Best Things To Do In Zadar, Croatia For Singles, Couples & Families
I have lived in Zadar for a decade, and it’s changed significantly in those ten years. But one thing that has not changed is its beauty. Zadar isn’t as well known as its coastal neighbors like Split, the famed walled city of Dubrovnik, or even the capital Zagreb. It has been overlooked as a destination by many people traveling to Croatia, but that’s a mistake.
Let me tell you that this ancient seaside city is jam-packed with incredible sights. I know; it’s my hometown!
Zadar is the second-largest city in Dalmatia and one of Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Now it’s time to share my hometown of Zadar and give her a moment to shine on Chasing the Donkey.
This is our guide on what to do in Zadar, what to see in Zadar, including all the major Zadar sights, and suggestions on where to lay your head after all the sightseeing.
Warning: this Zadar Croatia travel guide is long, very long.
Top Things To Do In Zadar, Croatia
There is no shortage of things to see and do in Zadar; here are just a few ideas to get you started:
The Sea Organ
One of the best things to see in Zadar is the Sea Organ. The magic of the Sea Organ, known as the Morske orgulje in Croatian, is mesmerizing. Okay, it’s not real magic.
The music comes from the waves. The waves push air through 35 underwater pipes stretching across 70 meters, and the sound pops up all along the waterfront promenade known as the Riva.
Now, I know I said it was an organ, and it is; I don’t think you can make a song request or even expect to hear anything you’ll recognize. Because it’s nature, the notes played are a touch haunting, very enchanting but always relaxing.
The Sea Organ, created by Croatian architect Nikola Bašićis, is a harmonious mix of modern design and nature. Sit on the broad marble steps that flank the water or along the long rows of bench seating. It’s an area you can enjoy all year round.
We always love taking our friends to see the Sea Organ, which never ceases to amaze our visitors. On a hot summer day, we pack towels because this inevitably happens.
Being one of the significant Zadar attractions, the Sea Organ is busiest at sunset, with hordes of photographers and sungazers waiting to see one of the famous sunsets. This is one of the top 5 things to do in Zadar.
Local tip: Head to the Sea Organ at least a half-hour before the sun vanishes behind the horizon to claim your front-row seat or, even better, come to Zadar in autumn and spring when there are fewer tourists.
And we recommend you get ice cream from Slasticarna Donat. It’s the best ice cream in town. Now, I can’t recommend a flavor because there are far too many. I can only suggest you close your eyes and point and take what you get. Once you have your ice cream, you can sit along the steps and enjoy the show.
Greeting To The Sun
After you’ve watched the sunset, turn to your right, and just next door is a solar-powered work of art that explodes with an array of brightly colored lights – The Greeting to the Sun. Tap dance, tip-toe, or waltz across its glass surface as it changes hues.
The Greeting to the Sun consists of 300 multi-layer glass plates in the shape of a circle 22 meters in diameter. It is conceived as a spatial installation in the form of an amphitheater surrounded by stone blocks with a presentation of all Solar System planets and their orbits.
This light display is one of many great family activities when traveling with children in Croatia. The same artist who created the Sea Organ also created the Greeting to the Sun and made something uber-cool again.
Catch A Sunset On The Riva
It’s well known that Croatia is the home of the world’s best sunset. Well, that is at least according to Alfred Hitchcock, who in 1964 was staying in room 204 of the now closed Hotel Zagreb along the Riva in Zadar and claimed:
“The sunset of Zadar is the world’s most beautiful and incomparably better than in Key West, Florida.”
Make sure to see it for yourself!
Take A Zadar Food And Wine Tour
If you want something unique and interactive, a food and wine tour + cooking class might be just what your taste buds need. We loved this tour so much that we devoted a particular post to our experience. Check it out for an overview of foods and wines you can expect to sample from the Zadar region.
Additionally, for more culinary delights, joining a cooking class in Zadar is also an unforgettable experience.
Explore The Top Wineries In Zadar On Your Own
If wine is your scene, then there are a few wineries not to be missed. We dedicated an entire post on the region’s top wineries and what to drink here.
Museum Of Ancient Glass
One of our favorite museums in Zadar is this one. This museum is home to numerous glass artifacts, some of them dating as far back as the 1st century and others that were created far more recently.
Demonstrations of various glass-working techniques, including bead making and glass blowing, are also held at this spot. Visitors can easily stroll the halls, where additional exhibits touch on such topics as the origins and history of glass.
A visit to the Ancient Museum of Glass in Zadar is an absolute must-do when you visit Zadar. Moreover, because the museum continuously organizes new events and houses temporary exhibitions, you can always go back for round two or three, even if you have been once.
