It's that time of year when the travel bug begins to itch.
This year I'm pinning Croatia as the number one hotspot for Irish tourists. A few weeks back I compiled a list of the best places to visit in this stunning country, but where is the best?
For me the answer is very simple.
When you think of Croatia, places like Dubrovnik, Hvar and Split are the usual destinations that you hear of people visiting. My favourite place of all however, seems to slip under the radar.
Zadar is by far my favourite spot in all of Croatia.
It's a coastal city that is located pretty much in the middle of the country, between Pula and Dubrovnik. It's so different from anywhere else I visited in the country and it's bursting with history, culture and its own quirkiness.
Zadar is covered in Roman and Venetian ruins; walking around it feels like you're in an outdoor museum with many of the iconic monuments, walls and cathedrals looking untouched by time.
There are several gates leading into the city and some of the architecture dates back as far as the 8th century.
During my trip, we stayed in the Old Town which was so stunning that we never wanted to leave it.
During the summer months, most tourists and locals head south to catch the rays so Zadar can actually be pretty quiet, which is fab. It's also a good bit cheaper than the likes of Dubrovnik and Hvar.
Here's a two day itinerary so that you don't miss out on the best this incredible destination has to offer:
Where To Stay:
Boutique Hostel Forum
I visited Zadar during an interrail trip. My friends and I were doing it all on the cheap, as you can imagine. When we got to the Boutique Hostel in Zadar I wanted to cry with happiness because it was so fab.
The hostel has a nautical vibe to it - it's really funky (and clean) inside. It's a deadly spot that's located right in the heart of the Old Town square so it's only a few minutes walk from all of the shops, bars, restaurants and harbour.
The rooms look out directly to the square and while we were there, there was a fireworks display over the city that we could watch from our beds - it was one of the best memories I have from that trip.
Breakfast is included and they leave it in a little brown paper bag by your bed in the morning - such a nice touch.
Best of all, it's actually really affordable!
It's probably the coolest hostel I've stayed in in all of Europe to be honest.
What To Do:
Climb The Cathedral
The main cathedral is located in the old square right beside the Boutique Hostel.
It's a great place to start on your first day because it will give you a great feel for the history of the city and there's also an incredible view from the top.
Be sure to bring good shoes with you as there's quite a lot of steps that are not built for scrappy sandals.
What To See:
The sea organ is one of the most incredible things I've ever seen... and heard.
The architectural art installation was created by crafting steps into the promenade and placing pipes underwater inside them that create music when they are filled with water.
This creates the iconic harmonica sound that you will hear as you walk along the harbour.
It's one of the most relaxing sounds ever; you could literally spend the entire day here just listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the steps.
Monument To The Sun
Beside this incredible sea organ is the Monument To The Sun that was created by artist Nikola Basic.
This huge space-like solar panel soaks up the sun during the day and then creates interactive galaxy light displays at night.
I vlogged the entire trip which includes everything listed in this article.
Head to 3:46 to see it in action:
Where To Eat:
This cute Italian-inspired restaurant serves up some seriously delish dishes with very interesting flavours.
While I was there I had a squid ink gnocchi with shrimp and tomatoes - I'm still dreaming of it now.
The restaurant is located close to the harbour so you can sit back and tuck into your meal while watching the sunset.
Where To Drink:
Lie on a bed looking out to sea while sipping on some tasty cocktails - sounds like the dream, right?
Top that off with some healthy tapas dishes and it's clear to see why The Garden is a popular spot among tourists and locals alike.
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Друзья, я просто обязана рассказать вам про лаунж гарден, это типо клуб в городе Задар. Обязательно запланируйте его, если будите в Хорватии. И днем и вечером там слишком хорошо, чтобы быть правдой! Музыка😌 коктейли - выше всяких похвал! Атмосфера - просто любовь❤️ вы в саду, вид на Адриатическое море, там яхты...вокруг белая мебель, белые шторы, свежесть... а вечером все в огнях, можно лежать на кроватке, пить коктейль, смотреть на звезды и опять же морской бриз, в общем могу говорить бесконечно💕💕💕💕💕
What To Do:
Krka National Park is a must if you're travelling to Croatia.
There's buses, tours and private taxis that go there - have a chat with your hostel or hotel, they usually have the suss. They will bring you to the ferry where you will travel to this little piece of paradise.
Krka has some of the most breathtaking waterfalls I've ever seen and it's one of the coolest spots I've ever been for a swim.
Beware, it's super rocky there so take swim shoes with you!
Just LOOK at it:
What To See:
The sunset in Zadar is like no other.
Famous film director Alfred Hitchcock was known to be drawn to the city for that reason. He described it as “the most beautiful sunset in the world”.
Do you agree with him?
You'll have to witness it to believe it.
Where To Eat:
If you're a lover of seafood, you'll swoon over Zadar as it has some of the freshest and most divine seafood options.
Kornat is one of the most well-known seafood restaurants and definitely worth visiting.
Where To Drink:
Ledana is a great place to go for nightly cocktails. It's a big open garden space with various quirky seats to sink into and chill for a bit.
There's a DJ in the middle playing tunes to bop along to.
It's a deadly spot.
Zadar here we come!