You have probably heard about Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, Zagreb, the capital city, and the popular hotspot, Dubruvnik. But chances are, you have never heard of Zadar. I hadn’t either
Croatia was at the top of my “Where to go while studying abroad in Prague” checklist, and when SkyEurope posted a free flight online, I could not pass it up. The only catch: the flight left out of Vienna. After a long train ride to one of Europe’s most expensive cities, my friends and I decided to save money and sleep on the padded benches in the Vienna airport.
By the next morning, we were in 70 degree weather, with a free ride to our apartment, courtesy of our hosts. Zadar has only one hostel, so while researching other places to stay, we lucked out and found an apartment with enough space for five people for only seven euro a night. We had a balcony, a hibachi and full kitchen, which we used every night.
We spent our first day wandering the city. One day was more than enough time to buy gelato, tour the Greek and Roman ruins and take in the beautiful gardens and sea views. We spent the other two days navigating the rocky shore and lying on the beach. We traveled over Easter, so all of the local restaurants were closed for the holiday, leaving us to cook fresh fish and vegetables and snack on locally grown dried figs we found at the nearby supermarket.
To experience more of Zadar, there are day trips available to neighboring islands, where you can explore the many ruins that have accumulated over the past 3,000 years. There are also a number of fresh fish and vegetable markets, at which haggling is a necessity.
But if you choose to remain in the city proper, don’t pass up walking along the ocean. Our walks along the piers keep Zadar vivid in my memory. The clear royal blue waters revealed a world of sea creatures and lost treasures, like the half-sunken boat that was somehow more beautiful than it was sad. I remember the small, one engine, sail-less boat that brought us to the city, and the massive stone entrance that was once a Roman fortress and still stands to protect her city and welcome her guests.
Zadar was the perfect place to experience the life of the locals of Croatia, and their hospitality. It was calm, relaxing, and beautiful. This city is a tribute to the past.