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The nation has celebrated 27 years of independence and the tourism industry has been growing ever since. The numbers coming to the nation are growing year on year and you can see why.

Croatia, particularly on the coast, is full of opportunities, full of nature, full of heritage and has paradise to offer to the masses. Scratch beneath the surface and go outside the popular tourist zones, you will discover a gem or two.

To find that place of discovery you may have to go outside the mainland and beyond the Croatian coast as you will find the landscape is pure with the unrivalled array of picturesque islands to be able to explore.

These islands are often the greatest attraction for people looking to fulfil their holiday, with plenty of options to choose from. There are over 1,200 islands, around 80 percent of the islands are unpopulated, that can accommodate a one-day trip or short break away.

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There is an abundance of itineraries that can offer you the perfect island hopping experience in Croatia, whether you will be sailing from Split, Dubrovnik or even Makarska. But, we are going to be discussing an opportunity that can match or even trump that experience. You may not have heard of the excellent options of sailing from Sibenik but the island destinations to Sibenik municipality are perfect to enhance your holiday experience.

With no airports located on the majority of the islands that attract tourism off the mainland, the only option to arrive and depart is ferry services. Sibenik Port has a wide range of services that depart on a daily or multiple weekly basis, going to Zlarin, Žirije, Kaprije Krapanj, Prvić Luka, Prvić Šepurina and Tijat,

These services are increased on a daily basis during the summer season but can vary depending on the demand and the availability.

Zlarin

The island off the coast of Sibenik and the one that has great appeal to the masses due to its historic connections and thriving community, added to the natural beauty as it is yet to touched by modernisation.

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The island is a perfect spot for a day trip as it only takes around 25 to 30 minutes to travel to or from the island, with four or five journeys taking place each day.

No vehicles are permitted on the island as the only reliable form of transport is either your feet or bicycle, whether you want to climb to the top of the mountain to take in the breathtaking views or just wander around the island of just an area of 8.19 square kilometres; it won’t take long.

There is much to see when you explore as you discover the importance of Catholicism has on the island, with the churches becoming a vital cog in the culture learning on Zlarin. There is plenty of Catholic churches on the island, with the Church of Mary’s Ascension, Church of Saint Roko, Church of Mary Ascension, Our Lady of Rašelj Church and Church of Saint Simenon all there for the tourists view.

ZLARIN Credits: Gec Vukov Colić / Zlarin Tourist Board

The area around the ferry port has a vibrant atmosphere with a number of restaurants and accommodation sites located in the immediate locality.

The price for a return is around 14kn while if you take a bicycle it costs you around 19kn for the 30-minute journey.

Žirje

You can find supreme beauty in everything, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find it.

You can say that about Žirje but you don’t have to spend too much time looking, it is right in front of eyes. You can spend hours on the island and never get bored of the views that are in front of you. The numerous bays are ideal to anchor a boat and dock for the day, enjoy the sunshine and relax.

It is widely known amongst Croatians as a fishing settlement and a rich fishing area, with the clear blue sea and rocky alcoves, the Large and Small Coves, having an abundance of opportunities to catch a small bite to eat.

Žirje is a small island covering 15 square kilometres with every metre worthy of giving you the ideal view in an instant wherever your turn.

The population of Žirje is in decline with the latest census only confirming a little more than one hundred people residing on the island, so there is little tourist attraction apart from the views.

ŽIRJE Credit: Foto iz zraka

This is not an ideal location, where you can spend a weeks holiday but for a day-trip it is ideal. The ferry route to Zirje is currently served by two companies, with the journey taking approximately between one hour 30 and two hours. In the high season it runs four journeys per day from Sibenik and in the low season, it runs two or three journeys per day. The price of 23Kn is worth the experience.

SEE ALSO: Žirje – Šibenik’s island to get away from the crowds

Prvić Luka

Located about half a mile away from the mainland, Prvić Luka is considered as a sign of cultural heritage and since then it has been under the protection of the Croatian Ministry of Culture.

The island has a rich history and involvement following the invasion of the Ottoman Empire and then the Second World War. Following the invasion in the 16th and 17th century, many of the locals from the mainland residing on the island formed a defensive spirit, which has continued to the 20th century. During World War II many of the inhabitants of the island had joined the antifascist movement. Prvić was highly important in defending the region against the Germany Nazi occupation.

Ever since the many antifascist monuments on the island have been protected and well visited by many historians.

Like Zlarin, religious culture can be visited on the island with a number of churches available to view and explore the grounds, with the famous Croatian bishop, inventor and polymath Faust Vrančić buried in one of the churches.

Tourism is accommodated on the island with a hotel available for guests who wish to stay, however, locals and tourists coming from the mainland tend to prefer to stay in private accommodation or homes.

A 40-minute journey normally runs about two to three times a day within the high season and is reasonably priced at the 17 kn.

Prvić Šepurina

The village of Šepurina is located on the same island of Prvić Luka, at the northern end. It is equally beautiful as the south, with many more ancient artefacts found available. It is widely known that the Saint Ante Antić was born in the village.

This ferry route to Sepurine is operated currently by one company. In the summer season, there are two to five journeys per day from Sibenik. The journey time is similar to the journey to Prvić Luka and is priced at 17kn.

Kaprije

One of the largest islands within the Sibenik archipelago and has lots to offer to tourists. Another vehicle-free island has some of the cleanest air within the Adriatic islands, an attraction to get away from the city noise of Sibenik and allow relaxation to take place.

KAPRIJE Credit: Natko Duvnjak / SibenikIn

Popular with sailors due to the amenities on the island, Kabrije has a vibrant atmosphere with a number of high-quality accommodation venues to visit. It is been known to produce olives and wine, while many visitors are attracted due to the extensive fishing opportunities on the coast.

The maximum one-hour 20-minute journey is normally run two or three times a day in the summer season, while reduced in the winter. Normally priced around 23Kn.

Krapanj

The island of Krapanj is the lowest and the smallest inhabited island in the Adriatic. The flat island has seen a steady decline in population as many people have returned to the mainland, as the number of opportunities to earn a living has reduced. The island is only 300 metres away from the mainland, so therefore the journey time is not extensive.

KRAPANJ Credit: Foto iz zraka

The chapel built in the 15th century after approval from Pope Eugene IV is a tourism site that is definitely worth a visit, while the nearby monastery was completed in 1626.

Tijat

Neighbouring Prvić Luka and Prvić Šepurina, Tijat remains uninhabited, albeit from the Mouflon species, but has a frequent visit from its owners on the neighbouring islands.

Produces an olive trade from their multiple trees but ever since the mouflon animal, the number has decreased and trade has reduced, along with the island’s importance.

All in all, each island has its own merits and all are worth taking advantage of for the peaceful tranquillity, whether that is an afternoon in the sun or a peaceful week of relaxation.

The Sibenik archipelago has a lot offer and extends from the city, with each island worth the ferry journey to explore.