Zadar – Croatia Without The Crowds
by Saron Lease, Croatia Gems Company Founder & Director, 14th May 2018,
The beautiful city of Zadar is often ignored by the usual holiday tourists as they head off for Dubrovnik or Split – make the most of it while you can, before they realise what they are missing.
Zadar old town is becoming the Croatian home of ‘cool’, a place to discover the secret, the interesting and always just a hint of romanticism . Small enough to cover in a morning’s stroll while your out for coffee yet somewhere you keep returning, to wander through it’s marbled streets admiring its beautiful architecture, the atmosphere and the quality of light. Once the largest fortress in the Republic of Venice it’s walls meant it was never captured by the Turks, the walls aren’t what they were but they have since been graced with parks and promenades and have the most amazing views.
Wander up towards the roman ruins and spend some time in the museum, its only small but the entrance fee is cheap and you can easily lose a couple of hours wandering through. It’s beautifully laid out, more like an art gallery, covering three floors with prehistoric, roman and early Christianity exhibitions – also well known for its excellent air conditioning a perfect place to escape the summer sun for a few hours , while learning about the fascinating history of Zadar.
The best known feature on the sea front is of course the Morske Orgulje or the sea organ, it looks like a series of large wide steps descending into the sea, but it’s actually really clever engineering . The sea and air enter through the lower steps and then go through different chambers before being pushed out through the upper steps, producing different notes, because the sea /waves are never the same the sounds change continually, not particularly melodic but people seem to find it very calming and it gets quite crowded – go early to appreciate it, nearby is the Sun Salutation a 22 metre diameter solar panel absorbing the suns rays during the day and producing enough energy to light up the whole sea front –lights up at sunset with ever changing coloured lights in the structure.
When you tire of the town – take a boat trip out to the islands which form the Kornati National Parks there are 140 islands islets and reefs, most are controlled to protect the marine life but people can access a couple of the islands like Dugi Otok takes around 30 minutes to get there and the beach is glorious, you would think you were in the Caribbean.
Other nearby national parks to explore are Krka with its amazing waterfalls and the famous Plitvic lakes a photographers dream your also near the largest mountain range in Croatia – Velika which is becoming extremely popular with climbers and hikers .
But for most of us the beach calls, one of the most popular especially if you have teenagers is Kolovare, a mixture of sand and pebbles east of the old town , backed by trees so there is plenty of shade when you need it, equipped with showers and toilets/changing rooms. Nearby there are restaurants and shops and a very popular beach bar, for a more family orientated beach catch the local bus (no 8 or 5) and head for Borek beach- shallow water with a sandy bottom – part of the beach is also sand. The whole place has catered for young children with slides and pools , beach games, etc.
Finish your day off in one of Zadar’s amazing restaurants , Proto Food & More is a favourite for traditional and delicious dishes, or just for one of their delicious cocktails , great service & Restaurant Bruchetta is food cooked with love at a reasonable price – best to book even out of season this place gets packed at night. Kalelarga is another one worth searching out, part of the Art hotel , food is sublime the service excellent and the desserts and cakes to die for. If you just want a snack try Crazy Pizza in the old town doesn’t look much but they make delicious home- made pizzas you can even have half & half as they are freshly prepared to your taste and at half the price anywhere else charges, always queued out of the door with locals as well as tourists but worth the wait.
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