Croatia’s coastal towns are possibly the perfect spring or autumn destination. In summer, temperatures can get uncomfortably high, as might the amount of tourists in towns such as Split or Dubrovnik. In spring or autumn, temperatures are usually between 20 and 30 degrees and numbers of tourists (and prices) are a bit lower. This was definitely true for Zadar, a town we got lured to by a cheap flight and a desire to extend our summer feeling for a few days, away from the fast approaching autumn rain and cold in The Netherlands. Now that the cold of winter is over, this is perfect the time to go on a last-minute spring visit to Zadar!

We stayed at a place we found on AirBnB called Deluxe apartment near the bridge. And in terms of location, quality and price it’s definitely one we’d recommend if you’re going to Zadar! It’s not a life-changing apartment, but has everything you can possibly need, and the kitchen means you can choose to cook if you wish.

Day 1: ticking off the must-sees in Zadar

After a late arrival the day before, our first day in Zadar was dedicated to seeing all of the highlights in and around the old town, as any tourist visiting the picturesque town should. We started the day with a decent, but surely not extraordinary breakfast at a place called Coffee & Cake in the center of the Old town. Then, we made sure not to miss the cathedral on Zeleni Square, spotted the Captain’s Tower (and guess how many wells) on Five Wells Square and strolled through the Queen Jelena Madijevka Park. These and more of Zadar’s highlights are easily connected by the maze of impressive marble streets, so definitely try to take a different route each time.

Weekend break in Zadar old town

Our go to coffee stop was Caffe Bar Kalelarga, a no nonsense coffee bar that serves an affordable and surprisingly tasty espresso. The choice is yours though; the Italian coffee influence has definitely found its way across the Adriatic, meaning it won’t be hard to find a nice strong cup of coffee if that’s what you’re looking for.

Last stop for the first – touristy – day in Zadar was to catch the sunset while listening to the Sea Organ over on the Western side of the old town. Go there fully expecting to find at least 100 other people with the same idea, and you’ll get to see a hard-to-beat sunset over the nearby islands.

Weekend break in Zadar sunset

Day 2: island trip to the nature around Zadar

That very same island we saw the sun disappear behind, was our destination on day two. As we saw most of what we wanted to in Zadar on the first day, we favored going off the beaten track and took the ferry across to Ugljan for an active day out in the warm October sun. Read everything you need to know on how to get to Ugljan in the practical info below!

Once on the island, our obligatory morning coffee stop was at a bar called Čoko Roko, a short walk from the ferry on the way to the place we had in mind for bicycle rental. Čoko Roko serves amazing coffee and delicious cakes, so it is worth a stop when you’re visiting Ugljan.

Dutch as we are, renting bicycles is usually part of any city trip or holiday we go on. The day before, we had reserved two bicycles at Rentman Preko over a short Whatsapp conversation. As it was the end of the tourist season, he excused us for the fact that the bicycles were a bit worn down, but offered the kindest service and explanation of a route and what we would find along the way.

In 35 kilometers and perfect weather to be out riding bicycles, we made our way up the island and back to Preko. Along the way, we got a taste of local life on the island, found an amazing viewpoint over the bay and Zadar hidden behind a church and waded in the water at a deserted beach in the little town called Ugljan. With nearly no tourism once away from the towns, it was an amazingly relaxing day and a surprising change from the touristy city center of Zadar! We definitely found some hidden gems on this island near Zadar, which you can now find on our travel map.

the ferry to Preko on the island of Ugljan leaves from two different locations. We preferred the pedestrian ferry leaving from the Old town (here), but it only leaves a few times per day. An hourly service on a much larger boat – also carrying cars across – departs from Zadar Gazenica Ferry Terminal (here), but you’ll have to find a way to get to the port. On the way back to Zadar, be sure to check the times for both destinations! All information is available on the ferry operator’s website: www.jadrolinija.hr/en/ferry-croatia & you can book tickets online and board using a QR-code. Saves a trip to the ticket office. We took the 9:30AM ferry from Zadar to Preko and returned on the 5:25PM ferry back to the old town. 

Day 3: Back to autumn mode

With a flight back after lunch, we spent our last morning in Zadar revisiting some of the coffee spots we found before and strolling around town, enjoying the low pace and high temperatures before going back to full-on autumn mode back home.

Is Zadar on your travel list for 2022?

Kirsten & Thomas

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