18 Unmissable Zadar Day Trips: Best Croatia Tours

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Here are the best day trips to take from Zadar. I have covered some that you can reach by public transport; for others, you can drive or take a guided tour.

Thanks to Zadar’s location, you have some of the best places in Croatia to enjoy on a day trip.

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Exploring Croatia’s vibrant coast from Zadar offers an array of delightful day trip options. I find that Zadar itself is an excellent springboard to many natural wonders and historical sites, making it a prime location for those keen to experience the region’s beauty. With options to visit UNESCO-listed national parks, stunning islands, and ancient cities, each excursion promises a full day of discovery and enjoyment.

For instance, a day trip to the Plitvice National Park is something you shouldn’t miss. The park is one of the most famous Croatian national parks known for its cascading lakes and is easily reachable for a day’s adventure.

On a different day, setting sail to the Kornati National Park offers a glimpse into the serene beauty of Croatia’s islands and marine life. When I’m interested in historical architecture and a touch of the urban Croatian atmosphere, a side trip to nearby cities like Šibenik or Split provides just that with their rich history and lively cultural scenes.

Besides these, I’ve found using local buses for smaller, budget-friendly jaunts adds an authentic touch to the travel experience, connecting me to places like Nin, known for its quaint charm. These day trips from Zadar allow me to soak up the local culture, dine on fresh seafood, and bask in the natural beauty—all within a day’s reach. Each spot has its own character, and every journey reveals another facet of Croatia’s appeal, making the return to Zadar’s welcoming ambiance a perfect end to a day well spent.

Discover Zadar Beaches

When I visit Zadar, I’m always excited to share its beautiful beaches. The city is not only rich in history but also lined with stunning coastal spots. Let me guide you through the best Zadar beaches within the region, as well as some lesser-known beach gems for those seeking a quieter escape.

Best Zadar Beaches – Zadar Region

Beaches in Zadar - Borik bay and town of Zadar aerial view

  • 1. Kolovare Beach: a local favorite, Kolovare Beach is a well-organized spot with pebbly shores and crystal-clear waters. It offers plenty of amenities, including cafes and water sports facilities
  • 2. Borik Beach: ideal for families, Borik Beach features fine pebbles and sand with shallow waters. It’s part of a resort, so that you can expect top-notch facilities like sun loungers and parasols for a comfortable day by the sea
  • 3. Diklo Beach: just a short drive from the city, Diklo Beach is known for its relaxed atmosphere and pristine environment, making it perfect for a day of sunbathing and swimming
  • 4. Petrćane Beach: the small village of Petrćane hosts a beautiful beach that boasts a mix of gravel and sand. It’s an excellent spot for sunset views and has a charming promenade lined with cafes
  • 5. Bilotinjak Beach: If you want sandy beaches, Privlaka is where it’s at. Bilotinjak Beach has no amenities, but it has a place to park and escape the crowds.

Hidden Beach Gems Near Zadar

Sakarun Beach_Dugi Otok_Kayaking Zadar

Beyond the well-trodden paths, there exist several hidden beaches that offer tranquility and untouched natural beauty:

  • 6. Sakarun Beach: Although it is not between Zadar and Split, it’s worth the trip. Sakarun is renowned for its white sand and turquoise sea, often compared to its Caribbean counterparts
  • 7. Ždrijac Beach in Nin: a bit of a hidden gem that offers a vast expanse of fine sandy beach. It’s quieter than the city beaches and provides a serene atmosphere for relaxation

Each of these beaches near Zadar presents its own unique experience, from the family-friendly shores of Borik to the secluded sands of Nin. Whether you’re looking for full-service amenities or a peaceful retreat, there’s a beach near Zadar that will match your preference.

Croatian Islands Close To Zadar To Explore

When heading to the Croatian coastline from Zadar, there are a few islands you can’t miss. The proximity and unique charm of each island offer a distinctive experience that captures the essence of Croatian island life.

8. Explore The Island Of Ugljan From Zadar

Zadar Bike Tours - Ugljan village idyllic island beach and old architecture

Ugljan Island, known as the ‘Green Island’ due to its abundant olive groves and pine forests, this lush greenery is a short ferry ride from Zadar. It’s ideal for a day trip, especially if you value tranquility and nature. The island is dotted with picturesque villages, historical churches, and stunning beaches.

