Zadar Travel Guide
Contents [click on chapter for quick jump]
- 1 Get to know Zadar – The Best European Destination 2016
- 2 Things to do in Zadar
- 2.1 Sightseeing and museums in Zadar
- 2.2 Walking along Zadar’s ancient squares
- 2.3 The main street – Kalelarga promenade
- 2.4 Listen to The Sea Organ music
- 2.5 Watching the sunset at The Greeting to the Sun
- 2.6 Watch out! The Sphinx is sitting in Zadar’s garden!
- 2.7 Pentagonal Captain’s Tower
- 2.8 Join the annual “Millennium Jump” into the sea
- 2.9 Take a Barkajoli ride
- 2.10 The Land Gate and old Port of Foša
- 2.11 Discover Zadar by Bike Tour
- 2.12 Get confused in The Museum of Illusions
- 2.13 Summer festivals and concerts
- 2.14 Enjoy local seafood cuisine
- 3 Beaches in Zadar
- 4 Day trips from Zadar
- 4.1 Exploring the islands of Zadar Archipelago
- 4.2 Hit the old town of Nin
- 4.3 Discover famous sandy Sakarun Beach on Dugi Otok Island
- 4.4 Dancing on the biggest party beach on Pag island
- 4.5 Sailing to Kornati Archipelago National Park
- 4.6 Discovering nearby Zrmanja River
- 4.7 Visit amazing Krka Waterfalls National Park near Šibenik
- 4.8 Discover Plitvice Lakes National Park
- 4.9 Trekking and climbing around Velebit Mountain
- 4.10 Discover at least one Nature Park in Zadar region
- 4.11 Visit Mostar and Međugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 5 Six tips for day trips from Zadar in your own arrangement
- 6 Accommodation in Zadar – where to stay
- 7 Getting to Zadar – where is Zadar and how to get there
- 8 Car Rentals in Zadar
- 9 Map of Zadar
Get to know Zadar – The Best European Destination 2016
If you’ve never been to Dalmatia before, consider to choose Zadar for your summer holiday destination and check why this amazing city is chosen for The European Best Destination 2016, beating 19 other cities for this prestige title (London, Milan, Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Vienna, Berlin and others).
And just to remind you of popularity of Croatia – this fabulous award Zadar won just a couple of months after Croatian capital Zagreb was voted for the Best Christmas market destination in Europe 2015!
What makes Zadar different place many visitors are coming to? Keep on reading and find out soon.
Zadar has it all
The Old town of Zadar, located on a peninsula, offers the unique combination of exceptional history and modern atmosphere while walking in the stone streets crowded with people and urban life, easy and safe at the same time.
In Zadar you’ll discover so many incredible cultural sites from Roman era along with modern pleasures of fine shops and original cafe bars, gourmand food at affordable prices (cheaper than in Split or Dubrovnik), domestic food tasting at open markets, and many more. In the summer season you can enjoy in numerous open air concerts, festivals and events.
When it comes to accommodation, Zadar has it all as well – from excellent hotels (Falkensteiner Hotels), hostels and private accommodation to campsites (Zaton Holiday Resort is one of the best campsites in Europe), although there are only few hotels in the Old town – Art Hotel Kalelarga, Hotel Bastion and Hotel Venera.
City of innovative attractions
It’s much more than exceptional historic ambience and rich cultural treasury from medieval time what makes Zadar a tourism star for modern travellers.
The city is very unique in combining authentic Mediterranean charm with urban lifestyle and offering to its citizens and visitors innovative attractions of contemporary art – the first Sea Organ in the world for an experience of listening to music composed by the sea, and The Greeting to Sun -the glass installation for the best sun set view in the world.
Top sailing destination
The reasons why many sea adventure lovers visit this part of the Adriatic coast are very obvious – Zadar Archipelago and nearby Kornati Archipelago make Zadar the best sailing destination in Croatia, along with Southern Dalmatian islands.
Close to many amazing places
Zadar is close to Nin, Šibenik, Split, National Parks of Kornati Archipelago, Paklenica and Krka Waterfalls, and a short distance drive to many other amazing places for a great day trip. You can even visit Plitvice Lakes National Park, the gem of nature just on the other side of Velebit Mountain, about 1.5 hour drive from Zadar.
