Inside Zadar Valley, Croatia’s First ‘Digital Nomad Village’

Total Croatia News

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Gillie Sutherland/Digital Nomads Croatia Facebook page
Gillie Sutherland/Digital Nomads Croatia Facebook page

2021 was a phenomenal year for Croatia’s digital nomad story. The year kicked off with the introduction of the digital nomad permit, one of the first in the world, on January 1. It was a permit which received global attention and was recently named the best in the world.  

Innovative programmes such as the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence and Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Ambassador project kept Croatia in the global nomad news, and helped to attract an increasing number of nomads to check out Croatia. 

By the time the highly regarded Nomad List 2021 survey came out late in the year, the feedback was stunning – Croatia was the second most-liked country, and Zagreb in the top 5 cities in the world

There was more. On September 29, the Digital Nomads Croatia Facebook page announced Zadar Valley,  the first ‘digital nomad village’ and curated community in Croatia. Here is the announcement in full, with accompanying photos:



I believe that everyone in this group knows that Croatia has a lot to offer to digital nomads. From natural beauty to culture, architecture, gastronomy, and quite importantly, the Mediterranean lifestyle.

However, we also recognize that the attractiveness of the country is not enough on its own, it’s the feeling of community that matters to digital nomads and remote workers. As moderators of this group, are working hard to empower the DN community in Croatia.


That is why I am very happy to announce a project which would, hopefully, attract even more digital nomads to visit this beautiful land and create strong and lasting communities around the country.

As a CEO of grabAhome, in partnership with Falkensteiner H&R, I proudly present Digital Nomad Valley Zadar!

At one of the most beautiful resorts, in one of the most prominent cities in Croatia, we are organizing the first curated digital nomad community in Croatia.


Starting October 10th, by joining the program you will get:

  • Premium mobile homes with solo or coliving options
  • Exclusive coworking office
  • Community manager
  • Free access to Spa, Gym, and indoor pool
  • Exclusive events (organized by us and the community)
  • #discordcommunity channel
  • Partner discounts
  • Most importantly, a great community of like-minded people



Minimum 2-week stay. Starting at €130 per week, we believe that everyone will be able to find an accommodation option that suits them.

We are also able to offer the First 15 digital nomads a 15% discount for the first two weeks of stay!

This project is a part of a new initiative from grabAhome called Work Remotely Croatia, where we hope to build and support several communities around Croatia in order to promote and advocate sustainable tourism in Croatia. This project starts on October 10th until 31st March, with the possibility of an extension!


Special thanks to Falkensteiner H&R for offering long-term rentals just for the purpose of this project, and to Digital Nomad Association Croatia and Zadar Tourist Board for supporting this project.

It sounded like a fantastic initiative – and it is – and TCN was the first to publish the announcement, and the story was soon picked up by global media such as, for example, Euronews

Zadar Valley co-founder Mario Mrksa gave a very good interview with TCN just before the launch, outlining the project and what nomads could expect at Zadar Valley. With over 200 applications in the first 10 days, it seemed that all was heading in the right direction. 

And then things got a little strange – to me at least, someone who has been following the Croatian DN scene for over two years. Zadar Valley opened, but there was no online presence or feedback whatsoever that I could see. And I looked quite hard. 


Then some days later, something even stranger, as an article by the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) appeared in Slobodna Dalmacija. This is the first time I had seen HTZ promoting a private enterprise in all my time in Croatia.

To put it in context, long before I had any issues with the Croatian National Tourist Board, back in 2015 I wrote my most successful article ever. 25 Reasons Never to Visit Croatia was visited more than 1 million times, covered by every Croatian (and some international) media, shared by almost every local and regional tourist board. 

But not by the Croatian National Tourist Board, which actually deleted links to the article when people posted on their Facebook page. I was a little upset, so I complained to the Director’s office (a former director, not the current one). This was part of the reply:

The Croatian National Tourism Board is a national tourist organization founded with a view to promoting and creating the identity of Croatian tourism. The mission also includes the planning and implementation of a common strategy and the conception of its promotion, proposal and the performance of promotional activities of mutual interest for all subjects in tourism in the country and abroad, as well as raising the overall quality of the whole range of tourist services in the Republic of Croatia. Therefore, we cannot promote commercial subjects based on individual offer of tourist services. 

A fairly clear – if short-sighted – policy, but definitely a strong guideline. Which is why it was so strange to see the article in Slobodna.


