While most of Europe starts to bed down for cold autumnal and winter days, Zadar sheds its summer clothes with greater leisure. You’ve most likely heard of Dubrovnik and Zagreb, but how about Zadar, Croatia’s fifth largest city? This unassuming under-the-radar summer destination lies north of Split on the Adriatic Sea.
But why visit Zadar? In mid-October? For two big reasons: while most of Europe prepares for cold autumnal and winter days, Zadar is still sauntering along in delightfully warm sunshine. And it is now off season which means there are bargains to be found. For example, my two hour Ryanair flight cost an affordable £23 (USD$28) one way from London. Only spring to early autumn though. Outside those times prices increase, and it seems to me that Ryanair stops flying to Zadar outside the ‘holiday’ season.
Nonetheless, Zadar truly is photogenic. Along with the delightfully warm air is the nearby stretch of coastline that frames the Adriatic Sea. Shades of blue waters, sharp as gems, pile jagged layer by layer lapping onto pebble-sand beaches. Yachts sail across slowly and elegantly. The wind whips fresh sea air into my lungs as I jog along the stretch, or as I sip maraschino (a delicious cherry liqueur born in Zadar) or cappuccino right on the sea edge at the Zara Beach restaurant, watching as the white foams lash and then recede from the water’s edge.
Zadar will be quiet enough to deflect distractions, another reason why I have chosen this town: a peaceful but scenic destination to write and plan, complete with an eager coffee culture that offers wi-fi and sometimes a breathless sea-view, such as at Zara Beach with its chilled out lounge music playing in the background. It may not be a blazing hot south-east Asian sea island, but neither is it a frenetic urban metropolis.
I’ve still got much to explore in Zadar, and will hopefully broaden my itinerary to other parts of Croatia, such as Split and Zagreb. Yes, there will be downsides: the weather will turn: it will rain, perhaps a lot. And mosquitos like my blood, a lot. But I’ve been assured that the winter chill doesn’t kick in until the end of December, and I’m reinforcing the anti-mosquito armour, just as I would in any other sun and sea soaked location.
From what I’ve seen of Zadar so far, I look forward to a pleasurable stay. This trip has already been a series of firsts for me: first Airbnb, first Ryanair, first Uber ride, first visit to Zadar and to Croatia. And just who would have thought I would find a quietly idyllic spot in mid-October right on my European doorstep?