Surrounded by beautiful beaches
Many beaches in and around Zadar are waiting for you to discover. Keep on reading for the list of popular beaches in Zadar and its surrondings.
Things to do in Zadar
Sightseeing and museums in Zadar
The old town is small and easy to explore by foot and you shouldn’t miss the following sites: St. Donat’s Church, Cathedral of St. Anastasia, Land Gate and Walls, Church of St. Chrysogonus, St Mary Church and Convent, St Simeon’s Church, Archaeological Museum, Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art, Museum of Ancient Glass, Archbishop’s Palace, Treasury of Franciscan.
Walking along Zadar’s ancient squares
The Five Wells Square (Trg pet bunara) with five wells lined up in a row. Once, in the 16th century, a huge drinking water tank with five ornamental wellheads was built on the square to help Zadar to survive Turkish attacks. Today, the square is a popular place for concerts and events, and skateboarders’ practicing.
People’s Square (Narodni trg) is the heart of the old town lined with cafe bars and small shops, it’s a locals’ gathering place through the centuries. The People’s Square is a home of The Venetian City Hall, Ethnographic Museum and Church of St. Lawrence.
Roman Forum, one of the main squares in Zadar with ancient history and Roman ruins, located in front of St. Donat’s Church and the Archbishop’s Palace, is built from 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD and represents an example of forum complex of public life in ancient Roman Empire.
The main street – Kalelarga promenade
Jump into the crowd and promenade along Kalelarga Street– the main artery of Zadar’s Old town lined with cafe shops, restaurants, fashion shops and galleries. Take a seat, have a drink and enjoy „people watching“.
Listen to The Sea Organ music
This is one of the biggest attractions in Croatia. From above it looks like marble steps leading to the sea, but something much more phenomenal is happening down there.
The Sea Organ is an installation of narrow channels connected to 35 organ pipes playing different notes from the wave energy and producing beautiful random music.
No chaotic tones, just real music that you’ll enjoy and come back to listen every day during your stay in Zadar.
The Sea Organ installation won the European Prize for Urban Public Space 2006.
Watching the sunset at The Greeting to the Sun
Just next to The Sea Organ, a contemporary art installation The Greeting to the Sun is located at the best possible spot for the most beautiful sunset view in the world.
The installation includes three hundred multi-layered glass plates covering 22 m diameter, absorbing the Sun rays during the day and activates the lighting elements in the circle at the sunset to produce an imposing show of light.
The author of The Greeting to the Sun is the same as for The Sea Organ, the famous Zadar’s architect Nikola Bašić.
Watch out! The Sphinx is sitting in Zadar’s garden!
Zadar is full of surprises – in the garden of Villa Attilia you can face the Sphinx built by local artist and historian Giovanni Smirich who dedicated this statue to his wife Attilia. The Sphinx is located in the Bay of Maestral.
Pentagonal Captain’s Tower
Pentagonal Captain’s Tower is much better known as Bablja Kula, located on The Five Wells Square, built by the Venetians to strengthen the town from Turkish attacks. Today it’s used as an exhibition place with possible climbing to the tower’s terrace for the best view over the whole town and nearby islands!
Join the annual “Millennium Jump” into the sea
Every July thousands of enthusiasts dive into the sea from the waterfront of Zadar city center. For this unique experience you’ll need an accreditation that is available for everyone –just look for it at main Zadar’s squares few days before you jump.
Take a Barkajoli ride
The gondoliers are in Venice, the Barkajoli are in Zadar! The Barkajoli have been connecting two ends of Zadar’s port for more than 800 years with their small rowboats. Their tradition has been passed on from father to son for centuries and has survived many challenges of modern times. Just take a Barkajoli ride for different perspective of Zadar, or for pure fun.
The Land Gate and old Port of Foša
This late Renaissance masterpiece is located next to the small picturesque port of Foša in Zadar’s south-east. Definitely, it will awake a romantic in you.
Discover Zadar by Bike Tour
Consider to take Zadar tour by bike to learn about 3000 year history of the city and find out important tips and secrets for your better city experience whilst on holidays in Zadar at the same time.
Get confused in The Museum of Illusions
Enter the fascinating world of illusion which will trick your confidence in senses, but amaze you by doing it; the world that will confuse you completely, but also educate you… nothing is what it seems in The Museum of Illusions. It’s open every day from 9am till midnight in summer season.
