Croatia, you stunner you. Zadar’s gorgeousness I can attest to personally, but, I’ve been told that the rest of the country is just as beautiful. Ger and I journeyed to Zadar over the June Bank Holiday and fell in love. We definitely intend to go back and would recommend it to anyone!
We flew into Zadar late Friday night, cleared customs in under five minutes, and easily found our prebooked taxi as the airport is quite tiny. Then, we made our way into town and checked into our charming little Airbnb located in Old Town (the perfect base to explore Zadar). The bed was so comfortable and the air smelled like lavender as the entirety of Old Town does this time of year. We slept like babies. The next morning we woke up and went for and early lunch down the street at Art Hotel Kalelarga (yep, we totally slept in).
(Pictured: Charming Old Town square and outdoor terrace of Art Hotel Kalegara).
The only plan for the day (after finding food) was going to the beach to soak up the sun and swim in the sea. Finding a place to lounge with some beers and snacks later in the day was also on the agenda, i.e., relaxing 101. And, that’s exactly what we did. (Pictured: Fosa Harbour in Zadar.)(Pictured: Kolovare Beach. We didn’t spend the day here, but we walked up to check it out before back-trekking to a more quiet area up the path.)We spent the majority of the day climbing (literally) in and out of the sea, swimming, and sunning ourselves. The views weren’t so bad either. After many hours passed, we headed to Kapielisko w Zadar where we parked ourselves for some drinks (Croatian lemon beer is amazing, you’ve got to try it). Pictured below, this locale has a public sea-filled swimming pool, diving platforms, and a bar; it’s quite convenient. And, the views do not disappoint.After our drinks we made our way back towards town. Along the way we stopped to admire the many beautiful public seaside beaches and parks. The color and clarity of the seawater is something we couldn’t get over. (Pictured: Ancient Roman gate marking the entry to Old Town Zadar.)
After we freshened up, we walked to the Morkse Orgulje (sea organ) to watch sunset which was rumored to be fantastic in Zadar. Along the way, we admired the Church of St. Donatus (from the 9th century) and its beautiful Bell Tower (which you can go up in, we just didn’t make it there this time). We also oggled at the square around the church that has outdoor seating running adjacent to Roman ruins, it’s really unique.(Pictured: The Church of St. Donatus, Bell Tower, and Roman ruins – all in one.) (Pictured: Promenade along the sea, so romantic!)(Pictured: Old Town Marina.)
Now, back to sunset. With our drinks in hand at a tiny seaside cafe called Brazil, we watched the world pass us by and the sun go down. It was stunning.(Pictured: Seaside views from Brazil.)(Pictured above and below: Brazil – A beautiful outdoor cafe in Old Town Zadar).(Pictured: Sunset in Old Town. Wow.)(Pictured: Another public square close to St. Donatus Church.)
After sunset, we found ourselves at Restaurant Groppo. This restaurant came highly recommended by our Airbnb host. The food was incredible, the local wine delectable, and the ambiance, unbeatable. Please do make your way there if you are ever in Zadar. Ger and I will be returning on our next trip, we’ll be locals soon enough. 😉 To start our meal, we ordered local olives, Bruschetta alla Groppo (yellow tomatoes, sheep cream cheese, and prosciutto) and a bottle of local white wine. For the main, Ger ordered the Dalmatian Lamb and I ordered the Gourmet John Dory (John Dory fillet, truffles, and homemade gnocchi). My mouth still waters when I think about it. For dessert, we made our way to a local ice cream shop, Donat, which had a queue out the front door (that’s how you know it’s good). Let me tell you, between Restaurant Groppo and Donat, we had a top food night. As we were meandering through town with our ice cream, we were surprised by a group of locals performing native songs and dances in the square. The pride that the Croatian people have for their culture is palpable and is quite enjoyable to behold. Hopefully the video below does it a bit of justice.
After the dance and song finished, we headed to an amazing outdoor bar & club in a park adjacent to Five Wells Square. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it, but, you can hear the music pumping from a mile away so you’ll know it if you are ever on that side of town. Ger and I had a blast chatting the night away, singing, and dancing. It was a great way to finish a perfectly relaxing day.
We began our second day in Croatia with a leisurely walk to Old Town Marina. As a side note, I have to say that seeing The Church of St. Donatus again on our walk through town was quite fabulous. We met a small group of people at the marina who were joining us on a day tour of Kornati National Park . Our morning on the boat was brilliant. We were treated to a local Croatian spirit (Maraschino) when we boarded and were handed a ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast. Above deck, the sun was out, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, the wind was warm, and the Adriatic Sea was calm and clear all morning long. We even saw dolphins along the way. Pictured below are a few of our favorite parts of the boat journey to and around Kornati National Park. (Pictured: Beautiful islands dotted throughout the Adriatic Sea.)(Pictured: A small seaside town spotted along the journey.)(Pictured: Adriatic Sea Cliffs. Beautiful.)
