If you are looking for an authentic destination with Mediterranean culture to spend your holidays, or for a day visit, then Betina is one to consider.
Featuring the craft of wooden ship construction which is centuries old, preserved old town with stone houses and nice beaches, Betina is one of the top spots for all people looking for something original and different from the Croatian mainstream destinations like Split.
How to get to Betina
Betina is located on the island called Murter, between bigger destinations Zadar and Sibenik. There is a bridge connecting the island with the land, so It's easy to reach the place by car or bus. You need to drive on the coastal road D8. 30 kilometres north of Sibenik you will notice a sign to turn in the direction of Murter. You need to drive 13 kilometres more to reach the destination.
Betina is part of town Murter. Two neighbourhood villages are Tisno and Jezera.
The parking price in the village in zone 2 during the summer season is 6 kuna (approximately 0.8 euros) per hour, while in zone 1 the price is 8 kuna.
What to see and do in Betina
The Square at the sea is the main square and the central point of the village. It doesn't have any special name, since the local people used to say "I am going to the sea" or "I am going to the coast" when referring to it. So it got the official name "Square at the sea".
There is a coffee bar, restaurant, and nice walkway near the square. There is also a free exhibition of the original Betina's wooden shipyard, which consists of wooden ships docked in the port near the square.
There are three types of wooden ships produced in Betina's shipyards: "kaić", "gajeta", and "leut". You can see examples of all 3 types in the port. Most of them were constructed in the early 20th century but were renewed a few years ago.
Kaić is the smallest one, usually with a length of fewer than 5 meters, while Leut is the biggest one, usually 7 - 12 meters long.
I was totally amazed by those ships, which are unique and rare attraction difficult to find anywhere else in Croatia or Europe.
Usage of plastic materials took over wood in almost all shipyards, but Betina is still trying hard to preserve its wooden craft. The wooden ships are more expensive and more difficult to maintain, but they can survive centuries.
The museum of the wooden shipyard is another top attraction in the village. It features a modern three-floor exhibition consisting of ship models, tools and educational boards explaining the culture and history of the place and its wooden craft.
The first floor exhibits Betina's history and interesting facts related to the village and its culture.
On the second floor, you will learn more about the types of wooden ships constructed in Betian's shipyard during history. You will find out what is the necessary equipment for the ship, and which tools are used for wooden crafts.
The third floor features a game and quiz related to the knowledge acquired in the museum, which may be interesting for kids.
The price for visiting the museum is 30 kuna (approximately 4 euros) for an adult person.
The most monumental building in the place is the parish church of St. Francis. It's located at the highest point of the village.
Holy masses are scheduled on Sunday at 8.30 am and 11 am.
History of Betina
The first inhabitants arrived at the area of today's village in the 15th century. Throughout their history (and even today) the main economic activity was agriculture.
The most famous product of their agriculture is olive oil.
Since the people in the village had their agricultural properties on the nearby islands, it was necessary for each family to have a ship, which was used for transportation. The ship was very important and was considered to be "part of the family", something to be taken special care of.
The first written scripts about wooden shipbuilding in Betina originate from the 18th century, although there is a probability that they were building the ships even before.
As already mentioned, there are three types of ships: "kaić, gajeta, and leut". The richest families had large ones (Leut).
Their shape didn't change significantly until the 20th century when inboard engines were introduced. It was necessary to add modifications and adapt the old models.
Either if you decide to spend your holidays in Betina, or go for a day visit, I believe you will not regret it. I enjoyed the place, its Mediterranean atmosphere, and the authentic ships which are difficult to be found anywhere else.