The Croatian city of Zadar sits in northern Dalmatia and is the second-largest city in the region behind Split. As is the case with most coastal cities in Croatia, Zadar was founded as a Roman colony. Throughout its history, Zadar was under the control of several different empires, including the Venetians, Byzantines and the Austrians. This frequent change of rule resulted in diverse architecture found all across the city. The Romans gave Zadar its urban structure which can be seen from several archaeological sites, including the well-preserved Roman Forum. Zadar is also home to numerous churches, with the most notable being the church of St. Donatus, dating back to the 9th century. During the rule of the Venetian Republic, the city was extensively fortified which is why Zadar is on UNESCO's World Heritage Site list as part of Venetian Works of Defence. Today, Zadar is a popular tourist destination attracting visitors with its rich history, diverse architecture and modern art installations like the Sea organ - an architectural sound art object installed at the waterfront.
Getting to Zadar
The city of Zadar is easily accessible by all transportation methods. The fastest and easiest way is to fly to Zadar Airport, located 11 km away from the city. There are flights to Zadar Airport from all over Europe, with even more direct flights available during the summer months. Additionally, there are connecting flights from Zagreb and Pula, flying daily during the summer. Zadar can also be easily reached by train or bus, with several daily direct lines from all major Croatian cities. Driving to Zadar is also a feasible option. The city is a 3-hour drive from the capital Zagreb.
Zadar itinerary options
Zadar sits almost centrally on the Croatian coast, making it an ideal starting point for your sailing holiday. Venturing north, islands of Pag, Lošinj, Cres, Rab and Krk and all their beauty await you. Sailing south from Zadar, the main attraction that awaits you is the magnificent Kornati National Park. This unforgettable archipelago is an oasis of natural beauty and one of the top sailing destinations on the Mediterranean.
Option 1- Northern route - islands of the Kvarner bay
Total sail distance: 160 NM
Things to see and do: Discover the islands north of Zadar and sail to the most popular destinations in the northern Adriatic. Experience the bustling nightlife at Zrće on the island of Pag, enjoy the tranquillity of Lošinj and visit the largest Croatian islands of Cres and Krk.
This route is perfect for:
Families and friends wanting to visit the islands of northern Adriatic and its beautiful beaches and charming towns. Sailing enthusiasts will enjoy hopping from island to island, discovering beautiful coves and hidden spots along the way.
Best time of year for sailing: From May until September.
Day 1: Pag
Sail north from Zadar towards the island of Pag and the little coastal town of Novalja. Here you will find one of the most popular destinations on the Adriatic, the Zrće beach and its plethora of nightclubs. Non-stop beach parties accompanied by world-famous DJs are a regular occurrence here, and it is the perfect place to dance the night away.
Day 2: Lošinj
Leaving the hectic surroundings of Novalja behind, sail west towards the island of Lošinj. Here you will find much-needed rest and tranquillity that sweeps over this charming Croatian island. Mooring in the well-protected bay of Veli Lošinj will enable you to discover the beauty of the island on foot. Take a leisurely stroll along the coastline to the town of Mali Lošinj and enjoy the beautiful smells and sights along the way.
Day 3: Cres
Sailing north from Lošinj you will find the island of Cres. As you move along the eastern coast, you will happen upon Mali Bok, a protected area home to many different bird species. This side of Cres is filled with secluded and well-protected coves, ideal for a night under the stars.
Day 4: Rab
The island of Rab is due east from Cres and is yet another Croatian island with a rich history and beautiful beaches. Sail first to Lopar on the northern part of the island and enjoy the aptly named Paradise beach. You can enjoy all the summer activities on this long sandy beach and its shallow and warm waters. Visit the city of Rab and its iconic four churches before spending the night docked in the city port and enjoying the local cuisine.
Day 5: Krk
The northernmost point of this route is the island of Krk. Here you will find one of the busiest sailing spots in the Adriatic, the Marina Punat. This modern marina, nestled in a vast bay, offers extensive amenities and is the ideal spot to dock and explore the island of Krk.
Day 6: Silba
As you make your way south towards Zadar, stop at the quaint island of Silba. The island sits between the islands of Lošinj and Pag, due south. Silba is sparsely populated and full of beautiful sandy beaches, ideal for some privacy.
Day 7: Zadar
A short sail from Silba, the last day should be reserved for exploring Zadar. Here you will find beautiful architecture, spanning several centuries back to ancient Rome. Be sure to stick around for the majestic sunset and experience the sounds of the Sea organ art installation. Zadar offers good eating too, with dozens of quality restaurants offering local seafood.
Option 2 - Southern route - Kornati islands
Total sail distance: 100 NM
Things to see and do: Visit central Dalmatia and enjoy some of the most popular sailing destinations on the Croatian part of the Adriatic. Discover the natural beauty of the Kornati National Park and other lesser-known spots.
This route is perfect for: Groups of friends and families looking to enjoy sailing the islands of central Dalmatia. Sailing enthusiasts will revel in the opportunity to visit one of the most popular sailing destinations in the Mediterranean.
Best time of year for sailing: From April to September.
Day 1: Iž
A short sail away from Zadar, the small island of Iž sits between the islands of Ugljan and Dugi otok. Here you will find no cars and plenty of untouched nature. Enjoy the day anchored in one many coves found on the island, soaking up the sun and swimming in crystal clear sea.
Day 2: Dugi otok
Dugi otok sits just south of Iž and is one the most visually appealing islands on the Croatian part of the Adriatic. The name Dugi otok ("long island") tells you everything you need to know about its layout: the island is 45 km long, but its width varies between 1 and 4 km. The island's coast varies from the sharp cliffs of the Telašćica Nature Park to peaceful coves on the southeastern part of the island. Be sure to visit the Saharun beach, one of the most beautiful and popular beaches on the Adriatic.
Day 3: Kornati
Sailing around the Kornati National Park is truly a unique experience that will leave you breathless. This cluster of islands hides some genuinely spectacular sights of untouched nature. Spend the day in one of the coves along the way and take a dip in the crystal clear sea. To top it all off, restaurants scattered along the way will provide you with some unforgettable meals. Keep in mind to purchase the tickets, which can be bought online, before you enter the Kornati National Park area.
Day 4: Žirje
Leaving the Kornati National Park and continuing south, you will find the island of Žirje. Žirje is the biggest and most remote island of the Šibenik archipelago. Here you will find peace and quiet waiting for you in coves all around the island. The island has a rich history of fishing, and we recommend you sample some of the delicious seafood in one of the restaurants on the island.
Day 5: Šibenik
Šibenik is a historic coastal city, full of culture and impressive architecture. After you dock at the city port, spend the day exploring the town centre or head towards one of the forts overlooking the city. Alternatively, you could take a bus to the spectacular Krka National Park and spend the day exploring the beauty of its waterfalls.
Day 6: Murter
Sailing back north towards Zadar, stop in the small town of Tisno on the island of Murter. Lately, Murter has become a popular destination among younger generations with numerous summer festivals held in nightclubs there. A perfect mix in a small package, Tisno offers famous beaches, clean sea, good food and an active night scene.
Day 7: Ugljan
Spend the last day of the route on the island of Ugljan. It sits just opposite the city of Zadar on the mainland. Proximity to Zadar enables you to spend the day exploring the beaches of Ugljan before you have to head back. Depending on the time left, be sure to explore the city of Zadar as well.