Summer festivals and concerts
Summer festivals and concerts are all around the place during the summer season – Street Art Festival, Film Festival, Zadar Concert Season, Musical Evenings in St. Donat, Craft Beer Festival, International Choir Competition… For more info and events schedule please visit Zadar Tourist Board official website.
Enjoy local seafood cuisine
Enjoy local seafood cuisine in numerous taverns and restaurants, and taste domestic wines and brandies.
Beaches in Zadar
Take a break from all this fabulous sites and places in Old town and hit one of the popular beaches for relax or fun.
Kolovare Beach – a pebbled public city beach south from city center, surrounded by pine trees giving you shade in hot summer days. Along 2 km of Kolovare beach you can swim in clear sea and enjoy a high quality of services and facilities.
Puntamika Beach – a pebbled beach with the wonderful view over the Zadar, located on Puntamika peninsula, just next to the lighthouse.
Borik Beach – a mixed pebbled-sandy beach located in northern part of Zadar with waterpark, few bars and many water sports. This is a great beach for families with kids, where the popular hotels in Croatia, Falkensteiner Club Funimation and Falkensteiner Hotel Adriana are located.
Dražica Beach – a pebbled beach located just 5 minute walk from city center.
Vitrenjak Beach – a small family beach near the sailing club in Zadar.
Diklo – a beach area in peaceful Zadar’s residential area of Diklo, a perfect place to relax and swim, or enjoy sport activities.
Zaton Beach – a pebbled-sandy beach with all facilities you need for a perfect day on the beach, located just a few kilometers away from Zadar to the north, in the famous Zaton Holiday Resort, the owner of many international tourism awards.
Soline Beach – beautiful sandy beach with pine trees is a great place for families with kids, located in Soline camp in Biograd area.
Pinija Beach – located 12 km to the north from Zadar in settlement Petrčane.
Crvena Luka Beach – beautiful pebbled beach surrounded by pines, located 7 km to the southeast of Biograd.
Sandy beaches of Nin
The Royal Beach, Zdrijac, Zaton Holiday Resort Beach and Prodorica are famous sandy beaches of town of Nin, all with Blue Flag and suitable for all ages, especially for kids. The Royal Beach, also called Nin’s Lagoon, is 3 km long sandy beach with dunes and incredible view over The Velebit Mountain at the mainland.
Amazing beaches of Zadar’s Archipelago
Dugi Otok Island – Sakarun sandy Beach
Novalja, Pag Island – Zrće beach (the biggest party beach in Croatia)
Ugljan Island – Mala Lamjana Beach, Uvala Luka, Jelenica Kukljica Beach, Sabusa Beach
Pašman Island Beaches
St. Catherine Island – nudist beach FKK (reachable only by rent a boat)
Day trips from Zadar
Exploring the islands of Zadar Archipelago
The islands of Zadar Archipelago – Ugljan, Pašman, Silba, Dugi Otok, Molat – are gems of untouched nature with stunning beaches and crystal sea you can easily reach by Jadrolinija ferry or local boat operator Mia Tours.
If you prefer guided private day trip for exploring Zadar Archipelago, choose between these two amazing adventures:
Hit the old town of Nin
Nin – the old town nearby Zadar is located on the small island in the middle of shallow lagoon connected to the mainland by two stone bridges. Nin is small but very exciting – it’s famous for its 3000 years history, sandy beaches, rewarded Zaton Holiday Resort, birdwatching, salt factory and open activities possibilities. If going to Nin, don’t miss to visit Salt Museum of Nin and take home a piece of premium salt.
Maybe you’ll be interested in Nin and Royal vineyards private tour?
Discover famous sandy Sakarun Beach on Dugi Otok Island
Spend a day to remember and take a private boat trip to famous Sakarun Beach. Before you get to the Sakarun Beach you’ll sail through the beautiful waters to your first stop- the island of Zverinac for swimming and morning coffee. Continuing your way to Dugi Otok Island you’ll visit a shipwreck and have the option of snorkeling.
Once you get to the sandy Sakarun Beach you’ll enjoy 3 hours of swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. On your way back, visit a local tuna fish farm and enjoy final stop for coffee and swimming at the Lukoran part.
