularly for their natural surroundings. Both are located less than 15 km north of Zadar. Check the map below to find out their position!

On the map I’ve added another small town, Novigrad (New town) that lies deeply hidden in the bay of the sea named after it. Don’t expect to find a new built town as it has preserved largely its original medieval architectural form.

Dominated by the ruins of the ancient fortress of a stormy past, nowadays a haven of peace for fishermen and tourists, a typical example of the Mediterranean as it used to be.

Attention! Don’t confuse this Novigrad with Novigrad in Istria region!

If you are looking for a vacation somewhere in a beautiful natural environment without a human touch, but preserving its original form, then this little town is the right destination for your holidays for the years to come.

Nin – a cradle of Croatian culture

Nin is the oldest Croatian royal town and a cradle of the Croatian culture. Well preserved cultural monuments, among which stands out, the Church of the Holy Cross called „the smallest cathedral in the world“ from 9th and 12th century. It’s the most valuable preserved monument of early Croatian religious architecture and one of Nin’s symbols.

It is situated in the shallow lagoon just 18 km north of Zadar, far from traffic and industrial zones. As the sea is shallow and cut into the land, the temperature of the sea is 2-3 degrees higher than in the open sea, which creates higher salinity and aerosol.

Among Zadar surrounding areas, Nin offers the best sandy beaches on the whole Adriatic coast. The most known is Ninska laguna beach (Nin’s Lagoon) almost a mile long beach, well known as Queen’s Beach.

It is a long sandy beach ideal for families with children and elderly people. This beach has been declared many times as one of the most beautiful Dalmatian sandy beaches by German auto club ADAC. The beach is also known for areas with medicinal mud located in the center of Nin’s Lagoon. It’s the biggest site of medicinal mud in Croatia.

Zaton – paradise for families with children

Zaton is situated in the bay of the same name in Zadar Channel, only 3 km from the historic town of Nin. It lies in a broad bay between Nin and Zadar. Zaton is Zadar surrounding area with the best sandy beach in Croatia.

It has a 1.5 km long pebble and sandy beach surrounded by a pine forest. It offers a wide selection of sports and recreational activities including tennis, horseback riding and water sports.

This Holiday Village beach received international recognition ‘Blue Flag! for water quality, safety and other services on the beach.

This beach is an attractive destination for families. The sports and recreational offer includes 16 tennis courts, various other sports fields, as well as bicycle, surfboard, sailboat and boat rental. Those interested in diving can visit the diving club Scuba Adriatic.

Zadar archipelago

Zadar surrounding areas include 24 bigger islands and 300 smaller islets and rocks, forming one of the most fascinating archipelago along the Adriatic coast.

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 Zadar ferry lines are handled by state owned Jadrolinija company.

On the above map you can see all ferry and fast catamaran lines to the main islands of Zadar archipelago. Here are some of the most attractive islands in Zadar surrounding area:

Ugljan island

If Norther Dalmatia is you next destination, than Ugljan Island is going to be your perfect place for summer holidays. There are some facts that are in favor of this closest island of the Zadar archipelago, opposite the town of Zadar.

Dugi Otok – A Long Island

The name of Dugi Otok translated in English means a Long Island. It’s not long enough to be the longest island on Croatia Adriatic sea, as Hvar island carries the title to be the longest one. Find out what makes this island worth visiting and why it will remain in your indelible memories.

Silba island

If you are wondering why I chose Silba island, the answer is related primarily because of its location and the fact that there is no car traffic on the island. This means that only peace and tranquility reign on this island isn’t the only one reason why island of Silba attracts visitors.

Pag island

This island must be on your ‘must visit’ list, although this island belongs only partly to Zadar county. Pag island is the only island that administratively belongs to two regions – Northern Dalmatia (Zadar county) and Kvarner bay region.

Zadar surrounding areas for outdoor activities

Zadar town and its surrounds are far from being just a place for visiting museums, ancient ruins, cultural treasures, fortresses and churches. Since it is situated in the middle of a spectacular unspoiled natural landscape, and is ideal place for different holiday activities, kayaking, peddling, climbing, rafting, sailing, diving…..

Paklenica National Park

Paklenica national park is one of the most visited natural attractions in Zadar surrounding area, only 45 km from Zadar town.

Paklenica National Park is the most visited climbing center in Croatia, and very popular outside Croatia. Today, at Paklenica climbing site, which is mostly composed of limestone, there are about 400 well-equipped marked routes of different difficulty grade and length (from grade 3 to 8b+), so climbers can find suitable grade for their abilities.

If climbing is not for you, this national park is the right place for hiking. Hiking is the only way to really get to know Paklenica. The Park area contains 150-200 km of trails and paths, from those dedicated for tourists to those projected for mountaineers, leading to the highest peaks of Velebit mountain. The trails in the Park are marked with boards and mountaineering signs.

Telascica Nature Park

One of the best outdoors excursions is visiting this Zadar surrounding area landmark as a part of famous Kornati islands National park.

Located along the southeastern coast of Dugi Otok island, Telascica fascinates visitors with its limestone landscape with pebbly seashore where you can gently get into the sea, enjoying the steep cliffs that drop into the blue abyss.

Zrmanja river

If you are looking for adventure holidays within the Zadar surrounding area, Zrmanja is among the most beautiful rivers in Europe, with perfectly clear warm waters , spectacular canyon with magnificent waterfalls.

Located only 50 km from Zadar, Zrmanja river near Obrovac town, is often called hidden beauty due to its location and hard access. There are only two ways to get to know its hidden beauty – paddling in kayak, canoe or rafting on its upper flow or by the boat on its lower flow.

It is typical karst river with numerous waterfalls, cascades and rapids on its upper flow. From the last of the waterfalls , called Jankovica buk (buk means noise or roar), the river turns to be navigable for 17 km, all the way to its delta in Novigrad sea (see the map on the top of this page) , surrounded by steep cliffs, ancient ruins, and rare vegetation where you can take a boat excursions.

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