A visit to the Preko village, where you can enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and local cuisine, is a must. For hikers and bikers, numerous trails offer panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea and the Dalmatian coast.

9. From Zadar To Dugi Otok Island

Telascica nature park and green Mir lake on Dugi Otok island

Moving on, the island of Dugi Otok (Long Island) is the largest island in the Zadar Archipelago. This island provides an escape from the hustle with its serene bays like Sakarun Beach, known for crystal-clear waters, and Telašćica Nature Park, which impresses with sheer cliffs and a saltwater lake.


10. To The Island Of Pag From Zadar

A wooden chair beside a stone wall at Pag Lace festival in Croatia.

Then there’s Pag, an island renowned for its moon-like landscapes, and Paski sir (Pag cheese), a delicacy I find absolutely delicious. If you happen to be around during summer, Pag’s vibrant beach parties and festivals are the highlight of Croatia’s musical calendar. Beyond that, the old town of Pag, with its lace-making tradition and ancient salt pans, strikes a fine balance between culture and entertainment.

Each island offers a unique angle of Croatian beauty and promises unforgettable memories of your Adriatic adventure.

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Nature Spots National Parks From Zadar

I’m always amazed at just how close some of Croatia’s most beautiful national parks are to Zadar. If you’re planning a trip, you’ll want to carve out time for at least a couple of these awe-inspiring natural wonders. Here’s the inside scoop on two must-see parks that are perfect for day trips.

11. Plitvice Lakes Trip From Zadar

Is Plitvice Lakes worth visiting? Autumn at Plitvice Lakes reveals a tranquil waterfall with lush foliage in a serene forest setting, highlighting why the destination is truly worth visiting.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of Croatia’s most famous natural treasures, is an ideal day trip from Zadar. The park is approximately a 2-hour drive from Zadar, making it accessible for a day of exploration.

Upon arrival, you’ll be immersed in a world of cascading waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, and lush greenery. Plitvice Lakes is renowned for its intricate network of wooden walkways and pathways that allow visitors to traverse the park’s pristine landscapes.

Key activities at Plitvice Lakes include exploring the series of terraced lakes connected by waterfalls, taking boat rides across the largest lake, Kozjak, and walking through the dense beech and fir forests. The park offers several well-marked hiking trails catering to different fitness levels, with the opportunity to witness the park’s diverse wildlife, including deer, bears, and various bird species.


12. A Day At Krka National Park

Things to do in the Balkans_Krka-Waterfall | Balkans Travel Blog

Krka National Park – Croatia’s enchanting retreat – is just about an hour’s drive from Zadar. Once you get there, the Krka waterfalls are the star of the show. You’ll find a series of spectacular cascades, with the most famous being Skradinski Buk. I suggest walking the well-maintained trails or taking a boat tour for the full experience. Swimming near the falls is a refreshing treat, but remember, it’s only allowed in designated areas!

  • Getting There: Approximately 1 hour by car.
  • Main Attractions:
    • Skradinski Buk: A majestic waterfall and swimming spot.
    • Boat tours: Offer a unique perspective of the park.

13. Zadar To Zrmanja River

The Zrmanja River is a must-visit destination for a day trip from Zadar. It’s easily accessible by car, about a 45-minute drive from Zadar. The river is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and stunning canyons. Visitors can enjoy activities like rafting, kayaking, and swimming in the river’s refreshing waters. It’s a perfect spot for nature lovers and adventure seekers, offering a memorable day in a picturesque setting.

14. Uncovering The Majestic Kornati Islands

Kornati Islands National Park | Croatia Travel Blog Chasing the Donkey

Next up is the Kornati National Park, a nautical paradise comprising over 140 islands. Accessible by boat, the Kornati Islands are a dream for sailors, divers, and anyone looking to escape to an untouched, rugged landscape. Remember that there’s a park entrance fee, but it’s worth every euro for the clear blue waters and the opportunity to explore these islands’ otherworldly beauty.

  • Getting There: join a guided boat ride from Zadar
  • Main Attractions:
    • Cliffs: marvel at the dramatic cliffs, some up to 80 meters high
    • Marine life: dive or snorkel to view vibrant underwater ecosystems

15. Heading To Paklenica National Park

House by the sea bay under the national park Paklenica in Croatia, Europe.

