Zadar: hiking to an abandoned fortress

Letter 104

Zadar was the Croatian city I was most looking forward to visiting – and it didn’t disappoint. The fantastic hostel I stayed in, people I met and things I did made those 4 days some of the best of my trip. So allow me to tell you about Zadar!

The Old Town

Like the old towns of many cities in this country, it’s full of ancient Roman reminders mixed in with the classic Dalmatian stonework and more modern buildings with pops of colour around every corner. It felt like a very liveable city, not too over-run by tourists, plenty of green space and a good lifestyle surrounded by pretty beaches and sporting facilities. To me it was ideal. It’s great fun walking the streets of Zadar and it’s small enough you don’t even need a map. After relaxing in one of the gardens you can head to the bar area until sunset and then go and watch the sun descend into the Adriatic whilst listening to the unique sea organ. A moment that will be shared with hundreds of others, but still lovely nonetheless. At night, the city lights up and comes alive. You can’t miss the striking lights dancing on the water surrounding the old town and reflecting the modernity of the newer sprawling city.

zadar town 2zadar town 3zadar town 4zadar town 5zadar town 6zadar town 1zadar town 7zadar town 8

Ugljian Island

Although the weather wasn’t perfect, a small group of us from the hostel decided to catch a ferry over to the island that stretches out in front of Zadar. With few expectations for this day trip, I was pleasantly surprised. The town we arrived in was bustling with locals and tourists, with lots of shops, restaurants and cafes. There were also pretty cobbled streets and swimming spots dotted around the coastline. After advice from our hostel we decided to hike up the hill to an abandoned fortress and views of the islands and Zadar. The hike isn’t too challenging and took about an hour – and the views were well worth it. The fortress is amazing and we sat up there for ages admiring our surroundings. We then wanted to try and get down the other side to a secluded cove we were recommended, but after trying many trails that concluded at dead ends, we gave up and headed back to the town. The swimming here was lovely anyway and perfect to cool off.

ugljan island 1ugljan island 2ugljan island 3ugljan island 4ugljan island 5ugljan island 6ugljan island 8

The beaches

My hostel was situated nearer the ferry port than the old town centre, which also meant I was minutes from the beach. There is a series of small beaches leading into the old town, some with ‘cliffs’ to jump into the water from. I say ‘cliffs’ because they really are more like ledges. The water is crystal clear and the views to the islands are stunning. They get very popular with locals at weekends!

zadar beach 1zadar beach 2


Overall I would say – visit Zadar. It’s a shame that so many people skip this city (and many others in my opinion but I’ll get to that in another post) and go straight down to split. In my opinion, Zadar has a lot to offer and I would 100% go back!

Sibenik is up next – which you probably haven’t heard of but was one of my favourite cities!

Happy travels!

From Lou

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