Pakoštane is a small Dalmatian place situated in a very unusual location, with a shallow land strait between Vransko Lake and the Adriatic Sea, so the immediate vicinity of two different worlds, the sea and freshwater, gives it a special charm. In the past, Pakoštane was a traditionally Dalmatian place dealing with agriculture and fishing, and today it is increasingly oriented towards tourism and has become a favourite destination for family vacations. The relaxed atmosphere of the town, the beautiful beaches with crystal clear sea and islets close by, the rich vegetation, great offer of accommodation and a wide variety of taverns and restaurants and numerous activities at the disposal of guests are the reasons that justify the popularity of Pakoštane among tourists. Taverns and restaurants offer homemade dishes prepared according to traditional Dalmatian recipes and the excellent wines of the Pakoštane region can be enjoyed as well. The immediate vicinity of Vransko Lake and the proximity of the towns of Šibenik, Biograd and Zadar, and the National Parks of Krka, Kornati, Paklenica and Plitvice Lakes provide an opportunity for great excursions and discovering the natural and cultural heritages of Croatia.
Only a few miles west of Pakoštane is the town of Biograd; a place of a long and interesting history. The old part of the town is located on a small peninsula while the newer parts were gradually built on the surrounding land area and expanded the volume of the location. It is surrounded by the bays of Bošana and Soline, where beautiful beaches are located. It carries the title of the Croatian royal town and it was first mentioned in the 10th century. In the 11th century it was the seat of Croatian kings and bishops and the Croatian-Hungarian King Koloman was crowned there. During the crusade siege of Zadar, the Zadar population was sheltered there and that is why it is also called Zara Vecchia. Today Biograd is a modern town with an important nautical and tourist tradition. Tourism was experienced by Biograd in the first half of the 20th century when hotels were built, and in the 1970's a large nautical marina called Marina Kornati was built. Biograd also has important domestic and foreign events such as the award of the domestic music awards Porin, the international nautical fair Biograd Boat show and many others.
The old Croatian town of Zadar is located in the north of Dalmatia and is the administrative and economic centre of that part of the region. Its history goes far into the past, and the settlement from which the present city was developed was a Roman colony which the Romans founded as a city for their retired soldiers. After the settlement of Croats, Zadar continued to develop as the capital of Dalmatia, and it would keep this role until the first quarter of the 20th century. Nowadays, Zadar is a modern and lively town and the economic and tourist centre of North Dalmatia with many interesting things to see. History and cultural traditions spring up every step from the many stone streets and gorgeous churches and palaces, and the Mediterranean way of life is alive here, so visitors can enjoy numerous excellent restaurants, cafes and nightclubs as well as the numerous concerts and other events that are held throughout the whole year in Zadar. There are also modern installations such as Greetings to the sun and the unique Sea Organ which are popular not only among tourists but also among the local population. Shopping centres, as well as numerous internationally renowned brand stores offer great shopping opportunities, and lovers of local souvenirs and products will also be thrilled because Zadar is full of small shops selling original Croatian products.
Halfway between Zadar and Split is Šibenik, a town that, unlike most Dalmatian towns, has no ancient beginnings but was rather founded by Croats, and is also called Krešimir's city, since it was first mentioned in 1066 in the deed of King Petar Krešimir IV. It is the administrative and economic center of the Šibenik-Knin County and for the last ten years it has become an increasingly interesting tourist destination. The beautiful old part of town, intertwined with a network of stone streets, houses and courtyards, has the cathedral of St. Jakov, a Gothic-Renaissance building whose main part was designed and built by the famous Juraj Dalmatinac. Attractive are also the beautiful fortresses that have been built as a city protection system so they should definitely be visited. These are the fortress of St. Mihovil, the fortress of St. Ivana, fortress of St. Nikola and Šubićevac. The fortress of St. Mihovila has been restructured and it holds numerous concerts of domestic and international performers and various other events such as exhibitions and film projections, making Šibenik an indispensable destination for all lovers of good music.
In the hinterland of Šibenik lies the National Park Krka, which covers almost the entire flow of the river named after it. The park is best known for its numerous waterfalls formed by the formation of travertine barriers, and the most famous and largest is Skradinski buk near Skradin. It consists of a series of smaller and larger waterfalls that pass through the lakes one by one, and in the immediate vicinity you can go for a swim, which is a real treat in the summer. Besides that, you must visit the Roški and the Manojlovac waterfalls. Beautiful nature and numerous plant and animal species are not the only attractions of the Park - regarding monuments, there is the Franciscan monastery Visovac located on the island of the same name and more downriver is the monastery Krka. In the northern part of the Park there are archaeological remains of the Roman Burnum camp, where you can see a well-preserved amphitheatre. Along the entire river flow, in the elevated places, there are remains of many forts that have served in the past to monitor and oversee the entire area.
This island park, located in the waters between Šibenik and Zadar, is a real attraction and an opportunity for a boat excursion. Kornati islands consist of approximately a hundred islands, islets and cliffs, the largest being Kornat, where the archipelago received its name. Kornati are popular among sailors so there are several marinas and restaurants offering first-class fish and other dishes. Today, the Kornati Islands are not permanently inhabited, but the remains of numerous drywalls and small houses that were once used as shelter, and today are often redesigned for tourist rentals, testify human presence. There are also remains of the Byzantine fortress from the 6th century, as well as the remnants of an early Christian church in their immediate vicinity, located on the island of Kornati. Kornati have an attractive underwater world and are a great destination for all diving enthusiasts who can explore it in underwater tours organized by licensed diving clubs.
