Vodice is a lively little town on the Croatian coast, nestled in a wide bay north of the town of Šibenik, and has over the years become one of the most popular summer tourist destinations in this area of Croatia. Hospitable and welcoming, Vodice, besides being a popular seaside resort, also boasts an important historical and architectural heritage that has come down to us thanks to the impressive defence system built by the Venetians.
The first settlement in this area dates back to prehistoric times, but then Vodice became a famous transit town because an important trade route passed through here, which was widely used in Roman times. The town then developed thanks to the presence of water springs that enabled the flourishing cultivation of olives, vines and other crops for years. For a long time, Vodice based much of its economy on the export of drinking water extracted from its springs.
In the 15th century, when it came under the rule of the Venetian Republic, the town was a target of the Turks for a long time due to its strategic position and abundance of drinking water. However, the construction of a mighty town wall with watchtowers enabled Vodice to defend itself from attacks and threats and to never be occupied by the Ottomans. After the end of the Venetian Republic, the town’s history followed that of Dalmatia, i.e. it first came under Austrian rule, then under French rule and finally back under Austria.
Like a large part of Dalmatia in the 1940s, this territory was also annexed to the Kingdom of Dalmatia, and only after World War II did Vodice become part of first Yugoslavia and then Croatia. In recent years, Vodice has significantly developed its tourist vocation by implementing services, accommodation facilities and connections with other localities in the area and has thus become a summer destination frequented by families and young people looking for fun.
The town of Vodice boasts not only beautiful beaches but also many centres where water activities such as diving or boat trips can be organised. One of the most popular beaches is Male Vrulje, or Vrulje Beach, which is located right next to the town port. In addition to the possibility of renting sunbeds and umbrellas, this beach boasts bars, restaurants, a children’s play area and numerous other facilities.
Approximately a ten-minute walk from the centre is Hangar Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Vodice due to the high number of facilities and the beauty of its waters. This pebble beach offers activities and fun for young and old with play areas for the little ones and water activities such as jet skis, paragliding, pedal boats, paddle boats and banana boats for adults. Hangar is also home to many bars and clubs that organise beach parties and events with live music, so the beach is often chosen by young people looking to relax and have fun.
An ideal beach for families is Plava Plaza, which has been awarded the Blue Flag several times for the quality of its water. The seabed slopes slowly and is, therefore, perfect for children to play in peace or for those who cannot swim. Those in search of peace and relaxation, on the other hand, can head to Srima beach, a beach with both free and equipped areas that offers a beautiful view of the island of Prvić. The shoreline here is pebbly, while the sea waters are deep blue and there are showers, toilets and a few bars for eating.
In addition to the beautiful beaches, Vodice has also managed to preserve sites of great interest, starting with its numerous old churches. The most important is perhaps the parish church of St. Cross built by Ivan Skok, a famous local architect from the 18th century. The church façade has a Baroque portal surmounted by a beautiful rose window, while inside there are several altarpieces by the painter Eugenio Moretti Varese.
In the town centre, it is still possible to admire the Čorić Tower, an example of a fortified tower built in the 16th century with stone from the island of Brač by a certain Hyeronimus Saracenis, whose initials are engraved in the coat of arms hanging on the eastern wall of the building. The tower was part of a larger defence system, which has only partially survived, but for years it was also the private residence of noble families.
The town centre still houses two modern wells, built on the spot where centuries ago there were water springs that have long supported the town economically. The upper well (the one closest to the parish church) provided drinking water, while the lower one provided water for washing laundry and other domestic activities.
For an excursion in contact with nature, it is recommended to visit the Okit hill (135 metres) that houses the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; from the slopes of the hill, in fact, a Way of the Cross starts, consisting of 14 small chapels that lead up to the summit where the church is located. The religious building that can now be admired was rebuilt in the 20th century, but sources indicate that there was a small chapel here well before the 17th century, although it has been enlarged and renovated several times. The present complex was designed by the famous architect Nikola Basic, the same architect who designed the Sea Organ and the Zadar Sun Salutation.
Another stop that is recommended is at the small Gothic church of St Cross, which was built in 1402 and named after St Cross in 1421; of great importance inside the religious building is the Romanesque-Gothic stoup on one of the columns.
In addition, from Vodice, it is possible to set out to explore numerous locations in the surrounding area, such as the Krka River National Park, the Kornati National Park and the Vodice Islands. By car (or bus) it is easy to reach more famous locations such as Split and Dubrovnik, as well as the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Vodice is a tourist destination that boasts a wide range of accommodations, consisting not only of hotels and resorts, but also flats and campsites, so every traveller can find a suitable solution in the town. Thanks to its historical heritage, excellent facilities and numerous venues, Vodice is ideal for a stay of fun, relaxation and excellent food. The town is a popular destination during the summer season, so the advice is to book your accommodation as soon as possible to avoid a sell-out.
Vodice is located 15 km northwest of Sibenik and can be easily reached by car via the A1 Zagreb-Split motorway; those coming from the north should take the A1 to the Pirovac exit, while those coming from the south should travel along the A1 to the Sibenik exit. Those travelling by plane can choose between Zadar Airport or Split Airport and from there continue their journey by hiring a car or taking a bus.
For those wishing to travel by public transport there are several possibilities. The nearest railway station is Sibenik, which is less than 13 km from Vodice and is connected to the city by several bus lines; another alternative is to travel by bus, thanks to connections with several Croatian towns. By ferry, on the other hand, it is possible to reach the ports of Split and Zadar and from there travel to Vodice.