I am sure whenever most of us think about visiting Croatia,Dubrovnik is the first place we think of, because most of us have heard about Dubrovnik’s charms, but believe me after visiting this beautiful and vibrant city of Zadar, which lies in the western corner of Croatia i changed my mind and so will you!.
Zadar has pretty beaches, sunshine and medieval history on its doorstep. Zadar’s historical centre is very fascinating to explore, from Roman ruins to the beautiful historic churches to a modern seaside promenade, Zadar has a lot to offer. The old town is paved with gleaming white stones, which reflect the sunshine making the whole city so gloomy and sunnier.
The old town has a very interesting and appealing map view, i wish i had a drone to capture that :/, but hey no biggie! what i have is google maps.
The Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun are must-sees as they reflect the vibrant and energetic local culture, as they are the highly modern monuments you will see in the city. I was particularly taken with the sea organ — a series of undersea pipes, which turn the waves into music.
In the evening crowds gather for the spectacle and who can blame them? The sunset was casting a beautiful spell all around. It got much crowded as the locals and the tourists gathered to sit on the steps and listen to the mournful yet beautiful music played b the sea organ while watching the sunset.
So if you are interested in listening to the music at a calm and peaceful time you better make it there in the afternoon when its less crowded.
Zadar is pretty small and easily walkable. The old town has a beautiful walking track which spreads all around the old town (As you can see in the map view i added). Wandering by the edges of the old town, while enjoying the beautiful views of the sea and the nearby islands, it was amazing.
Each evening we would go to the sea organ and start our evening walk from there. The views are breath taking.
Top Things to Do in Zadar
In between day trips, we eased into life in Zadar. Our apartment was in the heart of the old town (booked via booking.com) so we were at an ideal location to explore the city on foot. As i said, Zadar is an easily walkable city.
We covered almost every street in the old town. Each evening we returned back from our daily excursions to the near by Islands and walked around the beautiful town, admiring the odd mix of old and new. I made a list while we were looking around, here it is so you can get an idea of what you can do and where to start:
Kopnena vrata (Land Gate)
We took a start outside of the old town on the east end at the Land Gate.
Just pass through the gate, take the immediate right, climb the stairs and you will reach:
From here you can actually climb up to the Queen Jelena Mdijevka Park to escape the sence of being in the center of a city.This park was very peaceful and had a cafe in the center where we took some coffee. (forgot to take a pic 🙁 of the park).
Anyways after leaving the park we went to the hotel (as it was getting late and we were very tired from island hoping), and started our tour again next day from the same spot.
Trg Petra Zoranica
So the next day we started from the old town square. With a big shady tree in the center of the square it was very relaxing, and we had our morning coffee at one of the cafes there.
From here we walked to the:
The town square is surrounded by old buildings on 3 sides, on one side is the city Lodge, right in front of it is the City Sentinel which is equipped with a clock tower. On the far end lies the current City Hall of Zadar.
Occasionally we popped into bakeries for some freshly baked goodies and when we got tired we crawled into cafes and sampled the local specialties like Zagorski Štrukli. I noticed a lot of Italian influence while i tried different treats of the Dalmatian region.
St. Donatus’ Church, the Bell Tower and the Park of Roman pieces
The bell tower is about 183 foot tall and you can actually climb the tower to get beautiful views of the city and the sea for a very minimal amount of around 20 Kuna (2.7 Euro).
Next to the tower is the centerpiece of the city and the most famous monument in Croatia as it belonged to the early middle ages and across the church are some left-over pieces of roman ruins, you might like them if you are too much into history, i wasn’t much impressed though.
Before finally reaching the Sea Organ (Morske orgulje) and the Sun salutation to spend the evening we crossed, St. Anastasia’s Cathedral, Trg 3 bunara and Church of Our Lady of Health.
We also visited the Fosa Marina: this little place served as a parking place for small boats and schools of small fish.
Not to forget there is a nice restaurant (Restoran Foša) near the Fosa Marina where we had our lunch, we ordered The lunch time special fish menu which costed us around 40 euros.
Day Trips and Surrounding Islands
While we were in Zadar , we took advantage of Zadar’s close proximity to Plitvice Lakes National park (read about it) and a few boat trips to the nearby islands, and enjoyed hopping on and off some of the beautiful islands like Ugljan, Preko and Dugi Otok.
All the islands were beautiful, calm and quiet with crystal clear water. Lack of human influence has resulted in intact surroundings, places where one can really get back to nature. We made a few stops along the islands to give ourselves some time to see something nice and different and taste the fresh sea air.
Though we missed this one, but a suggestion would be to take one of many offered one day tours to the Kornati National Park.
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Until next time! keep on traveling :).