Zadar is a gorgeous walled city along the Adriatic coast line with a history going back for thousands of years. The town offers a mix of modern and ancient attractions, allowing the visitors to walk on the historical streets of old town as well as an opportunity to sit and enjoy the modern art installations.
How to reach Zadar
Zadar by Flight: Zadar provides good air connectivity to other major European cities, the airport is served by the low cost carrier Ryanair. Thirty Croatian Kuna will take you in a bus from the airport to the city.
Zadar by Bus: Zadar is also well connected by bus with Zagreb, Dubrovnik, and Split. Bus stations is short walk away from the city center.
Zadar by Train: Train connectivity is available but not recommended as trains are painfully slow as compared to buses.
Top Attractions of Zadar
Also known as Zadar sea organ is a modern marvel, and one of Zadar’s most popular attraction. Essentially, the organ is a collection of hollow tubes cleverly hidden under the steps facing the sea. The organ is ‘powered’ by the waves and the sea breeze. The project opened in 2005 and was brainchild of the architect Nikola Bašić.
The best time to come here is around sunset. Sit on the steps, grab a beer and listen to the weird but intriguing sounds of the organ. Pray for a rough sea (Pirates might hate you though) to get the best audio effects.
Paklenica National Park
Paklenia is a day trip around one hour away from Zadar. The park is home to the second highest peak in Croatia, Sveto Brdo. It is possible to hike up the peak but it takes a whole day. The challenge comes with its reward, once you reach the top, you’d be treated with stunning views of the Dalmatian coastline. Turn around and you will see the endless vistas of the Lika region in front of you.
Alternatively, you can take the short hike which goes up to a cave. The easy to moderate level hike takes around 2.5 hours. The trails are well marked and you’ll come across some beautiful waterfalls along the way. Start early so you can come back in time. Also, wear proper shoes as the path is rocky at places.
Tip: If you are going up to the cave you can save by not buying the hiking map as the trails are well laid out (but don’t blame me if you get lost ;))
The Greeting to the Sun
Another beautiful modern installation located close to the sea organ, the Greeting to the Sun is designed by the same architect. After the sun down the installation is lit up with random patterns of different colors. The installation measures 36 feet in radius and consists of a layer of glass plates on top covering solar panels beneath. The solar panels are lit to resemble our solar system – Sun and the planets in the proportionate distance. In a very crude sense this fun art installation resembles a dance floor from the 80s.
Tip: Stand on the panel and try dancing with the sweeping lights. Don’t worry you won’t be the only one doing so.
Zadar Old Town
Zadar City gate is the prime attraction in Old town. The gate act as an entrance to the fortified old town and is decorated with a relief of St Mark’s winged lion at the center.
Zadar city gates is about 500 years old and stands as a reminder of the Venetian empire which once ruled the area.
Check out the ruins of Roman forum which was founded by the Roman emperor Augustus. Highlight is the Roman column, better known as shame post, which was used to dole out punishment by tying up the offenders and humiliating them. Among the ruins there are also remains of a temple with figures of Jupiter, Ammon and Medusa.
Wander around in narrow cobbled stone streets, and lose sense of time in the little alleys. Sit in a little café and forget your blues with a sip off a coffee.
Church of St. Donatus
The 9th-century church dedicated St. Donatus will strike you with its unusual cylindrical architecture. This Byzantine styled church is located right in the center of old town close to the roman ruins. Interestingly, part of the church was constructed from the remains of Roman forum. And inside you can still see the Roman columns and altar of pagan worship place.
The building isn’t used as church anymore but as a host to musical events, thanks to its excellent acoustics. Climb up the tower to great view of the coastline.
Entrance to St. Donatus is 20 kunas.
Another popular church in the city. Architecture is primarily Romanesque which clearly reflects in its detailed façade. Inside, the Baroque altars and Roman pillars are worth a look. Get on top of the tower for the finest view of the town.
Entrance to church is 15 Kunas.
Tip: Dress conservatively as no shorts or bare shoulders are allowed.
If you are in Zadar and in mood of partying, don’t miss out on Hideout festival! You need to reach the city of Novalja, where the festival takes place. You can just book through a travel operator or take a public transport to the city.
Happy Traveling! Hope you have great fun!