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.
Superbly located UK-owned outdoor lounge bar features quality live music and name DJs all summer, as weather permits. The Garden centres around a vast panoramic terrace with private cabanas as well as low, comfortable white sofas, amid established trees and great views. By day, locals and tourists relax, play board games, read the papers and watch passing ships. By night there’s a full musical agenda, piped through a state of the art sound system, accompanied, if so required, by a modest menu from the excellent restaurant over the road at the Hotel Bastion. Well chosen local wines and well priced cocktails are the order of the day – Croatian and Belgian beers are equally good value too, considering the quality of venue and musical backdrop. The Garden is one of the most important things to have happened to Zadar in recent years, and the team behind it, UB40 drummer James Brown and music producer Nick Colgan, have not rested on their laurels. From this has grown the major music festival of the same name, Barbarella’s near the festival site, and more than a few other projects in the pipeline.
Set in an expansive renovated 18th-century warehouse, Arsenal is unique in Croatia, in terms of size, ambience and the sheer variety of events and attractions. These include a gallery, cocktail bar and a popular à la carte restaurant upstairs. The spacious stage hosts world music, local klapa choral singing, name DJs and local bands. The sound is superb, thanks to installation by the Garden crew, and there’s a show of some kind most evenings. Tables between the stage and the bar allow for lounging, sipping and snacking from the extensive menu – the space is cleared for gigs and dancing.
Named after Zadar’s lesser-known patron saint, this smart and intimate café-bar is popular with caffeine-addicted local office-workers by day and attracts a more youthful, dressy clientele at night. In summer the cocktail menu is dusted off, DJs man the decks at weekends, and Zoilo’s outdoor terrace becomes a hive of late-night chatter.
Great little gallery bar off the main square, done out with bizarre egg-shaped heads designed by Silvijana Dražković. A trendy crowd gathers by day to drink any number of fruit teas, the electronic musical backdrop increasing as the night wears on. There’s a couple of chairs on the busy narrow street outside.
Formerly the Maya Pub, and reopened under new management in summer 2010, the enigmatically-named Q remains a key way-station on the city’s nocturnal itinerary. It’s a big, relatively sparse space decorated in strong colours, perfect for DJ-driven club nights or occasional rock-pop gigs. Thursday’s Trash Electro Party is a particularly popular date on the local party calendar. The quayside terrace is a good place for a quiet daytime pint.
Just tucked in from the newly landscaped embankment close to the Sea Organ, this handy little café offers a view of the sea from its gravel terrace, an ice-cream stall outside in summer and long drinks from 15kn including a Bruce Lee, an 007 James Bond and a Café del Mar of champagne and orange. Bottled Leffe and Hoegaarden, and morning coffees, are served from the sunken bar inside.
A bare brick interior plastered with pictures of New York City combines with a constant barrage of techno beats to make this one of the most popular places in the centre for a Friday-night meet-up. Factory is just round the corner from the University, and gets its fair share of coffee-break trade during the daylight hours.