Croatia is a charming country that many people would love to visit in their lifetime as it is a country with plenty to offer, from historical cities to stunning coastlines.
The city of Zadar is a destination in the country where you can experience the best of Croatia. It is not only the great geographical position of the city that makes it so special to visit, but the rich history, cobbled streets, Roman ruins, and the fact there are plenty of amazing places to visit in Zadar.
As well as this, Zadar is also a destination for art lovers as the city is home to the Sun Salutation and the Sea Organ – two of the most unique European arts. Being a coastal town, Zadar is also quite popular for its beach life.
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In general, you can expect to get a taste of everything as a traveller or a tourist on your vacation to Zadar, Croatia. And to help you make the most out of your time in the city, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to visit in Zadar for you.
- When is the best time to visit Zadar?
- Zadar Cathedral
- Kolovare Beach
- St Simeon’s Church
- Museum of Ancient Glass
- Kornati National Park
- The Roman Forum
- National Museum
- The Greeting to the Sun and the Sea Organ
- Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Dugi Otok Island
Best Time to Visit Zadar
The Croatian climate is generally warm and mild with periods of wet weather through the wet season. Zadar has a continental climate and witnesses mild summers and mild winter, but wetter, winters.
There are a lot of amazing sights and places to visit in Zadar. And the best time to explore them is between the months of June and September. During these months, the city has low rainfall and the temperature remains pleasant to travel.
The warmest months are July and August with an average temperature of 25°C. If you want to visit the city when it is less crowded, plan your trip between October and November. This is the time when the weather in the city is more pleasant than the summer months and the cooler weather is around the corner.
The coldest months in Zadar are December, January, and February. This is off-season, yet a lot of tourists prefer to visit Zadar during these months.
If you plan to visit during off season, be aware that swimming during this time might be a little challenging if you can’t handle cold weather.
This is undoubtedly a must-visit tourist attraction in Zadar. Also known as the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, Zadar Cathedral is known for its unique architecture which is a blend of a number of styles from a bygone era.
The cathedral dates back to the 9th century and was rebuilt again in Romanesque style in the 12th and 13th centuries. The key highlight of the cathedral’s architecture is its fine facade that includes three entrances and blind arches.
As a part of the Cathedral’s architecture, there are two rose windows; the lower one is in Romanesque style and the top one is in Gothic. As well as that, Zadar Cathedral is also known for its exquisite interior.
It includes stone altars, 9th-century remains of St. Anastasia, and beautiful wood-carved choir stalls. There is also a bell tower that dates back to the 15th century.
If nature is what soothes your soul, then a visit to Kolovare Beach is a must on your trip to Croatia. It is one of the main beaches in Zadar with sand, pebbles, and azure blue water.
Ideal for people of all ages, Kolovare Beach is a popular spot amongst families and young children. Apart from the azure water and sheeny sand, the beach is also famous for its lush green Mediterranean vegetation that serves as a perfect respite on a hot sunny day.
Whilst at Kolovare Beach, you can relax and unwind on the shore, or go for a dip in the refreshing blue water. There are changing rooms, showers, and toilets at the beach, and shops and restaurants nearby.
St. Simeon’s Church
Another highly revered religious attraction in Zadar, Croatia is St. Simeon’s Chruch. Apart from its religious significance, the church is known for its bewitching appearance.
As the image itself depicts, the building of the church is painted half in bright orange and half in dazzling white. That’s something which catches the eye of everyone who passes.
As well as its incredible exterior appearance, the interior is equally enchanting. There is the wooden sarcophagus of St. Simeon hanging above the altar. It is a key highlight of the interior with its exquisite design and silver and gold inscriptions.
Museum of Ancient Glass
When you are in Croatia, you can expect to be treated to Roman heritage in every corner of the country. The Museum of Ancient Glass is an attraction in Zadar where you can see plenty of this in one place.
As the name itself suggests the museum is all about glass items that were recovered from excavations. The museum is established inside the building of Cosmacendi Palace which traces its history from the 1800s and is home to one of the best museums in the city of Zadar.
On display, there are a number of intriguing artefacts including drinking vessels, jars, cups for mass, and more. One of the main highlights here is the little vials that were used to store anything from medicines to skin creams.
A visit to this intriguing place will take you back in time and make you wonder about life from a bygone era. You will also get to discover the history of glass making in Croatia.
As a part of the Museum of Ancient Glass Tour, you will also see a wide range of amazing demonstrations. There is also a shop from where you can purchase glassware, crafted in an ancient way, as a souvenir.
Kornati National Park
Also known as a “nautical paradise”, Kornati National Park is a place that is incomparable in both its natural and unique beauty. This national park is an archipelago of 147 islands, reefs, and islets.
The national park is located right off the Zadar coast and experiences hot and humid weather in the summertime and significant rainfall in the autumn. The park was established in 1980 with the aim to preserve and protect marine life.
The Isles in Kornati National Park are mostly uninhabited, Kornat Island being the largest at 25 km in length and 2.5 km in width. The park is dotted with caves, cliffs, cracks, and verdant marine vegetation.