Tickets are inexpensive, and the displays have cards with information in English, so you can easily walk the museum on your own without a guide.
Gold & Silver Museum
Another of our favorite Zadar museums is this one. Head to the church of St Mary’s, and then turn left. There, you’ll see a small door selling tickets. The Benedictine nuns have preserved this museum with priceless treasures and have been since WWII.
The priceless treasures are so well maintained for items that are centuries old. Of particular note are fabrics embroidered with golden threads made by local nuns, crowns, and a set of hands of several saints enclosed in gold.
The Museum Of Illusions Zadar
This fascinating museum is where you can have a mind-blowing adventure where nothing is like it seems. At the museum, your senses will be tested, your brain challenged, and most importantly, you will have an absolute blast.
You may have already heard about the one in Zagreb, but the one in Zadar is different. The Zadar Museum of Illusions brings many new exhibits, including a bamboozling vortex tunnel, the first of this type in the region, a room of mirrors that distort everything providing a unique perspective on reality, a room with a chair that changes the perception of the size of people and will have you scratching your head wondering what is going on.
As if that was not already enough fun, in the museum, you can defy gravity and walk on the wall of a room. Just like Spiderman! And, for anyone wanting to test their brain, there are several didactic puzzles that will challenge even the sharpest of sharp minds.
Tentative UNESCO Site – Episcopal Complex
The Episcopal Complex area that was proposed to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia lies in the historic heart of Zadar. This is a popular attraction in Zadar, located within the Old Town.
It comprises several historic buildings, including the iconic Roman Forum with its temple ruins; the Archaeological Museum; and the Episcopal Complex itself, which consists of the St. Donatus Church, the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, and the Archbishop’s Palace, among various other structures.
The Episcopal Complex is so remarkable because it offers an architectural timeline of Zadar’s history, from Roman times to the Middle Ages and modern times. The history of Zadar dates back to Roman times. In the 1st century B.C., the settlement became a Roman colony, which resulted in a new layout according to Roman town planning principles with longitudinal and transversal streets that divided the town into rectangular building blocks and squares.
Here’s a bit more about the buildings included in the Episcopal Complex:
The first time I visited the Forum was when I was six years old. I remember skidding along the polished stone street, Kalelarga, turning the corner at the Archeological Museum, and seeing the Forum for the first time. I was awestruck by the ancient ruins. As a kid from Sydney, I had never seen anything like it. It really got me thinking about the world, its many ancient sites. This is where I got my inspiration to travel.
The Forum in Zadar is located in the heart of Old Town Zadar, where passersby can walk among the remains of the Romans. The Forum was established by the Emperor Augustus and was built from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD. It’s is located beside St. Donat’s Church.
Why not relax at one of the cafes in the Forum and take in the history and gorgeous architecture of the area?
Local tip: Look at the foundations of St. Donat’s church, and you will see the remains of Roman structures that were reused.
Found across the street from St. Donat’s Church, this museum provides travelers with some background information on Croatia’s history, from prehistoric times to around the Middle Ages. The museum is very well organized, and excellent English translations accompany most of the displays.
You will want to allow several hours for your visit.
St. Anastasia’s Cathedral
Open mainly for worship rather than for tours, parts of this historic church building were constructed as early as the 3rd century. Most of St Anastasia Zadar was built in the 12th and 13th centuries in the Romanesque style. Contained within the church is the sarcophagus of St. Anastasia. Head up high to the viewing area. Once there, you’ll have magnificent panoramic views across the St. Donat’s Church and Roman Forum and the Velebit Mountains.
If you choose not to climb the bell tower, you can still enjoy its beauty from the outside, especially at night when the lights inside are on, streaming out from all of the tower windows.
St. Donat’s Church
Those interested in architecture and still wondering what to see in Zadar will want to make their way over to this church because it is widely considered among the finest examples of Byzantine church architecture.
The rounded interior is designed so that the light that falls into the sanctuary creates varied patterns at different times of the day. However, because the inside of the building is somewhat plainly decorated compared to the exterior, those of you who are not architecture enthusiasts may only want to view the building from the outside rather than venturing in.
Once night falls during the summer; you can enjoy the sounds of the Musical Nights Festival. This classical music festival runs from July to August each year, bringing the 9th-century St. Donat’s Church and Roman Forum to life.
Narodni Trg (People’s Square)
This square has been at the center of public life in Zadar for generations, as far back as the middle ages. Even today, people use it as a meeting point. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a coffee at one of the many cafes. Sit down, relax, and watch the world go by, or discover Zadar with this fun, interactive new game – Jadera Secrets – that starts in the Peoples Square and literally walks you through the Old Town’s history.