Dancing on the biggest party beach on Pag island
If you are age when interested for clubbing and dancing in the biggest party destination in Croatia – Zrće Beach in Novalja – you can get there where easy and quickly since island Pag is connected to mainland with the bridge and it’s close to Zadar.
Sailing to Kornati Archipelago National Park
Don’t miss sailing around Kornati Archipelago if you stay somewhere in Zadar region. Just join one of numerous sailing excursions organized by local tourist agencies or book your day trip by viator.
Discovering nearby Zrmanja River
The only way to see the lower Zrmanja River, beautiful landscape hidden in deep canyon often called European Grand Canyon, is to take a Zrmanja River boat tour. If you want to have more adventurous day you should explore the upper part of the Zrmanja by taking a kayak or rafting tour.
Visit amazing Krka Waterfalls National Park near Šibenik
Discover Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is not too far away for a day trip from Zadar, but if you don’t want to drive you can join an excursion organized by local tourist agency or book online your Day trip to Plitvice Lakes via global company Viator.
Trekking and climbing around Velebit Mountain
North Velebit National Park –treasured nature area with Botanical Garden, Forest Reserve and large number of caves, or Paklenica National Park–the most attractive part of south Velebit for trekking and rock climbing.
Discover at least one Nature Park in Zadar region
Telašćica Bay on Dugi Otok Island with 25 coves and 5 small islets, Vrana Lake with possibility for sport hunting, fishing, sailing and bird watching, or Nature Park Velebit for biking, speleology, rafting or bird-watching experience.
Visit Mostar and Međugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Take a day trip to Međugorje, a Catholic center where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared, and historical old town of Mostar, a meeting point of different cultures and religion on the Balkan with its famous city symbol –the old bridge from Ottoman Era.
READ MORE ABOUT MOSTAR AND MEĐUGORJE PRIVATE TOUR FROM ZADAR AND BOOK ONLINE.
Six tips for day trips from Zadar in your own arrangement
If you prefer to travel in your arrangement more than in organized tour, here are some tips for your better travelling experience:
TIP 1. If you travel by car, you can easily reach many coastal places by hitting the main motorway A1, in any direction to South – towns Šibenik or Trogir UNESCO World Heritage Site and incredible Split, as well as many other small coastal towns and settlements.
TIP 2. If you consider visiting Šibenik don’t miss to explore nearby Krka Waterfalls.
TIP 3. Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park from Zadar is definitely worth of your 120 km ride and crossing to other side of Velebit Mountain.
TIP 4. If you plan a day trip to the islands of Zadar Archipelago – Ugljan, Pašman, Silba, Dugi Otok, Molat – you should leave the car in the mainland – it is an unnecessary waste of time while waiting for board a ferry in the port but also a waste of money for ferry car tickets. The best way to explore the island is by scooter but you can just get there and enjoy a day on the beach.
TIP 5. For buying ferry tickets for islands in Zadar Archipelago go to national company Jadrolinija, or you can board a catamaran from company Mia Tours operating from Zadar to the islands of Premuda, Silba and Olib.
TIP 6. Finally, if you plan to make your day trips by bus, there are numerous bus companies travelling to all places around and you just have to pick a date and time. For more information check bus timetables on official Zadar Bus Terminal website.
Accommodation in Zadar – where to stay
In Zadar you’ll find all types of accommodation for all budgets and tastes – hotels, resorts, private apartments and villas – you can choose from luxurious to affordable holiday spending.
We believe Hotelscombined.com will be a great help to find you the best accommodation deals and to get the most out of your booking!
With Hotelscombined.com you can COMPARE ALL TOP TRAVEL SITES IN ONE SEARCH (including Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda, Hotels.com, Venera, Laterooms) and find exactly what are you looking for – EASILY and QUICKLY.
If you are still not sure what accommodation is the best choice for you, maybe our ZADAR ACCOMMODATION SELECTION will encourage you to make the final decision. The most of our accommodation selection is located in the heart of the city for your best experience of easy exploring sites and attractions, shops, bars, fine dining and street food restaurants.
Selection of 4 stars accommodation
Falkensteiner Hotel Adriana 4 stars
Falkensteiner Hotel Adriana is a deluxe base in Zadar. The location and ambience are superb – an English garden, right by the sea with year-round sunshine. The on-site restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine in a charming setting. Each evening, guests are invited to enjoy a drink in the cosy lounge bar.
