If you are looking for a place to have a great party, beaches, and nightlife, Novalja is the top Croatian destination for that purpose. Some will say that Novalja can be ranked among the top European destinations in terms of nightlife and beaches.
Table of Contents
Novalja is located in the north of the island of Pag. It can be easily reached by car, since Pag is connected to the mainland by a bridge.
Bus lines from all major Croatian cities drive to Novalja, including Zadar, Split, and Zagreb.
The nearest airport is Zemunik, located near Zadar.
Zrće near Novalja
There are dozens of beaches in and around Novalja, and they are all first-rate. We would single out two beaches.
The first one is Zrće, located around 3 kilometres away from the centre of the town. Zrće is the top beach party place in this part of Europe. Every year there are dozens of festival of electronic music held on the beach. You can find updated events on official website of Zrce
Due to coronavirus pandemic all major festivals in 2020 on beach Zrce are cancelled. Still, the beach is beautiful and worth visiting this year. The party will be held in a more intimate atmosphere, with people standing or sitting at the table in a clubs. Dancing on the dancing floor is not allowed.
Check updated restrictions for nightlife and party in Croatia in 2020.
The second one is located in the north of the town, at the entrance to the place called Stara Novalja.
Things to do in Novalja town
If you like sightseeing you will enjoy Novalja in that aspect as well. Archaeological excavations prove that life existed in Novalja before the new era. The most interesting historical sight is aqueduct from Roman times, which can be seen in the town's museum.
Remains of early Catholic basilica date from the period from 5th-6th century. The locality can be seen for free.
Throughout history, the island of Pag has been ruled by several kingdoms. It was part of early Croatian state, until 1102. when power in Croatia is taken over by Hungarians. The Hungarians ruled over Dalmatia until the beginning of 15th century when it was conquered by the Venetian Republic. Venice ruled over Pag and Dalmatia for almost 400 years. During this period, numerous Renaissance monuments were built on Pag. Novalja was not a significant city centre at that time, but it has become so only in recent times. That is why there are no significant monuments from the Middle and New Ages in the town.
Church of St. Catherine was built in 1906. during Austrian rule on the island of Pag. Today it's a parish church in the town. You can check mass schedule at church's Facebook site
How does Novalja look like in 2020
As of June 20, 2020, Novalja is filled with people. I would say occupancy is about 50% compared to the June 2019. The atmosphere in the town is good and visitors are having a great time. All the restaurants and bars have opened their door. Most of the tourists are Germans and Croats.
In July we are expecting British and French visitors as well since the border with those countries is still opening.
If you are thinking about whether you will come or not to Novalja this year, I definitely recommend you to do so. You will have a great time in a slightly more intimate atmosphere of the town.
Day trips from Novalja
If you decide to stay in Novalja, we recommend doing day trips to other destinations of Pag island. The most prominent one is Pag Town, which has been the central place of the island, with the highest number of cultural and historical monuments. I would point out the church of St. Mary's Assumption, located in the centre of the place.
Another destination for those who like cultural sightseeing is Zadar, a small coastal town located less than an hour and a half of ride from Novalja. There you can see churches from Romanesque period like Church of St. Donat or Cathedral of St. Anastasia. Additionally, Zadar features a unique monument in the world called Sea Organ - it's a mechanism which produces sound by sea waves hitting the shore.
Finally, for those who like exploring nature we recommend trip to Plitvice Lakes, the most beautiful nature park in Croatia. There is no need to talk about it too much - if you like exploring nature, book your trip, and Plitvice will be talking to you instead.
Interesting facts about Pag island
Pag is known for the production of high quality cheese - the top speciality of the island. When you arrive in Novalja, ask your host where you can buy it. Cheese factory in Pag Town is one of the locations where you can buy it.
Another food speciality is lamb meet - the highest quality lambs in Croatia are raised on Pag. Again I recommend asking your host where to taste grilled lamb meat.
Recently, Pag has become a destination for cycling tourism, easier MTB or road cycling. There are thousands of kilometres of bike trails that run through the beautiful rugged landscape of the island. If you are into biking, that alone should be good enough reason to visit the island.