The island of Ugljan is a small one, with just over 6,000 people in population and 50 square kilometres in area. Located in North Dalmatia close to Zadar – in fact, practically opposite the town – the island would be ideal as a day trip from there. Of course, a longer stay is also an option!
The main town on the island is Preko, with other larger settlements including Ugljan Town, Poljana, Sutomiscica, Lukoran and Kali. All of these settlements are on the eastern side of the island for the western side features steep cliffs.
In case you’re wondering (we know you are!), the island is pronounced oog-lyan. The name comes from Croatian word for oil, ulje – the island is covered in olive groves and trees (there are an estimated 700,000 trees on Ugljan), and produces some of the best oil.
Getting to Ugljan
There are two sailings from Zadar to the island of Ugljan with Jadrolinija, both of which go to the port of Preko.
There is a relatively frequent passenger ship from Zadar to Preko, which has a sailing time of just 25 minutes. The ship sails roughly every hour/two hourly throughout the year (lower frequency on weekends).
There is also a frequent, year-round car ferry that sails from Gazenica port in Zadar to Preko, making a stop at tiny Osljak island on the way. This also has a sailing time of 25 minutes.
Ugljan is connected to the neighbouring island of Pasman by bridge – the Zdrelac Bridge – and so you if you are travelling by car, you can easily enjoy another of Croatia’s beautiful islands.
In fact, you could even do a circular trip via these two islands: from Zadar to Preko on Ugljan – drive down to Pasman – drive to Tkon on Pasman – ferry back to Biograd na moru on the mainland. Obviously, we recommend stopping and enjoy island life too! This would be a lovely way of experiencing two of Croatia’s lesser-known islands, as well as a couple of charming spots on the mainland too.
What to See and Do on Ugljan
Hey, guess what? There are some sandy beaches on this island!
If you’re planning to stay in Preko, you will no doubt find yourself on Jaz Beach which is a favourite with families. With shallow waters, sand, a small slide into the water for kids and food and drink options, it’s no wonder this place is popular. It’s a short walk along a promenade from Preko. Nearby is the small Kasun Beach which is a pebble beach. On the other side of Preko is Bilisce Beach, another pebble beach, which also has good facilities and shallow waters.
Closer to Ugljan Town, the top option is Mostir Beach which is another sandy beach option located around a bay, and this one is also popular. You can rent sun beds and sun umbrellas, and there is a place to grab a bite or some refreshing drinks.
Jazna Luka Beach to the north of the island near the settlement of Muline, is a more remote sandy beach. This would be a good choice if you want somewhere a little less crowded – although it does require a bit more effort to get to! This beach is rather unusual with its large rocks in the water, although it’s in a picturesque setting with pine trees next to it.
The 15th-century Monastery of St Jerome in Ugljan Town makes for a rather spectacular backdrop when you’re swimming by Mostir Beach (see below)!
Near Muline at the top of Ugljan you will find the remains of Villa Rustica, a Roman building from the 1st or 2nd century AD that was an olive oil mill.
The Fortress of St Michael was built in the 13th century by the Venetians on the site of an older fort from the 6h century. Although in bad shape these days, should you hike, bike or drive to the fort you will be rewarded with stunning views over Ugljan and the surrounding islands. (The fortress sits on a 265m high hill.)
Look out for pretty mosaic benches across Ugljan. A project which started in 2014, the idea is to give every village on Ugjlan its own unique mosaic bench, featuring a design tied to the history of that particular settlement.
Eating and Drinking on Ugljan
Ugljan isn’t perhaps the best-known place for gastronomic delights…but don’t worry, you won’t go hungry! There are plenty of eateries, pizzerias, cafes and bars all over the island.
Taverna Joso in Preko is a popular place in town, with good food and friendly service.
Pizzeria Moka in Poljana, close to Preko, is one of the best pizza options on the island.
In Sutomiscica you’ll find the small Olive Island Marina and its smart Olive Garden Restaurant. They serve a variety of pasta, fish and seafood and meat dishes using quality ingredients.
Bistro Trapula in Ugljan is an unassuming place serving hearty and tasty Croatian cuisine.
Head to Ritam Bar near Ugljan Town for beach bar drinks by day and more celebratory drinks later on…until the early hours.
Events on Ugljan
The SUG Festival takes place on Fridays in Ugljan Town during summer, with locally made island products on display and available to buy.
Ceprljanda Festival is held in the small village of the same name (close to Ugljan Town) on the first Saturday in August. First held in 1979, it is the longest-running festival on the island. Expect live music, plenty of food on offer, activities for kids, and most of all – lots of fun!
Accommodation on Ugljan
Despite the island’s small size, there are some hotel options here.
For relaxing in luxury, you won’t go wrong with the four-star Dunatovi Dvori Heritage Hotel in Preko. With a stunning outdoor pool and fabulous views, all rooms are smartly presented; the hotel is close to the beach and there’s an onsite restaurant too.
The family-run four-star Villa Stari Dvor, just outside of Ugljan Town, also has an outdoor pool and is close to the beach.
There are a number of campsites on the island, the largest of which is the Camping Ugljan eco resort. Here you can opt for the Mobile Homes, which sleep between 2 and 8 people, pitches for tents, or glamping. The resort includes its own beach (plus a beach for dogs!), a beach restaurant, a mini-supermarket, a vegetable garden and a rather impressive bio-design pool that has been built to blend into its surroundings.
There is also a good selection of private villas and apartments all over the island – take a look at what’s available on Booking.com, or use the map below:
It is definitely possible to rent bikes, e-bikes, scooters, kayaks and more on the island. Take a look at Rent Man in Preko for details of prices.
There are numerous small supermarkets on the island, as well as a handful of ATMs.
There’s plenty of information about Preko and the rest of the island on the Preko Tourist Board website.