Hotel Kolovare 4 stars
Hotel Kolovare is located within a 10-minute walk of city center, in the area called Kolovare (on south from city center). Hotel Kolovare is a great base while visiting Zadar with the beach just below the hotel.
Hotel Bastion 4 stars
Hotel Bastion is a stunning boutique hotel located in old town on Venetian castellum from 13th century. This amazing hotel offers luxury rooms, two beautiful terraces and wellness centre.
Hotel President 4 stars
Hotel President Zadar provides a comfortable setting with balconies overlooking the city, located in Borik area. The hotel is a pure luxury in decorations, style furniture, wood finishes and selection of paintings. The hotel is decorated as 5 stars hotel.
Selection of 3 stars accommodation
Apartments Poluotok 3 stars
Just a short walk away from all the major sites, Poluotok Apartment is located in the very heart of Zadar Peninsula. This beautiful apartment is located in guest’s favourite part of Zadar.
Central Royal Apartments 3 stars
Located in the center of the city, this 3-star property could be an excellent base for discovering Zadar and surroundings. It’s close to all sites and attractions, shopping area, caffes, bars and restaurants. They have on-site restaurant offering fusion-inspired dishes on the al fresco terrace. Other dining options are also available.
Hotel Donat 3 stars
Hotel Donat is located in the Borik resort complex, 3.5 km from the historical city center of Zadar. The Hotel has direct access to the beach, and it’s surrounded by pine trees. In front of the hotel is a beautiful sand and pebble beach stretching along 1,7 km. The ideal choice for relaxing vacations and families who want to enjoy beach, clean water and an very good culinary offer.
Villa Lipa 3 stars
Villa Lipa is an apartments house with spacious terraces (140 m2), facing both, south and north. Living area (250m2) consists of 7 separate cosy and spacious apartments designed in a modern and functional way. House is surrounded with big garden, front facing the street and more intimate in the back. It’s few minutes from beaches and 20 minutes walk to old town. Great location and great accommodation.
Rog doggs rooms 3 stars
Rog-Dogg rooms are situated in a completely renovated traditional stone building in the centre of Zadar, just 400 m from the St. Donatus Church. Shops, bars and restaurant can be found in the nearest surroundings.
More great 3 stars accommodation in Zadar:
Hostels in Zadar
Boutique Hostel Forum
Boutique Hostel Forum is a modern hostel in city center, situated close to the popular attractions. It is located a brief walk from Five Wells Square and The Sea Organ.
Three Corners Hostel
Three Corners Hostel located in city center has 28 rooms, all of which are filled with a range of amenities to ensure an enjoyable stay. All Zadar’s attractions, including Five Wells Square and Cathedral of St. Anastasia, are easily accessible on foot from the hostel. The Sea Organ is also found within a 10 minute walk away.
Getting to Zadar – where is Zadar and how to get there
Getting to Zadar is easy by air, car or bus. It’s perfectly located – when you drive from the North on A1 motorway called Dalmatina, just after passing tunnel through Velebit Mountain you are almost there – Zadar is just below the mountain.
Getting to Zadar directly by ferry from Ancona in Italy is possible only in summer with national company Jadrolinija, other times in year you need to get from Ancona to Split by ferry first and then travel by bus to Zadar (less than two hour drive).
Read more on getting to Zadar on our Travelling to Northern Dalmatia page.
Car Rentals in Zadar
Renting a car for travelling around Zadar is a great idea! The motorway A1 will take you to numerous fantastic places in any direction, on North or South. The most important is to plan your travelling in advance and book your car on time, especially in main summer season!
We recommend you to arrange you car hire with Rentalcars company – the world’s biggest online car rental service.
Rentalcars.com deals with all the major car hire companies around the world in 169 countries checking which local supplier is offering the best prices for the car you want on the date you need it whilst ensuring everyone they deal with offers a great level of service.
Before you hit the road, get to know General Croatian traffic law, toll charges, your driving license validity, Green Card Car Insurance, etc. All these answers and more information for your better driving experience and safety, you’ll find on our Car Rentals in Croatia page.
We definitely recommend you to Download FREE CROATIA TRAFFIC INFO APP from Croatian Auto Club from iTunes with detailed traffic and travel information including roadside assistance service (available in English, Italian, German and Croatian).