City breaks trip
Situated at the crossroads of maritime and mainland routes, Zadar County offers 3,000 years of culture, secluded islands and a crystal-clear sea, wild mountains and turquoise rivers. The romantic seaside city of Zadar is more than a starting point for Croatia's dazzling islands - it has numerous hidden wonders all of its own. So put the world on hold, the uniquely beautiful city and the nearby archipelago will make you long to stay.
Zadar archipelago includes 17 inhabited and numerous uninhabited islands, islets and cliffs, each of them unique. The islands are covered with pine forests, Mediterranean bushes and olive groves. Their secluded bays and hidden coves have provided shelter for sailors over many centuries. Old lighthouses, chapels, stone houses and small, narrow island`s streets have all been witnesses of the harsh life of the locals. Enjoy the majestic city of Zadar, see the Greeting to the Sun and Sea Organ installation, and listen to the unique melody played by waves. By putting on your VR glasses you will be able to see what the old town looked like in the 13th century. You will discover where the main entrance gates were during the Roman period and the Middle ages, and learn more about defensive city walls protected by UNESCO. Enjoy visualizing an old walled town poked into a deep clean sea surrounding it.
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Activities are taking place in Zadar and its surroundings
The Zadar archipelago is one of the nautical paradises of Croatia
Galešnjak, also called the Island of Love, is located between the island of Pašman and the mainland near Zadar
The most famous Croatian cheese is produced exclusively using the milk of the indigenous sheep of Pag
The symbol of human interaction with nature, installation's name literally translates to Greeting to the Sun
The Zadar Forum, a vast sun-soaked square, is the most beautiful location for observing the city life.
The locals say hello to their acquaintances, the visitors admire the majestic buildings and all of them are sitting in the sun, happy that they've seized their day and decided to have a break. Immerse yourself in the lifestyle of this city and do the same.
History of Zadar
Zadar, for the past 2,000 years, has always been one of the most prominent cities on the east Adriatic coast. It had one of the safest ports on the main European maritime route towards the eastern Mediterranean, which passed between the Croatian islands, since the flat Italian coast offered little protection. Also, Zadar itself was one of the safest cities of the Adriatic, situated on a peninsula, surrounded by walls and protected by a moat on the mainland. It was the perfect location for a trading oasis.
Zadar's historic strength is visible at every corner. The Zadar Forum, the central square of an ancient Roman city, is the largest on the east Adriatic coast. The Church of St. Donatus, a representative bishop's chapel dating back to the 8th century, is one of the few circular medieval churches in Europe with a concentric layout, while the cathedral and numerous other churches with their treasures of art showcase the wealth of the city. As you walk through the ancient streets, look up and you'll be in awe of the opulent Gothic- and Renaissance-style windows.
Zadar is famous for the fascinating sunsets that enchanted even the legendary Hitchcock. In 1964, he stayed at the hotel Zagreb and enjoyed the dusk. He said that the sunset in Zadar is the most beautiful in the world. The unforgettable sunsets in Zadar are still catching the eye not only of many visitors but also of its inhabitants, who get the opportunity to enjoy the day-to-day exchange of colours.
Gastronomy of Zadar
The diversity of Zadar gastronomy can be seen also in the rich offer of food at the Zadar market and at the nearby fish market, where every day fresh food from both the land and from the sea is being delivered. The connoisseurs of the local cuisine selected three main ingredients as an instant gastronomic image of Zadar: bluefish, lamb and scampi.
And for dessert, we suggest the Zadar cake, made according to the recipe more than two centuries old, as well as fritule (miniature doughnuts, Croatian fritters), kroštule (a traditional Dalmatian pastry), and sugared almonds. Coffee is another Dalmatia essential: first thing, mid-morning, after lunch, mid-afternoon, dusk, at midnight, it's always coffee time here.
Restaurants to visit
We recommend some well-known Zadar restaurants, to name a few:
Trendy food concepts meet time-honoured Dalmatian cuisine in a restaurant that gourmets rank in Croatia's top 20. Fresh fish and seafood is the first choice and the wine list is brilliant, but you will also get to enjoy a gorgeous setting against the old walls. Choose a terrace table beside the tiny harbour for a magical meal.
Expect the likes of monkfish with truffles and homemade gnocchi or filet mignon with herb pesto alongside simple char-grilled squid in a classy waterside restaurant where slow food rules. The locals' choice for a smart dinner.
One of those simple „little places“ that's been going for generations, its dining room decorated with fishing nets and old photos of Zadar. The menu is just as traditional - grilled sardines, fresh fish cooked with nothing more than olive oil and lemon - all served in generous portions.
If you did not come by car but flew to Zadar airport, we can arrange a transfer to the hotel for you (on request). Upon arrival check-in at the family-owned heritage hotel situated in a renovated 19th-century building in the heart of the ancient part of Zadar.
