Written by Hannah Logan of Eat Sleep Breathe Travel
However, most travelers head to the larger cities of Split and Dubrovnik or the popular islands like Hvar. But having just been to all of the above, let me let you ladies in on a little secret; Zadar is where it’s at.
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1. Beaches and Swimming
Yes, Croatia is full of beaches and places to Swim. But Zadar has some of the best spots. Not only can you swim right off the main promenade by the city’s main attractions, the Sun Salutation and Sea Organ, but there are plenty of beach areas along the coast as well.
I stayed at the Drunken Monkey Hostel in Arbanasi, which was only 5 minutes from a local beach where I never had an issue finding a spot to set down my towel. The water was beautiful; clear, 29 degrees celsius, and not a sea urchin in sight. Trust me when I say it’s more than easy to spend an entire day, or several, here.
To make things even better, anything goes at the beaches, and no one judges. This means no matter your size; you don’t need to feel self-conscious in your own bathing suit when local grandmas are rocking itty bitty bikinis. So take off your cover-up and soak up the sun!
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2. It’s Incredibly Safe
Safety is probably the top concern for all female travelers, solo or not. Being a solo traveler, I always find myself with my guard up, waiting to be harassed, followed, or scammed. But it didn’t happen once during my time in Zadar. In fact, I felt so safe that I went swimming by myself, in the ocean, at 1 am (and no, I wasn’t a drunk and being stupid).
Before visiting, I can’t imagine ever even considering doing that. I was also fine walking to and from my hostel (about 25 minutes away from Old Town) at any time of the night or day; another thing that I can’t normally say I’m comfortable with.
3. Amazing Day Bars
As girls, we like to go out, but often we don’t feel comfortable doing so by ourselves. Bring on Zadar’s day bars! Not only is it totally fine to go alone, but they are awesome. My two favorites are the Garden Bar, located in Old Town with comfortable chairs and even mattresses on a platform to lie down and enjoy your drink (cough-cough, power nap).
And further away in the Arbanasi neighborhood, Tequila Sunrise with fresh, cheap food (get the chicken sandwich!) and cliff jumping.
4. So Many Options for Day Trips
One of my favorite things to look for anywhere I visit is how close it is to other attractions. It’s always great to have a place to base yourself on taking day trips and not having to worry about repacking every second day. Zadar is perfect for this.
All within easy day-trip distance are Plitvice National Park, Krka National Park (you can swim in the waterfalls!), Kornati Islands National Park, and Paklenica National Park. Other great day trip options include Sibenik, Pag Island, Dugi Otok, and Biograd. For the most part, tours are leaving from town to all of the above, but it’s also pretty easy to take the bus (or a boat) to these destinations on your own as well.
It’s also worth noting that two great wineries are located in the Zadar region and boast delicious varieties of famous Croatian wines. In addition, Zadar offers an amazing food & wine tour + cooking class for delicious, local foodie bites.
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5. It’s Beautiful
Ok, so maybe not the main reason to go, but every girl loves pretty things, and Zadar is gorgeous. The Old Town itself is a collection of Roman ruins and winding streets. History is everywhere and easily accessible. You can have dinner beside ruins and sit on the old blocks of the forum eating gelato.
Zadar’s main attractions are no joke either. While the Sea Organ sounds strange, it’s pretty amazing, and nothing beats the Sun Salutation dancing colors in the night after soaking up the rays of the day. For the best experience, head there after midnight when most of the crowds have gone. Take a seat on the changing colors of the Sun Salutation and listen as the Sea Organ plays its song.
It might be the most relaxing thing in the world. And last but certainly not least, the sunsets in Zadar are incredible. Even Alfred Hitchcock agrees to state that they are some of the best in the world. After witnessing 5 myself, I have to say I agree.
PS: Zadar is close to Novalja and the music festival scene. Ask Chasing the Donkey about transfers to Novalja and go check it out.
So ladies, what are you waiting for? Visit Zadar now.
Main photo credit: Davor Strenja Photography