We had suffered three stormy days in a row, one in Trieste and two in Crikvenica, as we started our drive of the Croatia coast road to Zadar. Fortunately, the sun was out and the sky was blue as we arrived into Zadar old town. We had already visited the capital of Croatia Zagreb on our road trip from Germany to Italy, so we were excited to learn more of this beautiful country Croatia.
A bit of Background of Zadar
10 Must See Sights that will put Zadar on your Radar
1. Land Gate
Land Gate is the main entrance into the old city of Zadar, and one of four Venetian gates that provide access into the old town. This gate dates back to 1543 and is the most decorative of the four gates. It allows a central passage for wheeled vehicles and two smaller passages for pedestrians.
The other three gates are the Sea Gate, the Bridge Gate and St Rocco Gate.
2. Five Wells Square (Trg 5 Bunara)
The five wells located in this square were built by the Venetians to withstand a siege by the Turkish in the 16th century. But today the wells are no longer operational, however it is a great place to sample some of the nearby cafes.
From here you can access the Queen Jelena Madije Park, the oldest park in Zadar, offering lots of shade trees and stunning views.
3. Zadar Promenade
No trip to Zadar is complete without a walk along the lovely promenade Paseo Maritimo which extends the entire length of the Old Town, about 1 km. Along the walk you will find plenty of market stalls on your way to the pier Zalazak Sunca. The pier has some great viewing points back to the old town and across the water to the islands. Also it is a great spot to view the sunsets each evening. And if you want to know when the sunset will occur, then click this link Zadar Sunsets.
4. Sea Organ (Morske Orgulje)
The Sea Organ is a gathering place to listen to the music of the sea and to watch the beautiful sunsets. The organ has 35 inbuilt pipes which pushes air up through the pipes.
Click for a link to our YouTube channel for Maura’s description 😁 and sounds of the Sea Organ.
5. The Greeting to the Sun (Pozdrav Suncu)
Just along from the Sea Organ is The Greeting to the Sun.
The Greeting to the Sun consists of three hundred multi-layered glass plates, placed on the same level with the stone-paved waterfront. The 22-meter diameter circle is spectacular at night, the multi coloured lights shine in varying patterns and colours.
6. Green Square (Zeleni Trg)
Green Square was the site of the Roman Forum where construction began in the 1st century AD. And it is here you find Roman and Byzantine monuments, just standing or lying on the ground, where you can walk in between them all. We even parked our car adjacent to this area and backed up our car to some random roman columns.
7. The Church of St Donatus (Crkva Sv. Donata)
The Church of St Donatus is the most famous monumental building in Croatia, and is the symbol of Zadar. Donatus of Zadar began construction of the church in the 9th century on top the ruins of a Roman Forum. It’s why some of the roman forum can still be seen within the building, now used for musical performances, due to its extraordinary acoustic features.
8. Tower of Saint Anastasia (Tower of Sv.Stosija)
The Tower of Saint Anastasia provides the best views over Zadar, after you climb the 180 steps to reach the viewing platform at 42m.
9. The Cathedral of St. Anastasia (Sv. Stosija)
The Cathedral St. Anastasia is the Roman Catholic cathedral of Zadar, the seat of the Archdiocese of Zadar, and the largest church in all of Dalmatia. The church dates back to the original, built on the site in the 3rd century.
But the cathedral you see today was constructed in the Romanesque style of the 12th and 13th century, due to the damage by the Venetians and Crusaders in 1202.
10. Zardarski Barkajoli (Boat-ride men) of Zadar
This boat ride is a great way to get from the old town to the marina of the new city. It is an 800 year old ‘tradition’ and only takes 2min at a cost of 5 kune. Such fun.
Other Places of Interest
People’s Square – This has been the main public centre for centuries, the clock tower is from the 19th century.
Ulika Elizabeth Kotromanic – This is a lovely street and the main thoroughfare. Lots of shops, cafes and restaurants line the pedestrian area.
University of Zadar – The university can trace its lineage to 1396, making it the oldest tertiary institution in Croatia, and one of the oldest in Europe.
Archaeological Museum – Founded in 1832 can be found at the Forum square.
Museum of Ancient Glass – Is one of the best collections of ancient glass in Europe and is held in the 19th century Cosmacendi Palace.
Where to Stay
We often use Airbnb to stay in the places we visit. We found a spacious Airbnb apartment hosted by Luca which we can highly recommend. Click here for a discount Airbnb. Staying at an Airbnb in the old town is the best way to explore, as you have all the must see sights at your door.
Where to Eat
Zadar was occupied by the Italians after WWII so Pizza is always favourite and can be found on the menu. It is so good.
We decided on some local Croatian food at the restaurant 2Ribara, one of the oldest restaurants in Zadar. The food was good, reasonably priced and the staff pleasant.
Siroka ul.-Kalelarga – This is the street to find delicious pastries and Burek (a pastry filled with meat or cheese). Burek’s are always good for breakfast, with a coffee from one of the many cafes. The first coffee shop opened here in 1730.
What to Wear
September is a good time to visit Zadar, but bring a jacket and scarf for the sunsets, as the wind can be brisk. For the summer months, all you need is shorts and t-shirts as it is hot.
Shoes – make sure you wear rubber soled shoes, as the polished limestone pavements of Zadar can be dangerous for walking in wet weather.
Day Trips from Zadar
National Parks and Nature Parks surround Zadar and make for great day trips. Two places of interest would be the Paklenica National Park which is great for hikers and climbers. The other would be Cerovac Caves in the Velebit Nature Park with one of the most famous caves in Croatia.
Zadar Archipelago – there are about 300 islands in the archipelago including the Kornati Islands. Boat excursions are available to book from the pier Zalazak Sunca and from the pier near the Sea Gate.
If you need more information on Zadar, then click on this link Zadar Tourist Board.
Our time in Zadar was to spend three beautiful days exploring the old city, to view the splendid architecture and to learn more of Zadar’s history. But for us, the highlight was the magical sunsets every evening.
Zadar is a must see travel destination when visiting Croatia with island excursions to fabulous beaches, a history of beautiful architecture and incredible food to tempt your taste buds. While it can be less busy than Split and Dubrovnik, it has plenty of things to do and see, to make your stay worthwhile.
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