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Discover the historic delights of Croatia’s Zadar Region

Admirers of inspiring landscapes, history, adventure, and Mediterranean cuisine will be delighted by each area of Croatia's Zadar Region.

Discover the historic delights of Croatia's Zadar Region
Photo: Maslenici, TZ Tkon. Boris Kačan

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Croatia's idyllic Zadar Region is one of the Mediterranean's most authentic symbols of historic Dalmatia. Lush nature, stunning sights, and traditional cuisine combine for an all-round genuine taste of true Croatia.

The inspiring landscape is made up of sandy beaches bordering sapphire-coloured seas, creating the perfect surroundings for a break of both body and mind. Whether you enjoy city breaks, serenity, or a dose of adrenaline, the stunning Zadar Region has it all.

Start planning your trip to Zadar Region

Take a city break

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Photo: Riva, Zadar. Pervan CNTB

If you choose to take a city break in Zadar, you'll discover a destination rich with culture and mouth-watering cuisine.

Watch the sunset from Zadar's unique Sea Organ, an architectural sound object and experimental musical instrument, and enjoy the harmonic music of the sea. You'll see just why iconic film director Alfred Hitchcock once described Zadar's sunset as the “most beautiful in the world.”

Photo: Sea Organ. Ivan Čorić

Zadar's sea promenade Riva offers a spectacular viewpoint where you can observe the beauty of the Zadar Canal, the islands of Ugljan and Pašman, and the open sea in the northwest.

History lives on through numerous monuments and cultural heritage throughout Zadar, with the combination of art and architecture of all styles dating back to ancient times. 

Photo: Donat. Zadar Forum 5

St. Donat church is one of the most recognisable symbols of Zadar but the whole region is rich in cultural and historical heritage like Church of the Holy Cross in Nin, Benedictine Monastery at Pašman, Roman Forum or Monastery Krupa that are minutes drive away from Zadar.

'Nature's infinity pool'

Photo: Aleksander Gospic

In Zadar Region, the view of the endless sea is nature's most wonderful infinity pool. Picture 20 kilometres of coast at the bottom of the magnificent mountain Velebit – the richness of nature here offers a fairytale scene of natural beauty.

You can experience it all by visiting Starigrad Paklenica where, apart from the breath-taking scenery, visitors can enjoy adventurous activities such as trekking, hiking, and alpinism. After climbing the Velebit mountain you'll be rewarded with a breath-taking view that stretches over the seascape.

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In Starigrad Paklenica, climbers can enjoy the real experience through photo safari hiking or mountain biking. If that's not adventurous enough, you can try rafting and canoeing down the Zrmanja or Krka rivers.

And for extreme adrenaline junkies, there's abseiling via ferrata and bridging. 

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Photo: Arhiva Šimun Cimerman, Veleb

Wanderlusters will relish sailing in Biograd, a town situated on a small peninsula and shoreline in Northern Dalmatia.

Thanks to its indented coastline and island configurations that provide a haven for sailors, Biograd is one of the most popular sailing destinations. This beautiful seaside resort and important nautical centre was once the crown city of the Croatian kings.

Today, Biograd's history is reflected in its rich and interesting historical and cultural heritage and is the ideal place to delve into ancient times. The coastal and insular flora and fauna around Biograd is rich and colourful and high visibility of the sea is ideal for underwater photo safaris.

Sailors touring the Zadar Region can sail through pined islands with untouched nature, sandy lagoons and hidden caves.

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Photo: Biogra. Boris Kacan

Photo: Jakov Đinđić

A combination of verdant nature and deep aquamarine is complemented with architectural and cultural monuments.

Nin is a historical little city located a few minutes’ drive from Zadar where history buffs can see the world's smallest cathedral and abundance of medieval and Roman monuments.

The Nin Riviera, rich in history, is proud of its rich heritage and its 'white gold', i.e. salt! Salt production in Nin dates back to Roman times and is still produced in the same way now as it was 2000 years ago.

The sun, endless sandy beaches, healing treatments with medicinal mud, and cultural and gastronomic treasures are among highlights of the Nin Riviera – the largest area of sandy beaches in Croatia where you can also enjoy walking, jogging, wind and kitesurfing as well as spectacular sunsets.

Photo: Velid Jakupovic

Photo: Velid Jakupović

Tastes of the Zadar Region

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Fresh fish, wine and olive oil is the trinity of the Dalmatian cuisine. They are complemented with spices made from aromatic herbs growing in the surrounding and hinterland of Zadar Region.

Photo: Maja Danica Pecanic

Walking through Zadar will introduce you to authentic aromas and tastes of the region from local taverns and restaurants.

Fresh fish is one of the main ingredients of Dalmatian food so be sure to try it with salted sage and marinade served with risotto. This region of Croatia is also well known for smoked ham which is usually washed down with a glass of local wine and a side serving of cheese.

