Nin is a small town in Zadar county that is often combined as a day trip when visiting Zadar. No wonder, since the town has some very interesting things to see and do. Nin was an important medieval centre from the time of King Tomislav, the first Croatian king. There also lies one of the smallest cathedrals in the world. But above all, Nin is a great summer destination that offers a great combination of historical background, best beaches in the area and plenty of outdoor activities.
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How to get to Nin
Nin is a coastal town located about 16 km from Zadar. Getting there is easy by either car or bus.
No matter the direction you’re arriving from, the easiest way to reach Nin is via Zadar.
If driving to Zadar from bigger Croatian cities such as Dubrovnik, Split, Rijeka or Zagreb you can choose between the motorways and regional roads. Motorways also connect to other big European cities which provides a fast and convenient way to get to the city.
If arriving in Zadar via motorway, you need to take an exit Zadar I if coming from the direction of north (e.g. Zagreb, Rijeka) and Zadar II (Zadar East) if coming from the direction of the south (e.g. Split, Dubrovnik). Once you get to Zadar, you can continue to Nin via D306 for another 20 minutes.
However, motorways have tolls and here you can check the current toll rates.
The other option is to use one of the regional roads where toll fees do not apply. Although these roads are very scenic and let you stop on the way to many interesting places, they are much slower, especially in season.
Nin is well connected to most Croatian and European cities via Zadar. There are bus departures from Zadar bus station every hour. If arriving from Zagreb, there is a direct line to Nin. You can check the routes and purchase your tickets below:
In case you’re flying to Croatia, the closest and most convenient airport to Nin is Zadar Airport. Frequent shuttle buses are departing from the airport taking you to the main bus station in Zadar. The journey takes around 15-20 minutes and the ticket costs around 25 HRK (~€3). At Zadar bus station you can change to a bus to Nin.
What to see and do in Nin
Nin is the oldest royal town and a very important archaeological site in Croatia. Therefore, there is a lot to discover while in Nin and here is what not to miss during your stay.
The Church of the Holy Cross
The so-called “smallest cathedral in the world” is the most recognizable sight of Nin. This Pre-romanesque, elliptical church dates back to the 9th century and remains the only fully preserved Christian object in this area. Back in the day, the church was used by the Croatian rulers as a Court chapel. But its shape is much more than a style, its position and angles form a solar calendar; equinox and solstice can be determined according to the rays of sun in the church.
Grgur Ninski Statue
Gregory of Nin, as it is translated, is one of the most important figures in the history of Nin. This bishop of Nin was the revolutionary figure who introduced the Croatian language in the religious services in the 10th century, for the first time in history. Until then, the services were held in Latin. As a result, his statue was erected next to the Church of St Ansel in Nin. But they were also erected in Split and Varaždin, the most famous and the biggest one being in Split. All the statues were sculpted by world-wide famous Ivan Mestrovic as a symbol of national pride. The popular belief regarding the Grgur Ninski statues is that touching the big toe of the statue is going to fulfil all your wishes.
Church of st. Nicholas
This church is another symbol of Nin, together with the Church of the Holy Cross. It stands on a small hill nearby Nin. The church is also built in Pre-romanesque, circular style on top of the Liburnian prehistoric tomb. It dates back to the 12th century and was used when crowning the Kings and presenting them to the people.
Duke Branimir Statue
Duke Branimir or Branimir of Croatia also belongs to the list of people who significantly marked Croatian history. Nin is the cradle of the Croatian state and Duke Branimir deserves the credits. Besides, he was the first ruler of Croatia that was officially and legally recognized by the Pope on 7th June, in 879. Therefore, you will find his statue located by the sea.
Today, on the mentioned date the Town’s day is celebrated, as well as the Day of Croatian Diplomacy.
Imagine having your own bench with your own inscription? It is possible in Nin. Visitors from all over the world can buy a bench with a personalized inscription that will be waiting for them in the park of Petar Zoranic, a famous Croatian poet. The organizers of this initiative, among which is the Tourist Board of Nin, see this as a unique way of encouraging visitors to return to Nin someday again.
Besides the fact that sightseeing will keep you busy for quite a while, Nin has plenty of other options for those seeking outdoor fun.
Nin is located by the sea, so there is a good offer of water sports such as diving, parasailing, paragliding or windsurfing, to name a few. On the mainland, hiking and cycling is a great option as the town has about 110 km long cycling trail. Besides that, horse-riding is available nearby with various organized activities for both children and adults.
In the end, if looking for sports, Zaton Holiday Resort has many facilities in their surroundings including tennis, volleyball and football court.
Beaches in Nin
Queens Beach (Kraljičina plaža) – This is the largest and the most famous beach in Nin. It stretches up to 3 km and is made completely of sand. The beach is also known as Ninska Laguna (Nin Lagoon Beach). The legend has it that King Tomislav dedicated the beach to his wife because of its beauty.
Ždrijac Beach – This sandy beach reminds of the Caribbean beaches. Thanks to its position, the beach is ideal for various water sports. You can even try surfing in the surfing school.
Bilotnjak Beach – The beach is situated between Zaton and Privlaka. It is a small sandy beach ideal for families. The sunsets you get to see from here are spectacular.
Zaton Holiday Resort – This place is great for those who want to spend a day on the beach while still enjoying various facilities and sports. This beach is awarded a Blue Flag and has a whole complex of pools, slides and more. Ideal for families with children.
Where to eat in Nin
Nin and the area around has a rich selection of restaurants where you can try true Dalmatian dishes. Whether you’re a meat-lover or keen on seafood, be sure that Nin restaurants serve fresh ingredients with homemade products such as olive oil or wine.
If looking for the most authentic meal in Nin, try šokol, a dried meat product that dates back to the 17th century. The recipe is a secret of each individual family that makes it, but it is served on all festivities.
Nin has all kinds of accommodation on offer, from hotels to private accommodations. You can check the options in the map below.