While in the square, snap a picture of the city sentinel’s clock tower – it’s quite the sight!
Local tip: Krostula, the best bakery in Zadar, lies 50 m down Jurja Dalmatinca Street (this street joins the Narodni Trg). Grab yourself a pastry or perhaps a kremsnite before going for a coffee.
Venetian Works Of Defense – Grimaldi Bastion
The city walls, with a series of powerful bastions, were added to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia in 2017 as part of the Venetian Works of Defense. These works stretch out across three countries—Croatia, Italy, and Montenegro. The site comprises six different defense works extending over 1,000 kilometers along the eastern Adriatic coast. Together, they made up the so-called ‘Serenissima’ in the 16th and 17thcenturies, the most crucial era in the history of the Venetian Republic.
Grimaldi Bastion along with the Land Gate are great examples in Zadar.
Here’s a little more on the Zadar Venetian Works of Defense & Surrounding Area:
Queen Jelena Madijevka Park & Grimaldi Bastion
Queen Jelena Madijevka Park is the city’s oldest public park, and it leads directly to the Land Gate and the entrance to Old Town. The park was built on top of the city’s fortification military structure – the Grimaldi Bastion by Five Wells Square. As the park sits higher than Old Town, it’s quite a unique chance to enjoy Dalmatian flora while admiring excellent views of the city and harbor.
Foša Land Gate Zadar
People often ask me about things to see in Zadar. To me, no visit to Zadar is complete without looking at (and a photo of) the Land Gate located next to the port of Foša. Built by the Venetians in 1543, this massive Zadar city gate served as the main entry into the city. An excellent example of the Venetian Republic Lion is at the top of the gate.
Local tip: Foša seafood restaurant, which is located in the Foša port, is a highly recommended seafood restaurant.
Five Wells Square
While checking out Queen Jelena Madijevka Park and the Land Gate, make sure to see Five Wells Square, where the Venetians created a drinking cistern for the city, using a design of 5 wells in the same square (hence the name).
These wells still stand today and are a cool way to understand the way life was led in the past.
Take A Romantic Boat Ride Across The Jazine
The Jazine harbor has a footbridge connecting the main area of Zadar to Old Town, which takes about 20 minutes to travel by foot. However, if you are in the mood for a more romantic crossing, consider hiring the little red boat (locally know as barkarjol), rowed by barkarjoli, to take you across. It’s cheap and historic – someone has been rowing this style of boat here for 800 years.
To find the boat, head to thejetty by the Tankerkomerc building on the mainland side of the footbridge.
The Zadar Pijaca (market) has been operating since the Middle Ages and is quite large by Dalmatian standards. It’s your typical market with fresh food and vegetables. Pick up some famous Pag cheese (Paski Sir) from one of the local producers or try out the award-winning Gligora cheese.
If you get to the Pijaca, don’t miss the Peskarija (fish market). This place has a wide variety of fish available and changes daily. If you’re staying in Zadar and have a kitchen at your disposal, the Pijaca and Peskarija are where you can pick up everything you need to try and cook some Croatian recipes.
Church Of St. Simeon
This church is famous for the silver casket found at the church’s altar where legend says the mummified body of St. Simeon was finally laid to rest.
The casket contains many detailed inscriptions and reliefs, and is considered to be the most valuable work of Medieval goldsmith art in Croatia. The Chest of St. Simeon was made in 1380 from embossed silver sheet metal by the goldsmith Franciscus de Mediolano, who had a workshop in Zadar
Yes, you read it right; there is a sphinx in Zadar. This sphinx, however, was not built by the Ancient Egyptians but made by a local artist named Giovani Smirich.
He had the sphinx built in 1918 after the death of his wife as a memorial to her. Interestingly, this sphinx is distinctly different from its Egyptian relatives in that it’s made of concrete and has fingers instead of paws. You’ll find the sphinx in the garden of Villa Attilia, located in the bay of Maestral, which is in Brodarica.
It’s quite a walk to get there, so make sure you wear some comfy travel shoes.[/su_box]
What To Do Around Zadar: Day Trips From Zadar
The Zadar region extends many kilometers around Zadar Old Town – and it’s effortless to get around by car or private transfer.
Here are some short day trip ideas you can take and ideas for things to see around Zadar:
Paklenica National Park
Paklenica National Park is about a 40-minute drive from Zadar. All you need to do is follow the signs to Starigrad Paklenica, which is the location of the entrance to the park. Paklenica National Park is utterly beautiful and really popular with climbers and hikers. We strongly recommend this as one of your day trips from Zadar.
The park was established in 1949 and is Croatia’s second-oldest national park, behind Plitvice Lakes National Park in Northern Dalmatia.
