For some reason, Zadar seems to fly under the radar of most people who visit Croatia – which makes it an even better place to travel and explore. The old city has pretty buildings, quaint streets, and a history that pre dates Dubrovnik. In both the old and newer parts of Zadar, there is plenty to occupy your time, and it’s location next to the waters edge gives a relaxed, enticing vibe. If you intend to visit the city, plan to stay at least a couple of days – a fleeting glimpse does not do it justice.
There are many fast food takeouts around Zadar, with some of the better prices outside the old town walls. A large pizza slice can be bought for around €1.5 at some places, and sandwiches are decent value from the supermarkets. Restaurants in the heart of the old town can be expensive, so try and pick a smaller cafe on the backstreets if eating out.
Like all of Croatia, hostels are more expensive than surrounding countries. When Zadar’s students are on their summer break, the university hall lets out rooms to tourists…this can help save a couple of Euros on hostel prices. Look for the big pink building on the edge of town. A room for two people in an apartment or guesthouse is usually €35 plus.
The train and bus station are next to each other – a 15 minute walk from the old town. Just keep walking on the main road past the large City Galleria shopping centre, and you will see it about five minutes later near a large interchange. Buses go regularly to all other Croatian cities and coastal towns. The slow and dated trains go to Zagreb and Split. For International destinations by bus, you will have to head to Split or Zagreb first. Ferries leave Zadar harbour for most nearby islands and to Ancona in Italy.
• Stroll around the Old City – One of the most attractive old towns on the Croatian coast, the marble streets are lined with shops, bars and restaurants. St Donat Church is one of the focal points and it is interesting just walking the narrow alleys and admiring the old buildings. At night, there is decent nightlife in a couple of clubs.
• Go to Paklenica National Park – A good location to go hiking or cycling ; there’s a canyon and some good scenery and views to enjoy. Around half an hour away by getting on the Starigrad Paklenica bus.
• Party on Pag island – A favourite among French and Italian clubbers, in summer Pag is one of the liveliest islands in Croatia. Zrce beach is a main hub and hosts parties on the beach. It’s about 90 minutes away by bus.
• Relax at the City beaches – Walk out of the old town gate, past the tiny harbour and follow the sea road for ten minutes and you will find a couple of small city beaches to chill out on. They are not the best in the world but clean and convenient. There are also swimming platforms to enjoy the clear waters. A short distance further is Kolovare pebble beach.
• Chill out at the Sea Organ – at the end of Zadar’s long promenade is the unique sea organ, producing sounds generated by the the oceans waves. Nearby, the Solar Circle lights up with energy absorbed from the days sunshine. Many people congregate here to watch as the sun sets in the distance . It’s a great place with a magical atmosphere.
• Walk the promenade – A favourite pastime of locals and tourists alike is to wander along the promenade on an evening. Running the length of the old town, there are often street performers to entertain you.
• Visit Plitvice – The National Park is equi-distant from either Zadar or Zagreb, so make sure you do the day trip from one or the other. Probably Croatia’s most famous natural site. The waterfalls and nature don’t disappoint. Remember to get the morning bus for a day trip as it is 2 hours away.
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