Primošten packs some good clubs - before heading out, young partygoers hit the bars lining the Mala Raduća seafront. Spots include Popaj, and Nautica, a few steps down the seafront towards the Old Town. Marina Frapa, in Rogoznica, continues to draw a mixed crowd to its summer programme.
Set 2km (1.25 miles) south of town, Aurora was opened just as war was breaking out in May 1991. It has spanned many trends in dance music and hosted almost every known domestic DJ, plus international monikers. The first floor, containing a cocktail bar, steakhouse and pool tables, is open by day; after 11pm the second level swings into action: three dancefloors, an open-air palm-fringed area, six bars, pool and a chill-out lounge zone, all open till 4am. Carl Cox, Laurent Garnier and Roger Sanchez have all spun here. Expect foam parties, retro nights, R&B and hip hop, and a crowd of anything up to 3,500.
Close to Primošten town centre, Legends is a house of fun that fills a large old building, revamped to an Irish theme. It appeals to older locals and mainstream expats with a musical agenda of traditional Dalmatian klapa and evergreen hits. Waterfront terrace tables usually fill pretty quickly. Once the tourists have vanished, regulars take over, the topic of conversation moving to sport, the Legends interior completely decked out in framed Croatian football shirts and photos of World Cup and Wimbledon heroes.
Opened in 2016, Agape Kitchen & Wine Bar has a more modern approach to cuisine than the more traditional and longer-established taverns surrounding it. Here, meals may start with tapas, which come in four varieties, Agape (with Dalmatian smoked ham, bacon and cheeses), Dalmatian (a chef’s choice of seafood), Primošten (with swordfish, tuna and truffle cheese) and marino (a platter for four featuring grilled octopus, salmon and stuffed squid). Steak and lamb feature heavily on the main menu but if the tapas have done the job, then you can opt for a lighter fillet of monkfish with cauliflower purée and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s also a wine bar, you’ll find quality Pošip Čara from Korčula, Plavac Mali from Brač and Babić produced nearby.
In business long before Croatian independence, the Caffe Bar Vlaho draws a solid clientele of locals and tourists, nearly all of them regulars in one way or other. Once you start the day at Vlaho, a top-quality coffee quietly sipped as you gaze over the Adriatic, you’ll probably not choose anywhere else to get your morning in motion. It has WiFi, of course, and a sense of humour, the message of the day posted up on a board outside. It’s an evening venue, with beers and cocktails on offer most nights untilmidnight at least.
Caffe Bar Maž saves you having to lug the cooler box all the way to Velika Raduča or Mala Raduča beach, in the bay between the twin headlands. Offering a basic but welcome range of cocktails, beers, soft drinks and coffees, Maž also provides comfortable lounge seats and umbrellas for you to take a break from sunbathing or swimming. Occasional live music and screenings of major football games are also laid on. Friendly staff, too.
Calling itself both a tapas bar and a pub, contemporary Francos is the kind of place where you can graze on platters of Dalmatian prosciutto and cheese, perhaps with a bowl of rough-cut chips alongside, order an Aperol spritz and let the evening take its course as a DJ kicks things into gear. Its wine selection is one of the best in Primošten and, although informal, it usually attracts a slightly higher class of clientele. Lunch could be a modest portion of pasta or a finely composed salad, and the beachside location is always a winner, whether first thing in the morning or late at night.
Its terrace tucked in from the seafront by Sveti Juraj beach, the Caffe Bar Cocktail Camel is not as classy as its branded coasters would suggest but can provide decent mixed drinks at friendly prices. Take in the sunset with a tumblerful of mojito or a refreshing Aperol spritz as a nice early-evening buzz builds around the bar, other customers having factored Camel into their daily ritual. It’s good for morning coffee too, and stays open most nights until 2am.
Marina Frapa is Croatia’s classiest marina, with entertainment in a big complex near Rogoznica, a short drive from Primošten. Its nightclub, Admiral, shed its risqué image after being taken back into direct management. Now locals join sailors who moor up overnight. With space for 500, Admiral stages a live act each night, with dancers and resident MC DJOJ while bartenders juggle bottles and throw fire.
In summer, the Garden and Arsenal clubs continue to lead the way as far as good music and good vibes are concerned. But for all Zadar’s new cachet, many youngsters are happy to stick to their local haunts. East of the footbridge on the mainland, or head to the big-name clubs near Primošten, Vodice and at Zrće, Novalja on Pag.