Rich in history, both areas of Zadar and Biograd have plenty to explore and experience.
Pag Island has charisma, charm and is host to some of Croatia's music festivals.
These Islands have an abundance of unspoilt nature, providing some great places to discover off the beaten track.
More than 2000 years ago Zadar was a Roman territory, and you can still see ruins of the Roman forum including ornate columns and stairs. Many of the stones from the forum were used to build Zadar’s 9th century church - St Donata. For a lovely 360° view of the city, climb the bell tower of 12th century cathedral, St Anastasia, the largest of its kind in Dalmatia. There are many other interesting churches dating from the 4th, 11th, 16th, 18th and 19th centuries. Biograd was the home of Croatian kings in the 11th century, but it and Zadar were both taken over by Venetians in the 15th century. On Zadar’s peninsula you can still see Venetian defensive walls and gates, which survived the bombings of the 20th century. Stroll down Kalelarga - a street said to be older than the city itself - and imagine all the different people who have been there before you. It has been through a lot - its buildings were rebuilt after almost all of them were destroyed in World War II.
Throughout summer, Zadar hosts countless exciting festivals. Visit at the beginning of July to catch The Garden Festival, a week-long beachside music festival held on a secluded peninsula just north of Zadar. In August there is performing arts festival Zadar Snova (Zadar Dreams) as well as the Full Moon festival held on the Zadar waterfront. Biograd also hosts summer festivals and music concerts, often with dancing, traditional food and fireworks. Art is important in Zadar, and a must-see are the art installations at the end of Zadar peninsula. Sit on the white stone steps, and listen to the music of the waves. The waves literally play music through the Sea Organ - seawater pushes air through pipes under the promenade to play chords which change depending on how rough it is. Alongside is the Sun Salutation, a circular platform of lights powered by the sun which turn on at sunset. Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock apparently proclaimed Zadar’s sunset to be the most beautiful in the world. There are also plenty of museums in Zadar with both historical and art exhibitions.
Take a ferry or charter a yacht to go around the nearby islands or to Kornati National Park. Zadar itself has some nice beaches, but venture to the islands to find the best secluded, romantic beaches. The towns surrounding Zadar also have great beaches - Petrcane, Biograd and Nin. Biograd also has the superb freshwater Lake Vrana, the largest lake in Croatia, where you can swim, go fishing or boating and see varied wildlife. Go inland to find national parks Plitvice Lakes or Paklenica. Plitvice is the most beautiful, famous and expansive of Croatia’s national parks. It is full of turquoise lakes, white water rivers, stunning waterfalls, caves, mountains and forest. You can go cycling or hiking and might even see some wild birds, deer, wolves or bears. Paklenica is great for rock climbing, hiking and swimming. Also near Zadar is Zrmanja River, where you can go canyoning and whitewater rafting. Take a walk along Zadar’s Western Quay, a tree-lined promenade where you can watch the sunset. Take a rowboat from the old town peninsula back to the mainland, rowed by the traditional Barkajoli people and experience way of travel dating back to the 14th century. Zadar has a humming nightlife scene, with seaside bars and clubs, and cute inner-city bars which are popular with bar-hoppers in summer. One of the most famous night spots is The Garden. It’s a lounge bar in a former hotel building, with a huge terrace overlooking the sea and coastline.
There are an abundance of seafood restaurants in Zadar, serving freshly caught fish and other delicacies. The food is made with lots of locally-grown herbs such as sweet basil, rosemary, fennel, sage, laurel and capers. The city has a great cafe and bar scene, and you can easily find a nice spot with a view for a coffee or glass of Croatian wine. Be sure to try some Zadar Maraschino liqueur, a strong and sweet drink made from locally grown cherries. For a traditional experience, head to the markets in Zadar’s old town. In both summer and winter you can find an abundance of fresh produce including Turkish borek (a cheesy pastry), cheese, fruit and vegetables. Biograd also has a good range of places to eat, although on a smaller scale.
Zadar itself has some nice beaches, especially Zaton beach, a sandy and pebbly beach in a lagoon, great for families with children. Also check out Blue Flag certified Borik beach. Venture to the islands to find the best secluded, romantic beaches. The towns surrounding Zadar also have great beaches - Petrcane, Biograd and Nin. Check out Pinija beach and Punta Skala in Petrcane and Ninska laguna beach in Nin. In Biograd, Drazica beach is the most popular beach with a pebbly shore and lots of water sports facilities.
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