Croatia is quickly becoming one of Europe’s most popular destinations – and it’s easy to see why! Get to grips with one of the country’s best destinations with these great tips I’ve put together!
Croatia’s Adriatic Coast is nothing short of stunning. With those turquoise waters, plenty of sun and beautiful stone houses nestled in amongst the cypress trees, it’s no wonder that this amazing country is more and more popular for a getaway in Spring or Summer. But while Dubrovnik may steal the limelight, there’s another Croatian city that I’d like to introduce today – Zadar!
I’ve put together a great little selection of tips to help you make the most of your next Croatian adventure, and why a trip to this wonderful city is definitely worth it.
Generally speaking, Zadar is the cheapest airport in Croatia that you can fly to from Ireland. Ryanair offers direct flights from Dublin from March until November, with the summer months being the most expensive time to fly. The flight from Dublin is just under 3 hours, and Zadar airport is approximately 25 minutes by car from the centre of the city, meaning that you won’t have a massive trek to and from your accommodation.
Similarly you can also fly to Split, located further south along the coast. While it is slightly more expensive, it does give you the opportunity to visit the city of Split which is just as beautiful, and since Zadar is just an hour and a half away by car you’ve got the perfect itinerary for a road trip!
The sights – what not to miss!
Considering Zadar’s long and rich history that spans over 3,000 years, it’s only natural that this place has a whole wealth of awesome sights, some a little more unique than the others! The city has seen itself under the control of the Romans and the Venetian Empire, to name but a few. With it, there’s a whole mix of architectural styles that can be seen in the city.
Some of the main focal points is the 13th century St. Anastastia’s Cathedral, tucked away in a cosy square where you can sit down at a café for a spot of lunch. From the top of the adjacent belfry, you can get amazing views across the rooftops of the Old Town and the Adriatic Sea. Around the back you’ll find St. Donatus’ Church. While it’s no longer used for services, this lovely building dates back to the Byzantine Era in the 9th Century and it’s one of Zadar’s most famous sights. There’s even the ruins of the ancient Roman Forum next to it – a lot of history in just one place!
There are also the lovely city walls, which have been built upon for centuries. The impressive Land Gate marked the main entrance to the Old Town from Foša Harbour and is probably the best preserved of them all. Close by you’ll find the so-called Five Wells Square, a lovely park which was built on top of a huge bastion next to the large drinking water cistern. These defensive features were all used to protect against sieges carried out by Turkish forces in the 16th century. It’s easily recognisable thanks to the 5 wells in the square.
I’ve saved my two favourite sights until last – and they’re definitely one-of-a-kind. A trip to the harbour front means that you’ll be bound to come across these. The first is the so-called Greeting to the Sun. Designed by Nikola Bašić, this incredible monument uses solar panels to power lights that are set into the ground. It lights up as sunset falls, the colours and patterns moving and changing in time with the sounds and melody of the nearby Sea Organ.
And what is the Sea Organ, you ask? Well, watch the video below to find out what kinds of sounds it makes! It basically uses the wind and the waves to blow air through pipes embedded in the ground, meaning that it uses pretty much the same mechanics that a church organ would – except it’s powered a little differently. Locals love to sit by the seafront and relax as nature plays its own tunes. A crazy idea, but it’s just so unique!
Cuisine & nightlife
If you’re a self-confessed foodie, then you’re going to love Zadar! Its dining scene is definitely one of the most up-and-coming in the region, and there are lots of restaurants and bars with gorgeous views of the Adriatic. Seafood and delicious local wines are big on the menu here!
If you’d love to get to grips with the local cuisine in style, then Groppo is a great place to start. Located in a fantastic spot with views of the Old Town’s main street, Kalelarga, the restaurant offer a rich and varied menu that features all sorts of traditional dishes such as Dalmatian platters, fish and mussels caught from the Adriatic and local wines to go with it.
Foša is another excellent restaurant, located at by the promenade. It serves modern dishes in very stylish settings, and you can even ask for suggestions and specials that aren’t featured on the menu. The location by the harbour is really something special – time a visit here with the amazing sunsets!
Meanwhile there’s all sorts of great bars in the city too. During the summer months there are often festivals and parties by the sea, and you can often enjoy fantastic views while you kick back with a cocktail and enjoy those vibes. The Garden is probably one of the city’s best places to go, located on a terraces with fantastic views – it’s open during the summer and there’s a large programme of quality music. Lounge & Bar Ledana is also another fantastic place to hang out, and since it’s next to Five Wells Square you’ll still be close to the sights of the Old Town. The atmosphere is very laid back, and there’s often live performances and themed nights going on.
Day trips from Zadar
Zadar’s in a fantastic location to explore more of Croatia, so definitely consider hiring a car during your time here or organising a few tours. Three of Croatia’s national parks are easily reached from Zadar – the perfect way to enjoy a nice change of scenery and enjoy the Adriatic region’s fine landscapes!
The first is Krka National Park, home to stunning waterfalls, valleys and wildlife. The best thing about this place is that you can even swim in the lakes, so if the summer sun is getting a bit too much you’ll be able to cool yourself off right away! It takes roughly an hour to drive there from Zadar.
Next up is probably Croatia’s most famous national park of all, the Plitvice Lakes! The mountainous terrain, lush vegetation and clear blue waters make this park an absolute feast for the eyes. There are a total of 16 lakes which are interconnected by beautiful cascades, and there are breathtaking hiking routes here. You will be charged entry with prices depending on the season, but I’d say it’s definitely worth it! The drive lasts approximately an hour and a half from Zadar.
The Kornati National Park is another place definitely worth checking out. This stunning group of islands features incredible landscapes, and since there are no permanent residents on the island it’s pretty much untouched! The only way you can get there is by booking a tour, but you can do so for around €45 per person. The trips, which depart from Zadar, often come with food and refreshments included, and you even have time to go snorkelling or enjoy a little swim in the clear waters of the Adriatic.
See? I told you this place is amazing! It’s not without reason that Croatia is one of Europe’s up-and-coming destinations, and with a city as beautiful as this you’d be crazy not to go. Since this article is part of my Bucket List Giveaway with Click&Go there’ll be a fantastic deal to Zadar coming up soon, so keep your eyes peeled! :)