Croatia

The beautiful Zadar region in Croatia (Nin, Pag)

26 October 2018
Zadar region

Zadar is a beautiful city located on the Adriatic Sea in beautiful Croatia. Croatia is an interesting holiday country that has been growing rapidly in recent years. The versatility of nature reserves, idyllic beaches and beautiful historic cities makes Croatia a top destination. We have spent 5 days exploring the city and region around Zadar and would like to list our favorite spots.

 

Ready to discover the Zadar region?

Zadar, the most beautiful place for sunset

Zadar is a historic city on the Adriatic Sea that has been fought for in the past by the Romans, Venetians, Italians, French, … The city was very popular because of its strategic location for maritime trade and is still considered to be the historic center of Dalmatia. Zadar is a Croatian city that is gaining popularity, but is not as busy compared to popular cities like Split, Zagreb or Dubrovnik. People here do not dependent on tourism. The city has a lot of charm with its red roofs, experimental architecture, historic churches and imposing Roman ruins but also the scars of the war are still visible. In the streets and in various buildings there are holes and remnants of the bombings in 1991-1993.

Riva, the romantic waterfront where the sea organ sounds

Often Zadar and sunset are mentioned in one sentence. This is because of the Zadar waterfront overlooking the sea and the islands of Ugljan and Pasman. The waterfront used to have 17 impressive buildings, but because of the war only one of them is still there. The waterfront was built in 1874 and caused a shift in social events from the various squares in the city centre to the waterfront. In 2005 Nikola Basic introduced the sea organ as a work of art in the city. The sound reflects the waves of the sea and sounds different each time, which makes it extremely special. They also call it “whistle sound of the sea”. Last but not least, the promenade of Zadar also has another work of art by Nikola Basic called ‘The Greeting to the Sun‘. This is a collection of 300 solar panels, placed in a circle of 22 meters diameter. Here they want nature to speak with light. Consequently, it is also an ecological way of energy production to illuminate a part of Zadar.

Culinary recommendations in Zadar

Those who want to try out Croatian specialities should definitely visit Pekarnika Krostula! Croatia is the country of cheese, so you can’t leave the country without tasting the authentic sheep’s cheese.

  • Gligora cheese is one of the best known shops where the highest quality cheese will be found. This shop is located near the ‘Green market place’. They even deliver worldwide!
  • 2Ribara is a very cozy restaurant in the center of Zadar. They have a very extensive menu with meat, fish and pasta dishes. The dishes are generally a bit more expensive but are very refined. The portions are also generous here. Tip: for dessert, you should definitely try the traditional Dalmatinskq rozata (caramel Cream)!
  • Caffe bar Doma was recommended by our guide for breakfast or a quick bite.
  • Mariska liquor is a typical drink of Zadar, which is usually drunk as a ‘shot’.
Zadar regio
Zadar regio
Zadar regio

Highlights of Zadar

  • Church of St. Donat
  • the remains of the Roman Forum
  • 38 churches, 7 of which are active. I challenge you to look for the different hidden churches
  • Peoples square with the city hall (here is a replica of the first electricity pole that provided public electricity)
  • Anastasia Cathedral
  • Archaeological museum Zadar with a prehistoric, Roman antiquities and medieval exhibition
  • Zadar wine tasting
  • antique glass museum of Zadar

 Those who would like to do an excursion with a small group in a personal setting, please contact Art&Nature Travel. We did with them a ‘Citywalk by night’ through Zadar which was very interesting. The guide can tell a very interesting story and has a very extensive knowledge of history.

Zadar regio

The eternal benefactor of Zadar

Zadar regio

Zadar when the evening falls

Practical information

 Parking: metered parking in the center of Zadar from Monday – Friday: 8.00h – 16.00h and Saturday from 8.00h – 14.00h (1 sat = 6 kn).  The Jazine parking  is always free.  Did you know:

  • Zadar is the first city in Croatia that has a university
  • Education in Croatia is free
  • All boats in the harbor are from locals. They are the only ones allowed to have a boat in the marina

 

Nin, a small archeological and romantic pearl 

Nin, this time we don’t mean the town in France, but a small island in the Zadar region. Nin might be small but with his small size the city won ‘Best romantic destination of Europa‘. A prize that the inhabitants of Nin are very proud of!

regio Zadar, Nin

The city of Nine is completely surrounded by water

What are the highlights of Nin?

