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North Dalmatia

North Dalmatia: The Land of National Parks

North Dalmatia counts as one of the most beautiful and popular regions in Croatia and lies at the foot of the Velebit mountains south of Starigrad and east of Pag island. Its green, hilly hinterlands run up to Knin and it includes the island collection of Ugljan and Pasman, Molat, Dugi Otok, and Kornat. To the south the region continues to extend a little way over to Sibenik until Rogoznica. Here, the country and the people have not changed throughout the history of alternating rulers. First it was the Romans, then the Venetians, and then a change to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire who have all left their influence on this region's traditions, architecture, and cuisine. North Dalmatia includes not only cities such as Zadar, which are rich in historical heritage,but also untouched, pure nature on the scattered islands of Kornati National Park and the waterfalls in Krka National Park by Sibenik. Other cultural particularities of the region include the numerous islands because most of the Croatian islands are located in north Dalmatia. The largest Marina in Croatia, by a long shot, sits between Sukosan and Bibinje next to Zadar and offers 1200 loungers direct on the water and inland. The tranquil city of Rogoznica prides itself on its great sailing and boat harbor. The region attracts yachtsmen and boaters to indulge in their pleasures here. Swimmers are mainly attracted to north Dalmatia by its sandy beaches which lie near the coastal regions of Nin, Zaton and Subunike, as well as to the island of Murter, and the dream beach, Sakarun, on the island of Dugi Otok.


Zadar's Architectural Heritage and Fascinating Surroundings

The most important city for the north Dalmatia region is Zadar, a port city with 75,000 residents and is lovingly nicknamed, “the little Rome of Croatia”. This is due to the rich Roman Heritage that illuminates the entire city in every corner, such as the Roman Forum, the Land Gate, and the Triumph

North Dalmatia: The Land of National Parks

North Dalmatia counts as one of the most beautiful and popular regions in Croatia and lies at the foot of the Velebit mountains south of Starigrad and east of Pag island. Its green, hilly hinterlands run up to Knin and it includes the island collection of Ugljan and Pasman, Molat, Dugi Otok, and Kornat. To the south the region continues to extend a little way over to Sibenik until Rogoznica. Here, the country and the people have not changed throughout the history of alternating rulers. First it was the Romans, then the Venetians, and then a change to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire who have all left their influence on this region's traditions, architecture, and cuisine. North Dalmatia includes not only cities such as Zadar, which are rich in historical heritage,but also untouched, pure nature on the scattered islands of Kornati National Park and the waterfalls in Krka National Park by Sibenik. Other cultural particularities of the region include the numerous islands because most of the Croatian islands are located in north Dalmatia. The largest Marina in Croatia, by a long shot, sits between Sukosan and Bibinje next to Zadar and offers 1200 loungers direct on the water and inland. The tranquil city of Rogoznica prides itself on its great sailing and boat harbor. The region attracts yachtsmen and boaters to indulge in their pleasures here. Swimmers are mainly attracted to north Dalmatia by its sandy beaches which lie near the coastal regions of Nin, Zaton and Subunike, as well as to the island of Murter, and the dream beach, Sakarun, on the island of Dugi Otok.


Zadar's Architectural Heritage and Fascinating Surroundings

The most important city for the north Dalmatia region is Zadar, a port city with 75,000 residents and is lovingly nicknamed, “the little Rome of Croatia”. This is due to the rich Roman Heritage that illuminates the entire city in every corner, such as the Roman Forum, the Land Gate, and the Triumph Arch at the sea-gate. The Roman Catholic church, Sveti Donat, dates back to the 9th Century where it was erected on the foundation of the Roman Forum. In summer, the church serves as a venue for music recitals and concerts. Among other relics and monuments from ancient times, when Romans and Venetians ruled Zadar, is the sea organ. This unique attraction has become a landmark in Zadar's harbor. As waves come to shore, water is pressed into the organ's pipes creating a wonderful sound. The sea organ, compared to the picturesque panorama of the islands and the Adriatic, has won its own flair.

Zadar has a large ferry terminal with connections to the surrounding islands. Right before Zadar are the largest islands of north Dalmatia, including Ugljan and Pasman, Dugi Otol and the smaller islands of Molat, Is, Kornati, Murter, and Vir. On the islands of Ugljan and Pasman, which are connected by a bridge, there are an especially large amount of coves and sandy beaches worth a visit. On the island of Ugljan you can swim and relax in the gorgeous Kostanj and Sabusa sandy coves. Located to the south of the village Tkon on the island Pasman is a very lovely, sandy beach. The ferry boats from Biograd, a coastal city with a large harbor, arrive in Tkon. Biograd was once the seat of Croatian kings and now houses the remnants of past rulers who survived the Croatian War (1991-1995). Beach lovers are attracted to Soline's sandy beach which slopes gently into the clear waters of the Adriatic. Tourists flock to the south of Biograd to get a glimpse of the Vransko Jezero Natural Park which contains a freshwater lake just a few kilometers from the sea. Murter, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge, is also home to many sandy beaches. In the Slanica bay, the sandy beach is shallow making it ideal for families with children. Even the shallow Plitka Vala beach on the island of Murter, with its sandy ground, is worth a visit.

North of Zadar are the cities of Nin, with the “smallest cathedral in the world”, and Novigrad, which is situated among the hinterlands on Novigrad Sea. The Sveti Kriz Holy Cross Church was built in the 9th Century in Nin and can be used as a clock and calendar due to its unique design. In addition, one can discover numerous sandy beaches, such as Kraljicina Plaza, Prodorica, Zdrijac, Zaton and Sabunike in Privlaka. In close proximity to national and nature parks, southeast of Zadar lies Sukosan. Here you can find yourself on the largest marina in Croatia. It has 1200 moorings and attracts many sailors, boaters and visitors.