Once we arrived at Telašćica Nature Park locates in the grounds of Kornati National Park we were treated to a local lunch of fish, meat, potatoes, and cabbage along with a glass of local red wine. After lunch, we walked to the famous Salt Lake for a swim. Let me tell ya, Salt Late was very warm and very salty; instant floating occurs. It was also full of sharp jagged rocks that did some damage to Ger and my feet! We only stayed in the lake for bit and decided that the sea was much more welcoming. So, we spent the rest of the afternoon swimming around in it. We genuinely couldn’t get enough. (Pictured: Seaside restaurants in Kornati National Park.)(Pictured: Our local lunch of fish, potatoes, meat, and cabbage along with some local red wine.)(Pictured: A Croatian fisherman’s home.)(Pictured: Lake Mir i.e., salt lake.)(Pictured: Jagged rocks in Lake Mir. If you ever make it there, wear water shoes/sandals. They are worth the investment.)(Pictured: More views of Lake Mir and warning signs in Croatian. Who knows what we missed there, lol.)As you can see, Ger and I really enjoyed our time at Kornati National Park. It was beautiful. Please do get there if you have the chance! After our afternoon in the sun, the Captain took our small group to a local fishing village, Kukuljica. It was very charming. Ger and I spent our free time there swimming in the clear blue sea (per the usual at this point). (Pictured: The charming fishing village of Kukuljica.)(Pictured: Our shadows and fish nets. Artsssy. Lol.)(Pictured: Stairway to heaven?)(Pictured: Kukuljica island views.)After our quick respite in Kukuljica, the boat started on its route way back to Zadar and we made our way to the boat bar. #whenonvacation. Once we landed, we walked back to the apartment to freshen up and headed to dinner. We found a little place around the corner from us with a fabulous outdoor patio and settled in. A nice salad and pizza were just the ticket from Restaurante Pizzeria Skala. We made a new four-legged friend too. 😉After dinner, we waked to the promenade to watch the last of sunset. The colors were glorious. We sat by the Sea Organ and listened to the haunting (yet weirdly calming) music produced by the sea for some time. We also stopped by Greeting to the Sun (i.e., the solar-powered public dance floor) and busted some quick moves before heading back into town for a couple of post-dinner drinks. It was another perfect end to a fabulously relaxing day.(Pictured: Op air market in Zadar.)(Pictured: Greeting to the Sun, or the solar-powered dance floor.)
On our last day in Croatia, we headed for breakfast at a local bakery we’d passed a couple of times on walks in and out of town. We ordered a local Croatian breakfast of soparnik (a savory roll filled with swiss chard and feta cheese). Then we headed back to Kapielisko w Zadar to partake in some platform diving and seaside swimming. We did take a different route through Old Town so we could see more of the ancient ruins that seem to fill the place.(Pictured: Local bakery goodness.)(Pictured: Five Wells Square.)(Pictured: I thought this stone was beautiful in a way.)(Pictured: Ger on the second platform waiting to dive in.)
After Ger and I’s successful attempts to platform dive (me from the first platform and him from the second) and a last-minute sunning session, we headed back to town to grab our bags and catch our taxi to the airport. Along the way, we purchased a local piece of art that I had been eyeing all weekend. It sums up our sentiments about the trip perfectly and is pictured below. We did get a surprise as we were leaving the apartment: our four-legged friend from the night before showed up on our hallway stairs to bid us farewell. Such a cutie.(Pictured: Our Zadar art framed at home in Dublin. ‘Just a perfect day’ sums up our trip perfectly. ❤️)
As we waited for our flight at Zadar airport, we sipped on tasty lemon beer at the outdoor terrace adjacent to the tarmac (the perks of tiny European airports) and reflected on how fabulous a trip we’d had. Ger and I promised each other that we would return to Zadar every year that we are living in Europe. It’s that special of a place. The people are kind and helpful. The town is clean and full of culture and history. The surrounding nature is beyond stunning. The food and beer are excellent and well-priced. I could go on and on! We want to savour the unspoiled nature of Zadar as much as possible and are counting the months until we go back. We already have plans for our next day trip adventure too: Plitvice National Park, here we come. Until next time, vidimo se uskoro!