Looking for a thrill? To get acquainted with this marvellous region you could take (on request, surcharge) a private panoramic flight above the islands of Zadar archipelago with numerous islands and islets of Kornati National Park and see the highest cliffs in the Adriatic in Telašćica Nature Park. The panoramic flight will take you over the world-famous Galešnjak – the Island of Love - as it is the best way to capture its unique heart shape. Feel the excitement as you soar and freedom of flying through the celestial blue, and create memorable photos that you get to take home as a souvenir. The start of the tour depends on the weather forecast and flight conditions.
Staring from 10:00 a.m. and after a short briefing, you will take a walk to the 8 most attractive locations within the old town where you will stop to take a look through the VR glasses. Enjoy comparing the locations nowadays to their looks in various historical episodes. One of the stops will be the Roman Forum, the biggest forum built in Croatia, today one of the most visited ruins in the country. It will come alive thanks to virtual reality technology.
Stop at the Greeting to the Sun and Sea organ installation where you will listen to a unique melody played by the waves while using your VR glasses to witness what that part of the city looked like in the 13th century at the same time.
After the tour, taste the plum brandy and the Maraschino liquor made from a special kind of cherry that grows specifically in this area. Many historical figures as Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin enjoyed its unique aroma.
In the late afternoon, you will depart from Zadar and head towards the Rural Estate Roca and the House of Dalmatian Prosciutto. The family Roca are real Dalmatians - they love to eat, drink and have a siesta in the shade of the tavern. Their estate is designed to present to the visitors the spirit of the Dalmatian hinterland's autochthonous family, and how their ancestors had lived.
Tour the vineyards and wine cellars where your guide will introduce you to the types of wines that are being produced here. The House of Dalmatian Prosciutto has a curing shed where prosciutto and other cured meats are processed using traditional Dalmatian methods, a small ethnographic museum, a shop with their products, a vineyard where select wine grape varieties are grown and an olive grove.
After the tour, you’ll get the chance to experience the hinterland through wine tasting and delicious dinner with authentic Croatian dishes prepared by your hosts and listen to the sounds of the local music. First, you will start with cheese and Dalmatian ham – prosciutto, then veal and lamb with potatoes made the traditional way (also known as „peka“), seasonal salad, and for dessert – pancakes.
Return to Zadar in the evening hours.
In the morning you will join the excursion to the Island of Pag, known as a must-see gourmet destination on the map of Europe. Despite its rocky slopes and lack of fertile soil, hard-working islanders made this island one of the must-visit places in Croatia. World-class cheese, lamb, wines and salt can be found there.
The tradition of producing food organically has existed on the island for many years. The lamb from Pag has a unique taste due to the aromatic herbs that the autochthonous Pag sheep are fed with. A high quality hard cheese called „paški sir“ is produced from the milk of these sheep, and is famous in the entire world for its unique rich flavour.
The tour starts with a lovely ride towards the island of Pag. You will take a short break on the Pag bridge where there is an incredible view of the island and its surroundings. During your drive, the guide will give you some information about the rich history and the cultural heritage of Pag island.
Upon arrival at the Olive Gardens, there will be a sightseeing tour. Among numerous olive trees there, the most famous ones are 1500 years old and of the Olea Oleaster sort. Those olive trees are the oldest in the Mediterranean. You will get a chance to taste top quality monosort olive oil made of Mediterranean oldest olive trees` fruits.
After the visit to the Olive Gardens, you will be heading towards Gligora Cheese Factory. There you will be welcomed by the friendly hosts who will take you on a tour around the factory and introduce you to the production and process of cheese maturation. The best part of this tour is the cheese sampling. You will be offered various types of hard cheeses of unique flavour, texture and aroma, coupled with fresh bread, olives and wine.
Departure from Zadar in the morning hours. Sailing in a small group towards the southern part of Dugi Otok Island where the sea embraces Telašćica. The bay of Telašćica is located on the southeastern part of the Dugi Otok island. Telašćica is the largest and best-protected natural harbour on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. The very name Telašćica probably comes from the Latin expression “tre lagus”, which translates to “three lakes”. There are five islets in the bay of which the most extraordinary one is the islet of Taljurić. During bad weather, the entire rock is covered in seafoam, which is the reason for the lack of vegetation.
Use the sailing time to relax while sunbathing or simply soak in the stunning Dalmatian landscapes.
Upon arrival at the Nature Park, you will have some free time for swimming and snorkelling. Take a walk around the Park and don't be afraid of donkeys. They are tamed and they like people, especially if you give them a treat. A short sightseeing tour of the unique and natural salt lake Mir. The water in the lake is salty due to the underground canals connecting it with the sea.
Afterwards, the boat departs towards Zadar and stops for a short swim break in a secluded bay.
After breakfast, time for packing and check-out. If you have some time left, as a finishing touch taste the delicious coffee and pastries prepared exclusively with seasonal and organic ingredients at a cosy Art Café, just a few metres away from the historic centre of Zadar.
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