The south Around Sibernik and Primosten

The second largest and most important city in the north Dalmatia region is Sibenik which lies on a naturally protected harbor and is connected to the Adriatic via a 2.5 kilometer long channel. With this channel, it is possible to travel inland and reach the Krka National Park which, with several waterfalls, offers a beautiful flora and fauna panorama. Excursions and rafting tours are especially popular activities here. In the medieval characterized town of Sibenik, the Saint Jacob's Cathedral is very imposing and impressing. It is no wonder that is was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral is located in close proximity to the bustling waterfront and ferry port where one can catch a ride to the smaller surrounding islands of Prvic, Zlarin, and Krapanj, as well as to neighboring cities such as Vodice. The small coastal town of Vodice with its large boat harbor has a long history dating back to when the Romans ruled Croatia. In this period, one saw the construction of the Cross Discovery Church, one of the main attractions of Vodice. Just outside the town, sitting on the Okit mountain, is the Church of the Holy Mother of God of Mount Carmel. A visit to this church will give you a great vantage point over the whole region. Vodice also has a number of beautiful beaches, some of which are shallow and have sandy soil.

North of Vodice is Tribunj, a picturesque fishing village with a marina, whose old town is located on a small island, connected by bridge to the mainland lying only a few meters away. Tribunj is known for its medieval charm, fantastic viewing points from the medieval fortress atop the Sveti Nikola mountain and for living traditions, such as the donkey race.

If you are looking for the traditions of north Dalmatia, you can also look on the Zlarin island, Here, the national sport of coral diving has been practiced since the 15th Century. The coral museum in the village Zlarin tells about this long tradition and the history of coral divers. To learn about the tradition of salt production, you must make a visit to the island of Pag, which is also well-known for its cheese. In close proximity to the island Zlarin is the Krapanj island. It is only 1.5 meters high and thus the flattest island in the whole area of Sibenik. The famous sponge divers who have a high reputation all over the region, originate from here. Near Vodice and Prvic, on the island of Prvic, you can discover a rich cultural heritage, including the church in Prvic Luka. In this church, the famous polymath, diplomat, and inventor, the Croat Fausto Vrancic (Veranzio), is buried. From here, you can take a ferry boat to the small islands of Vodice and Sibenik.

The “end” of north Dalmatia is identified by two villages. The first is Primosten, whose picturesque old town is on a peninsula connected to the mainland and then there is Rogoznica, a small town with a large marina. Primosten is not only home to the famous Babi red wine, but has one of the largest nightclubs in Croatia, the Aurora Club. The old town of Rogoznica is also located on an island that is now connected by a causeway to the mainland. In addition to the newly built Marina, the Dragon Eye Lake is definitely worth a visit in this fishing village. To reach this island, there are ferry boats running from Vodice and Sibenik.


National Parks and Hinterland Display Unique Flora and Fauna

Typical for north Dalmatia is above all, its natural beauty. In the countryside of Zadar and Sibenik there are many national parks in the hinterlands and on the offshore islands. This region boasts the Paklenica National Park in the Velebit mountains, which is popular with rock climbers, the Northern Velebit National Park (in the Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO), the Kornati Marine National Park, Krka National Park near Sibernik and the UNESCO World Heritage recognized Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is the largest national park in Croatia and the oldest in the world. Strictly speaking, the Plitivice Lakes National Park is not recognized as being in north Dalmatia. Even so, it belongs to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region because of its 2-3 hour quickly, accessibly ride. The Kornati National Park extends over several islands off the coast of Sibernik and is therefore, ideally reached by boat. Possible starting points are Zadar, Sibernik, or Vodice. Whether with your own boat, or accompanied by park employees, a visit to the Kornati National Park should start through checking in at the administrative seat in Murter on its namesake island north of Vodice. Driving through the area is simply not allowed. North of Kornati National Park on the island of Dugi Otok is the Telascica Nature Park, amazing visitors with its high cliffs and a salt lake where guests can take a relaxing swim. This park is regarded as an extension of the Kornati National Park.

In Krka National Park one should not get too distracted by its famous waterfalls and unique flora and fauna, consisting of 860 plant species and 220 animal species, and forget to visit the Franciscan Monastery located on the island of Visovac in the Visovac Lake. Further up the river Krka is the town of Knin. A trip into the north Dalmatia back country is definitely worthwhile because Knin is an old Croatian royal city with an impressive Fort (which now is a venue for numerous events) looming over the Spas Mountain.   

Sights and attractions extend all over north Dalmatia. Thanks to modern transport connections between land and water, guests have no problems reaching their destinations quickly. For those who want to get to know the country and the culture- local cuisine consisting of grilled fish, lamb, red wine, cheese and air-dried prosciutto (ham)- would do best to visit the large number of small fishing villages and larger towns along the Adriatic coast, the offshore islands and the hilly hinterlands. 

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Photo Gallery

Zadar - Old town
Church of St. Donatus in Zadar (9th cent.)
Sea organ - Zadar
Aerial view of Zadar old town
Greeting the sun - Zadar
Fortress Fortica - Pag Island
Vinjerac and Paklenica
Paklenica National park
Kayaking on river Zrmanja
Novigrad nearby Zadar
Panorama of Vir island
The Church of St Nicholas near Nin
Saline in Nin
Healing mud bath at the sandy beach in Nin
Biograd
Viewpoint
Aerial view of Pakostane
Brgulje - Molat Island
View to Molat Island - Ist Island
Lighthouse Veli Rat - Dugi Otok

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