Zadar, located in Northern Dalmatia, is among the most popular and best-known holiday resorts in Croatia. It has an atmospheric old town and dozens of interesting sights to see. What to do in Zadar? If you choose from the following things to do, you will definitely won’t be disappointed!
This article summarizes the following:
- Things to do in Zadar: the most popular beaches
- What to do in Zadar: hiking opportunities
- Things to do in Zadar: Explore the city’s main attractions
- Events in Zadar
- The gastronomy of Zadar
Kolovare is one of the most popular beaches in Zadar; it is only a 15-minute walk from the old city. It has a pebbly and rocky beach, which also has a concrete section. Kolovare also has clear waters that deepen moderately rapidly, making it ideal for scuba-diving. There are showers, changing rooms, and even a playground for kids. If you get hungry, you can find some snack bars and restaurants here as well. Heading towards north from Zadar, you will find beaches such as the Maestrala and the Uskok. The former is really unique, as it provides a nice view of the old city. Besides the Kolovare, the resort has another popular beach: Borik is 1300 metres long and 40 metres wide. It is mostly pebbly with slowly deepening waters. They have a water slide, and we can rent a paddleboat, a surf or a jetski.
Nin is located only 14 kilometres from Zadar; many consider it a true gem of the area. The first cathedral of Croatia can be found here: the Church of the Holy Cross was built-in the 9th century. It has an early Roman style, and interestingly, it is among the smallest cathedrals in the world with a footprint of 9×9 metres. We can still admire the building in its original shape today.
The island of Ugljan is located right opposite Zadar. The main attraction on the island is Fort Saint Michael standing on top of a 270-metre-high hill; there is a fantastic view of the surrounding archipelago from up here. Interestingly, there is also a miniature island near the town of Preko called Galevac Island. The Franciscan monastery here is still operating today.
Dugi Otok island
Dugi Otok, which has a territory of 114.44km2, is the largest member of the Zadar archipelago. It has a length of 44.5 kilometres, but its largest width is only 4.8 kilometres. Its main attraction is the Telascica National park, located in the south in an 8-kilometre-long bay near Sali. It has an incredibly warm lake called Mir (peace) where visitors can swim and enjoy the healing effects of the mud, which can be used to treat rheumatic illnesses. It is a lesser-known fact that one of the highest lighthouses in Croatia, Punt Bjanca, can also be found here, in the northern part. Another interesting sight to see is the submarine bunker located in the bay of Zagranica, a few kilometres to the north from Bozava.
Kornati National Park
The Kornati National Park can be found near the southwestern part of Dugi Otok; it is among the most beautiful national parks in Croatia. There are app. 140 uninhabited islands with white cliffs in the area. The 3 largest ones are Kornat, Žut and Piskera. Besides the natural treasures, the archipelago is also unique for its Illyrian castles and ruins of Roman villas. If you are a watersports fan, you will love the fact that the national park is a paradise fo divers thanks to its beautiful diving spots.
Pag is the fifth-largest island in Croatia. It is most unique because of the panorama: the white barren plains and giant cliffs will make you feel like you are on the Moon. There is a 115-kilometre-long mountain bike trail around the island for those who prefer active recreation. Further sports opportunities offered in the area include diving and rock climbing. Pag is often referred to as the “Ibiza” of Croatia – it is a party island where young people can let off steam.
People’s Square has been the centre of the town’s public life since medieval times. The most important buildings here are the clock tower, the Loggia and the town hall. The famous Sea Gate ends here, and you can also reach Zadar’s attractions from the main street. If you go towards north, you will get to the Church of St. Donatus, and Five Wells Square is located to the south.
Church of St. Donatus
This is the best-known symbol of Zadar; they started to build it in the 9th century. It was called the Church of the Holy Trinity until the 15th century, and then they renamed it after Donatus of Zadar, who began the construction of the church. It is very unique, as it has a rounded shape, two levels, but no bell tower. Currently, it is not used for religious purposes. It has a particularly simple interior. In the summers, they organise classical music concerts here.
Cathedral of St. Anastasia
Another must-see sight in the old city is the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, which is the largest and tallest building in Zadar. It is standing behind the Church of St. Donatus, and its construction was also started by Donatus. They finished the construction only in the 12th century, and the bell tower was only finished at the end of the 19th century.
Walking past the Church of St. Donatus and the Forum, you will spot some unique steps leading into the sea – you can hear strange but harmonic sounds from behind the 70-metre-long monument. The famous Sea organ, which is a popular meeting spot among locals and tourists as well, was built by Nikola Basic.
Monument to the Sun
Another famous sight is the Monument of the Sun or The Greeting to the Sun; the glass monument consists of solar modules, and is located further past the Sea organ, at the end of the boardwalk. Instead of sounds, this monument uses lights to represent the importance and power of nature in a playful way. It was designed by Nikola Basic, the same person who designed the Sea organ.
In Roman times, the Forum was the centre of social life. Originally, it was 90 metres long and 45 metres wide, and its three sides were paved by marble columns. Today, we can only see the ruins of the original structure.
In the summer, they organise a musical event at almost every weekend. Examples include a cultural festival, Zadar Dreams or the musical evenings in the Church of St. Donatus. They organise the Fool Moon Festival at the end of June – on the evening of the summer solstice – with a torchlight parade.
The wonderful town of Zadar offers dozens of clubs to those who want to party. The Ledana Lounge Bar and Club can be found in the southern corner of the town, on Five Wells Square; they often organise costume parties here. Svarog Bar is also located on Five Wells Square. The Podroom Night Club is an indoor disco located on the peninsula. As for the northern corner of Zadar, we recommend that you visit the atmospheric Garden roof terrace, open during the day as well.
2Ribara is one of the most popular restaurants in Zadar among tourists as well as locals. The restaurant can be found near the beach and has a really nice atmosphere. They offer a wide variety of delicious meals including meat dishes, frutti di mare and pizza. Pet Bunara is located in the old city and has a beautiful terrace. Dalmatian dishes are prepared with local ingredients of the highest quality here. The restaurant is very popular among the locals; it is recommended to reserve a table for dinner. Mamma Mia is another amazing restaurant in town. They have delicious pizza, fish and meat dishes, pastas and deli platters, and serve particularly large portions. If you would like to have dinner here, we recommend that you reserve a table. Are you looking for a nice drink? Try the famous Maraschino liqueur of Zadar, prepared with the unique cherries of Makarska.
In this article, we collected the best things to do in Zadar. If you visit the Northern-Dalmatian town, you can admire interesting attractions, and the islands nearby are perfect for a nice walk or hike as well. Read more if you plan sailing in Zadar or boat rental in Zadar.