There are many purposes of a holiday, we all want to go away from our regular routine, explore a new city and a new culture and enjoy everything that a location can offer.
The idea of relaxing on an inhabited island for a couple of days, relaxing your mind, resetting your body clock and able to simply let the world go by without a care can be the perfect remedy to all your problems.
Many places in the world can offer the things you have been searching for but are often spoilt by an abundance of tourists and all the things that reflect modernization in today’s society. However, if you look more closely on the coast of Croatia you may just match your requirements and find your holiday spot.
Around 22km southwest of Šibenik, Žirje is located in the Kornati Island archipelago and known for its lush greenery and idealist coastal scenario. While you may think you could be on any other island within the Adriatic Coast as the topography is similar and the sunshine is the same, it is entirely different as nature was previously adorned with the once-plentiful oak trees.
There are not here anymore but the flatlands are littered with vineyards, olive groves, fig and plum orchards. This gives the locals a mass range of produce available to benefit from the Croatian cuisine. It all adds colour and splendour to the basic Croatian scenario of rocks and sparse vegetation.
Relaxation can play a certain aspect of someone’s holiday but we all want to know what can be offered more to entice into the appeal that Žirje can offer. What else stands out in the attraction of the island?
What you see is what you get
The spectacular coastline is indented to allow the perfect shade to set up with a towel and a bucket and spade for the kids. The small beaches are perfect however some places remain isolated in the summer months allowing that perfect peaceful afternoon or watching the sunset go down on another blissful day. These all can be done in one of the coves that are located around the coast.
Muna, Koromašnja, Mikavica, Tratinska and Pečenja are known as the largest coves on the island and have proved the most popular amongst tourists due to their easier accessibility and space available.
These locations continue the relaxed vibe and allow the holidaymakers to soak up the sunshine. There are 29 coves across the island. Cove Stupica, as the name suggests, is dangerous for anchoring to the south. The divorced coast is additionally adorned by seventeen surrounding islets and reefs.
Although not widely known among the tourists, Žirje has at least two reefs located offshore that allow locals and tourists to explore. Although the reef is not as popular as the one situated off Zlarin Island, tourists have been widely accepted within the region by hosts and tourists accommodated.
Conservations have played an important part as they believe the coral holds an importance to Šibenik archipelago. Žirje, along with Zlarin and the other islands, is continuing their conservation practices in the right way, similar to the efforts within the Great Barrier Reef and on the Darwin Mounds. The officials on the island are teaching the next generation of their conservation practices and ideologies.
The first line of defense
Žirje is the furthest island within Šibenik archipelago away from the city (Šibenik) itself and is considered vitally important to the population of previous centuries as their geological position proved perfect.
Used as one of the main lookout positions and the ideal first stage of the battleground to weaken any attacking forces. This was evident when Turks invaded and broke the resistance of the local military, although the loss, it is reported that the island served an importance to weakening their advances across the Mediterranean Sea and into the Adriatic.
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That is evident when you go to the western side of the island and climb to a gifted vantage point. There lies a formation of stones that can provide plenty of historic moments and occasions to the generations before. A Roman fortress named Gradina once stood on the hill in Žirje but now lies in ruins due to its previous battles and degeneration from the weather over the centuries. The Fortress is believed to have originated from the 6th century and played an integral in that era. It is now protected by the government and has experienced multiple archaeological extraditions since 1977.
Certainly worth a visit during your stay on the island as it will likely enlighten your historical appreciation. If you go at the right time, you may encounter a Roman demonstration, where local people dressed up as soldiers/guards seen back in the day, over 1,500 years ago.
The island has not only played a vital role in the region’s most important historical moments in previous centuries, but in the present day. The position played its importance to the recent conflict of former Yugoslavia, when the locals and fishermen managed to persuade the JNA military stationed there to leave, thereby taking over the artillery which was trained on strategic points near Šibenik, sparring the city the majority of the damage sustained in the conflict.
Fast forward to the present day and the geographic position is a selling point for tourists as you are able to sit at top of the highest point and marvel in the views across the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea. Unlikely to see Italian land as it is only water separating you from the eastern coast and Ancona.
Getting there and around Žirje
The island is the furthest island away from mainland Croatia with Žirje only accessible by the ferry service from Šibenik. From port to port, the route is currently served by two companies at different times throughout the day.
In the high season, it runs up to four journeys per day depending on the demand, in total of at least 28 times per week from Šibenik. It is unlikely for the ferry service to exceed their passenger limit but it is worth getting to the terminal with plenty of time prior to the ferry’s departure.
In the low season, it runs two journeys per day, normally once in the morning and late afternoon. On some weekdays, M/B Peljesacanka may put an additional service onto the normal Catamaran Komiža service to suit the demand of the population and visitors.
Like other islands within the Šibenik archipelago, motorised vehicle transport is minimal due to the access points and lack of the requirement due to the size of the island.
Although there is minimal vehicle transport among the island, the island has around 30 kilometres of roads around the island, along with traffic signals which were implemented in the last decade.
A more popular choice among tourists due to its convenience, you may want to hire or take your own bicycle to the island. It won’t take long to travel to your destination or around the island and you will get the best views and the benefit of exercise.
Accommodation in Žirje
Like many of the islands off the mainland, there are limited options for the places to stay during your duration on the island. There are currently no hotels on the island as they have yet to have an influx of tourism all year around to sustain custom.
Accommodation is largely in the form of holiday homes and apartments, mainly situated in the east of the island around the port area. There are limited places to stay on the western side of the island, with staying within the port area or further south recommended due to the accessibility and things to do in the locality.
You get a good price for quality available for tourists able to book their accommodation through a number of sites, including booking.com, or it is advisable to ask a local at your hotel on the mainland if deciding to visit. They may be able to get a cheaper price or negotiate with the locals.
The island has an area of 15km squared and although the residents are going towards the mainland for better opportunities, the tourism industry is still booming across Žirje.