To get away from the big crowds in Dubrovnik, head north and explore the walled port town of Zadar, along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.
The southern part of the Croatian coast, known as Dalmatia, is usually stacked with sunseekers looking for an adventure. But travel north to Zadar, and you will be amazed at the historical architecture, the shopping, nightlife, and great seaside cafes.
Here you can wander quiet streets of marble, sprawl undisturbed on pine-scented beaches and sail to remote islands, deserted except for tiny konobas– restaurants catering mostly to fishermen. Not only is there a fantastic coastline, but northern Dalmatia also has a broad hinterland with three national parks within driving distance from the crystal-clear coast. The picturesque Velebit mountains offers hiking, swimming and rock-climbing.
The walled port of Zadar makes for a terrific home base for exploring the rest of the region. In the old town, Roman ruins in the old Forum stand alongside 1,000 year old churches and modern art museums. Of course, located next to the sea, there are good fish restaurants, student-filled cafés and a flourishing bar scene, with prices comparing well with those farther down the coast.
International festivals by the sea attract a younger crowd, while Zadar’s historic district is less than a half an hour drive from the Zadar airport – very convenient, when there is so much to do and see.