The oldest national park in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes, is located in the neighbouring region of Lika, and it can be quickly reached by highway so guests coming to Dalmatia visit it very often. The park consists of a low of 16 emerald and blue lakes that are interconnected by waterfalls and cascades and are powered by water from the surrounding rivers and streams. They were formed by travertine barriers among the forested mountain slopes and are one of the main Croatian attractions. Veliki Slapl is the largest waterfall in the country, with an impressive 78 meters in height, while the largest and deepest lake is Kozjak. Flora and fauna are extremely rich, and among the plant species there are more than fifty orchids in the Park area. Lakes and waterfalls are not the only natural attraction; there are numerous caves that offer insights into the underground world, and the caves of Golubnjača and Šupljara are open to visitors.
In the northern part of Dalmatia there is a Nature Park which includes Vransko Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Croatia, and it is situated right next to the sea from which is divided by a thin land. In this is our Mašković Han, the most striking example of Turkish civil architecture. The area of the lake is an important bird habitat site that is one of the main attractions of the Park. The lake is rich with fish and attracts many fishermen. Along the lake there are numerous walking and cycling trails and wooden observatories. The park also has hiking trails, and particularly attractive is the viewpoint of Kamenjak, which offers views of the entire park, coast, sea and surrounding islands. Among the other monuments is the interesting site of Gradina, or the remains of a Benedictine monastery from the 9th century.
In the Zadar archipelago is Dugi Otok where the Nature Park of Telašćica is located, so just as Kornati, is a great opportunity for a boat excursion. It is a large bay, the most protected natural harbor on the Adriatic, and it is extremely popular among sailors. The bay is so large that there are six small islands in it, of which the smallest is Taljurić which has the appearance of a plate. On the outer side of the Park are impressive steep cliffs, vertical rocks floating in the sea with more than 180 meters in height, and are the highest of the kind in Croatia. Another interesting thing about the Park is the salt lake Mir, which has more salinity than the surrounding sea. Close to the lake there is a refuge for donkeys, so you can mingle with these cute animals, the symbol of Dalmatia, and take photographs.
This medieval fortress is located near Raštević village near Benkovac on an elevated plateau above the river with the same name. The fortress was created after Dalmatia was sold to the Venetians because this area was located on the border between Dalmatia and Croatia, and was built to monitor the Croatian borders. The Croat royalty Kurjakovici erected the fortress, and Kličevica itself was part of the defence system made up of numerous castles and fortresses. The Venetians at first did not approve of the construction and it was stopped, but resumed in 1457 due to the upcoming danger from the Turks. In the Ottoman conquest the tower had fallen into Turkish hands, but they did not modify it so it retained its original appearance. Today, apart from the fortress itself, the remains of a fortification wall that follows the outer walls of the building can also be seen.
Vrgada is a small island not far from Pakoštane, which was mentioned in the Middle Ages since it served as a veiwpoint for monitoring the Adriatic Sea route. Its archipelago includes 15 islets that are ideal for discovering by boat. The island itself is populated, covered with dense pine forests and has beautiful sandy and pebble beaches and is an ideal destination for a relaxed and peaceful holiday, and is also popular among sailors. There are no cars on the island, so peace is truly guaranteed.
Above the town of Drage there is the viewpoint Čelinka offering a beautiful view of the islands of Vrgada and Kornati, and the towns of Drage and Pakoštane from one side, and Vransko Lake on the other. On the hill where the viewpoint is located there are the remains of a prehistoric structure, which was once inhabited by one of the first inhabitants of this area.
On the southernmost part of Vransko Lake there is a narrow canal, a link of the lake with the Adriatic Sea, which was dug in 1770 in order to carry out the melioration of the swampy Vransko field. The initial channel was 4 meters long and quite shallow, and in subsequent 20th century works it was expanded to 8 meters and slightly deepened. At the beginning of the canal on the lake side there is a well-kept area with a boat dock and a 19th century fishing house that has been restored and preserved its original appearance of traditional Dalmatian stone architecture, and serves as a info centre for visitors to the Nature Park.
On the north side of the Vransko Lake, on top of a hill rising above the middle part of the lake, there is a landscaped viewpoint and the info centre Kamenjak from where there is an enchanting view of the whole lake, the coast and the surrounding islands. In the viewpoint there are two connected buildings built in traditional Dalmatian style; a large plateau with benches and a panoramic telescope so that you can relax and enjoy the view. There is also a table with numerous information so visitors can find out a lot of information about the Vransko area and in the info center you can download maps and get any additional information. At the viewpoint there are also a souvenir shop and a tavern offering local Dalmatian specialties.
This wooden educational trail is an excellent opportunity to go for an educational walk - it is located on Vransko Lake in an ornithological reserve, and along its length there are educational tables with information about the birds that inhabit the lake, their habitats, feeding grounds and many other interesting things. The view stretches to the lake and its reed beds. At the beginning of the trail there is the Crkvina info centre where souvenirs can be bought and binoculars can be rented to enjoy the view of the lake and the numerous bird species.