Croatia Countdown: Top Ten Destinations Part Two

Part Two

SUMMARY: An underrated port city on the Dalmatian coast. It is an eclectic mix of modern and ancient architecture and is in an ideal location with both national parks and party islands nearby. Don’t miss the city gate, Zadar Cathedral and the Church of St Donatus.
TOP TIP: The Sea Organ, an art installation by architect Nikola Bašić, is unmissable. It is an immersive experience which generates music using the waves. Combine this with watching the sunset made famous by Hitchcock.
EAT: Bruschetta for an interesting twist on classic dishes, see below for my personal favourite, the squid ink gnocchi.
UNESCO: ✖ (It is, however, on the Tentative List and is being considered for the future.)




SUMMARY: Home to the Plitvice Lakes National Park, this area is a must visit for those wanting to explore the more scenic side of Croatia rather than just hit up the festivals and parties.
TOP TIP: Unless you’re coming here for a quick day trip, then it is definitely in your best interest to rent a car to make life a lot easier when getting around.
EAT: There really isn’t much choice here, so if you’re more of a foodie, then head to Bistro & Cafe Plum located in the Hotel Degenija.



SUMMARY: A medieval city so perfectly intact that the majority of GoT is filmed here. Walk down the Stradun (the main street in the Old Town) and then climb and explore the walls which are considered one of the greatest fortification systems of the Middle Ages.
TOP TIP: Go in spring to avoid the tourists who take over the city during the summer. Head to Lokrum, a nearby island which can be easily reached by boats which depart from the harbour. It is home to historic buildings, gardens and a small GoT museum with a replica of the iron throne.
EAT: Head to Nishta for vegetarian and vegan dishes which will impress the most faithful of carnivores.




SUMMARY: The capital city of Croatia, but not overwhelming in the way that other cities can be. Instead, it is charming, cultural and easily explored by foot in a couple of days. It is often neglected by those who prefer to go straight to the coast, but it definitely shouldn’t be skipped. Highlights include the Cathedral, St Mark’s Church and a string of quirky museums.
TOP TIP: Laugh and cry in The Museum of Broken Relationships, the first of its kind, where anyone can donate items from their past. A touching, poignant and hopeful collection.
EAT: Hip restaurant Mundoaka Street Food for an unpretentious and varied menu.



SUMMARY: My favourite place in Croatia (so far). Rovinj has a very Venetian feel with its romantic cobbled streets and pastel colours. Not too busy, more of a idyllic, sleepy seaside town.
TOP TIP: It is fairly small so aimlessly wander and explore for half a day before sipping a coffee by the harbour and watching the world go by.
EAT: Giannino Rovinj for great seafood, and desserts to die for.




48 Hours in Zadar

In the last five years, Croatia has seen a huge increase in tourism. Breathtaking scenery, affordable prices, and great weather is making it the ideal spot for many, especially during the summer. While many young people go for the big name music festivals like Outlook and Hideout, Croatia has a lot more to offer. This is especially evident in Zadar, an underrated port city on the Dalmatian coast. It is an eclectic mix of modern and ancient architecture and is in an ideal location with both national parks and party islands nearby. You can definitely cover Zadar in 48 hours although you’ll undoubtedly want to extend your trip. If you have any more time to spare here, then the hostels often run trips to the two most popular national parks, Plitvice Lakes and Krka.

Where to Stay

The Drunken Monkey Hostel. You have everything you need here: clean facilities, a lively common room, a swimming pool, wifi, and a bar with cocktails galore. Its only downside is that it’s a fifteen minute walk from the Old Town (and it’s in a residential area so you have the keep noise down after hours), but in terms of facilities it beats any of the more central hostels. 
Prices start at £12.46 for a standard mixed dorm in low season, and £19.04 for the same in high season.

Getting Around

Most of Zadar is easily explored by foot. The majority of the things to see and do are in the Old Town, and you can walk around that in about an hour.


Getting There

Direct flights using Ryanair. Cheapest to fly from London. Typically ~£90 single in high season and ~£80 single in low season. Flying time 2 hours 25 minutes. If you have more time to spare, I’d highly recommend flying into Split and taking a coach up to Zadar to get more of a taste of Croatia.

Time difference



Croatian Kuna

Day 1

Arrive early and spend your first day wandering through the cobbled streets of the old town and doing the majority of the sightseeing. Not to be missed is the city gate, Zadar Cathedral and the Church of St Donatus. The People’s Square is home to a fantastic set of roman ruins for history buffs to peruse.

The City Gate

Have lunch at The Garden which prides itself on the art of raw food. Here you’ll find delicious smoothies and snacks, and an array of impressive cocktails if you want to see the atmosphere change after dark. The bar is the ideal place to relax with lounger beds and views overlooking the sea. Zadar is home to two unique art installations, both by architect Nikola Bašić. The first, the Sea Organ, is an immersive experience which generates music using the waves. The second, The Greeting to the Sun, is a unique solar panel which absorbs the energy from the sun in the day and is brightly colored after dark. Stroll along the promenade and watch the famous sunset, which Alfred Hitchcock called the most beautiful in the world, and then watch The Greeting to the Sun light up.

When you’re finished, head to 2Ribara (The Two Fishermen) for dinner which serves fresh seafood for a fraction of the price you’d pay at home. Pre-drink either back at the hostel or in one of the many bars in town such as Q bar. Then head to Ledana, an open air nightclub which overlooks the city. It’s free entry and is open until 4am.

The Greeting to the Sun

Day 2

Have breakfast at the nearby sister hostel, The Lazy Monkey, and then go to the beach to cure your hangover. Croatia is notorious for its stoney beaches but its turquoise water makes up for it. The beach and cocktail bar Bamboo is in a fantastic location on the edge of the sea, and you can grab lunch there too. If you’re feeling adventurous, Zadar is also home to various spots to cliff jump, as well as offering a wide variety of water sports. Head to Bruschetta for dinner where they specialize in classic food with a twist (the squid ink gnocchi is my favourite) and then go to Donat for dessert, where you’ll find the best gelato in Zadar. It’s probably wise to make a reservation for Bruschetta as it tends to get very busy, especially in summer.


For your second night out, go to the nearby party island Pag for nightlife, home to Zcre Beach which is dubbed the Ibiza of Croatia and is an hour away by bus. If you’d rather stay local, check out bars such as Factory Bar and Maraschino. In a similar fashion to Rome, crowds congregate in the streets to drink during the evenings, so there is always a vibrant atmosphere in the city.


Originally featured on