Zadar & Krka – Captivating Croatia
Renting a car in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the countryside and get around. The roads are good, and directions are easy to follow. My friend Beth and I drove from Plitvice Lakes National Park a couple of hours down to the small city of Zadar, which is near another national park called Krka (yes, that’s how it’s spelled, although it may seem to us English speakers to be missing a vowel or two).
Zadar is filled with beautiful churches and other old buildings, as well as some interesting Roman ruins.
It’s lovely old town is a great place to wander around in, just meandering through the alleyways. It’s small enough where you can’t really get lost, and if you do, the sea is right there to reorient you.
There are 2 points of special interest overlooking the sea, both by the same artist, Nikola Basic. The sea organ is a sculptural musical instrument played by the tides (water pushes air out of tubes under long cement stairs) where you can sit and listen to what the sea has to say, while watching the sunset. Also created by Basic is the Greeting to the Sun, a solar-powered interactive piece that you can walk (or dance!) on, made up of hundreds of solar panels that soak up the rays during the day, and put on a colorful moving light show at night.
As far as accommodations go, you’ll find there are more “Apartmans” than hotels or B&B’s in Croatia. An apartman is usually a room in somebody’s home, or sometimes a whole apartment, and they are quite affordable. Both in a village near Plitvice and in Zadar, we were able to find 2-bedroom apartments, that could easily sleep 4 (or more if someone sleeps on the couch) for a total of around $55 per night. So if you’re traveling on a budget, again, Croatia is a very affordable place to visit. (I also think Apartman is secretly a new superhero waiting to be born – think a guy with limbs that pull apart, like those toys with elastic strings!)
Zadar is a city full of both old and new. Side by side, 2 doorways may have entirely different entry systems…
…and one of the favorite pastimes is the ancient art of making lace.
Not far away, is the small town of Skradin, which is a gateway to Krka National Park. Skradin is worth an hour or 2 on it’s own, with charming narrow streets hugging the hillside, a church worth a look inside, and restaurants and shops that tumble down to the sea, where you can catch a boat up the river to Krka.
There is much debate about which national park is preferable, Plitvice or Krka, and I have an easy solution – go see both! They’re both stunningly beautiful, full of bright blue-green waterfalls, but they’re also very different. For one thing, you can swim at Krka right near the falls, which is forbidden at Plitvice, although you aren’t allowed to jump from the bridge…
Like at Plitvice, wooden walkways lead you over the river and around the falls at Krka, past vast vistas and cosy shaded corners.
You’ll see madly rushing waterfalls as well as the small still beauty of a single elegant flower.
And this is just the beginning, as you’ll see from my following posts on Croatia, exploring the amazing walled city of Dubrovnik and then on to the islands. But for now, consider a visit to Zadar and Krka, where I think you’ll love what you’ll find…