A Travel Price Comparison for Croatia Zadar vs. Novalja for Nightlife, Backpackers, Food, and Resorts

Should you visit Zadar or Novalja?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Zadar or Novalja? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Zadar

Zadar is a coastal, vibrant, and laid back town. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Novalja

Novalja is a energetic, backpacker-filled, and wild town. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the nightlife and beaches.

Zadar and Novalja: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Scenic old town
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
  • Not as many resort options
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less family-friendly


Is there more to do in Zadar or Novalja?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Zadar than Novalja, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Zadar is better known for its museums, food, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, historical sights, and shopping, while Novalja is more popular for its nightlife. Novalja is more touristy than Zadar and is known for its crazy beach parties and popularity with the young backpacker crowd. Zadar is well known for its historical sights and waterfront setting. Also, Zadar is famous for the Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation.

How is Zadar different from Novalja?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Novalja and Zadar. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Zadar or Novalja?

Zadar
Novalja

Zadar is a popular place for its museums and landmarks. However, Novalja is a town with minimal options for its historical sights.

Zadar offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. The old town is like a living museum, with city walls and a historic gate. The Church of St. Donatus, Zadar Cathedral, and the Zadar Archaeological Museum are all fascinating places to visit in town, but if you're looking for the most unique sight, make sure you check out The Sea Organ and The Sun Salutation.

If you're looking to pass the time, head to a museum or historic sight in Novalja. It's a beach and party destination, not somewhere you go for museums or historical sights.


Is the Food Better in Zadar or Novalja? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Zadar
Novalja

Zadar is a great destination for its restaurant scene. However, Novalja is a town with minimal options for its local flavors and cuisine.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Zadar. The town is filled with outdoor cafes that serve up a healthy and delicious selection of recipes. The ingredients are fresh and local with olive oil and seafood making frequent appearances on the menus. Prices are also reasonable.

Novalja may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. You'll find a lot of places to grab a quick bite to eat or a cheap meal around town. There are pizzerias, fast food, and some nicer bistros to choose from.

Is Zadar or Novalja Better for Nightlife?

Zadar
Novalja

Novalja is an amazing town to visit for nightlife and partying. Also, Zadar is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its evening party scene.

Novalja has a colorful and one-of-a-kind nightlife scene. This is a party island, and you'll find most of the action around Zrce Beach, which is about a 20 minute drive from town. The party scene appeals to the young, backpacker crowd and there's live music, DJs, and parties that last well into the morning. Zrce Beach has a huge number of bars and clubs including three clubs that are listed on the Top 100 DJ's Magazine Best Clubs List.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Zadar. The town comes to life at night when the bars and restaurants fill with people chatting and socializing. This is an easy place to enjoy the evening as almost all of the nightlife venues are within a five minute walk of each other.

Is Zadar or Novalja Better for Resorts?

Zadar
Novalja

Zadar is a great destination for its resorts. However, Novalja is a town with minimal options for its luxury resorts.

Zadar is known as a popular and fun resort destination. If you want a beachfront resort, there are a number of nice options outside of town.

You might not think of Novalja as a resort destination, but it has a few places. Most of the accommodation is in the form of apartments or hostels. There are also some hotels on the island, but because the number is limited they can be quite expensive.


Is Zadar or Novalja Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Zadar
Novalja

Zadar is a popular place for its diving and snorkeling. However, Novalja is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Zadar has a few good snorkeling spots. This is an easy place to snorkel because the water is so clear. There are also half and full day snorkeling trips that take you to some of the best spots.

Novalja is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Zadar or Novalja Better for Beaches?

Zadar
Novalja

For a relaxing beach holiday, both Zadar and Novalja are high quality choices.

Zadar is considered a top beach destination. There are some nice beaches outside of town with one of the most famous being Sakarun Beach, which is part of the Zadar archipelago. There are a handful of beaches nearby that are pebbly and popular with the locals. These include Puntamika Beach and Beach Borik.

Novalja is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. You'll find a mix of beaches near town including hidden gems that feel remote and undiscovered as well as wild party beaches like the famed Zrce Beach. Many beaches are pebbly or have coarse sand with turquoise blue waters.

Is Zadar or Novalja Better for its Old Town?

Zadar
Novalja

Zadar is a great destination for its old town. However, Novalja does not have a historic old town.

Many visitors explore the old town while visiting Zadar. The small old town is filled with charm and character. It's a walled medieval town that can easily be explored in a few hours.