Paklenica National Park is 95 km2 and consists of two dolomite limestone canyons called Velika (Big) Paklenica & Mala (Small) Paklenica in the Velebit Mountains, which is Croatia’s most extensive mountain range. Mrs. CtD always says that the Velebit often looks like a Hollywood backdrop on a clear day.
The park has around 150km of hiking trails, which will ultimately take you up to the highest peak of Vaganski Vrh at 1,757 meters if you have the legs for it. The mountains rise sharply from the sea, and while the park initially looks very rocky, you’ll be surprised to find out that 75% of the national park is, in fact, primarily beech and black pine forest.
Add the first capital of Croatia, Nin, to your list for another great day trip from Zadar. It’s only 15 km from Zadar, so the drive is conveniently short. Alternatively, you can easily catch a bus as well.
The town of Nin has a long history, 3,000 years, in fact, which is evident when you walk through the town. Nin town center is located on a small island in the middle of a shallow lagoon and is connected to the mainland by two stone bridges.
Make sure you check out the Roman ruins, including the mosaic tiles that were discovered, rub Gregory of Nin’s (ninski Grgur) toe for good luck, visit Solana Nin to learn how salt has been produced for centuries and don’t forget to get a photo at the church of Saint Nicholas.
Krka National Park
One of the most scenic parts of Dalmatia is undoubtedly the famous Krka National Park. Few places in Europe are as naturally beautiful, and with the mighty Krka River running through it, there are some spectacular waterfalls to check out.
These are, without a doubt, some of the most iconic features of the region overall. They were even featured in Game of Thrones. Especially Skradinski Buk, the most spectacular of all Krka National Park waterfalls, even beats all of Plitvice Lakes’ waterfalls in terms of size and volume.
It’s one of the best day trips from Zadar!
Kornati National Park
Stretching along the central part of the Croatian Adriatic are the Kornati Islands. If you’re in Zadar, you absolutely have to go and see the Kornati Islands for yourself.
The Kornati Islands were designated a national park in 1980. The park comprises 89 islands, islets, and reefs and is perfect for sailing or cruising. The islands are very barren and rocky, with little vegetation on them.
The Adriatic Sea is at its glorious best in the park, crystal clear, and perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Also, some cool remote restaurants are scattered throughout the Kornati Islands that can only be reached by boat. One of the best restaurants is Konoba Opat.
Explore The Islands Of Zadar
The Zadar archipelago has hundreds of islands, most of which are not inhabited. This region’s islands, sea, and coastline are absolutely stunning and best seen by boat. We have previously spent a week sailing through the Zadar archipelago and had an incredible time.
One of the highlights was stopping at an islet between Molat and Silba and swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic with no one in sight. The Adriatic was ours for that moment in time; definitely a unique experience.
If you don’t have a boat, it’s easy to take a ferry to the family-friendly islands near Zadar. Numerous ferries are leaving daily. They make going on day trips from Zadar a piece of cake. The islands I would suggest are Dugi Otok (for Telašćica Nature Park, see below), Ugljan, Pašman, Molat, Iz, and Ist.
Pag Island is perfect for Zadar day trips because it’s connected to the mainland by a bridge, so it’s easy to reach. Pag Island is famous for clubbing in Zrce, Pag Cheese (Paski sir), sheep, and lace.
If you’re young and into partying all night long, Zrce is undoubtedly the place for you. Through summer, they have clubs that operate 24/7. Aquarius and Papaya are the two big clubs, and throughout summer, there are numerous events with the world’s biggest DJs playing.
An absolute must-try – Pag cheese (Paski Sir).
It’s a sheep’s milk cheese, and what makes it so good is the milk that comes from the Pag ewes. They live on a diet of wild grass and herbs, which imparts a unique flavor to the milk and, in turn, the cheese.
You can try the cheese at roadside stalls from local producers or go to Kolan for a factory tour at the award-winning Gligora Dairy as we did. Afterward, head to the tasting room and try the variety of cheeses they offer.
Telašćica Nature Park
Telašćica Nature Park is located on Dugi Otok and consists of thirteen islands, islets, and reefs and is a popular destination for boat enthusiasts and day trips from Zadar. Telašćica Nature Park is known for its massive cliffs that plunge into the Adriatic and the unique Salt Lake Mir, which is said to have curative properties.
We have been to Telašćica many times, and it’s a great day trip. We love swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear bay. Oh, and I must mention the local donkeys that wander the park, who are extremely friendly!
Benkovac Farmers Market
The Benkovac Farmers Market is held on the 10th of every month, and many locals make day trips from Zadar to get to this massive market. Benkovac market is all about locals picking up monthly supplies for rock-bottom prices.
