The island of Ugljan is situated between Zadar’s coastline and the island of Iž. It is the 14th largest among Croatian islands, and the 4th largest among Zadar islands (behind Pag, Dugi otok and Pašman). The coastal towns on the island are oriented towards Zadar, a strong urban center and a leading, centuries-old seaport.
The town of Preko is administrative center of the island and ferry port. The name “Preko” implies the position of the town across the town of Zadar (Cro. Preko translated into English means “across”).
From ferry port you can head towards the town center or you can visit other towns on the island like: Kali, Kukljica, Poljana, Sutomišćica, Lukoran i Ugljan. In 2016, the island of Ugljan was declared Best European hidden gem on the portal Best European Destination.
The island of Ugljan is often referred as a “suburb” and a garden of Zadar, due to the lush vegetation on the island. From the moment that you step on the island, you will feel the smell of various Mediterranean plants, while the beautiful nature and atmosphere won’t leave anyone indifferent.
Read 7 things that you have to do once you are there:
1. Walk through the narrw streets and discover traditional houses made of stone
Island of Ugljan and its towns are boasting with traditional architecture. Start exploring the town and feel irresistible Dalmatian charm of a narrow streets and old houses made of stone.
2. Visit tiny islet called Školjić
Školjić or Galevac is a tiny island only 85 m far from the mainland across the town of Preko. The island has cicrcumference of 650 m and due to its size, it belongs to the smaller islands of the Zadar archipelago. You can reach the islet by taking a rowboat and ride with barkajol – the boatman of Preko. On the island is situated the Franciscan monastery since the 15th century and the inventory of the Monastery Collection was declared a cultural asset.
3. Discover old olive tree groves
The island of Ugljan, with more than 200,000 planted olive trees, is rightly known as the island of olives. The old olive groves are located above the town and you can easily reach them if you follow the path to the hill. In addition to the enchanting olive trees, you will also see dry stone walls. Drywall is the oldest form of construction without the use of binding material. The skill of building dry stone wall was declared a cultural asset.
4. Climb the fortress of St. Michael for breathtaking views
The highest point of the island is Šćah, however, the hill of St. Michael (263 m) is dominating the area with the remains of impressive Medieval fortress. From the top of St. Michael’s hill you will be able to enjoy breathtaking panoramic view of Zadar archipelago and islands Iž, Sestrunj, Pašman and Dugi otok. An asphalted road leads to the top and the paths are marked and you can access the top on foot, by bike or a car. The fort was built by the Venetians in 1203. Namely, after the Crusaders and the Venetians attacked Zadar in 1202, the people of Zadar began to attack Venetian merchant ships on the Adriatic. Therefore, in order to protect their merchants and to prevent the raise of Zadar, the Venetians sent ships and the army to build a strong fortress above the town of Preko, on the island of Ugljan, opposite Zadar.
5. Taste delicious local specialties
While on the island don’t miss to taste some of the area’s traditional dishes. Dalmatian peka is a dish that often includes octopus or veal with potatoes, which are placed on a tray, and covered with a special lid in the shape of a bell and placed on in the fireplace. Beside this, on the island you will enjoy a wide selection of daily fresh fish and other seafood.
6. Amazing beaches and crystal clear sea
On the island you will find crystal clear sea, beautiful white pebbles and sandy coves. You will enjoy looking at Zadar and Velebit mountain situated on the opposite side of the canal. Swim in one of the many natural bays or sit by the sea and enjoy the sound of the sea waves.
7. Scuba dive
Ugljan diving school is for those who are experienced divers, but also for those who will have their first encounter with scuba diving. You will be able to dive into the depths of the sea to experience the surreal beauty of underwater gardens and one of the most beautiful and best preserved underwater worlds. Besides the diving school, you can take a half-day or a full-day diving trips, night dives, shipwreck dives or rent diving equipment.
How to get to Ugljan from Zadar?!
1. Self-guided bike tour on Ugljan island from Zadar
Self-guided bike tour on Ugljan island is ideal activity for all those that search for a one day tour from Zadar. You will reach the island after a short ferry ride. Included in the price of the tour are bike rental, additional equipment for bike, ferry ticket and a map with suggested route.
2. Rent a bike/scooter
Rent a bike or a scooter at the best prices in Zadar. Choose among the wide selection of city bikes, trekking or e-bikes that you can rent for a day or more.
3. On foot: Ferry boat Zadar (old town) – Preko
If you are planning to visit Ugljan island you can do it straight from Zadar old town, from the city port and take a ferr boat towards Preko on Ugljan island.
Check ferry timetable at the link here.
4. By car: Car ferry Gaženica (Zadar port) – Preko
If you are planning on visiting island of Ugljan by car, then you should take a car ferry from Gaženica port in Zadar towards Preko harbour on Ugljan island. Check ferry timetable at the link here.