Zadar is beautiful seaside city in Croatia, situated in the center of Adriatic coast. It is among the oldest continuously inhabited cites in Croatia and for centuries it was the capital of Dalmatia region. For that reason, entire town is rich in historical monuments and modern installations that make Zadar one of the most charming yet undiscovered cities in Croatia.
Lot of travelers decide to visit Zadar on their journey from Zagreb or Plitvice (if you want to know what we recommend to see in Plitvice check the link here) towards Split and Dubrovnik.
In this post we will write about what to see and things to do if you decide to visit Zadar in 2020 but you have only one day to experience the most of the city.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Zadar is important traffic point in Croatia and you can reach it easily by the main highway Zagreb-Dubrovnik as it passes through the city. It takes 3 hours to get from Zagreb to Zadar.
WHERE TO STAY:
There are different options when it comes to choosing an accommodation. If you are more of hotel type, we recommend you to book a room in a great hotel situated directly in the old town with secret garden, check the link here.
In case you are more of a hostel type, click here to check the hostel we recommend to stay in while in Zadar.
TOP THINGS TO DO AND SEE:
Zadar old town is situated on a peninsula and it is the perfect size to be explored by easy walk.
It is always recommended to take a guided sightseeing of the city since the locals will introduce you to the interesting stories, legends and less-known facts about the city. You can take private guided tour (link here) or if you are looking for a sightseeing experience with a twist, then Virtual Reality tour of Zadar is the best thing to do (click here).
In any case, if you decide to explore the city on your own or with a guide, here is the list of a must-see attractions:
1. Sit at the Sea Organ and listen to the sea playing unique melody
Sea Organ is a must-see (and hear) attraction while in Zadar. It is constructed as a 70-m long stairs that descend into the sea and play unique melody each time sea waves hit the coast. It is situated on the western end of Zadar peninsula, built in 2005 and it soon became one of the most recognizable symbols of the city as it is the only one of its kind in the world.
You can sit on the steps, enjoy relaxing melody played by the sea and admire beautiful islands stretching on the horizon.
2. Stop at the Greeting to the Sun to watch the best sunset in the world and light-show spectacle
Greeting to the Sun is situated at sea promenade, not far from the Sea Organ. It is a 22-m wide circle placed in the marble pavement, with solar panels that collect sun’s energy throughout the day and then transform it into electrical energy.
The best time to visit the Greeting to the Sun is definitely at the sunset because you will be able to enjoy famous Zadar sunset that even Alfred Hitchcock, famous English movie director, said is the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Florida.
When the sun sets down, 10 000 light bulbs turn on and create different lighting effects in various colors.
3. Discover the remains of ancient Roman Forum, the biggest built in Croatia
The Forum with numerous shops and magnificent temple was the center of public and religious life during the period of Roman colonization of the city. The Forum in Zadar was constructed between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD and it was the biggest Forum built in Croatia.
Remains of a Roman Forum are among the most intriguing things about Zadar since they present thousands of years of history of the city presented on site to public, and what is interesting is that remains were hidden below the surface until the area was bombed in World War II.
4. Take a picture in front of the church of St. Donatus
Church of St. Donatus was built in the 9th century. It is a place you can’t miss due to its giant structure. This unusual circular church was a private chapel of a bishop Donatus. At first it was commissioned to the Holy Trinity and in the 15th century it was renamed after the bishop Donatus.
This church is not used for masses anymore but you can buy a ticket (from 3,00 EUR per person) and check out its interior which is quite interesting due to gallery on the second floor.
5. Visit the church of St. Anastasia and climb the belfry for amazing panoramic views of the old town and nearby islands
St. Anastasia cathedral is the biggest cathedral in Dalmatia. Its oldest parts are an early Christian basilica built in the 4th and 5th century but its present day appearance is shaped in Romanesque style during the 12th and 13th centuries.
Climb cathedral’s belfry for amazing panoramic views. The ticket price is 2,00 EUR and it is worth the climb for outstanding views of the old town and islands from the top.
6. Walk down the main street called Kalelarga
Kalelarga is the main street and the place to meet in Zadar. Its name literary means „Wide street“ and it follows the direction of the former Roman street (Decumanus maximus) built 2.000 years ago.
Walking this street you will follow the traces of history as it hides fascinating stories about the city. It is the most vibrant street that is always buzzing with numerous shops, caffe bars and one of the most beloved streets by the citizens of Zadar with a song dedicated to it.
7. Visit Five wells square
Five wells were built in 16th century above the huge water tank to provide water for citizens during the Ottoman siege. Close to the square is the oldest public park in Croatia from which you can take best panoramic photos of the nearby port Foša and the Land Gate.
8. Discover impressive system of defense walls and Land Gate, UNESCO site
Zadar’s system of defense walls and fortifications was built during 16th and 17th century by the Venetian Republic to resist Ottoman treat.
The most impressive part of the Walls is the Land Gate, built in 1543 and it is considered as one of the finest Renaissance monuments in whole Dalmatia.
Zadar was the largest city-fortress during the rule of Venetian Republic and Ottomans never succeeded to breach the city walls.