The full list
Old film and beer ads brighten the space; posters promote long-forgottten Olympics and pool-table lightshades of coloured glass advertise Coors beer. Cocktails come in creamy or killer varieties, football or music videos are screened and staff buzz about in daft blue shirts with some bullshit motto on them. Recommended.
This characterful shoebox of a bar is known as 'Luci' after Luci Capurso, owner and ex-member of vintage beat combo Dubrovački Trubaduri. Shying away from his Eurovision Song Contest past, Luci serves the regulars, pleasingly oblivious to the piles of money being made at inferior bars on his doorstep.
Even this grunge bar in a Stradun side street has its own dinky little lantern, although you can't see any middle-aged tourists lingering over a pint. The walls are decorated with a seemingly random mosaic of posters, book covers and pictures torn from magazines (Gogol, Mogwai, Kill Bill and Hendrix all get a decorative look-in), but it's the hard-living black-clad drinkers hunched around the counter that make the place.
The most famous bar in town, formerly run by Marko Brešković (1942-2010), one-time bass-player with the Dubrovački Trubaduri and an accomplished jazz musician to boot. Brešković used to preside over nightly jams on the Troubadour's terrace, turning Bunićeva poljana into an essential stop-off on any nocturnal tour of the city. Despite Brešković's departure the Troubadour remains its old self, with its commitment to live music intact and its traditional clientele still loyal. Drink prices are somewhat inflated on gig nights, and coffee isn't served after 8pm – but it's still hard to find a seat here on a summer evening.
The titular sunset view is in full panorama here in the chic surroundings of the five-star Hotel Dubrovnik Palace. On a clear day you can see Mljet. Afternoons mean happy-hour drinks, evenings a piano player. Cocktails (60kn) comprise 35 standards, there are specialist Perković brandies (carob, fig, nut) and wines run from a basic 20kn to the best local labels rarely found by the glass.
Back-Door Bar, as its name suggests, is a tiny, intimate bar with just enough space for a few people to squeeze in and enjoy the cosy atmosphere. With a 1920’s feel and red-brick walls, it’s particularly warm and inviting. Back-Door offers a selection of homemade rakija, beers, coffee, cocktails and local wines from the islands. Music tends to be jazz, bossa nova, soul, downtempo, lounge or blues; the staff are friendly and polite, another reason why it’s so hard to find a seat here. Reserved seats are available in advance – reserve a seat and settle in with a bottle of top-quality wine.
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.
Right by the water’s edge on Kolovare beach is this spacious café-cum-club with a cool white design theme, lots of comfy sofa seating and two well-stocked bars. Live bands, resident DJs and guest disc-spinners raise the temperature at weekends, when this is a major destination for club-hungry locals – the fun spills out onto the neighbouring shoreline in summer.
Just outside the Old Town across the footbridge, Maraschino is a huge café-bar on the northern side of the Jazine that boasts a vivacious seventies’ themed interior and an impressive stretch of terrace out front. The place attracts a frisky local crowd on summer nights, with DJs and live bands appearing at regular intervals throughout the year. Maraschino’s cocktail menu is probably the longest in Zadar, and none of the concoctions are prohibitively expensive.
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.