Perhaps the coolest city in the Adriatic, Zadar is a dream destination. Sun and sea meets an urban street life and quirky culture, making this underrated Croatian paradise the perfect hotspot for any type of traveller.
1 day in Zadar | The Must Do’s
Zadar, one of the quirkiest cities in Croatia, is chock-full of rich history and culture, with a range of incredible sights that are not to be missed. Begin your trip in the heart of it all and explore the old town, starting at Forum. This square can be described as an open air museum - you can explore the ancient Roman heritage and the damage that was caused here in World War II - over 60% of the city was damaged by bombings. Lining the Forum are many cafes and restaurants, so this is a great place to grab a quick breakfast.
After breakfast, head to one of the nearby iconic buildings that surround the Forum. Dating back to the 9th cenury, St. Donatus Church is one of the only one of the only buildings from the early Croatian kingdom to have survived the Mongol invasion of the 13th century, making it one of the most important places in the city. Built in a unique circular shape with three apses and a circular gallery, the interor makes for some pretty spectacular photographs. Now used as a concert hall or an exhibition space, the church hasn't held any religious services for about 200 years.
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A walkable distance from the church is the Five Wells Square, perfect for another photo opportunity and a little more history. Built by the venetians in the 16th century to help the citizens withstand the Turkish siege, this square is exactly what it says it is - five wells lined up in a row.
Above the Five Wells Square is a beautiful park that is the perfect spot for a pinic lunch if you're visiting Zadar in the warmer months.
This afternoon, a visit to Kalelarga Street is a must. Also known as Široka street, or Wide street, it's extremely popular amongst locals and tourists alike, drawing in hundreds of visitors per day. This lively street is full of shops, restaurants, bars and bakeries so it's easy to spend a few hours (and Croatian Kuna) here. Walk to the end of the street and you'll reach the beautiful People's Square, or Narodni trg.
From here, make your way to the stunning promenade for a stroll to the top point of the peninsula. Time it just right and you'll see one of the most gorgeous Mediterranean sunsets you'll ever see. Infact, the sunset here is so incredibly stunning, even Alfred Hitchcock was wowed when he witnessed it in 1964, describing the cotton candy skies as "the most beautiful sunset in the world".
Once the sun has gone down, head to two of the most popular attractions in Zadar, the Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun. Both are conviently located right next to each other, at the end of the promenade. After sunset is the perfect time to enjoy these attractions as the Greeting to the Sun is an incredible light show that happens after the solar panels absorb the light during the day. The Sea Organ, which is a large architectural sound art object, plays music as the waves crash against the shore.
Dinner on the waterfront is the perfect way to round off the evening, savouring some delcious Mediterranean cuisine.
If you have more time | local experiences
Take a half-day trip to the jaw-droppingly beautiful Krca National Park, located less than an hour away from the city of Zadar. It's best to leave early in the morning as you're going to want to make the most of your time here as there is so much to see and do.
A hike is the perfect activity to take part in first, before the sun gets too hot. Join a guided walking tour and explore one of the many trails while you learn all about the history of the park and its surrounding areas from an expert tour leader. On your walk you're sure to spot a handful of Krca's renowned caves and waterfalls that will make you feel like you're living in your own fairytale.
After your hike, find yourself a good base and immerse yourself in the pristine blue-green hue waters. You'll want to spend at least a couple of hours here swimming and relaxing.
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Head back to Zadar late afternoon and spend the rest of the day sipping cocktails by the beach. Cafe Brazil, named after the cult classic 80's film, is ideally located right near the Sea Organ and overlooks the gorgeous shores of the Adriatic.
For dinner tonight, Fosa is a seafood lover's dream, offering the freshest produce ready for you to enjoy in the most beautiful setting.