Scattered like pebbles to the west of Murter lie the ninety or so islands of the Kornati archipelago, grouped around the 35km-long island of Kornat. A national park since 1980, the Kornati archipelago comprises a distinctively harsh and bare environment, almost devoid of life. The islands range in colour from stony white to pale ochre, mottled with patches of sage. They were once covered in forest until it was burned down to make pasture for sheep, who proceeded to eat everything in sight. The dry-stone walls used to pen them in are still visible, although the sheep themselves – save for a few wild descendants – are no more.

The islands were originally owned by the nobles of Zadar, who allowed the peasants of Murter to raise flocks and grow olives on them in return for a share in the cheese and oil thus produced. When the Zadar nobility fell on hard times in the nineteenth century, the islands were sold to the Murterians – who remain owners of most of the Kornati to this day. Despite the number of stone cottages scattered over the islands (Vruje, on Kornat, is the biggest single settlement with fifty houses), most of the owners actually live in Murter nowadays – returning to the islands for a few months in the summer. The popularity of the Kornati with the international yachting fraternity is having a profound impact on the archipelago’s development, with shoreline restaurants serving top-quality seafood springing up in every available cove. There’s a fully equipped yachting marina on the island of Piškera, on the western side of the archipelago, and an even bigger one on the island of Žut, which lies just outside the park boundaries to the east. With clear waters and relatively untouched ecology, the Kornati can also be a spectacular place for scuba diving.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Croatia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

10 great winter destinations in Central and Eastern Europe

10 great winter destinations in Central and Eastern Europe

If you can look past the plummeting temperatures and long dark nights, winter is a hugely rewarding season in which to visit Central and Eastern Europe. Frozen…

13 Nov 2017 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
The 10 best beaches in Croatia

The 10 best beaches in Croatia

When it comes to beaches in Croatia, the best advice is to head south: it’s on the Dalmatian coast where the most seductive sandy shores, pebbly coves and sun…

25 Aug 2017 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook