Updated June 2019 – Second trip to Zadar
Zadar is the oldest inhabited city of Croatia, with a history of Roman and Venetian rule. It is situated on the Adriatic Sea in northern Dalmatia and is a gateway to the islands of the Zadar Archipelago.
Zadar is a must-see travel destination of Croatia.
Zadar can often be overlooked when planning an itinerary of Croatia, with travellers opting to visit Dubrovnik or Split. But if like us, you are wanting to escape the large tourist crowds, then you’ll want to put Zadar on your radar.
You’ll want to spend at least three days exploring the old city, walking around the splendid architecture and learning more about Zadar’s history.
And to view its magical sunsets every evening.
Have you Considered a Road Trip of Croatia?
Zadar was our second stop on our road trip travelling from Trieste in Italy down the Croatian coast.
What can we say but Wow, the drive is spectacular.
It has to be one of our best travel experiences, so we can highly recommend you Hire yourself a Car and drive the Croatian coast.
If you are wanting to experience what to see in Croatia, and need some help planning your trip, check out our guide for the
Some Background of Zadar
Situated centrally on the Adriatic Coast, Zadar is Croatia’s 5th largest city and the oldest continually inhabited city in the country.
The city has come under the rule of the Romans, the Venetians and the Byzantine Empire.
The old town showcases Roman ruins, Venetian gates, medieval churches and pedestrian-only streets. A walk along the Piers for sea views and some of the best sunsets you will see anywhere in the world.
And with on average 120 days of sunshine each year, Zadar offers some of the best things to do and must-see sights in Croatia.
10 Must See Sights that will put Zadar on your Radar
1. Land Gate entrance to Zadar
Land Gate is the main entrance into the old city of Zadar, and one of four Venetian gates that provide access to 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.
The wells are no longer operational, however, it is a great place to sample some of the nearby cafes.
And you can easily access the Queen Jelena Madije Park, the oldest park in Zadar, offering lots of shade trees and stunning views.
3. Take a walk on 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.
We loved this the pier with its great views back to the old town and across the water to the islands.
Along the walk, you will find plenty of market stalls on your way to the pier Zalazak Sunca. The best place to view the sunsets of Zadar each evening.
And if you want to know when the sunset will occur, then click this link Zadar Sunsets.
4. Listen to the Sea Organ (Morske Orgulje)
Click for a link to our YouTube channel for Maura’s description and sounds of the Sea Organ.
Just along from the Sea Organ is The Greeting to the Sun (Pozdrav Suncu).
The 22-meter diameter circle consists of three hundred multi-layered glass plates. It is spectacular at night, with the multicoloured lights shining in varying patterns and colours.
5. Green Square (Zeleni Trg)
Green Square was the site of the Roman Forum where construction began in the 1st century AD.
We loved this square as everyone can wander amongst Roman and Byzantine monuments.
We even parked our car adjacent to this area, parking the car near some random roman columns.
6. 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.
7. Tower of Saint Anastasia (Tower of Sv.Stosija)
The Tower of Saint Anastasia provides the best views over Zadar
You’ll need to climb up the 180 steps to reach the viewing platform at 42m, but the views are worth your effort.
8. The Cathedral of St. Anastasia (Sv. Stosija)
The Cathedral St. Anastasia is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Zadar.
It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Zadar, and the largest church in all of Dalmatia.
The original church built on the site was in the 3rd century. However, the cathedral you see today was constructed in the Romanesque style of the 12th and 13th century after damage by the Venetians and Crusaders in 1202.
Zardarski Barkajoli (Boat-ride men) of Zadar
If you are looking for a fun thing to do, why not take a boat ride from the old town to the marina of the new city.
The boat ride is an 800-year-old ‘tradition’ and only takes 2 minutes at a cost of 5 kune. Such fun.
Other Places of Interest in Zadar
People’s Square has been the main public centre for centuries, the clock tower is from the 19th century.
Ulika Elizabeth Kotromanic is a vibrant street and the main thoroughfare. Lots of shops, cafes and restaurants line the pedestrian area.
The University of Zadar 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 has one of the best collections of ancient glass in Europe and is held in the 19th century Cosmacendi Palace.
Where to Stay in Zadar
When choosing accommodation for your stay, we have a few favourite sites to get you a discount.
Always a favourite of ours is for you to receive a 10% discount when you click here Booking.com.
But for us, we love the lower prices of Hotels.com where after your 10th-night booked, your next night is discounted by your average stay rate. Click here on Hotels.com to start your discounts.
When we are staying longer and need the use of a kitchen, we use Airbnb. If you are new to Airbnb, then click here on Airbnb to get a discount on your first booking.
Where to Eat in Zadar
Zadar was occupied by the Italians after WWII so Pizza is always a favourite and can be found on most menus.
We chose 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 Ulica Kalelarga 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 in Zadar opened 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
When staying three days in Zadar means you can spend time visiting nearby National Parks and towns like Sibenik. To help with your planning here is a guide
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 has 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.
Are you planning to visit Zadar?
Are you planning to visit Croatia?
For a road trip or arriving on a flight to Dubrovnik, Split or Zadar, here is a guide to help you with your planning.
If you are planning to visit Split make sure to check out Things to do in Split.