It’s a mystery to me why Zadar is often overlooked as a destination in Croatia. Especially as there are so many things to do in Zadar, Croatia
When planning a trip to Croatia, the destinations that most likely to pop into your mind are Split, Dubrovnik, or Zagreb.
These destinations are stunning. However they are slightly over run by tourists and are only scrape the surface of what Croatia really has to offer.
If your looking for a destination in Croatia just as beautiful and intriguing as Dubrovnik, has an ancient city to explore, and is packed full of stunning day trips into the heart of Croatia…
Then Zadar is a destination you have to consider!
Zadar Old Town
The old town in Zadar is is one of the most intriguing and stunning that you will visit in Europe.
A lot of European cities have old towns, and many of them are beautiful; Krakow, Ljubiana, and Vilnius spring to mind.
Now I’m not always up for walking around old towns – “Once you’ve seen a church, you’ve seen them all” I say to myself.
However, Croatian old towns are unique in their medievil-ness. You will feel like you’re walking through an Assassins Creed game or the set of GOT when you visit.
The old town in Zadar is famous for the Church of St Donatus and its an absolute must visit. Once your inside you will feel like you’ve been transported to another century.
Walking up Zadars Cathedral Tower, which is the old towns highest point, will provide 360 views across Zadars stunning rooftops.
Next to the church is the main square which has tonnes of old building remains for you to explore and pose in front of.
Sea Organ/Monument to the Sun
The area on the north western tip of Zadars old town island is a lovely, yet somewhat surreal place to relax and spend some time, especially at night.
When you start to approach the shore you’ll start to hear strange alien noises.
This is the Sea Organ, an installation built into the coast that produces sounds through the action of the waves pushing air through it. You can sit along its steps and listen to them for hours.
You’ll also notice a huge blue circle dominating the ground in this part of town. This is the ‘Monument to the Sun’.
Don’t worry, no sacrifices are made here.
The monument is made out of solar panels that light up at night. When dark descends these panels produce a mesmerising light display for you to walk over.
This part of town is great to relax at night after your evening meal.
You have the sound of the waves crashing, the sound of the sea organ, and the mesmerising light display beneath your feet.
Zadar Diving boards.
Just outside the old town of Zadar, on Kolovare beach, is a swimming pool and diving boards complex.
The diving boards don’t hang over the pool, they hang over the sea! You can spend hours relaxing in the beautiful waters.
This is a great place to spend a couple of hours soaking up the sun without leaving Zadar. Head here in the evening to dive into the ocean withe Zadars stunning sunsets as your back drop!
A short drive from Zadar is Zrmanja Canyon. This 70km long snaking river cuts through the Croatian landscape and has some stunningly steep cliffs and warm flowing turquoise waters.
The area is a great place to trek along and there are some stunning viewpoints.
During certain months of the year there are also kayaking and rafting tours available!
Dugi Otok – full day trip
Dugi Otok Island is a 90 minute ferry ride from Zadars main port and a fantastic day trip from Zadar.
The island has its own National Park and is an adventurers paradise.
However, it can also be a wonderful destination if you’re looking to relax.
The island is 45km long and has countless quaint beaches and traditional towns dotted along its coast. The biggest of which Is Sari, where you can find some nice restaurants, but the town is still tiny.
One of the big attractions on Dugi Otok is Telascica National Park to the south of the island. The park has stunning turquoise lakes to swim in and breathtaking vantage points for you to gawk at.
Along the coast you will also find 3 abandoned Soviet submarine bases that you can explore from land or sea. Their history is quite interesting!
The islands northern tip holds the islands biggest secret though. A short kayak or boat ride to two small islands will reveal a large sunken cargo ship just begging you to explore it. This is one fo the more adventurous things to do in Zadar, Croatia.
The ship is in the shallows so get your snorkel out! Swim down and explore the ship with the countless fish that have made it their home.
To explore the island for the day you can rent a car and take the car ferry. You can also join kayaking tours that will take care of your whole day. Check out Kayak Tours Croatia who are the most reputable.
If you like the look of Dugi Otok that much you can even book accommodation on the island and make it your base for exploration and use Zadar as a day trip!
Krka National Park – 1/2 day – full day trip
Krka National park is one of Croatias 8 stunning National Parks and is about an hours drive from Zadar. It’s definitely one fo the top things to do in when visiting Zadar in Croatia
You can drive there yourself or join one of the many tour groups that go daily.
The park is vast and its main attraction is a series of stunning waterfalls that are straight out of Avatar. Your even allowed to swim in their waters from June – Sept, unlike Plitvice National Park!
Other attractions include Vosavic Island in the middle of a vast lake, as well as Rosksi Slap which is series of gentle waterfalls.
Due to its beauty however, the park becomes extremely busy so I would recommend hiring a car and arriving when it opens at 8am as the tour buses start arriving at about 10am.
Like the sound of Krka? Read my full guide on how to get the most out of your trip to the park.
When leaving for Zadar, people will ask the same thing; “Split or Dubrovnik?”. When you tell them Zadar, all you will have is blank faces.
This little known City along the beautiful Croatian coast is packed full of surprises and is a great base from which to explore the heart of Croatia.
The varied sights in the city and the great day trips that are within easy reach make this region an adventurers paradise. There are plenty of amazing things to do in Zadar, Croatia
Get out there an explore it!