Paklenica National Park, located just a short drive from Zadar, is a fantastic destination for a day trip. To get there, you can take a scenic 1.5-hour drive south of Zadar. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the stunning Velebit Mountain Range and the dramatic canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica.

Within the park, there are numerous hiking trails suitable for various fitness levels, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. For rock climbing enthusiasts, Paklenica is a paradise, with its vertical limestone cliffs attracting climbers from around the world. The park offers diverse routes for climbers of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced.

Aside from climbing and hiking, you can also explore the park’s flora and fauna, including diverse plant species, and the opportunity to spot wildlife like vultures, chamois, and various bird species.


16. Telascica Nature Park

An aerial view of a green lake in the Zadar Region with a boat on it.
Aerial view of Lake Slano in National park Telascica in Croatia

Telascica Nature Park is a great day trip from Zadar. It’s located on Dugi Otok Island, and you can get there by taking a ferry from Zadar. The park is known for its stunning landscapes, including cliffs, saltwater lakes, and diverse marine life. Activities include hiking, swimming in the lake, and admiring the dramatic cliffs.

Pro Tip: While Krka allows for easy self-guided exploration, the Kornati Islands are best experienced with a local guide. Don’t miss these natural treasures; they’re a testament to why Croatia’s national parks rank among the most beautiful in the world!

Cultural Excursions, Historic Towns & Local Life

When I venture out from Zadar, I look for that vibrant blend of past and present that makes every moment feel significant. Here’s the scoop on where to find cultural gems and dive into the local lifestyle.

17. To Sibenik From Zadar

Where To Go In Croatia - Zlarin

Sibenik captures the essence of a historic city with its remarkable Cathedral of St. James, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its fusion of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. As I stroll through the town, I feel the history emanate from the white stone buildings — an authentic stage set for time travel. Here, you can also climb up to St Michael’s Fortress, a historic place known for its Renaissance architecture.

  • Location: 80 km southeast of Zadar
  • Must-see: Cathedral of St James

Walking through the cobblestone streets, you’ll sense the layers of history that have shaped Sibenik into the city it is today. It’s a standout spot that beautifully represents Croatia’s storied past.

18. Benkovac Market & Asseria Ruins

Zadar Day Trips Asseria_Flickr

On Tuesdays, the Benkovac Farmers Market is where I find the heart of local life in full swing. The market is a lively spot to grasp the region’s cultural richness through handmade goods and local delicacies.

  • Location: 40 km northeast of Zadar
  • Market Day: 10th of every month

A short drive from the market are the ruins of Asseria, near the modern-day village of Podgrađe. This ancient Roman town reveals archaeological treasures that I always find stunning — think imposing walls and fragments of once-grand structures.

  • Historic Site: Asseria Ruins

Traveling through these historical corners near Zadar isn’t just a tour; it’s an immersive cultural experience where I feel connected to Croatia’s deep roots and vibrant daily life.

Planning Your Day Trip: Duration & Activities

Zadar beaches - Pinija Beach, Petrcane

When heading to Zadar, it’s crucial to map out your adventures with your time frame and preferred activities in mind. This ensures you maximize your enjoyment, whether you have just a day or an entire week to explore.

Options For 1 To 7 Days In Zadar

1 Day in Zadar:

  • Get an early start and immerse yourself in the old town of Zadar and its rich history.
  • Enjoy a sunset with the sound of the Sea Organ.

2 Days in Zadar:

  • Day 1 as above, plus:
  • Visit the Roman Forum and St. Donatus Church on the second morning.
  • In the afternoon, chill at Kolovare Beach.

3 Days in Zadar:

  • Previous activities, plus:
  • Dedicate your third day to nature with a trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park.

7 Days in Zadar:

  • Spread the above activities over more days for a relaxed pace.
  • Fit in great day trips to Krka National Park or beautiful Pag Island.
  • Spend a day sailing around the Kornati Islands.

Curated Tours Versus Self-Guided Explorations

Guided Tour Benefits:

  • A local guide can offer insights you might miss on your own
  • Transportation and logistics are handled, making for a stress-free trip

On The Flip Side:

  • Self-guided trips offer more flexibility and solitude
  • You can set your own pace and choose where to spend more time

Whether you opt for an organized day trip tour to Plitvice or go at it alone through the cobbled streets of Zadar, balancing your schedule with the regional highlights will ensure an enriching Croatian adventure.

