HOLIDAYS on the Mediterranean coast in Croatia have put Zadar on the radar this year.
The city is set in some of the Med’s most dramatic coastline, with wild beaches, secluded coves, tranquil harbours and the spectacular Velebit Mountain at the background.
Like the rest of Croatia, it is also incredibly good value. You get much more for your holiday pound than in Italy, Greece, France, Portugal or Spain so you will get more out of your dream trip abroad.
Zadar city is part of a massive cluster of 300 islands each with their own attractions and beaches that run into crystal clear water. Most of them are accessible by ferry from Zadar and the bigger ones, including Pag, Pasman and Dugi are well worth separate day visits to get the most out of them.
THE UNIQUE SEA ORGAN
Zadar has one unusual claim to fame – the world’s first pipe organ that’s played by the sea. This art installation designed to let people enjoy the point where the city meets the sea on Zadar’s new pier is proving one of its biggest attractions.
Simple, elegant stone steps have been built on the quayside, perfect for sitting on. Underneath, 35 pipes end in whistles with openings on the quayside above. The movement of the sea pushes air through, and – depending on the size and velocity of the wave – chords are played. As you listen to the ever changing tunes, you can bask in the sun, enjoy one of Zadar’s famous sunsets and enjoy the balmy night air.
SHOPPING IN ZADAR
Zadar is a mix of specialist boutiques with everything from antiques and fashions to crafts such as ceramics, paintings and woven textiles made by local artisans .
The main shopping centres are Billa in Jadranska Cesta, Kaufland at Andrije Hebranga, and the Trgovinski Centar Relja in Murvička, along with the legendary Getro, also in Jadranska Cesta. Most stay open until late in the evening.
Zadar’s market scene is lively. The Drogerie Markt in Elizabete Kotromanić, Konzum at Široka Ulica, Kod Mare at Ul Plemića Borelli and Sarag at Dalmatinskog Sabora, are the best.
NIGHTLIFE IN ZADAR
Head for the Garden, a club on top of the city walls opened by UB40 drummer James Brown and music producer Nick Colgan, for live jazz, Latin and electronic. Sip a local Karlovacko beer and play a game of chess or just soak up the seductive loungey, relaxed atmosphere that seems distinctly European.
WHERE TO EAT IN ZADAR
This is the Adriatic, land of grilled seafood; you can’t go wrong ordering fish, calamari, and mussels na gradele (grilled). Wash it all down with a glass of rakija (brandy) or travarica (an herbal spirit).
For a late-night snack or breakfast, try burek, a savoury cheese-filled filo pastry, with a cup of the Turkish-style coffee favoured by Croats at one of the many bakeries in Varos—the historic heart of town—that are open well into the night.
And don’t forget. This is the home of the Maraschino cherry liqueur, so you’ve got to try a bit of that on your night out – to say no would just be plain rude.
WHERE TO STAY IN ZADAR
Many of the newer hotels are at the bling end of the spectrum, but a burgeoning family hotel and B&B scene is giving budget travellers some attractive alternatives.
Mediteran, Matije Gupca 19, Borik, Zadar
A tidy little hotel right on the front and looking out across the Adriatic. Food is good and generous, staff are helpful – they get the basics right and that’s what really matters. From £53 per night.
Hotel Kolovare, Boze Pericica 14, Zadar
No-nonsense hotel close to a great beach and a short walk from the Old Town. Prices from £67 per night.
Hotel Bastion, Bedemi Zadarskih Pobuna 13, Zadar
Chic, boutique hotel built into the city walls. Centrally placed near the famous Sea Organ – a set of underwater pipes that plays soothing sounds on the beach – and good for getting into the Old Town for a night out. From £100 a night.