Amazing Day Trips to Take From Zadar, Croatia, by Boat
Iz is a top choice for sailors in the Dalmatia region of Croatia | © Dalibor Brlek / Alamy Stock Photo
Zadar is perhaps best known for its Sea Organ, an architectural sound installation where waves flowing through tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps create gentle melodies, but there’s plenty more to this beguiling Dalmatian city to write home about. Visit the atmospheric People’s Square, the centre of daily life in Zadar since medieval times, or the awe-inspiring Forum, which was built by the first Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian. Of course, with Zadar being along the coast, there is plenty of island-hopping to do. Here we present some tried-and-tested day-sail recommendations.
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The dramatic karst terrain of the Kornati Islands, juxtaposed with the deep blue of the Adriatic, has its own unique beauty. The best way to explore the area is by boat as you can easily hop off to swim, snorkel or even scuba dive.
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The island of Ugljan is the closest in proximity to Zadar but is a self-contained town that offers its own distinct charm. One of the best ways to explore the island is by bike, with well-worn cycling trails that take you to all nine hamlets where you’ll find small but beautiful beaches as well as old-timey bars and restaurants. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for unique benches that have been designed with motifs that tell the history of the place.
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Because of its proximity to Zadar, this nature reserve makes for a popular spot for a day-sail. Swim in the picturesque Telašćica Bay or take a hike up the spectacular Stene of Dugi Otok – huge cliffs that rise 160m above the sea and offer a great vantage point to spot dolphins swimming below. Another highlight on Telašćica is the turquoise-hued lake Mir, which is filled with saltwater through numerous underground cracks. Head to the southeast side of the lake where you’ll find mineral-rich mud that is said to have therapeutic properties.
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Pašman is touted as the “island of joy and happiness” and no wonder. Home to just under 3,000 people, Pašman has a relaxed, laid-back vibe that is truly characteristic of the Mediterranean. Hop on a bike to explore the island or trek up Veliki Bokolj, the island’s highest peak, which overlooks photogenic views of the Kornati archipelago. Don’t leave Pašman without trying the local specialty of kunjka, a type of clam that is native to the town of Tkon.
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Located about an hour away from Zadar by boat, the idyllic island of Silba is blissfully car-free and is best explored on foot. The east and north side of the island are flanked by sandy beaches where you can swim, snorkel and sunbathe while the west side is where you’ll find a couple of pebble beaches – great for those who prefer something quieter.
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Situated in the heart of the Zadar Archipelago and surrounded by a dozen smaller islands, the island of Iž has a rich history that dates back to prehistoric times. Iž has a long heritage of pottery, so be sure to pick up a handmade souvenir or two. On the food front, put in an order for some native Iški lopiž, a clay pot dish of slowly simmered lamb and vegetables, but if your tastes lean toward the herbivorous, head to Korinjak Hotel and Camp, known for being the only vegetarian hotel in the Dalmatian region.
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With thirteen sheltered bays and over 15km (9mi) of coastline, make sure you mark the rural island of Rava – about two and a half hours away from Zadar by boat – on your sailing itinerary. Rava is off the usual tourist trail so you’ll get to enjoy bucolic landscapes of olive groves and pine forests, swim in azure waters and simply bathe in the island’s relaxed atmosphere. Be sure to try the delicious local fare at the Trattoria Mala Rava, which has a terrace that overlooks the sea.
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With its isolated beaches and breathtaking scenery, it’s no wonder King Edward VIII made a stop at Molat island with Wallis Simpson during his cruise around the Adriatic in 1939. Royal association aside, Molat offers visitors a dreamy vacation marked by long, languorous swims and traipses through the maquis and pine forests. When you feel peckish, pop by the newly renovated waterfront for a hearty helping of fresh seafood.