Navigating From Zadar: Transportation Tips

Zadar – Episcopal Complex. Roman Forum in Zadar Croatia

When planning day trips from Zadar, I’ve found that knowing your transport options is key. Let’s dive into the specifics of buses and boats so you can make the most of your travels.

By Bus To Nearby Attractions

Taking the bus from Zadar to surrounding attractions is cost-effective and adds an angle of authenticity to your travels.

Bus times can vary, so it’s important to check the latest schedule. My tip is to look for buses heading to popular spots like Šibenik and Split, where services are more frequent, especially in the morning. For somewhere more quaint like Nin, buses are less frequent but definitely worth the wait.

Zadar bus station has toilets, cafes, and a kiosk to buy tickets if you did not plan ahead and have already bought them online.


Here’s a rundown:

  • Šibenik: Approximately 1.5-hour bus ride, several departures a day
  • Split: Around 2 to 3 hours, with buses leaving almost every hour
  • Nin: About 30 minutes up to several hours on weekends, limited schedule, so plan ahead

Boat Trips To Enchanting Islands

Boat and ferry rides from Zadar are unforgettable, giving you direct access to stunning islands like Dugi Otok and the famous Kornati archipelago. Ferry services are reliable and offer a scenic journey, but times can be spread throughout the day, so checking the timetable is essential.

For a quick overview:

  • Dugi Otok: the ferry ride takes about 1.5 hours; it is less frequent but provides gorgeous seaside views
  • Kornati Islands: Opt for an organized boat trip, which includes various stops and sometimes lunch on board

Booking in advance for boat trips can save time and sometimes even money, and I make sure always to arrive early to avoid any last-minute rushes. Taking these journeys by sea is not just travel; it’s part of the adventure.

Practical Advice For Day Trippers

Balkan Cities - Holidays In The Balkans

Planning a day trip from Zadar comes with a set of considerations to ensure a blissful experience. It’s not just about choosing a destination; it’s about preparing adequately for the journey and the elements you’ll encounter.

Seasonal Considerations & Costs

Peak Season: During the peak summer months, expect higher visitor numbers and increased costs. Attractions like the Plitvice Lakes see a surge in attendance, which can also mean a spike in ticket prices. If you’re aiming for a perfect day trip without the crowd, try scheduling your visit during the shoulder seasons—May and September.

What To Pack For A Day Trip From Zadar

Things to do in Zadar - Unidentified people on Zadar sea organs

I’m a big believer in traveling light but smart. Here’s a quick checklist to ensure you don’t miss out on essentials for a comfortable day trip:

  • Weather-appropriate clothing: check the forecast and dress accordingly. Layers are your friend, as temperatures can fluctuate
  • Comfortable footwear: regardless of your destination, a sturdy pair of shoes will make all the difference
  • Water and snacks: stay hydrated and keep your energy up with some light refreshments
  • Cash and cards: while cards are widely accepted, having some cash on hand is handy for small vendors or unexpected costs
  • Camera or smartphone: you’ll want to capture those moments, so make sure your device is charged and ready

Remember, a little prep goes a long way to ensuring that your day trip from Zadar is memorable for all the right reasons!

Maximizing Your Zadar Day Trip Experience

Croatia Travel Blog_Zadar Old Town
Zadar Old Town

When planning day trips from Zadar, my advice is to prioritize your interests. Are you keen on history, nature, or maybe a bit of both? I’ve found that Krka National Park is a must for nature lovers. The cascading waterfalls and crystal-clear waters offer a refreshing escape, especially if you love a good hike.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is another stunner. It’s one of the most popular day trips for a reason; with its interconnected lakes and stunning waterfalls, it’s quite the sight. Remember to charge your camera – you’ll regret it if you don’t!

For the perfect mix of history and scenery, I recommend a visit to the Roman ruins in the heart of Zadar before heading out. It sets the stage for a day of exploration and gives context to the beauty of this region.

Try to start early to get the most out of your day trips. Croatian sights often get crowded, so an early start means you’ll enjoy them with fewer people around. Always check the weather and pack a small raincoat or umbrella – Croatian weather can be a little unpredictable!

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