Where to go and what to do in Novalja
You know Kristina by now – writer, ESL teacher and author of The Croatia Chronicles residing in the picturesque town of Rovinj. You also probably already know a bit about Novalja – famous for being home to Croatia’s hottest summer parties on its Zrce Beach. What can one do in Novalja if and when not partying? Kristina details the options below.
Novalja, on the island Pag, is known internationally as party central because of the infamous party beach, Zrce, which boasts 4 clubs open around the clock. The pumping house/techno music and dance parties typically start at around 4 pm and continue well past 2 in the morning. During the summer, many well-known DJs and groups from around the world, including Benni Benassi, Jamie Jones, and Swanky Tunes, host concerts in these nightclubs.
Zrce is not just for party-goers though. Many families lay out their towels for a day at the beautiful stone beach. Visitors can also go bungee jumping and zip-lining or rent a paddle boat, canoe, or Jet Ski. Feel free to bring your own food and cooler, but also know that this Novalja beach has café-bars and restaurants so you can easily grab a bite to eat or quick drink at your convenience.
In addition to Zrce, Novalja offers tourists a number of other gorgeous beaches. My personal favorites are Cista and Babe and both are perfect if you’re looking for a sandy shoreline (Babe’s shore is mostly stone, but as you enter the water, you’ll reach a sandy bottom soon). Both of these beaches have a lot less activity than Zrce, making for a relaxing afternoon, and their waters tend to be a bit warmer too.
If you don’t feel like spending all day lounging at the beach or partying it up, check out the community calendar, which you can pick up at a local tourist office to see if there are any music or cultural programs of interest. I’d also highly suggest visiting the Gradski Muzej Novalja (Novalja City Museum) where you can see the town’s ancient Roman aqueduct, learn about archeological expeditions on the island and traditional Croatian living, and check out contemporary art on the museum’s top floor gallery.
Nearby, you can also pop in and visit Novalja’s archeological collection, which includes ancient Roman tombs, tools, and pottery. And if you’re more of an outdoors person, you can always rent equipment for hiking, water skiing, wind surfing, scuba diving, and cycling.
After a long day in the hot sun, the best place for shopping, relaxing, and a bite to eat is Novalja’s center. It’s a small area, but walking along the shoreline and enjoying nightly music shows in town make you wish you never have to say goodbye.
For food, two great places to check out are Starac i More (Old Man and the Sea) for a gourmet dinner and impeccable service and La Paloma for a delicious breakfast menu featuring delectable smoothies (La Paloma also has an internet café). There are a bunch of other dining options including pizzerias and street food carts that sell grilled corn and palacinke (similar to crêpes). For dessert, make sure to try out some street-side gelato.
To get to Novalja, you’ll either have to take a ferry from the mainland to the island (my preferred method—a calming ride with beautiful scenery) or drive across the bridge connecting Zadar with Pag. Lines can get frustrating at the ferry port, but take the time to get your tickets, grab a drink and snack at the café-bar, or take a quick dip in the clear blue sea.
Written by: Kristina Pepelko
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