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The ancient town of Zadar in Croatia is located on the Adriatic coast in Europe, a little north of the popular Dalmatian coast. It’s slightly underrated and we think you should definitely visit Zadar while in Croatia.
As the oldest town in the country, the old town really qualifies as “old” and it’s a magnificent place to wander around. Evidence of human life 3 centuries BC has been found close to where the town of Zadar is today. This area has been a popular place to live since… forever.
We think that’s enough reason to visit the place! But if you’re looking for more convincing, keep reading to find out which are the most interesting things to do in Zadar!
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Walk around the Old Town of Zadar
Now that you know about the long history of Zadar, I might fill you in on the different influences the town has seen over the centuries.
Zadar has been part of the Roman Empire and was an important city of the Byzantine empire. The city was conquered and burned, rebuild and taken over dozens of times.
Walking around Zadar old town makes you feel like walking back in time and it is one of the highlights in Zadar. I didn’t know all this before we went, but still felt as if knights on horses could gallop past us at any time!
The greeting to the sun
The Boulevard in the old town is the perfect place to swim in the water, catch the last sun or take some amazing sunset pictures.
There is a monument built into the ground, right next to the sea. The architect Nikola Basic designed the structure that lights up at sundown.
The produced light is in tune with the waves and it’s a delight to watch while the sun quietly drops into the sea.
Unfortunately, the place was very crowded when we visited and we didn’t really get to see it that well. But if it’s not too crowded, do visit!
Close to the Greeting to the Sun, the Sea Organ pleases visitors with sounds from the ocean.
It consists of a number of stairs that lead into the water. Thanks to some clever engineering, the stairs are designed to let the water flow in. While flowing through a system of canals, pipes, and whistles the flowing water produces a sound that resembles a chime.
It is said that no sound is ever the same. Each sound you hear is completely unique.
The Boulevard by the water is called Paseo Maritimo and it is the perfect spot to hang out.
Many locals and visitors spend their afternoon by the water and there is a friendly, slightly busy atmosphere which we liked a lot.
There isn’t really a beach, but you can jump into the water from the side. The water is perfectly clear and there are a lot of stairs where you can get out of the water.
Close to the Greeting to the Sun, massive cruise ships drop their anker and let their day trippers out. Luckily they positioned this dock just around the corner out of sight when admiring the sunset.
Five Wells Square and the park
The wells might no longer be in use, the square is still a remarkable place.
While it’s great for photography, it’s even better for romance. With a peaceful park lying next to it, the square is an excellent starting point for walks in the park.
The park is packed with benches and little resting corners and it is built on top of an ancient bastion which offers some great views over the area as well.
On festive occasions in Zadar Croatia, the Five Wells Square is used to host concerts and festivities.
The sunsets in Zadar Croatia
Just like the rest of the Croatian coast and the Dalmatian Coast, Zadar also offers some of the best sunsets in the world.
Watch the sun set into the Adriatic Sea and repeat the relaxing activity the next night and the next…
It’s so easy and fun to make stunning pictures here. The Zadar tourism website claims they have “the most beautiful sunsets in the world” and I’m not denying that.
We would have to go and check the rest of the world first to be sure! But I do admit I’m quite fond of the rainbow flag favicon the website hosts!
Nature Park Telašćica
Nature Park Telašćica can be visited in a day from Zadar Croatia and we recommend it a lot.
We just booked a tour with one of the companies you can find on the bridge. They’re probably all different, but still the same.
Prices vary only a little and we didn’t do a lot of research on them. We walked by them all a few times and then choose a guy that looked nice to let him sell us a tour.
We had a wonderful day on the boat and in the NP. The Kornati Natural Park consists of more than 140 islands and reefs. The boat trips take passengers past a lot of these islands and drop them on the biggest island where you can hike to the cliffs or take a dive into the salt lake.
The National Park is on the list of tentative Unesco World Heritage sites. Is that even a thing?