You can buy almost anything in this market, from livestock and food to clothes and tractors. This market has basic facilities, so don’t expect pretty cafes and soy caramel cappuccinos to be available. Many years ago, Mrs. CtD tried to convince me to buy her a donkey on our visit.
Don’t leave without eating some spit-roasted lamb, though. It’s mouthwateringly delicious!
A few kilometers from Benkovac are the remains of the ancient town of Asseria.
The Liburnians built this town, then later taken over by the Romans, and it was an important position on the route between present-day Zadar and Split, as well as other regional municipalities. The remains are 600 by 150 meters, and much of the site is yet to be excavated. However, plenty remains to see with the three-meter-thick ramparts and cippi (Liburnian carved tombstones).
Rafting & Kayaking The Zrmanja And Krupa Rivers
We always recommend rafting or kayaking along Croatia’s most beautiful rivers in crystal-clear waters.
They’re surrounded by a karst canyon that makes it easy on the eyes and fun! Almost anyone can do this activity because it requires no experience whatsoever. This is definitely a great activity if you’re visiting Croatia with kids. Rafting will get you up close and personal with nature, and you can even swim under the Krupa waterfalls.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
In just under two hours, you can be at the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Plitvice Lakes is a National Park, and in 1979 was awarded recognition as a UNESCO world heritage site. This UNESCO site has sixteen lakes and a series of gushing waterfalls. The lakes are famous for their stunning colors, which change from shades of teal, turquoise, and dark blues to grays throughout the year. The shades vary due to the number of minerals or organisms in the water.
Head To The Beach: Here Are The Best Beaches In Zadar
Zadar County is home to many beaches (including a few hidden gems!). Here are just a few we love:
Kolovare is a public beach in Zadar City. This Zadar beach is clean (Blue Flag status, to be exact!) and has all the necessary facilities, including showers, toilets, changing stalls, lounge chairs, and beautiful pine woods that provide excellent shade when the sun gets toasty.
This beach is ideal for families with children or teens, as the water sports options and other activities are endless. Get your kiddos excited with a game of beach volleyball or ping pong, a chance to parasail or ride water bikes, or even take a short cruise on a yacht or catamaran. Plus, given its proximity to the Old Town, you still have all the restaurants, bars, and shopping at your fingertips.
Borik Beach lies four kilometers from the Old Town of Zadar, and buses are a convenient transportation to and from its sandy/pebble shores. It’s part of the Falkensteiner Resort, which has a family holiday vibe and is a favorite Zadar beach.
They have geared the beach so that the children can be entertained. The beach itself is shallow with a sandy bottom. Borik Beach Zadar also has all the facilities you’ll need for a day out, such as food and drinks, toilets, changing stalls, and showers if you want to wash the sandy sea from your skin before dinner in the Zadar city center.
Further west from Borik, you will find Diklo. This area of the seashore is less touristy than Borik, and visitors love the relaxed, quiet vibe of the area. Diklo has a few beaches that are all pebbly. Scattered along the way, visitors will find cafes, restaurants, and various vendors selling food and drink.
The waterfront is clean, making it great for families on holiday. The area also hosts many sporting events in the Zadar region, an excellent place for participating in a few water sports activities while in Croatia.
Explore Beaches Further Away
Zadar County is blessed with numerous stunning beaches. Here are the best beaches in the Zadar region:
Petrćane is a beautiful village located between Nin and Zadar. The town has a stunning harbor and boasts many pebble and concrete beaches for visitors to enjoy. Once in the water, sandy floors make these great beaches for families. The waterfronts along this village are also perfect for those seeking recreational sports on holiday.
Complete with restaurants, hotels, and ways to easily travel to Zadar for additional cultural sightseeing, the village of Petrćane has become a tourist destination visitors choose as their home base when exploring the Zadar region. This is one of my favorite Zadar beaches.
Zaton Beach is quite possibly one of the most extensive beaches in the Zadar region and another with the desired Blue Flag status. You will find these sandy/pebble shores just west of Zadar. Beach day equipment is available for rent, including scooters, and bar and food choices are nearby for those needing refreshments.
This beach is part of the famous Zaton Holiday Resort, which has received excellent reviews from families with children. The use of the resort’s nearby pools and slides are also available. This Zadar beach is definitely one for the family.
Queens Beach Nin
We can’t leave the famous sandy Queens Beach of Nin off our list. This three-kilometer stretch of sand near the town of Nin runs along the Privlaka peninsula and is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is an excellent beach for families with small children, as it has been awarded Blue Flag status for its cleanliness. The waters are shallow, while the sand is ready for castle building.
