Feel the breeze of Adriatic sea, have a wonderful time and discover the beauties of 5 best islands in Zadar. Check our guide to get all information you need for Zadar island hopping: where to go, how to get there, best beaches, things to do and more!
Zadar Archipelago consist of hundreds of smaller and larger islands and islets, stretching along the coast over the area of about 400 square kilometres. Only few of them are populated. For that reason it doesn’t surprise that Zadar archipelago is one of the most amazing spots in Croatia for exploring by boat.
Needless to say that the islands have amazing landscape, hidden coves that can be reached only by sea and crystal clear waters.
Check out our list of top 5 islands that you shouldn’t miss to visit while staying in Zadar.
1. Pag – Moonlike island
Pag is the fifth-largest island in Croatia, and the one with the longest coastline. It is around 60 kilometres (37 miles) long, connected to the mainland by the bridge and about 1-hour drive far from Zadar. Pag stands out, for its rocky landscape and exceptional beauty. It is the island of lace, cheese, salt, lamb and parties.
Pag lace is a unique product of skilful hands of the women from the town of Pag. Lace-making is a very old tradition and in 2009, Pag lace was registered in the list of intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.
Tempt your taste buds and taste world-renowned cheese from island Pag, made from sheep’s milk with unique flavor due to salted herbs that sheep eat. Except for cheese, Pag is well known for its salt, which is considered one of the best salts in Croatia. You can even visit saltern to find out more about the process of salt making. Pag’s lamb is another delicacy you should treat yourself while visiting Pag that is being offered on many restaurants.
If you like dancing and listening to music, then Zrće is the place for you. However, if you are looking for peaceful oasis for your family and friends, do not worry, Pag has that too. It is full of peaceful locations and beaches perfect for families and you should go to Šimuni, Povljana or city center Pag.
You should definitely visit thousand year old olive grove to see magnificent olive trees at Lun. You can walk through ancient grove and find out more about olive oil production.
Interested in visiting Pag? Check our one day tour to island of Pag with cheese tasting included starting from Zadar!
2. Ugljan – the Olive island
The Island of Ugljan is situated opposite to Zadar and it is easily approachable from Zadar as it requires only a 20 minute ferry ride. You can check the ferry timetable and take a ferry boat from Zadar port to Preko, the port town on the island. The island is covered with lush vegetation – evergreen pine forests and over 200 thousand olive trees. You will be amazed to discover old Croatian churches, traditional stone architecture and beautiful beaches.
In Ugljan town you can see interesting old monuments, including a 2000-year-old olive oil factory and a peaceful Franciscan monastery. Visit Preko, Europe’s hidden gem and climb the fortress of St. Michael from the 13th century to enjoy the unforgettable panorama of the island, surrounding islands and Zadar. You can’t miss picturesque islet situated only 80 m from Preko, with Franciscan monastery dating from 15th century.
Discover Kali, a small fishing port famous for its long tradition of fishermen. Pretty Kukljica is famous for its sandy and pebble beaches, perfect for a swim or to relax in a shady spot.
The best way to feel the island atmosphere is by walking along the sea or sipping a favorite drink on one of the terraces with a view of the Zadar Channel.
The best way to experience the island of Ugljan is by bike. Check out Island Ugljan self guided bike tour.
3. Pašman – with the cleanest sea in the Adriatic
The island of Pašman is a lovely quiet island connected to the island of Ugljan by the Ždrelac bridge, and separated from the mainland by the Pašman Channel, which is in some places only 2 km wide. You can easily get to Pašman via ferry from Biograd or by crossing the bridge if arriving from Ugljan.
Pašman is surrounded by dozens of scattered small islands and interesting fact is that the sea current changes its direction every 6 hours, which makes this area one of the cleanest on the Adriatic Sea. Preserved island landscape contains many aromatic herbs, vineyards, fields and olive groves. The island was originally inhabited since the Roman times.
Make sure to visit Ćokovac Benedictine Monastery from 12th century, situated on a hill overlooking the channel and well known in Croatian history as one of the centers of Glagolitic literature.
You can visit Pašman island by bike. Check more here!
4. Dugi otok (Long island) – peace oasis
Dugi otok or Long island is the largest island in Zadar archipelago. Geographically, it is an island of great diversity and contrast: the coast of the island that is facing the open sea is characterized by sharp rocks and the highest cliffs in the Adriatic while on the other side of the island one can find quiet coves and the most beautiful sandy beach Sakarun. On the island are 12 small villages, each with their ow charm and peaceful ambiance.
The island is well known for it’s nature park Telašćica which is one of the safest natural bays on the Adriatic. Within Telašćica is a salt lake Mir (eng. Peace) famous for its high salt content due to underground channels that are connected to the sea. You can swim in the lake and its mud is believed to have medicinal properties.
Certainly one of the most famous things to see on the island is Veli rat lighthouse. It is the biggest lantern in the Adriatic and is 42 meters high overlooking the open sea.
Visit Dugi otok and discover all mentioned above and former military tunnels and a secret underground beach in a hidden cave in unforgettable day tour by a speed boat starting from Zadar.
5. Galešnjak – heart shaped island
Between Zadar and Pašman island lies mystical and enchanting island of Galešnjak. The heart shaped Galešnjak island covers an area of 0.132 km2, with its beach measuring 1.55 km in length with the highest peak of 34 m. Galešnjak is privately owned but uninhabited and you can not reach the island by a ferry or a boat. However, it is possible to organize private transfer by a boat to visit the island.
The island became real sensation when Google Earth “discovered” it in February 2009, which brought the island to worldwide attention.
Due to its heart shape it is often referred as Island of Love, Lover’s Island or Love Island.
Take a panoramic flight as it is the best way to capture island’s unique heart shape.
Decide which island to visit depending on how much time you have:
- If you have just a few hours, go to Ugljan as it is only 20 min ferry ride from Zadar
- If you have half day, fly above Galešnjak, heart shaped island
- If you have one day, go to Pag and enjoy beautiful beaches and great cuisine
- If you have a week to spare, go to Dugi otok or visit both Ugljan and Pašman at the same time