When most people think of Croatia, Zadar is not the first city that comes to mind. However my husband and I have lived spent the last six years traveling Europe and wanted to experience something different than the typical tourist cities we had previously traveled. My husband and I traveled from Frankfurt Hahn to Zadar utilizing Ryanair, a cheap airlines that travels in and around Europe, during the second week of April. Ryanair only flies from Frankfurt to Zadar and back on Monday’s and Friday’s so we spent five days in the city. Ryanair has many restrictions with their air travel and you must follow them in order to fly easily and cheaply around Europe (I will include a future blog on how to travel the best way on Ryanair). The taxi cab that took us from the airport to our hotel took us the long way around and charged us more than double what we were told it would cost to reach the hotel, on the way back we arranged a cab to pick us up who charged us less than we had been told, met us exactly on time, and was very friendly overall. I would suggest researching the best path to the hotel before you leave the airport so you are not taken advantage of if you chose to cab to the hotel when you get in. The hotel is only located about ten minutes from the airport. Zadar uses the currency Kuna which is about 6.63kunas to every one dollar. It is a good exchange rate but the prices still add up to be about the average price for food, drinks, and tours in America. You can pull money out of the many ATMs located in and around the city of Zadar.
We stayed in a hotel called The Bridge Luxury Apartments which we booked through booking.com. This apartment was fully equipped with a kitchen, full bathroom, heated floors, and a bathtub near the window that overlooked the city. While we did not utilize the bath much, the one time we did use it was enjoyable and relaxing. The apartment was clean, the staff was friendly, and most importantly it was in an excellent location. We could easily walk across the bridge and enjoy walking around and checking out Old Town Zadar. One problem with the hotel is that the owner’s father manages the apartments and does not speak any English at all but we were able to communicate through hand signals, paperwork, and a phone call from the owner. The hotel also only accepts Euro or Kuna so you must pull money out of the ATM to pay. (There is an ATM right across the street from the hotel so very convenient). In order to reach the outskirts of town, the other islands, or the national parks we were required to take a bus from the hotel but we spent most of our free time in the Old Town.
Things to do
The old town included many restaurants as well as sites such as archaeological museums, St. Donat church, the sea organ, and the cathedral. These sights were wonderful to see and were free or cost very little to get in. For those that have a Fitbit I got about 20,000 steps a day touring the old town. The most enjoyable part of the Old Town of Zadar, however was the food. Fresh calamari, wonderful pizzas topped with egg, mussels, bruschetta, and fresh fish make up some of the meals we had while staying in Zadar. The best restaurant we ate at was Bruschetta, where we had the mussels, a pizza, and bruschetta, of course! The staff was friendly, the location was wonderful, and the food was excellent. I highly recommend it if you are traveling to Zadar. Of course with food comes drinks and the bar district of Zadar does excellent cocktails for a low price! There is a small outdoor bar in a park at the edge of Zadar’s old town that provided the cheapest cocktails, rocking seats, and allowed you to sit outside among beautiful flowers and trees. Many bars in the bar district sold hot chocolates made from real dark, milk, and white chocolate. It was thick and warm and wonderful after a nice morning walk through Zadar. We also took a boat tour through a small organization selling tours on the bridge near our hotel to the Kornati island. The boat tour was a nice time but it was quite cold as we rode so please be sure to dress warmly. Please be advised that while they advertised white sand beaches we only saw stone beaches on our tour and it was too cold to swim and too hard to lay out on the beach. We also took a half submarine tour from this small organization and I do not recommend this to anyone. It was too foggy to see anything, very hot down in the boat, and smelled very badly of body odor. We only saw very small fish and the tour lasted less than an hour from start to finish. It was a waste of money and time and not something I would suggest you experience for yourself. The final and best thing we did in Zadar was travel to Plitviche National Park. The park is gorgeous with so much to look at and experience (see pictures attached) There are very limited man made touches in the park as the Croatian government wishes to keep it as natural as possible which adds to the beauty of the park. We booked our tour through Viator and they picked us up very near our hotel, brought us breakfast, provided lunch, and gave us a lot of great information about the park, Zadar, and Croatia. I highly recommend taking a trip to Zadar is you ever have the chance but in my opinion between the months of May and August would be the best time so that you can travel to the islands and soak up some sun on the many beaches in the area as it was a bit cold while we were there.