(We were actually here for a week, but I think that 72 hours to see everything is more than plenty!).
When I got back from our break in the beautiful Croatian town of Zadar, I could not wait to write about it. But, it’s been a few weeks delayed because of exam stress and I didn’t want to rush this post, I wanted to do it justice.
So, we recently spent a week in Zadar, Croatia. We stayed about a 15-20 minute walk from the main town in an apartment sourced through Air BnB, and generally had a really relaxed yet enjoyable time.
To be honest, if I was to visit Zadar/Croatia again, I would not spend a full week in Zadar. It is a beautiful city that I would definitely recommend spending some time in, but 72 hours is enough. After that, you have easily seen and done everything and will probably need to drive to somewhere nearby if you want to explore more.
Exploring the Surroundings
We did, on one of the days, drive to the nearby town of Nin. This is a beautiful little coastal town, but be warned, it is very little! The sandy beach and coastal views are breath-taking and it’s definitely a nice place to relax, but there are very few restaurants/cafes in the main town as it is very very small. We ended up in a lovely restaurant eating a combination of chips/roast potatoes/tomato soup/salad because the vegetarian options here were not the best. So, if you are planning to go to Nin (which I definitely recommend!) take a picnic to eat on the beach and save your money for some of the amazing gelato.
Food and Drink
Being a vegetarian in Croatia, generally, was very easy. In fact, many restaurants and supermarkets had even more options than the ones at home, so it was all good in that area! A lot of the cuisine in Zadar is Italian, given that it is a Roman city, so it is pizza/pasta/gelato heaven. We found the best pizza to be at a restaurant called Bello which is located near St Mary’s Church (so has a great view of that as well as the sea front). It is also very reasonably priced for food and drink at most places.
If you are wanting somewhere a little different, there is a sushi restaurant called Maguro and I couldn’t recommend it more! I don’t like sushi (or eat fish) so I opted for a veggie green curry instead, but it was absolutely delicious and both Zack and I want to go back! Be warned, the food here is a little more on the pricey side, but we decided to have a little splurge on one meal during our time here so opted for this one!
If you are on a budget though, we found a little hack which worked really well to get two drinks for the price of one. In Zadar, they actually serve coffee with a glass of ice cold water as a palette cleanser- so you get two drinks. In most cafes, the coffee was less expensive than buying bottled water, so we quickly learned to order and coffee and enjoy both that (which was truly delicious!) and the water for a lower price.
Places to Visit
In terms of things to do in Zadar, there is quite a lot. For a small fee, you can explore inside both the Church of St. Donatus and Zadar Cathedral. To be completely honest, there isn’t much to see inside of them, but they are definitely architecturally impressive and you do get a little leaflet with more information about them (no matter what your language) so it is definitely worth the small fee.
We also did pay a visit to The Museum of Illusions. To be completely honest, I think that this attraction is a little overhyped online and a little overpriced (it cost us nearly as much as a full day at Plitvice and we were there for an hour!). We did have a laugh there, though, and it is a good option for a rainy day.
Things To See
Ultimately, my favourite things to do in Zadar were actually the things that cost us no more than our time (and a few shivers when the wind picked up!). The promenade is breath-taking, and I could have walked up and down it enjoying the view for days. It gets particularly more impressive, though, when the sun starts to set. Alfred Hitchcock said that Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, and I don’t doubt it! We were blessed with three lovely sunsets during our time there, and each one was uniquely beautiful.
At the end of the promenade, there is a man-made sea organ installation. This plays a melody as the waves wash over it, and I absolutely loved it. I was apprehensive, actually, as usually things like this annoy me and the sound of waves is really soothing to me so I thought that it would ruin it. But, actually, the organ works in perfect harmony with the sea and it creates an absolute goosebump-inducing moment, particularly when paired with the beautiful sunset.
Just next to the sea organ is the light display. This is essentially a giant solar panel that collects solar energy all day and then displays a light show at dusk. This was fun to see, but did feel a little gimmicky so didn’t quite have the same effect on me as the sea organ. But, if you have the time, it should be on your list of things to see.
There is actually a cafe nearby these two installations with outdoor seating, and we enjoyed the sunset from there with a coffee (and free glass of water!) on two occasions. This was a nice way to see the sunset without being too crowded because it certainly does get busy on the promenade around this time, with many tourists wanting to see it, and that was in the off-season! So either be prepared to be stood in a crowd or opt to spend a couple of pounds on a coffee and enjoy it from a little distance.
Would I go back to Zadar?
But, I would not go back here for a full week as that was a little too long. If you are looking for a more relaxing holiday, than maybe this would be up your street to spend more time there, but my explorer instincts felt a little bored after a few days.
I would also stay closer into the city next time. We thought that staying in the old town would give us a more authentic experience but, honestly, it was more of a nuisance. Plus, everyone who lived in the area knew one another and we just kinda felt a bit odd when walking around. We actually stayed in an apartment further into the city on one of the evenings and I would happily go back here as it was closer and was nice to be able to stay in the actual town later (as opposed to having to head back before the sun was completely down).
I would go back to Croatia, definitely, and am eyeing up Dubrovnik as our next spot. The Croatian people were, generally, more than accommodating and they speak English really well (something that always makes me feel so guilty as an ignorant English mono-language-er). I did try to pick up bits and pieces of phrases (and even google revised before hand) but it was one of those awful situations where they are so good at English that they just automatically use it when speaking to us, which does make me feel so super guilty for not being able to return the favour! Do learn the word Hvala (thank you) if you go though, as you will be using it a lot.
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