Zadar is a port city on the northern Dalmatian coast of Croatia. It has a stunning Old Town, pebble beaches, and a lively nightlife scene.
Zadar is home to the oldest university in Croatia and students fill the bars during semester time. Lots of them spill out onto the narrow streets of the Old Town, making for a great street atmosphere. Check out The Garden on the old city walls.
The city has been occupied by the Romans and the Venetians. Visit the Roman Forum and St. Donat's church in the Old Town.
The Sea Organ by the harbor in the Old Town is powered by waves to create atmospheric, whale-like music. Go at night to see the accompanying light show.
Zadar has a number of small beaches and everyone swims. The beach at Puntamika is particularly good and has great views of the Old Town across the bay.
Zadar has great ferry links to the nearby islands and fares are cheap. Go explore!
The Katedrala sv. Stoije (Cathedral of St. Anastasia) dates from the 4th century A.D. and was extensively rebuilt in the 12th century. It's the largest church on the Dalmatian coast. Inside you will find an ornate hexagonal baptistry and an intricate floor mosaic from the 5th century that depicts a pair of deer. The cathedral also has a museum of art, which contains the Zadar Polyptych, an early work by Vittore Carpaccio. There is also an imposing bell tower and the church is still home to a sarcophagus containing the remains of St. Anastasia.
The Morske orgulje (Sea Organ) is an extremely unusual musical instrument and well-known feature of Zadar. It is built into the town's sea wall and features a selection of pipes that emit music as sea waves enter the structure. The result is continuous but random music, much like whale song in character. There are steps from the structure down to the water and the area is much favored as a picnic site. If you visit in the evening, you will also be able to enjoy the accompanying light show, as lights mounted in the ground react to the waves.
The Arheoloki muzej Zadar (Archaeological Museum of Zadar) is the second-oldest museum in Croatia, having opened in 1832. It houses more than 100,000 exhibits, covering everything from prehistoric times, to medieval and submarine collections. The museum specifically focuses on Zadar and the surrounding area and islands, and it offers a fascinating insight into the history of the town. The museum is located in a modern building on the Forum Square, easily accessible in the center of the Old Town.
Crkva Sv. Donata (Church of St. Donatus) occupies the northeastern part of Zadar's Forum Square. It dates from the 8th century and is the largest pre-Romanesque building in Croatia. It is circular in design, as was typical for medieval Dalmatia. The tall and round interior is known for its excellent acoustic qualities and the church is often used for concerts today. It was built on the site of the ancient Roman forum and actually used stone from that earlier building, including a sacrificial altar that can still be seen today.
Kornati National Park is just 15 miles from Zadar but takes you into a completely different world. It is a natural haven of islands and inlets and one of the most beautiful parts of the Dalmatian coast. The clear blue waters invite you to swim, snorkel and scuba dive, while the islands themselves offer fantastic hiking routes. There are 140 islands covering 114 square miles but no permanent residents. Instead, the residents of the nearby island of Murter keep cottages there to work the orchards, vineyards and olive groves in the harvest months. You can stay in one of these cottages (No electricity or running water!) for a truly 'back to nature' experience. Alternatively, there are lots of day trips from Zadar.
Zadar has a typical Mediterranean climate with lovely hot summers. July and August are peak tourist months.
Zadar International Airport (ZAD) has flights from across Europe and is served by the low cost operator Ryanair. There is a good bus service to the bus station, train station, and Old Town, costing kn25. A taxi will cost kn150.
There are regular train services from Knin and Zagreb. The fare from Zagreb is around kn230.
Driving along the coast to Zadar from the north or south (along the Adriatic Highway) can be simply stunning, if a little slow. There are good road connections to Zagreb and Split.
Zadar has frequent bus services from Zagreb and connections from Dubrovnik and Split. The fare from Zagreb is from kn103.
Villa Ivana on Obala Kneza Domagoja is an excellent boutique B&B right on Puntamika beach; handy for the short bus ride into the Old Town, or you can take the little boat instead. The Lazy Monkey Hostel offers modern dorm accommodation close to the Old Town and beach.
Old Town - this is Zadar's main attraction and is home to some stunning Roman ruins, countless narrow streets, and lots of bars and restaurants. Surrounded on three sides by the sea, it sticks out like a thumb into the Adriatic.
Puntamika - this neighborhood lies across the bay from the Old Town. It has probably the best beach in Zadar and is home to the marina, as well as a number of good hotels, bars, and restaurants.
New Town - the New Town lies to the east of the Old Town. It is the commercial center of Zadar, with most of the main shopping areas and apartment blocks.
Zadar has a good, modern bus service operating from Mala Posta. Single tickets cost just kn10.
Taxis are plentiful but it's wise to negotiate a fare before your journey. Meter drop is kn25 and then you will pay kn7.50 per mile.
Driving in the Old Town is almost impossible. Elsewhere, roads are reasonable and car rental is available from around kn150.
The Old Town has a good daily morning market along Zlatarska ulica, ideal for buying clothes and local produce. The New Town area along Ulica bana Josipa Jelacica is better for mainstream fashion, electronics, and regular groceries.
A quart of milk in Zadar will cost kn5.30 and a loaf of bread is kn4.83.
Restoran Kornat by the harbor in the Old Town offers a Croatian take on Mediterranean cuisine, while Restaurant Fosa on Ul. kralja Dmitra Zvonimira has some great seafood dishes. Expect to pay around kn40 for a main in a modest restaurant and perhaps kn100 in an upscale place.