Novalja does not have a historic old town.


Is the Shopping Better in Zadar or Novalja?

Zadar
Novalja

Zadar is a popular place for its shopping opportunities. However, Novalja is a town with minimal options for its shopping areas.

Zadar offers some nice shopping areas. There are small, boutique shops around the old town that sell designer merchandise. There are also shopping malls on the outskirts of town.

Shopping in Novalja can be found for those interested. This isn't the place to go shopping for clothing or local items. You will find some beach and souvenir shops around town though.

Is Zadar or Novalja Better for Families?

Zadar
Novalja

Zadar is a popular place for its family-friendly activities. However, Novalja is a town with minimal options for its kid-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Zadar. It's fun to explore the small medieval old town, but the kids will also appreciate getting out of town and enjoying the nearby activities. It's definitely worth visiting Pag Island or any of the other natural settings that are nearby. There are also several beaches near town. In town, make sure you hear the Sea Organ and dance at the Sun Salutation.

For families, Novalja is not always the best place to visit. While there are family-friendly places to visit like some beaches and waterparks, at its heart this is a party destination that is known for its wild parties and crazy crowds.

Is Zadar or Novalja Better for Couples?

Zadar
Novalja

Zadar is a great destination for its romantic activities. Also, Novalja is still popular, but not quite as popular for couples.

Couples visit Zadar frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. This charming seaside town is fun to explore as a couple. There's a walled medieval town that is small and easy to wander around. There are also nearby beaches and great restaurants to explore. A highlight of a visit is watching the stunning sunsets by the water.

Novalja is a good town for couples to visit. Stunning beaches, blue waters, and surreal landscapes make this a one-of-a-kind place to visit. But romance isn't on most people's minds, as this is first and foremost a party destination.


Is Zadar or Novalja Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Zadar
Novalja

Novalja is an amazing town to visit for backpackers. Also, Zadar is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Backpackers and budget travelers come from all over the world to visit Novalja. Famous for its wild parties that attract backpackers and young travelers, this island destination has become a hotspot for backpackers and party-goers. There are hostels around town that offer a cheap place to crash.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Zadar. There's no shortage of hostels in town and you'll find backpackers, students, and budget travelers everywhere.

Is Zadar or Novalja Better for Students?

Zadar
Novalja

Zadar is a great destination for students. However, Novalja is not popular with students.

Zadar is a very popular town for students and younger travelers. The laid back lifestyle and low cost of living make this a great place to be a student. It's a relaxed environment with many nearby places to explore.

Novalja is not popular with students.

Is Zadar or Novalja Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Zadar
Novalja

Both Zadar and Novalja offer notable public transit options.

Zadar has a few public transit options. There are 11 bus lines that travel around town.

Novalja has some public transit options. There are local buses around the island or you can rent a personal vehicle like a motorbike or scooter.


Is Zadar or Novalja a more walkable city?

Zadar
Novalja

Zadar is a great destination for its high level of walkability. Also, Novalja is still popular, but not quite as popular for its ease of walking around.

Zadar is a very walkable town. The old town is particularly walkable and can easily be explored on foot in a few hours.

Novalja is a somewhat walkable town. In town, you can reach most places on foot, but if you want to explore further you'll need to find another way to get around.

For even more information, also check out Is Zadar Worth Visiting? and Is Novalja Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Novalja or Zadar?

How long in Zadar or Novalja?

It's fun to spend time in either Zadar or Novalja. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Novalja due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Zadar, and 2-4 days is enough time in Novalja.

Families should spend more time in Zadar than Novalja. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Zadar, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Zadar than Novalja. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Zadar that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Zadar than Novalja if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Zadar.


  • How many days in Zadar or Novalja? Ideal Length of Stay
    Zadar 1-2 
    Novalja 2-4

One day in Zadar or Novalja?

In Zadar, you'll find shopping and museums. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. This town offers something for everyone. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

In Novalja, many people enjoy the nightlife that this wild destination offers. It's also a great beach destination, too. Lots of people come for the nightlife. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

A weekend in Zadar or Novalja?

In Zadar, you'll find museums and nightlife. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Visiting the old town is also a must. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Zadar has to offer.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Novalja. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.


Five days in Zadar or Novalja?