Only 15 km from the city of Zadar is the oldest Croatian royal city of Nin located. There are 2 things that have put Nin on the map: the salt with its medicinal mud baths and the many archaeological finds.

  • The 3,000 year old historic centre is a pretty place to stroll through
  • The church of the Holy Cross from the 9th century is called the smallest cathedral in the world and was used as a sundial and calendar
  • Church of St. Nicholas from the 11-12th century
  • The original ship Condura Croatica
  • Monument of Prince Branimir
  • The museum of salt
  • Long sandy beaches (about 8 km)
  • Water sports, cycling, …
Zadar regio
zadar region in
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regio Zadar

The historical centre of Nin

Medicinal Mud bad

One of the highlights of Nin are the ‘medical mud baths’. These have been used for more than 60 years for the treatment of various conditions.

The story of the salt

The salt plains of Nin are the oldest in the Mediterranean region. The production of salt is a thousand year old tradition that is still maintained until now.  Through the influence of the sun and the sea, the natural production of salt takes place. The salt plains are also an important area for special bird species. Here live more then 204 species of which the ‘black-winged stilt’ is the most famous. Those who want to learn more about the wonderful world of salt should visit the salt museum. P.S.: Try the chocolate with salt in the shop at the salt museum certainly !

zadar regio

The salt plains in Nin, Croatia

   

The island of Pag, lord and master of cheese

Pag, it is a short but powerful name for an island that has put its stamp on the map. When you drive from Zadar to Pag, the landscape changes from a fairly green environment to a totally different landscape. It even seems as if you are driving on a kind of ‘moon landscape‘. Very impressive to see!

regio zadar

The central square of Pag, Croatia

Paški Sir, to leak thumbs and fingers

It is not the special landscape, that consists of 85% rocks for which Pag is famous, but it is their cheese. This Paški Sir is made from sheep’s milk and has an excellent taste due to the special diet of the sheep. These sheep only eat the wild herbs and salt-loving grasses that grow in the rocky landscape. Personally I’m not a cheese lover, but even I liked the Pag cheese.

I would advise to go to a nice restaurant, for example ‘Na Katine‘. Here they will spoil you with all kinds of local products.

Zadar regio
Zadar regio

Pag Botanical Gardens, up to 1600 years back

Lun is famous for its olive trees. There are more than 80 000 olive trees and the oldest is about 1600 years old. Spread over an area of 24 ha, it is perfect for cycling or hiking and enjoy the beautiful views.

Pag during the summer months

With 270 km of beaches we can assume that Pag is a great place to spend a few days on the beach. There are both pebble as sandy beaches and huge beautiful bays where you have more than 40 meters visibility (remember that you are still in Europe)! It is therefore beautiful for swimming and/or snorkeling. The temperatures of the water of the bay are in summer about 29 degrees. Those who have had enough of all the quite places should visit Zrce in Novalja where you can go for a good party.

A recommendation of our guide is to discover the various hidden beautiful bays with a boat. In the city of Pag you can easily rent a boat, without having an official license.

Be aware of the famous ‘Bura’

No, this is not some dangerous beast . It is the strongest wind in the eastern part of the Adriatic Sea. It can suddenly rise with great force and comes from all directions and contains salt water and air. When the Bura rises, you will be thirsty within 30 seconds because of the high concentrations salt in it. Conclusion: Pag is an island definitely worth a stop-over of 2-3 days. Perfect for a quiet beach holiday or adventurous holiday where you can discover the island by bike. The perfect months to go cycling is June and September, just before and after the high season. Water sports enthusiasts and windsurfers will be able to let off steam with the famous ‘Bura’.

The tiny but cute harbor of  Pag

 Who wants to see more nature, read here more about beautiful spots in the Zadar region!

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