If you are looking for something more unique to do while visiting Queens Beach, go kite-surfing or find the peloids of Nin to apply to your skin, a healthy mud known worldwide for its incredible benefits for skin and other ailments. Many people use this Zadar beach in summer, so get in early and grab your spot.
Pisak And Kulin Riviera
Pisak and Kulin are beautiful natural pebble beaches located on the Starigrad Paklenica Riviera shore in northwest Zadar.
If your holiday plans include visiting Paklenica National Park for a few days, a stop at these beaches is worth considering. The beaches are known for being family-friendly. Kulin is one of the top ten beaches of the Adriatic, while Pisak is known for its crystal-clear waters.
The area along the Riviera, at the foot of the Velebit mountains, provides stunning natural beauty and shade from pine and beech trees. If you’re in Paklenica, this should be your go-to beach.
Leave the city behind with a day at Sakarun Beach. About thirty kilometers west of Sali on Dugi Otok, this pebble/sand beach is one of the most beautiful in the region and arguably even Croatia. Shallow waters bring warmer sea temperatures and the opportunity to walk far into the bay. Grab your snorkel gear and a towel to spend the day here.
Cocktails and bites to eat are available at two locations along the shore, and a train also makes a stop here should you need public transport. This Zadar beach is just stunning.
Zlatna Luka Beach, Sukosan
In Sukosan, just southeast of Zadar, is Zlatna Luka Beach, a pebble beach along a road featuring palm and pine trees, chemical toilets, showers, and changing rooms.
This is an excellent destination if you want to escape busy Zadar for an afternoon and relax on a quiet-ish beach.
Additionally, this is also the location of the Zlatna Luka Diving Center, which organizes diving excursions to the spectacular Kornati National Park.
Located in Vrsi, this beach can be hard to find, but worth the effort if you dare! This wholly wild and natural beach, away from the city and the villages, is where you’ll find a beautiful view of Velebit Mountain.
This beach is accessible only by car, and there isn’t much room for many people to laze about. The sea here is extremely enticing, even though there are no facilities at the beach.
To access the beach, you need to walk a long distance along a stony path – but it is absolutely worth it once there.
Where To Stay In Zadar: Find Zadar Accommodation
If you’re looking for a hotel in Zadar or any other type of Zadar accommodation, we have selected the best in each category for you to choose from in this post about where to stay in Zadar here.
Where To Eat In Zadar: Our Fave Zadar Restaurants
You’ve made the journey to Zadar and now need to know where to eat. Given this is our hometown, we have some great tips for you. These are the restaurants in Zadar that we recommend.
If you are looking for something a bit more upmarket, Foša is the restaurant for you. Serving traditional Dalmatian food with a bit of a modern twist, this place specializes in fish and has a huge Croatian wine list to go with it. More than 120 varieties! Located in the little Foša harbor of Old Town, after which this restaurant is named, enjoy breathtaking Adriatic Sea views from the terrace. Perfect for a romantic dinner or a big night out. This is one of my favorite Zadar restaurants.
Known for its beautiful plates of hearty Mediterranean and Dalmatian cuisine, enjoy lunch or dinner at this establishment. The menu has excellent options for all palates, from pizza to octopus salad, and the prices are reasonable. House wines are delicious and come highly recommended. Enjoy dining indoors or take a seat on the charming patio. Free Wi-Fi is available if you need to catch up on a few emails or post some holiday shots online. This is the Zadar restaurant we love for pasta dishes.
Local Tip: Start with ordering the Bruschetta…you’re dining at Restaurant Bruschetta, after all!
You’re in for a real treat when dining at Pet Bunara. Serving up a fusion of contemporary dishes alongside Mediterranean meals, stop in for lunch, dinner, or simply a glass of delicious house wine. The prices are reasonable, the staff are knowledgeable, and the service is fantastic. Whether you want a romantic evening or a family dinner, this charming and cozy restaurant does it right.
Located in the heart of the Zadar Old Town, Nostalgie Restaurant is a well-rated restaurant in a relatively quiet area. People appreciate the service, decor, ambiance, and location. Its menu features a variety of dishes, but there is a main focus on fish and seafood. Order a seafood platter, fish soup, ravioli with crab filling, or tuna steak, sit back, and enjoy an evening in a typically Dalmatian restaurant.
As one of the best konobas in the region, this gem sits on a hilltop in the little hamlet of Vinjerec, just north of Zadar. The interior may seem a bit plain, but don’t let that fool you. The food that is served here is unlike anything you’ve tried before. Fish are caught fresh daily, and the dishes prepared with them are delightful and flavorful. If you love seafood, this konoba is an absolute must!