The famous cliffs are a stop on every boat tour and everyone gets a chance on a selfie with the cliffs in the background… Watch us do it!
These limestone cliffs face the open sea and are the result of corrosion. Weird shapes are formed into its walls that reach up to 80 meters above sea level.
Most Kornati islands have cliffs of some form that vary in height and length. After getting on land, it’s possible to hike a short bit to the top of one of the cliffs. It’s not too far and you can get some great shots here.
The Salt Lake called Mir
The salt lake on the island of Kornati is called Mir.
It is one of the most important landmarks on the island.
As you can expect, it’s a perfect place for a swim and a float. When we visited, temperatures were high and we enjoyed a fresh dive into the lake a lot.
The boat to Kornati NP Croatia
Kornati NP in Croatia is just a short and peaceful boat ride from Zadar, which I enjoyed so much, I would take the tour just for the boat ride!
I guess the difference in tour companies is mostly the boat. Our ship was perfect and meals were included.
One of the deck hands started handing out alcoholic beverages the minute we took off, which was at 8 in the morning.
We didn’t fall for it since we didn’t feel like being sick all day, but most Croatians took the shots as if they did it every day. We spent a big part of the day on board the ship and loved every minute of it.
Being on the sea is very peaceful, at least when the sea is calm! It was very calm that day. Right before we reached the island, we were served lunch. It was very simple, tasty and it was the exact thing we needed before going to the National Park.
There are a lot of things you can see and do in Zadar. We only did a few things since we had kind of a lazy holiday, which was still filled with interesting things to do in Zadar.
In fact, this place is perfect for a lazy holiday. It’s just so relaxing to walk around in the sun-soaked town and get a little bit lost before you realize the place is just too small to really get lost.
There are good restaurants and bars everywhere and ice cream is available on each street corner.
Each street has to have a minimum of 15 ice cream shops or it won’t be included on the map.
Artists and painters on every street corner invite you to be sketched or drawn into a beautiful painting.
I heard the nightlife is pretty great too… So if you like strolling through medieval towns as much as we do, you will have some great days in Zadar.
Zadar Croatia – Getting there and where to sleep
Getting to Zadar
Traveling between towns in Europe is easy with low-cost flights with airlines like Ryanair.
Zadar is accessible by train, bus, flight, car, … I even heard about people cycling there.
Within Europe, there is not much to hold travelers back. Zadar is also easily accessible from other Croatian coastal towns like Split and Dubrovnik.
The distance from Split to Zadar is a little less than 170km and since Split Croatia is also an interesting place to visit, you might want to plan a day trip there as well.
Getting around Zadar – Croatia
When in Zadar, everything is accessible by foot. We never really left the Old Town while we were in Zadar and walked everywhere. No, we actually went out of town to visit Kornati NP. The old town is located on a peninsula, connected to the main town with a bridge. The old town is less than one kilometer, so it’s easy to get around.
Where to sleep in Zadar Croatia?
Without a thought, we recommend accommodation in the old town. Hostels in the Old Town tend to be more expensive.
We did some hostel shopping and found prices were high, even for dorm beds. We ended up spending two nights in a hostel dorm and two nights in a wonderful Airbnb.
We liked both and would return anytime.
Things to do in Zadar Croatia
Now you know that you shouldn’t skip Zadar when visiting Croatia because there are a lot of top things to see in Zadar!
This ancient town north of the Dalmatian coast is very worthy of your time and we recommend spending at least 2 or 3 days to experience the city and 1 extra day to visit the National Park and do the boat trip.
Whether you combine a trip to Zadar on a European continental trip, you’re road tripping Croatia or you only have a weekend to spend, this interesting and relaxing town won’t let you down.
For LGBT travelers: check our LGBT rights page about Croatia and find out more lesbian destinations in Europe. You can also travel to Zadar in Croatia to enjoy some quiet time after visiting one of these lesbian festivals in Europe.
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