Great things to do in Primošten
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.
Despite a location overlooking the sea from the Primošten peninsula, the Konoba Papec (Splitska 9) offers all the Dalmatian favourites at pre-boom prices. Don’t miss the pre-dinner samples of local specialities at this rustic tavern, one of Primošten’s oldest and most photographed townhouses. The small, dark interior with thick stone walls is decorated with traditional costumes and wine-making equipment. Outside, wooden benches and wine-barrel tables provide lovely sunset seating. The friendly owner, born in the house, brings out reasonably priced bite-size portions of goats’ cheese soaked in olive oil, prosciutto and olives, paired with a glass of Babić wine or a shot of rakija, all own-made in the local villages.
Named after an ancient musical instrument and echoing the Dalmatian roots of this nearly 20-year-old restaurant, Torkul offers tables by the beach, in full view of the fabulous sunsets over the bay between the Old Town and the Raduća peninsula. Alternatively, there are seats on the shady green terrace on the other side of the building, near the tiny church. All the standard Dalmatian fish and steak dishes are offered, as well as top-quality shellfish and octopus slow-cooked ispod peka. Live music accompanies satisfied dining most evenings.
Stay at the Hotel Zora and you can take advantage of a whole range of attractions. A complex of nine interlinked low-rise buildings, set in pine forest, Zora features a glass-domed seaside heated pool area with underground pampering rooms and a roof that opens when the sun’s out or stays closed if you want to swim beneath the stars. There are also three tennis courts, beach volleyball, mini-golf and a café-bar with a lovely sea-facing terrace. You can rent almost anything, from jet-skis to paddle boats, and bicycles to banana boats.
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.
Right in the middle of Primošten town centre, Galerija Art of Metal (ulica Svetog Jurja 18) is one of those curious little galleries you find around Dalmatia, run by some strangely talented craftsman or artist whose wares are completely unique. In this case, it’s Davor Drilo, whose intricate figures fashioned in metal are taking part in activities such as playing the guitar, working out at the gym, relaxing in a hammock or riding a motorbike. Even if you find nothing that takes your fancy, it’s worth a browse around the workshop.
The main diving club in Primošten, Pongo, caters to all ages and levels of experience. The 50 dive sites in the immediate vicinity vary from a shallow plunge around caves and cliffs to admire barracudas, lobsters, amberjacks and coral, to a surprising number of near intact wrecks from World War II. The most impressive require a special permit, but experienced divers can then take a good look at a German Stuka plane and the Francesca di Rimini, an Italian cargo ship whose heavy load of grenades is still visible. Tuition is also given for confined exercises and those in open waters.
Tucked in from the seafront on Primošten’s prominent headland, the Konoba Galeb is a godsend for those holidaying on a budget. Dalmatian favourites – grilled meat, seafood risotto, scampi – are piled high in huge portions, meaning that you can save yourself for one meal a day. This may as well be the evening meal as, given the Adriatic-facing location, you can take in the sunset as you chomp into your škampi na žaru, served with a side of chips and a salad. Throw in a glass of house wine or a cold beer, and your affordable dining experience is complete.
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.
Right on the waterfront, the Marina Tavern sits above four well-located apartments, its menu dominated by the freshly caught bounty of the Adriatic. Here, lobster, crab, clams and mussels are the order of the day, fished from nearby waters and prepared in the classic Dalmatian way. The high-quality virgin olive oil used in the kitchen is also locally produced, and brings out the finest flavours of the fish also on offer. Vegetarians are treated to seasonal greens and fresh produce, while carnivores may accompany sizzling steaks with Babić wine from surrounding vineyards.
Practically the only historic sight in Primošten is the Church of St George (Crkva Sveti Juraj), whose stark white tower punctures the traditional Dalmatian skyline of terracotta rooftops backdropped by Adriatic blue. Like Primošten itself, it demands little of the visitor, only providing them with a beautiful view and, in this case, the pristine craftsmanship of the late 1400s and a well-tended cemetery worth a poke around for names, dates and occupations. The walk there is also worthwhile – winding alleys lined with green-shuttered stone houses lead uphill.
Beyond Primošten, a hinterland contains rolling vineyards and 30 or so hamlets. The most famous and most visited of them is the village of Primošten Burnji. Locals still tend the land by hand, cultivating figs, grapes and olives to produce divine olive oil and, of course, the deep red Babić wine for which the region is famed. High in tannins and alcohol, Babić may suffer in comparison with its counterparts further south around Pelješac but is popular, affordable and an easy accompaniment at dinner. Most importantly, its terroir is less fertile soil, hence its long-term tradition here.
Tomahawk Steakhouse is one of the few places in this part of Dalmatia where you’ll be served Simmental meat, from a rarer breed of cattle originally from Switzerland. Tenderloin from Argentina and Chicago Black Angus are also on the menu, all meats prepared on a charcoal grill and embellished by a choice of four types of sauce: green-pepper, truffle, champignon and spicy chimichurri. Younger guests might wish to sink their teeth into a burger, made with Black Angus beef, and pescatarians accompanying carnivores can opt for seabass or tuna. All takes place in a sturdy stone house done out in the traditional Dalmatian way, with views of the harbour from the terrace.
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.
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.
It’s a somewhat incongruous concept this, but you’re on holiday, so go with it. Through the summer, setting off from Primošten, you can embark on an ‘eco-fishing excursion’ aboard the well-equipped Jadran III, a whole day’s jaunt during which you fish, swim and help clean up the Adriatic. From 9am and a serving of sugary Dalmatian fritule doughnuts and the inevitable shot of spirit, staff provide a memorably hospitable experience, hauling in a net of small fish that gets grilled up straight away for lunch. A couple of glasses of wine to the good, you dive into the sea in a little bay – and at one point there’s some kind of ecological aspect to the whole caper. You’ll arrive back to Primošten in the late afternoon, tired, happy, slightly tipsy and inevitably sunburned. Don’t miss.
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.
At the Restaurant Kamenar, a well-equipped Welcome Bar extends your dining experience from a notch-above sit-down meal to a notch-above sit-down meal prefaced by a glass or two of local Babić complemented with a plate of prosciutto, Dalmatian cheese and sardines. Then, when you and your table are good and ready, comes the sea bass or grouper, john dory or bream, steak in scampi sauce or anglerfish with lemon. Of the two dining rooms, pick the one in the back with family bric a brac: black-and-white snapshots, an old radio and aerial photos of Primošten from the 1960s. If you’d prefer to dine outside, mulberry and acacia trees shade the terrace. Guestrooms are also available if you’d like to stay over.
Marina Frapa is Croatia’s classiest marina, with quality apartments and entertainment in a complex within easy walking distance of Rogoznica, a short drive from Primošten. Its late-opening bar, the Captain’s Club, offers quality cocktails on a sea-facing terrace, where sailing types can admire their craft and swap tips. The wine list is equally impressive and the service is impeccable.