Although probably most famous as a party hotspot, youâ€™ll notice on your drive across the Croatian island of Pag from Zadar airport, that thereâ€™s a lot more to Novalja than the famous beach parties of Zrce.
Visitors to Novalja who are looking for a more authentic, Mediterranean experience need only step away from the clubs and bars of Zrce to discover a beautiful island with a rich history and culture to explore.
My advice for anyone seeking the hidden gems of Novalja is to take a step off the tourist trail, away from the party scene, and check out the â€˜realâ€™ Novalja. Here are my top, non-touristy, tips.
Visit the Novalja City Museum
This may sound like a rather â€˜stuffyâ€™ way to spend an afternoon, but the Gradski Muzej Novalja is actually a cultural gem right at the heart of this resort town. More than just a local history museum (although you will learn plenty about the island and its past here, including the Roman aqueduct) the Gradski Muzej Novalja also houses a contemporary art gallery on its top floor. Here the culture of the island is brought right up to date and you can discover what local artists are working on in Croatia today.
Catch Some Rays on ÄŒista Beach
While the party crowd fights for space on the pebble beach at Zrce with its water sports, bars and cafÃ©s, I would suggest to those who are looking for a more tranquil beach experience to head out of town a little way to ÄŒista Beach. One of the few sand beaches in the area, ÄŒista is a great sunbathing location and perfect for swimming as the water is actually a little warmer here than at Zrce.
Take a Hike
On your transfer from Zadar airport you probably will have caught sight of the beautiful countryside which surrounds Novlja. While most tourists stay firmly located in the resort, a short stroll out of town can take you deep into this beautiful landscape.
The countryside has plentiful walking trails (traditionally used by locals to connect the villages in the area) and these make great hiking routes. My favourite is The Novalja-Lun Trail which takes you past some of the areaâ€™s most beautiful beaches (including PotoÄnica and JakiÅ¡nica) and then through the olive groves at Lun. Some of the trees here are a staggering one thousand years old!
How to Get There
The best way to get to Novalja from the UK is to fly from Stansted to Zadar Airport. There are around nine weekly flights, with some budget options including Ryanair. The flight time takes around two and a half hours.
To get from Zadar airport to Novlja is around an hour-and-a-half drive. If you want to beat the tourist crowds vying for taxis at the airport, I would suggest booking an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct before you set off. We offer a private or more economical shared group transfer. The benefit of a shared group transfer is that youâ€™ll get to meet other travellers who may have more good tips about discovering the hidden side of this fascinating town.
Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct, the number one provider of shared and private airport transfers all over Europe and northern Africa. If you’re looking for the most affordable ride from Zadar Airport, Lukas and his colleagues can make sure that you and your luggage get to and from the airport swiftly and safely.
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