Less popular and quieter than its neighbors to the south, Zadar surprises. Here is how to spend 48 hours In Zadar.
This is understandable and justifiable, but there’s much more to this extensive coast than just those destinations. Zadar, for example, is another magnificent old Dalmatian port town.
Less popular and quieter than its neighbors to the south, Zadar surprises. Boasting an interesting mix of Roman and Venetian history and architecture, its Old Town sits on a rectangular peninsula jutting out into the Adriatic Sea. Its wealth of culture and history, combined with a vibrant nightlife and wonderful atmosphere, is quite remarkable.
Zadar is a place that deserves a visit. It’s much less crowded than Dubrovnik or Split, yet it offers pretty similar attractions. Don’t treat Zadar as an afternoon stopping point on a road trip along the coast, though. No, Zadar deserves two full days. You really don’t want to rush this town. Not to mention, Zadar is a great point to continue your exploration of Croatia from!
This itinerary for 48 hours in Zadar will have you ready to book your flight and your Zadar accommodation in no time!
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2 Days In Zadar – Day 1
Spend the entire first day of your 48 hours in Zadar exploring the Old Town, which is where all the action takes place. It’s the location of all the town’s historic and modern attractions to speak of, also featuring numerous great bars, restaurants, and cafés.
Head straight to one of Zadar’s most renowned attractions in the morning—the Sea Organ on the Promenade. Designed by architect Nikola Bašić, this natural organ consists of a pipe-and-whistle system embedded into perforated stone steps that run down into the sea. When the waves push air through the organ, you’ll hear its hauntingly strange chimes.
Spend some time strolling along Zadar’s waterfront before making your way into the heart of the Old Town. Focus on the Roman Forum, an area dotted with Roman ruins, indicating that this is an ancient town, indeed. Try to find the Pillar of Shame, a stone monument where criminals were shackled and humiliated in medieval times.
At the Roman Forum, you’ll also find what’s probably the most remarkable historical attraction in Zadar. The Church of St. Donat dates from the 9th century, an imposingly massive circular church built with stones from the Roman Forum.
Cut across the Old Town to visit Zadar’s open-air market, one of the best and biggest in Dalmatia. The vendors sell all kinds of food products, from honey and olive oils to Croatian cured meats, sheep and other cheeses, and fresh fish. It’s a great place to buy picnic ingredients.
With your picnic ingredients, head to Queen Jelena Madijevka Park. Dating from 1829, this is the oldest public park in Croatia and still a popular outdoor hangout. Spend a couple of hours relaxing in the park before heading back into town for an aperitif and dinner.
One of the things you shouldn’t miss in Zadar is watching the sunset at the Sun Salutation, located right next to the Sea Organ. Hundreds of layered glass plates fill this large circle on the ground, collecting energy from the sun during the day and providing a flashy light show at night. This is another weird yet fun creation by Nikola Bašić.
Watching the sunset over the Adriatic while the Sun Salutation lights up and the Sea Organ plays its strange tunes is without question the most “Zadar” thing you can do.
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2 Days In Zadar – Day 2
Today’s themes are culture and sunshine; get on your comfy shoes, and let’s explore two opposites that will make your day varied, engaging, and fun.
Arguably the most unexpected (even after the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation) attraction in Zadar is the Museum of Ancient Glass. Housed in the 19th-century Cosmacendi Palace, this impressive museum exhibits the invention and evolution of glass.
There’s a truly phenomenal collection of Roman and Dalmatian glassworks, ranging from jars and goblets to rings, amulets, and other jewelry. Glassblowing demonstrations are held regularly as well. You’ll be all set for an entire morning with this exceptional museum.
After the museum, meander back to the Forum. Stop at Narodni Trg, or People’s Square in English, for lunch. This is one of the busiest squares in the Old Town, a great place to relax on a patio and watch the world go by. Consider grabbing a drink and a bite to eat at Café Lovre. Housed in a former church, this is a peaceful spot during the day and a happening place in the evening.
Spend the rest of the afternoon soaking up the warm Dalmatian sun at one of Zadar’s beaches. Note that, like most places in Dalmatia, there are no sand beaches here. The sunbathing and swimming spots are all either pebbled or concrete.
You have plenty of options, though. In Old Town, you can go for a swim right from the Promenade. Steps help people get in and out of the water. Just south of Old Town, you can find a swimming area on the Promenade off Ul. kralja Dmitra Zvonimira. This area features a café, a small park, and diving boards. The Promenade, lined with trees and greenery, continues past this swimming spot to a beach in front of Hotel Kolovare.
Alternatively, you can go for a day trip to one of the Zadar Region’s many gorgeous and family-friendly islands.
Finish off your 48 hours in Zadar with a delicious dinner at Restaurant Foša. This classy restaurant has a terrace that juts out into charming Foša harbor. Order a squid salad before indulging in a grilled Adriatic Sea fish dish. This is a superb place for fish and seafood.
Let us know if you have other ideas on how best to spend 2 Days In Zadar.