Local Tip: Book in advance and ask for a table on the terrace because the view is absolutely breathtaking.
Bon Appetit has already made a name for itself as one of the “must-try eateries” in the city. This popular and well-rated restaurant serves modern Mediterranean and Dalmatian food, including fresh fish, pork ribs, and excellent wines. You can dine in the cozy atmosphere of its interior or sit outside overlooking the waterfront at sunset.
Restaurant/pizzeria 4 Kantuna lies in the very heart of the Old Town of Zadar and is a beautiful place for a hearty dinner after a long day of exploring. The restaurant’s menu is almost overwhelmingly extensive and features a modern interior design. There’s everything from portions of pasta, risotto, bruschettas, and salads to fish and seafood, steaks, and lamb chops. The star of the menu, however, is the pizzas.
Not technically in the restaurant in the strictest sense of the word, ART Kavana is a superb pastry, dessert, and cake shop. If you didn’t order dessert with dinner and suddenly find yourself craving something sweet, there’s no better place to go in Zadar than this one.
Best Coffee In Zadar
Get ideas on where to get a cup of joe & cake in Zadar.
Coffee and Cake
This well-rated and ever-so-popular establishment features a warm and cozy space where the coffee is tasty, and cakes are homemade. Sit inside, or choose a table on the terrace for world-class people-watching. Situated in the middle of the Old Town, it’s the perfect place to rest your legs during a long exploratory walk in the afternoon. SiFollow the page here.
A favorite meeting place for locals, this cafe is perfect for grabbing an afternoon coffee. Enjoy seating on the terrace and prices that won’t break the bank.
Cool Bars In Zadar
Here are a few bars in Zadar for you to enjoy a cold drink!
After wandering about Zadar’s Old Town, why not pop into Deja Brew, a bar in Zadar that has live music and a killer selection of drinks? At Deja Brew, you can choose from 9 beers on tap, 57 beers, 76 whiskeys, 15 gins, 13 vodkas, 9 Tequilas, and 17 rums, and kick back and enjoy the low-key, laid-back vibe. All cocktails are made from scratch; no premise sugar mixes here like many other bars.
Lounge & Bar Ledana
This bar’s live music, outdoor seating, and chilled vibe make it a favorite in the city. Found in the garden of Queen Jelena Park, it boasts multiple terraces for watching performances while sipping a refreshing beverage. The neon lighting gives it a funky atmosphere at night; sun lovers will enjoy soaking up the rays in the afternoon.
Beach Bar Bamboo
If you find yourself at Beach Diklo for the day, definitely grab a cocktail at Beach Bar Bamboo. Taking in city view while relaxing in loungers by the sea, it will make your beachy day complete.
Lounge on sofas atop the old city walls at The Garden while listening to all forms of jazz, dub, electronica, and Latin music. Gaze over the harbor while enjoying a pre-dinner drink or spend the evening in the open air, watching the sun drop to the chill tunes.
Tequila Sunrise Beach Bar
Described as a hidden gem of Croatia by a fellow blogger, this unpretentious bar has a prime waterfront location about 30 minutes on foot from Old Town Zadar. Skip the crowds, and grab a bite and a cold beverage at this local hangout while catching one of Zadar’s beautiful sunsets.
Zadar Events And Festivals
One of the unique Zadar events, Škraping, is an international trekking race on sharp island rocks. It takes place in March every year, and its name comes from the local term for the sharp rocks. Over 1,000 competitors from all over Europe join in the challenge, and media and guests can watch. Climbing, jumping, walking, open-space orienteering, and adventure tourism are the main characteristics of this international event.
Musical Evening In St. Donat
A series of concerts performed by outstanding Croatian and international ensembles (both in the orchestral and soloist categories) can be enjoyed during July and August. Visitors and locals alike can purchase tickets for each evening’s performance for this cultural experience.
Full Moon Festival
If you are in Zadar during the summer on the night of a full moon, head to the Riva. The lights along the Riva are turned off at night, and instead, torches and candles are lit up, casting off a magical yellow glow alongside the sea.
As you walk the Riva, boats will sell fish along with other local wares.
This fun, free festival takes place each Friday from June to September. The streets of Old Town will transport you back in time with festive klapa singing groups along with loads of traditional snacks, drinks and stalls selling Dalmatian treats.
Zrce Beach Festivals, Novalja
Throughout the summer, Zrce Beach comes to life with numerous electronic music festivals drawing tens of thousands of party-goers from across the globe to see the best international DJs. Some of the biggest festivals worth attending are the Hideout Festival, Sonus Festival, Black Sheep Festival, and Spring Break Europe. If you need an airport transfer to one of these festivals, we can get you there with our new Airport Transfer Business.