Things got even stranger at the end of November. With still nothing online about life at Zadar Valley, a hastily arranged press conference on November 28 to officially launch Zadar Valley had a star cast, including the Head of Global PR of the Croatian National Tourist Board, the Mayor Zadar, and the local MEP. Mario invited me to the press conference a couple of days before, but given my ongoing lawsuits with one of his star guests, I declined as I did not want to distract attention from the project. 

By contrast, the award-winning Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence barely (if at any) got an official mention from the Croatian National Tourist Board. Odd.


But I did meet him and his Zadar Valley partner, Vedran, for a beer in Zagreb to discuss progress. And there was good progress, they informed me, as well as inviting me down to visit. 

I decided to take him up on the offer, and planned a quick visit in mid-December. But I also asked him to send an update on the project, as well as a quote, and some photographs of life in Zadar Valley. This is what Mario sent me, published in full: 

Since October 2021, we have welcomed more than 20 digital nomads to the Valley. While many are from Europe (England, Germany, Czechia, Sweden); DNs also joined us from the Americas (USA, Brazil) and East Asia. A few DNs extended their stays at the Valley by several weeks. While many residents work in IT, creative, and on start-ups; several also work remotely for employers at regular 9 to 5 jobs.


In partnership with the expat and local community, we have organized meetups at bars and nightclubs, group dinners, board games evenings, bike rides, hikes to Velebit and surrounding areas, and even a group Kizomba dance night. Through these events, we have formed friendships with long-term Expats and DNs in the area.


In November, Gillie Sutherland joined the Valley as Wellness Ambassador. She holds daily Yoga classes, often on the beach, and conducts seminars on nutrition and healthy living.


We have 14 new DNs coming at the beginning of January and expect Steve Tsentserensky and Dean Kuchel to join us, which are already well recognized within DN community in Croatia. In addition to building the community, organizing meetups and excursions, we are planning several local experiences (Croatian traditions and crafts) and a series of comprehensive spa and wellness packages.

“We are very proud of what we achieved within the first 75 days of the Digital Nomad Valley project. Even though we managed to bring the first batch of nomads to our small “village”, we’re most proud of seeing digital nomads and remote workers coming to the City of Zadar just because they heard about a new DN community here.


Many of them decided to stay until the beginning of Summer. It’s mesmerizing to think that, just because of this project, we managed to influence people to choose a destination they probably never heard of for working remotely. We accomplished putting Zadar on the DN map, and that’s just a start.” Mario Mrksa. 


My visit in mid-December was hardly going to be the peak season for nomads in Zadar Valley, and so it proved. Community Manager Forrest Stilin, a very friendly and enthusiastic American returning to his Croatian roots, showed me around on a gorgeous December late morning.  He is clearly very enthusiastic about the project and very keen to see the community develop with the arrival of a bigger group of nomads in January.  At the time of my visit, there was just one nomad at Zadar Valley (all photos in this article are not from my visit, but supplied by Zadar Valley). 


The community is building slowly, with outdoor activities such as hiking proving a hit.  

 And there is a definite plus when it comes to the spa.

 The Falkensteiner hotel partner has given free spa access to every resident of Zadar Valley. 

A nice addition for sure. There is also a coworking space in the hotel, which had a couple of people working in it when we visited. As for the valley itself, it is a little hard to comment on it, as we didn’t actually see anybody as we walked around. 

But the community is building slowly, and Zadar Valley has signed up a few local partner service providers, who are offering special DN programmes and discounts. This is something that will presumably grow in time. 

Is Zadar Valley for me? Personally I would prefer a little more life and community, but it is hard to judge on a visit in December. There certainly needs to be more information and social media posting about, and the arrival of the Dean Kuchels will certainly help in that regard.  


Having spent a pleasant hour with Forrest, culminating in a (with a discount) coffee in a local cafe, I headed back to Zagreb, with one small detour. Mario and Vedran had invited a few nomads to road test a new nomad-friendly villa they had taken on. I agreed to check it out, as well as saying hi to one of the temporary residents – Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for November, Rax Suen from Singapore. 


The villa – actually two – is magnificent. 


The views pretty special.  


And the location a real disappointment. These are the instructions of how to reach it by car. Once in the villa, life is beautiful indeed. But it is far away from anything else, especially if you do not have a car. 

it felt somehow a little like Zadar Valley itself – a great concept, but very much a work in progress. 

Having visited, would I classify as a digital nomad village? No, it has some way to go. There are other more developed events, such as Nomad Table in Split, which are bringing communities together. 

But the project definitely has potential, and Mario and Vedran should be congratulated on the initiative. Whether or not Zadar Valley will establish itself as a key destination in the DN story remains to be seen, but its very existence is one more stepping stone to putting Croatia on the global digital nomad map. 

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.  


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