Zadar, famous for its sunset, Roman and Venetian ruins, the sea organ and the best truffle pizza you’ll ever eat in your life (it’s at Restaurant Bruschetta, read more about it here). There is certainly plenty to do and see in Zadar with impressive hints of fortresses from the past, a 9th century Church of St Donat and bell-tower you’re able to climb with uninterrupted views of the great Croatian coastline. Islands are just a short ferry trip away, it’s easy to experience the best of both worlds in Zadar. While these are all well and truly some of the city’s main cultural attractions, I’ve uncovered 5 things to do in Zadar that get you ‘off the beaten tourist track‘ and introduce you to a lesser talked about side of the region…
Here are some places to add to your ‘To do’ list while visiting the Zadar region of Croatia!
MasVin is an agricultural cooperative 8km away from Biograd in a rural village called Polača. You’ll be greeted by Project Manager and Director, Mr Radoslav Bobanović, who will be one of the most entertaining hosts you’ll encounter in Croatia and will make you feel right at home in his grandiose vineyard.
MasVin meaning, Maslina (olive) and Vino (wine) is an award-winning vineyard that produces some of the best local wines, including Shiraz Kotar Superior 2013 and Kotar Superior Shiraz 2015, both bronze winners at the world’s best wine competition in London. While tasting some of Croatia’s best local wines, you’ll also be invited to try the olives and olive oil also produced on the farm and 100% organic, coming from the olive trees you’ll notice in the gardens of the premises. My personal favourites were the anchovies and prsut.
Address: Kakma 189, 23210 Polača, Zadar Croatia
Distance from Zadar: 35km (approx. 45 min drive)
Ideal For: Group Booking
Duration of Stay: 60-90minutes
Come For: Brunch and don’t leave without trying the Moscato (or just pretend you did like me).
Visit Kamenjak viewpoint via Nature Park Lake Vrana
Vidikovac Kamenjak viewpoint is only accessible by car or tour bus, don’t even dream of any other way- unless you’re a highly-skilled cyclist or looking for the ultimate glutes workout. On your way up towards Vidikovac Kamenjak, you’ll notice 14 stations of the cross, the final at the top of the viewpoint close to the tiny little chapel which oversees the stunning Zadar Archipelago and the Kornati, Pakostane, Murter, Pirovac and Drage.
I highly doubt there is anything more beautiful than spending the afternoon with some friends up at Vidikovac Kamenjak viewpoint, having a picnic at one of the rock tables and watching another Croatian sunset.
Address: Lake Vrana
Distance from Zadar: 38km (approx. 32 min drive)
Ideal For: Chill time with loved ones, especially on a warm day.
Duration: 30 minutes (or a few hours)
Come For: Sunset
Maškovića Han, Vrana
En-route on your way back down from a stunning Adriatic sunset from Vidikovac Kamenjak viewpoint overlooking Lake Vrana, on your left you’ll find Maškovića Han, a newly openly Heritage Hotel complete with museum, souvenir and wine shop, wellness centre, restaurant and plenty of Insta-worthy corners to get you trending on social media.
The story of Maškovića Han is quite an interesting one which you can read more about on the Secret Dalmatia blog but will certainly make you appreciate the restoration that was finalised the summer of 2017.
The restaurant of Maškovića Han has a modern oriental feel to it serving warm hearty local cuisines and a great local wine collection to pair perfectly with each dish.
Address: Marina 1, Vrana, 23211, Pakoštane
Distance from Zadar: 48km (approx. 40 min drive)
Ideal For: Romantic Weekend Away or Dinner.
Duration: Weekend Away or a few hours (if not staying as a guest in a hotel)
Come For: Something new, unique and luxurious in Croatia.
Rooms start from 90€per night
Take a tour of Solana Nin
Solana Nin has been around for over 1,500 years and between 70,000-100,000 people visit Nin Saltworks annually. Unlike many other methods of salt production, Solana Nin stands differently courtesy of natural cooperation between sun, sea and wind.
During June, July and August there are free guided tours commencing hourly and there’s also a museum and house of salt to see. For those looking to make a purchase, Solana Nin also has a store with various varieties of salt, including my personal favourite, truffle salt which now I proudly have in my kitchen at home, along with bath salts, chocolates, jams etc. The items are perfectly packaged making it the ideal gift, particularly the bath salts that are available in a variety of different scents.
Address: Ilirska cesta 7, 23232, Nin
Distance from Zadar: 20km (approx. 20 min drive)
Ideal For: An insightful tour of Croatia’s most successful natural salt farm.
Duration: 60 minutes
Come For: The Truffle Salt.
Undoubtedly one of the most scenic vineyards in Croatia (excuse my image saturated with clouds, you can imagine how beautiful this would look on a clearer day) and the best location for a vineyard in Northern Dalmatia, Kraljevski Vinogradi is the ideal place to visit, unwind and forget about life’s worries. Enjoy spectacular views of the Adriatic sea over a glass of their Pošip, a distinctive dalmatian white wine or Plavac mali, a variety of grape only found on the Dalmatia coastline.
The restaurant opens Ist of May and runs into late October serving the best traditional Dalmatian dishes. It’s a little Croatian secret that some of the best meals are found outside major cities and on vineyards such as this. What better way to spend an afternoon, away from the typical tourist traps, completely immersed in Croatia’s unspoiled charm.
Address: Punta Skala bb
Distance from Zadar: 12km (approx. 11 min drive)
Ideal For: A group of people
Duration: A few hours, no rush.
Come For: An afternoon.