How To Get To Zadar
- Air: Zadar has its airport, so book flights directly to Zadar if traveling by plane. Many international flight options are available to Zadar from starting locations all over Europe. You can also use Croatia Airlines to book short flights to Zadar from other Croatia airports. The airport is located approximately 8 kilometers from town, so further transit (via car, bus, private transfer, or taxi) is necessary upon arrival
- Bus: Transport via bus is available from Croatia’s main towns – Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split, Rijeka, and more. If you fly into another of Croatia’s airports to start your holiday elsewhere, use the Zadar Bus Website to locate the bus line and timetable that fit your needs
- Ferry: Not only can you hop on a ferry to Zadar from nearby islands (Dugi Otok, Silba, Mali Losinj, Rava, and Ugljan), but you also can take an overnight ferry service from Italy to reach Croatian shores. Local tip: The ferry from Italy only stops in Zadar during the summer months of June to September. So, if visiting during other months, opt for the year-round ferry to Split and then travel by bus or car to Zadar
- Car: If you enjoy taking in the countryside at your own pace and enjoy the adventure of driving new roads while on holiday, renting a car is always an attractive option—no need to wait for public transport time schedules. A drive from Split will average shy of two hours, while a trip from Zagreb will take around three hours. Stop along the way when the fancy strikes you, and have transportation at your beck and call all holiday! Not to mention, you can drive the quick 90 minutes to Plitvice Lakes National Park once you’ve arrived
Zadar Airport (ZAD) is located in Zemunik Donji. It offers various flight options to both domestic and international destinations. Some popular destinations that you can fly to from Zadar Airport include:
- Domestic Destinations within Croatia: Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Pula, and Rijeka
- European Destinations: Frankfurt, London, Munich, Vienna, Warsaw, Stockholm, Oslo, Brussels, Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Dublin, and many more
- Seasonal Charter Destinations: During the summer season, Zadar Airport also offers charter flights to popular vacation destinations in countries such as using Ryanair to fly to Vienna, Sofia, Hamburg, Marseille, Bucharest, Liverpool, Aarhus, Stockholm, Rzeszów, Berlin, Budapest, Bremen, Bournemouth, Frankfurt Hahn, Manchester, Munster, Birmingham, Newcastle, Pisa, Rome, Turin, Bologna, Leeds Bradford, Bordeaux, Edinburgh, Milan Malpensa, and Paris Beauvais
It’s important to note that flight routes and destinations may vary depending on the airline and the season. It’s always best to check with airlines or travel websites for the most accurate and up-to-date information on flight options from Zadar Airport.
Traveling To Further Destinations
Traveling after a visit to Zadar is as easy as catching any of the ferries, buses, trains, or planes that initially got you to the city. Daily buses leave Zadar to Dubrovnik, Zadar to Split, and Zadar to Zagreb.
Zadar is a great home base for visiting the beautiful Dalmatian coast islands, easily accessible by ferry or boat hire. Our favorites include Pag, Kornati Islands (Local Tip. Eat at Konoba Opat), and Dugi Otok. Dugi Otok is where we spotted our first donkeys, inspiring the name of this blog.
Zadar is also an excellent starting point for exploring Plitvice Lakes and then traveling to other cities afterward. Plitvice lies roughly midway between Zadar and Zagreb. Buses are available from the central bus station from either town. From Zadar, it takes two hours, and from Zagreb, it takes two hours and 20 minutes. We suggest that if you’re coming from elsewhere in Croatia, you take the bus to one of these towns first.
If you’re planning to drive to Plitvice, the route is easy to find and is approx 155 kilometers from Zadar, 130 kilometers from Zagreb, 280 kilometers from Split, and around 465 kilometers from Dubrovnik.
I know that was a massive post of Zadar tourist information, such as things to do in Zadar, where to go, what to eat, and places to sleep, but that’s not ALL Zadar has to offer. So, if I’ve missed one of your favorite Zadar highlights, let me know below!
The light show looks amazing! I wanna see that. And, that’s pretty awesome what Hitchcock said–I can’t really argue with him!
Yeah he is kind of famous…
HA! Love your slide! If I had read your posts a year ago, I’d have definitely visited Croatia before leaving Europe. Not only gorgeous scenery, but also cool art installations – I’m sold! Good luck!
Damn! Well never fear we’re not going anywhere so Zadar will be awaiting your return at some point.
Before reading your blog posts on Croatia, the only place I had heard in Croatia is Dubrovnik. Your writing makes me realize how much Croatia has to offer.
Thanks Nanette. Zadar is not as big as Dubrovnik, but still loads to do and see. It’s a great base to see many other things as well…. come on over.