One of the highlights of the Croatian coastline is the city of Zadar. Situated right on the Adriatic, Zadar is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the country. While you can spend time out on the water, there is also a whole variety of things to in Zadar itself. This guide will walk you through a one day in Zadar itinerary and talk about how to go about a visit.
1) How to Get to Zadar
Before jumping into the 10 things to do in Zadar, I thought it may be helpful to go over some logistics on how to get to the city itself. There are three main ways to get yourself to Zadar – bus, car, or plane.
If you do not have your own car when traveling throughout the country, then using the local intercity coach busses will be your best option. these busses run at all hours of the day from all different cities across the country. So, if coming from Zagreb up north, or Split down south, there will be a bus to get you there.
The Zadar bus station is located just outside the main city center and would be about a 20-30 minute walk to town depending on where you are staying. You will also find plenty of taxi drivers waiting just outside the station to drive you the quick route.
An easy way to get yourself around Croatia on your own schedule will be by rental car. You will be able to pick up/drop off rental cars from airports and cities around the country, and should have no problem getting yourself to Zadar during your trip.
Just be aware that a lot of the city itself has pedestrian only streets, but you can find car parks in and around the old city center.
Lastly, you can also reach Zadar from other cities in Croatia as well as abroad through its airport (ZAD). The airport is located about 12 kilometers from the old city, and should take about 20 minutes by car to get there.
2) Where to Stay in Zadar
When deciding where to stay in Zadar, you can choose between staying directly within the Old Town center of Zadar or just outside the city walls. While staying in the Old Town is a beautiful place to stay (and nearby all the attractions, restaurants and bars), there aren’t too many hotel options available.
The mid range option below is within the city walls while the other two are a 10-15 minute drive away. Either way though, you should have no issue enjoying all that Zadar has to offer. Below are some of my top recommendations based on price point:
Mid Range Option | BOOK TODAY → Falkensteiner Club Funimation Borik
“Featuring both outdoor and indoor pools, Falkensteiner Club Funimation Borik is located in Zadar and features a 8202 ft² award-winning wellness center with massage, sauna, hot tub and solarium facilities. Water sports facilities, tennis and beach volleyball courts can be found on site.
The hotel is located right next to a sandy beach, and diving and surfing opportunities can be found nearby. The historic Zadar Old Town, with its St. Donatus’ Church, Cathedral of St. Anastasia and the ancient Roman Forum, is 2.5 mi away. The well-known Sea Organ Installation can be visited within 2.8 mi.”
Luxury Option | BOOK TODAY → Bastion Heritage Hotel – Relais & Châteaux
“This 4-star hotel is located in Zadar’s historic core, just a few feet away from the Arsenal and is the location of the famous fine dining restaurant Kaštel that serves Mediterranean cuisine in elegant interiors and on a spacious terrace overlooking the garden. The property includes a spa, while free WiFi is provided in all areas.
Rooms here are individually decorated and beautifully fitted with handmade art-deco furniture and hardwood flooring. Each room has air conditioning, cable and satellite TV and a mini-bar, while some also feature exposed stone walls.
Budget Option | BOOK TODAY → Hotel Mediteran
“Hotel Mediteran is a 10-minute walk from the beach and 2.5 miles from the historic center of Zadar. It offers rooms with free Wi-Fi and a balcony overlooking the sea or the grounds.
The air conditioned rooms have classic décor and carpeted floors. They provide satellite TV, minibar and bathroom with hairdryer.
The Mediteran Hotel offers free private parking, including a garage for motorbikes. The main local attractions can be reached with the bus that stops 1,000 feet away.”
3) One Day in Zadar Map & Attractions
This one day in Zadar guide will take you through the following 10 attractions that can be found throughout the city center. Below the list, you can find a map of where each one of these spots is located.
1) The Forum
2) Church of St. Donatus
3) Zadar Cathedral
4) Bell Tower Climb
5) People’s Square
6) Five Wells Square
7) Venetian Land Gate
8) Promenade Walk
9) Sea Organ
10) Monument to the Sun
4) One Day in Zadar | 10 Things to do in Zadar
Below is a list of the 10 things to in the city (along with some pictures) as part of a one day Zadar itinerary. Since the old town is quite small, it is very easy to just spend your time walking from one attraction to the next and taking breaks throughout the day whenever you would like.
While you can start from anywhere in the city, I will lay out the route that I took part of during my visit, starting right in the heart of Zadar at the Forum area.
The Roman Forum is located right in the center of Zadar and it is where you can also find the Church of St. Donatus, the Bell Tower, and the Zadar Cathedral. It is actually the largest Forum in Croatia and was constructed by Augustus, the first Roman Emperor.
The Forum area is full of various stones and ancient ruins that were once part of a temple site built for the Roman gods of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. Today you will have the chance to walk among the ruins, and explore this very unique part of Croatian history.
Church of St. Donatus
After roaming through the ruins of the Forum, you can make your way right nearby to the Church of St. Donatus. While there is a small entrance fee to enter (20 kn / $3 USD), it is well worth the visit.
Even though the church isn’t in use today, you can find various concerts and events taking place within the structure throughout the year.
The dome shaped church has two levels to walk around as you take in some of beautiful architecture of this historical building.
Just behind the Church of St. Donatus you will find the Zadar Cathedral or Cathedral of Anastasia, another iconic building in the city. It was built way back in the 12th and 13th century and is the largest church in the Dalmatia region.
Bell Tower Climb
As part of the Zadar Cathedral, you can also head up the Bell Tower for an extra fee (15 kn / $2.5 USD). From the top of the Bell Tower you will be able to take in some beautiful views of the Zadar old town with the Adriatic in the background.
After finishing up with the Forum area, you can head down the street to People’s Square. Throughout the old city, you will come across several squares with restaurants and shops surrounding them.
People’s Square is the main central square of the city and is surrounded by various municipal buildings including City Hall.
Five Wells Square
Just a few minutes from People’s Square you will find another famous spot called Five Wells Square. It is of course named after the five wells that can be found lining the square.
The Five Wells has quite an interesting history – the Venetians who lived there built the wells to provide drinking water during the time of Turkish sieges of the city. While the wells are not in use now, it is a great spot to check out.
Venetian Land Gate
Since Zadar is a walled city, you will find several historical gates around the perimeter of the wall. The Land Gate is the most famous of the gates located on the southern end of town. It is a beautifully constructed gate with the Fosa harbor right nearby.
One of my favorite parts of Zadar was the waterside promenade that lined the western side of the city.
From the Land Gate you can simply head down on the path that wraps along the harbor area and then follow the path all the way up towards the Sea Organ (up next).
The Sea Organ is perhaps one of the most unique attractions you will find throughout Croatia. Right off the promenade you will see several steps that make their way into the water.
Built inside the lower steps is literally a sea organ. So, when the water hits the steps, you will hear various organ sounds. Depending on the waves and wind, the organ will continuously change tunes as you sit back and enjoy the view.
Monument to the Sun
Right next to the Sea Organ you will find the Monument to the Sun. This installation is made up of 300 solar modules that absorbs light during the day and then uses that solar energy to light up the waterfront and put on a light show at night.
So, be sure to head there in the evening time as well!
That about does it for a one day in Zadar itinerary. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them in below. Also be sure to check out the other Croatia itineraries and guides up on the site like this guide about Walking Plitvice National Park.
Have fun out there and safe travels!