Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Croatia Travel: 24 hours in Zadar

By Thursday, September 20, 2012 , , , ,

When S and I looked back on our Croatia trip to pick our favorite town/city, we both had the same place in mind- Zadar. Funny thing is, we both can't put our fingers on what exactly we love about this Romanesque Dalmatian city, precisely because there isn't much to do or see here. Then again, the best travel experiences aren't always based on physical/quantifiable items. Sometimes it's more emotional. 
Zadar was beautiful because we had it all to ourselves. Just a couple in love, wandering down the white marbled streets, building shared memories. It didn't matter where we were, as long as it's just the 2 of us. Then again, Alfred Hitchcock would say that it must have been "the world's most beautiful sunset" that drew us in.

This was the first coastal stop we took after Zagreb and the scenic Plitvice Lakes in the mountainous North. Driving was easy and smooth and it took us 2 hours to get here from the waterfalls.

Old Town is where all the sights are and a great place to base yourself. Everything from Roman ruins to restaurants and the great blue is within walking distance. You could finish viewing them on foot in an hour or so. In the center of Old Town is The Forum, where the famous Church of St Donat stands. The St. Anastasia Cathedral, Archaeological Museum, St. Mary's Church and Monastery are in the same corner as well.
My favorite is however the Sea Organ, an award winning art installation along the promenade. A strange but enchanting string of chords could be heard as you approach. They soothe or alarm, depending on the mood of the ocean and the temperament of the winds.
Hang around the Organ to catch the said sunset. When it turns dark, the Greeting to the Sun art piece (by the same artist) transforms the harbor into a disco ball with its multicolored photovoltaic cells. 
We stayed at Accomodation Gina, a lovely apartment above a caffe bar. It is situated at Varos, and also considered 'downtown' of Old Town. It's quite funny because it's just a stone's throw away! As it was off peak season, the caffe wasn't opened when we arrived and we had a hard time identifying the place. However, with the help of a kind hearted passerby (Croatians are really friendly and helpful), we managed to get to our very cosy room.

There are 4 rooms available in total and ours was the double one with an en suite bathroom. For 70 Euros a night, it was a steal for the beautiful space we had. The Jacuzzi shower was a plus too. Some rooms come with a bathtub. Wifi and air-conditioning included. 

Another place that you may want to consider would be Apartments Donat, which has a slightly more central location. But really, if you are already in the Old Town, everything is within a 5-10mins stroll. Use this opportunity to explore the churches/monasteries along the way.

Dining options are easily found but it would be a challenge if you don't have a reservation. The famous ones include The Kornat, Niko and Fosa but there are plenty of traditional Konobas and pizzerias that serve hearty and affordable meals. For other dining options, check out Tripadvisor or the Croatian travel sites.

We had dinner at Seafood Restaurant Fosa which is just outside the city walls. The harbor facing outdoor terrace is a perfect spot for dining but the interior is also very chic. Fish lovers would be pleased with the wide variety of fresh seafood available. Set menus are between 115-185kunas (approx S$25-30) for a 3-4 course meal. This is cheap for fine dining in fact. Can i say that truffles are terribly overpriced in Singapore? Here you can get 6g of Black Istrian truffles for S$10. Sliced black truffles. NOT truffle oil.

After dinner, remember to get the most famous slado (ice cream) at Slastičarna Donat. You have to save space for this one i swear. One of the best we've had.
The next morning, we woke up a little earlier to explore the rest of Old Town and the city walls. To our delight, we noticed that the caffe bar downstairs was packed with locals. Coolios. If you notice the orange coloured walls in the above right picture, Accommodation Gina is just on the left of that corner.

The Varos area is as shown above and you can just hang out anywhere in the neighborhood. Kult Caffe, a popular cafe bar with the younger generation, is just around the corner from our place and they serve really good coffee. I think in general the coffee in Croatia is better than what we get in Singapore. That kinda explains why their cafes are packed at all times of the day!
Just across from Kult is another popular pizza and pasta place. It's hard getting a table here especially at night when this street really comes to life. It's nice to know i'm in the heart of the action but not affected by the noise when i need to snooze.
The local markets in Croatia cannot be missed because they are full of fresh organic produce. Some of them are even home grown in little gardens. They are a photographer's dream with the vibrant splashes of colours and textures. As usual, we went away with bags of cherries and other fruits.

Just beyond the city walls lies a famous tradition that you can't miss and that's the boat ride that connects the shores of the city port. The boatmen of Zadar, called barkarioli, have been rowing their wooden barges and ferrying loyal customers for over 800 years and more recently clubbers visiting The Garden in Old Town. This tradition has been carried from father to son for centuries and they can be identified by their well worn, sea battered blue and whites.

Zadar is also famous for their Maraschino, a bittersweet, clear liqueur flavored with Marasca cherries. I'm not sure if you can visit the factory that produces it but you should be able to get a bottle from the souvenir shop. I don't think it's widely available at the caffe bars, perhaps they're not really popular with the locals . I'm not a fan so i didn't look out for it. 
However, if you are looking for a drink, a good place to check out would be The Garden.
This is an open air bar owned by a British music producer. In the day, it's a great place to chill out on the day beds and watch the ferries go by. It's easy to forget about leaving when one is a little high on Moscato.

At night, it transforms into a chic club with groovy beats. I guess this is one of the better places in Zadar for partying. If you prefer a slightly more laid back and casual scene, head to The Arsenal, an ex-military warehouse that now houses a café, bar, restaurant, art galleries and shops.

This concludes our 24 hour rendezvous in Zadar. Barely scratched the surface on this one but i think it's sufficient for a short day trip. Now, it's time for you to get yourself there. 

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  1. Your blog about Croatia Travel is really nice and this picture looks awesome . Thanks for sharing your experiences. I like croatian culture, food ,etc . I have visited last summer in Croatia and i have enjoyed very much.

    1. Thanks! Summer in Croatia is really awesome. I'm glad i went slightly before the peak. More on Croatia later. :)