The cheese from Pag has gained recognition (and multiple awards) all over the globe (its golden olive oil is also world famous). Make sure to try another regional dish: Šokol, a traditional dried meat sausage made from high-quality pork meat, salt and spices. But what gives it its special recognizable taste is Bora, the particular aromatic wind that blows from the north to the Nin Riviera.

The gastronomic offering of Zadar Region mainly consists of lamb, sheep and goats cheese, prosciutto dried on famous Adriatic bora wind, along with the traditional specialities of Velebit and Zadar hinterland. Velebit and hinterland keep the long tradition of agriculture, producing the potato and cabbage served with local dried meat and venison. 

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Photo: Roman Martin

The tastes of local food go best with local wine. The winemaking tradition in the region dates to Roman times and is unchanged today. Almost every local household produces their own wine, keeping the tradition of their ancestors alive.

Except for wine, while you're here, make sure to try the famous maraschino, a liqueur that was traditionally drunk by kings.

This article was sponsored by Croatia National Tourist Board and Zadar Region.

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TOURISM

Denmark’s ‘freetown’ Christiania hangs onto soul, 50 years on

A refuge for anarchists, hippies and artists, Denmark's 'freetown' Christiania turns 50 on Sunday, and though it hasn't completely avoided the encroachment of modernity and capitalism, its free-wheeling soul remains intact.

Denmark's 'freetown' Christiania hangs onto soul, 50 years on
Christiania, one of Copenhagen's major tourist attractions, celebrates its 50th anniversary on Sunday. JENS NOERGAARD LARSEN / SCANPIX / AFP

Nestled in the heart of Copenhagen, Christiania is seen by some as a progressive social experiment, while others simply see it as a den of drugs.

On September 26th, 1971, a band of guitar-laden hippies transformed an abandoned army barracks in central Copenhagen into their home. They raised their “freedom flag” and named their new home “Christiania, Freetown” after the part of the city where it is located.

They wanted to establish an alternative society, guided by the principles of peace and love, where decisions were made collectively and laws were not enforced.

Soft drugs were freely available, and repurposing, salvaging and sharing was favoured over buying new.

It was a community “that belonged to everybody and to no one”, said Ole Lykke, who moved into the 34-hectare (84-acre) enclave in the 1970s.

These principles remain well-rooted today, but the area has changed in many ways: tourists weave through its cobblestone roads, and the once-reviled market economy is in full swing.

Perhaps most importantly, it is no longer a squat. Residents became legal landowners when they bought some of the land from the Danish state in 2012.

Now it is home to some 900 people, many artists and activists, along with restaurants, cafes and shops, popular among the half a million tourists that visit annually.

“The site is more ‘normal’,” says a smiling Lykke, a slender 75-year-old with ruffled silver hair, who passionately promotes Christiania, its independence and thriving cultural scene.

Legislation has been enforced since 2013 — though a tongue-in-cheek sign above the exit points out that those leaving the area will be entering the European Union.

‘Embrace change’
It is Christiania’s ability to adapt with the times that has allowed it to survive, says Helen Jarvis, a University of Newcastle professor of social geography engagement.

“Christiania is unique,” says Jarvis, who lived in Christiania in 2010.

“(It) endures because it continues to evolve and embrace change”.

Some of those changes would have been unthinkable at the start.

Residents secured a bank loan for several million euros to be able to buy the land, and now Christiania is run independently through a foundation.

They also now pay wages to the around 40 people employed by Christiania, including trash collectors and daycare workers.

“Money is now very important,” admits Lykke, who is an archivist and is currently exhibiting 100 posters chronicling Christiania’s history at a Copenhagen museum.

But it hasn’t forgotten its roots.

“Socially and culturally, Christiania hasn’t changed very much,” he says, noting that the community’s needs still come first.

‘Judged a little’
Christiania has remained a cultural hub — before the pandemic almost two dozen concerts were held every week and its theatres were packed.

But it is still beset by its reputations as a drugs hub.

Though parts of Christiania are tranquil, lush and green with few buildings, others are bustling, with a post office, mini-market, healthcare centre, and Pusher Street, the notorious drug market.

Lykke says it’s a side of Christiania most could do without.

“Most of us would like to get rid of it. But as long as (marijuana use) is prohibited, as long as Denmark doesn’t want to decriminalise or legalise, we will have this problem,” says Lykke.

While still officially illegal, soft drugs like marijuana and hash are tolerated — though not in excess.

Since early 2020, Copenhagen police have seized more than one tonne of cannabis and more than a million euros.

“Sometimes I don’t tell people that I live here because you get judged a little bit. Like, ‘Oh, you must be into marijuana and you must be a smoker’,” says Anemone, a 34-year-old photographer.

For others, Christiania’s relaxed nature is part of the appeal.

“It’s different from what I know, I really want to see it,” laughs Mirka, a Czech teacher who’s come to have a look around.

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