Zadar is a great place to explore. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

Novalja is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the nightlife when visiting the destination of Novalja. Lots of people come for the nightlife. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

A week in Zadar or Novalja?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Zadar. Many people enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting Zadar. It's also a relaxing resort destination. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

You'll find nightlife around the energetic destination of Novalja. Most people come for the beaches. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Lots of people come for the nightlife. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Tours for Seniors to Croatia, The Best G Adventures Tours to Croatia, The Best 3-Day Tours from Split, and The Best 3-Day Tours from Dubrovnik.


Which place is cheaper, Novalja or Zadar?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Zadar is $95, while the average daily cost in Novalja is $62. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Zadar and Novalja in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Zadar $54
    Novalja $34
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Zadar $108
    Novalja $68
Compare Hotels in Zadar and Novalja

Looking for a hotel in Zadar or Novalja? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Zadar


Hotels in Novalja


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Zadar Hotel Prices and Novalja Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Zadar $10
    Novalja $12

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Zadar

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Zadar:

  • From Plitvice Lakes Private Round-Trip Transfer: $404
  • From Private Transfer to Dubrovnik Airport: $619
  • From Zagreb & Franjo Tudman Airport Private Transfer: $466
  • Private One Way Transfer from Split to Zadar: $280
  • Private Transfer from Biograd Na Moru to Zadar Airport (ZAD): $69
  • Private Transfer from Borik Zadar to Zadar Airport (ZAD): $38
  • Private Transfer from Starigrad Paklenica to Zadar Airport (ZAD): $109
  • Private Transfer from Zadar Airport (ZAD) to Šibenik: $197
  • Private Transfer from Zadar Airport (ZAD) to Borik Zadar: $38
  • Private Transfer from Zadar Airport (ZAD) to Kožino: $55
  • Private Transfer from Zadar Airport (ZAD) to Murter: $197
  • Private Transfer from Zadar Airport (ZAD) to Pag Island: $177

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Novalja

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Novalja:

  • Private Transfer from Crikvenica to Rijeka Airport (RJK): $75
  • Zrce, Private Transfer to/from Zadar Airport: $173

Is it cheaper to fly into Zadar or Novalja?

Prices for flights to both Novalja and Zadar change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Zadar $30
    Novalja $21

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Zadar

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Zadar.

  • Small Group Cooking Class: $39
  • Private City Tour and Cooking Class: $98
  • Zadar Private City Tour and Cooking Class: $100

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Zadar $20
    Novalja $6.48

Tours and Activities in Zadar

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Zadar are as follows:

  • Old Town Walking Tour: $16
  • Zadar historical guided tour: $16
  • Old Town Highlights Guided Walking Tour: $18
  • Zadar City Tour 90min Walk: $20
  • Guided City Walking Tour: $22
  • Old Town Evening Group Guided Walking Tour: $24
  • Early Morning Walking Tour of the Old Town: $24
  • Zadar City Tour 120min Walk: $24
  • Evening Walking Tour of the Old Town: $26
  • Early Morning Walking Tour of the Old Town in Zadar: $26
  • Guided Old Town History Walking Tour: $26
  • Early Bird Group Walking Tour in Zadar Old Town: $27

Tours and Activities in Novalja

Here are a few actual costs in Novalja for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Bungee Tower Ticket with Zrce Beach Panoramic Views: $33
  • From Svetojanj Bike Tour: $48
  • Standup Paddleboard Guided Tour: $48
  • From Kolan Bike Tour: $48
  • From Metajna/Pag Bay Guided Sea Kayaking Tour: $50
  • Zrce: Novalja Boat Party Booze Cruise: $53
  • Glowing Standup Paddleboard Guided Night Tour: $59
  • Pag Island Light-Up Kayak Night Tour: $63
  • Kayak and Via Ferrata Adventure: $72
  • Zrce Beach Bungee Jumping Experience: $75

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Zadar $12
    Novalja $7.76

Sample the Local Flavors in Zadar

Also in Zadar, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Krka Waterfalls, Food & Wine Tasting, & Old Town Tour: $53
  • Krka Waterfalls, Food & Wine Tasting, Boat Ride & Zadar Old Town: $54
  • Craft Gin and exclusive brandies in unique distillery: $61
  • Wine Tasting with Finger Food: $65


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Zadar and Novalja, we can see that Zadar is more expensive. And not only is Novalja much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Novalja would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Novalja and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Zadar would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Zadar than you might in Novalja.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Zadar Expensive? and Is Novalja Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Zadar or Novalja?

Zadar has a larger population, and is about 30 times larger than the population of Novalja. When comparing the sizes of Zadar and Novalja, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.