Zadar is the fifth largest city in Croatia. In a country with a population close to Ireland’s, this makes Zadar the Croatian equivalent of Waterford. But why has this small Croatian city been voted “Best European Destination” by Europe’s Best Destinations.com, and been called “Croatia’s capital of cool” by the Guardian?
Nestled on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, Zadar benefits from the same climate as the nearby Mediterranean during the summer. Gloriously sunny days with temperatures of 25 degrees and above, with average humidity around 72 per cent.
The most attractive area and cultural centre of Zadar is its Old Town. The Old Town is home to the city’s most famous attraction – the Sea Organ. Underwater pipes concealed by marble steps result in a haunting yet peaceful sound, created by the waves hitting the waterfront. Beside the Sea Organ there is the Greeting of the Sun- a light show created by transposing the sound of the Sea Organ into a model of the solar system, which begins as darkness descends
The promenade of the Old Town is also the best place to see the famous sunset. Called “the most beautiful sunset in the world” by legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, it is breath-taking in every sense of the word. It’s hard to put into words what a spectacle this is, it really is a sky like nothing else on earth. Watching the sunset, coupled with the haunting sounds of the Sea Organ, is an experience you will never forget.
Krka National Park is one of the seven parks in Croatia, and is just one hour outside of the city. There are numerous tour operators in the city, which will organise transport from your hotel, entry to the park, a boat trip in the park and your food for the day.
Krka is famed for its waterfalls. Your guide will take you along trails above crystal clear pools full of fish, with dense vegetation all around, to the soundtrack of water flowing over rock, and very vocal frogs.
The highlight comes at the end of the trails. Unlike the similar Plitvice national park, Krka has a designated swimming area, which comes is very welcome after walking around in 30 degree heat.
Boat trips to Kornati National Park are another draw to Zadar. Kornati is hundreds of small, barren, strangely pretty islands, almost entirely devoid of civilisation. This is worth the expense to visit the Zadar region’s only sandy beach, Lojena.
All in all, it really is amazing that Zadar is not more popular. Beautiful scenery, great weather, great food, all reasonably priced. If you go at the end of May you’ll beat the crowds and still get the full experience. This small Croatian city is the place to go.
Image Credit: Joseph O’Gorman