Friday, August 15, 2008

Croatia Online - Biograd

Biograd, close to Zadar, doesn't always get a good press but it has much to offer if you're looking for a family beach holiday with plenty of activity. It has a huge stretch of tree lined pebble beach, packed with every conceivable stall and facility you could want - fast food, cocktail bars, souvenir shops, helter skelter, paragliding, massage tent, childrens activity areas, banana rides, tennis courts and the list goes on. Past the helter skelter in the background of today's photo, is a smaller sandy beach and another activity area.

The hotel choice has been dominated, to date, by Ilirija who have three large hotels in poll position facing the pedestrian area and beach. They may, externally, remind you of Yugoslavian holidays of yesteryear but Ilirija have an ongoing program of quality improvements so, inside, they're modern and well equipped. They've also added the popular Lavendar bed bar where you can lounge in the shade and watch the world go by and there's plenty of nightlife around the pool area and at Pocco Locco's, on the beach. If mass tourism is not your style, this year there are two new three star family run hotels - Mai Mare and Hotel Palma - the former a short walk from the beach, the latter slightly further from the beach. All these hotels provide good value for money and there are plenty of apartments to let as well as some other hotels, some of which could do with modernising.

As for restaurants you're spoilt for choice - Guste on the sea front by the ferry has long held the cachet for the best fish in town though reports suggest competition is increasing, Casa Vecchia and Mamma Mia, on the main town peninsula a little away from the sea, vie for the title of best pizzeria though it's hard to beat Casa Vecchia's courtyard, full of established trees. For something a little different, seek out Konoba Bazilika, by the 11th century ruins of St John The Evangelist's Basilica or Konoba Cotonum, which has a Roman and a Dalmatian menu. For classic Dalmatian food in a great setting try Konoba Vapor.

Part of the reason for Biograd's sometimes luke warm press is its unfortunate history. It used to be the crowning place for Hungarian kings but was demolished twice, once by the Venetians and a second time by retreating Turks. That means there's not much in the way of cultural sites to visit. However it's difficult to beat it's location - there's Zadar for a bit of culture, Sv Filip i Jakov for tradition, Croatia's largest lake, Vransko Jezero, for nature, and more national parks a little further afield. Plus the Kornati islands are in easy reach as are the islands of Pašman and Ugljan.
The beaches are pretty packed in the high season but if you want entertainment for young children and a good value beach holiday, Biograd compares well with eg Vodice and Borik near Zadar.


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