Zadar might not be as popular destination as Split, Dubrovnik, Zagreb or islands of Croatia. For many years, the city saw very few visitors, but fortunately, that’s been changing. The city boasts with incredible and historic sights that you don’t want to miss out on your trip to the country. Therefore, here’s the best 12 things to do in Zadar.
How to Get to Zadar
Zadar is easily accessible by land, air, and water. There are plenty of buses, cheap airlines, and ferries going from many destinations of the country. We took a bus from Trogir to Zadar for 73 Kuna = €9.80 = $12.07 per person. I bought the tickets at the bus station in Trogir, right after we have arrived.
Top 12 Things to Do in Zadar, Croatia
Some of the most important Zadar attractions are located in its Old Town, accessible by a pedestrian bridge from the ‘modern’ part of the city. The area is quite big and unlike Split or the island cities, you’ll need a day, or even a two to get a real feel of Zadar.
1Cross the doomed bridge to access the Old Town
As I said above, the Old Town of Zadar is accessible by a pedestrian bridge. However, that’s not the original one. The first bridge of the city was built in 1928 but the devastating events of the World War II destroyed it.
In its place, the local authorities built a temporary floating bridge anchored on brass barrels. Strong winds made it hard to cross the bridge so in 1962 a new bridge was constructed – 152 meters long and six meters wide. This is the one that adorns the city today.
2Admire the People’s Square
People’s Square has been the center of the city for decades. Even today, it’s a meeting point for many locals and public events. Admire the clock tower that has been there since 1803.
Right in front of the clock tower, you’ll see the copy of the electric light bulbs that illuminated the city on New Year’s Eve in 1894.
3Wander through the ancient ruins
The Forum is another iconic Zadar attractions that bring many tourists to the spot. Here, you can stroll through the ancient ruins of the old city dating back to the Roman rule.
Sit down at a nearby chair and take in the history and if you are up for it even visit the nearby St. Donat’s Church and hike up the Bell Tower for the panoramic views of the city.
4Visit one of the most beautiful town gates
Land Gate, located at the Fosa port was built by Venetians in 1543 and was the only entry to the city. It was immediately valued as luxurious and one of the noblest monuments that Venice gave Dalmatia region.
5Stroll down in the first public garden in Croatia
Right next to the Land Gate, there’s Queen Jelena Madijevka Park, the first public city garden in Croatia opened in 1829. You can come here to relax, sit down in a cafe, or just walk around.
6Visit the Five Wells Square
As the name suggests, the square features five wells lined in a row. In the Middle Ages, there was a protective channel below the old city walls. In the 16th century, the Venetians helped the city to face Turkish attacks by creating a large water tank with five beautiful wellheads. Unfortunately, the wells are not used today, they are just a tourist attraction.
7See the Spinx statue
Built not by the Ancient Egyptians but a local artist in 1918 after the death of his beloved wife as a memorial to her, the statue is very different to the Egyptian culture. It’s made of concrete and has fingers instead of paws.
8Drink locally produced liqueur
One of the things to do in Zadar is to try its locally produces liqueurs which gained a world recognition back in the day. In 1857 there were 18 distilleries that produced more than 35 different types of liqueurs in the city! We have tried several from Makarska brand and they were exceptionally tasty. If not the luggage limit, we would have brought a box.
9Watch the sunset and listen to the Sea Organ
Interested how the sea can play a music with its waves? Then you should definitely come to Zadar. The first time I have heard about the Sea Organ on social media, I knew I had to see it with my own eyes. It’s such a unique and interesting creation that has become one of the most iconic Zadar attractions.
How it works you may ask? Well, the waves push air through 35 underwater pipes that stretch across 70 meters, and the sound pops-up along a small part of the promenade. Sit here after a long walk within the old town of the city, bring a snack, a bottle of local wine, and enjoy the sunset and the music nature plays for you. However, do note that all of the tourists want to do the same, so to secure a spot come here early.
10Greet the Sun
When the sun vanishes on the horizon and the day becomes darker, the solar-powered piece of the art lights up right next to the Sea Organ. This is Greeting to the Sun, made from 300 multi-layer glass plates that create a 22 diameter circle. These brightly colored lights kind of reminded me the disco floors of the 80s.
Similar to the Sea Organ, this gets quite crowded as well with everyone wanting to take pictures in every possible pose!
11Download the Secret Zadar App
The tourism board of Zadar has released an app called Secret Zadar which gives the information of the most interesting facts about the city you might not read in the typical guidebooks.
One of the great things about the app is that it gives you the location of the building, a cafe or anything that it includes, so you can track it down and visit it yourself.
12Go on a day trip to Plitvice National Park
While making your list of things to do in Zadar itinerary, make sure to include Plitvice National Park. We have visited the park in a day and it was enough to walk along the major trails. However, if you want to see all of its lakes, you can stay at one of the guesthouses within the nearby villages.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts with exceptional natural beauty where 16 lakes cascade into each other.