Some of the islands even have remains from the Roman era including villas and walls that go directly down the shoreline. The national park is also a popular spot amongst adventure seekers for scuba diving and yachting.
The Roman Forum
If you want to discover the city’s rich heritage and history, The Roman Forum is a must-see attraction. Established between 1 BC and 3 AD, it is one of Zadar’s most important landmarks.
It is located in Zeleni Square and is 90 metres in length and 45 metres in width. During Roman times, it served as the hub of public life.
Today, in this part of the city, you can find the remains of the foundations of various Corinthian columns, public buildings, and paving stones. One of the highlights of this area is the Pole of Shame. It is a recent addition to all the attractions and was used to chain up criminals from the time of the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
The National Museum is another popular tourist attraction for those who enjoy learning about the history of a destination. Being a regional museum, it provides tourists with a deeper insight into the city’s natural history. It also allows us to discover the ethnology and artistic heritage of Zadar city.
Throughout the years, the museum has witnessed many operations of obliteration and demolition because of the succession of wars and invasions. This has made the museum the oldest of its kind in the city.
Though the museum traces its history from 1962, it had ties with historians and local scientists from the 1800s. More information can be found on this by exploring the artefacts presented in the natural history wing.
It includes a collection of various botanists and biologists, like Domenico Pappafava, who is known to have gathered more than 6000 plant specimens in the region.
There is also a section at the Zadar National Museum where you can see a collection of artefacts from the baroque and renaissance period. This was the time when the city of Zadar was under a major threat from the Ottomans and Mongols.
Greeting to Sun
The Greeting to the Sun is one of the spectacular tourist sites in Zadar that don’t want to miss. It is a waterfront site overlooking the beautiful Adriatic Sea. The sunset view here is absolutely gorgeous.
Alongside the magnificent sunset views, there is a circular monument installed at the end of the peninsula which is dedicated to the Sun. The monument is built using 300 multi-layered glass plates and sits at the same level as the stone-paved waterfront installed at the shore.
During the day, the glass monument absorbs the energy of the sun and as the sun starts to fall down, it creates a series of magical whirling patterns along with colours. The entire scene lightens up the waterfront and makes a stunning display for tourists to adore.
The Sea Organ is located alongside the Greeting to the Sun and plays a soothing sound as the sun sets. In 2005, 35 pipes were placed underneath the steps along the shoreline at different lengths and diameters. As the waves crash against them, an ever changing melody is played through the pipes.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
If you are looking to escape the city for the day and explore more of the nearby nature, Plitvice Lakes National Park is located in the suburbs of Zadar and is approximately a 90 minute drive from downtown.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site in Croatia is a combination of fourteen lakes, each connecting with the next by natural pools and waterfalls.
The tallest waterfall Veliki Slap, cascades down from a height of 70 metres. We recommend you follow the boardwalks to capture the stunning sights of these waterfalls gushing down and creating a thriving ecosystem for wildlife in the region.
Dugi Otok Island
Located west of Zadar, Dugi Otok Island is the 7th largest island in the Adriatic Sea.
Dugi Otok island is perfect for those wanting some peace and tranquility. The island is home to one of the best beaches in the world, Sakarun.
It is a quaint little cove beautifully tucked within a deep recess on the coast. The crystal clear ocean waters make for a perfect setting with a backdrop of fragrant pine scrub for a peaceful hideout.
With its diverse landscape and varying altitudes, it’s also great for people that enjoy trekking.
How to Prepare for Your Visit to Zadar
Before you set off on your trip to Zadar, there are a number of things you will need to organise to ensure a smooth and successful trip. These include what to pack and what is the best travel insurance for your trip. Both of these will be discussed in the following section.
What is the Best Travel Insurance for Zadar
I know travel insurance is the least enjoyable thing to purchase and look at when you’re planning a trip, however, you wouldn’t want to be without it in the event that something happened. Accidents can happen anywhere and the extortionate medical bills will ruin your trip if you are not covered.
To ensure you have a stress-free trip with no worries about potential medical bills, make sure you cover yourself when you travel. We can recommend using SafetyWing, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support. It is also nomad-friendly, unlike most other insurance companies, meaning you do not need to worry about being out of your home country for too long.
What Should You Pack for Zadar?
What you need to pack for Zadar will rely highly on when you make your trip there. During the Spring and Autumn months, temperatures and weather patterns vary wildly between beautiful sunny skies and rainy days. During the Summer, you are pretty much guaranteed nice weather with temperatures ranging from 20-35 oC. The hottest months are July and August, so these will be the most popular for a Summer holiday.
During the winter months in Zadar, the rain will become more frequent and the temperatures will drop to between 10-20 oc. If you need more inspiration on what to pack for your trip, check out our full packing guides for all-weather conditions over here.
When it comes to toiletries, we recommend that you don’t forget to pack sunscreen. The sun in Zadar is very strong, especially during the summer months. Apply a lot of suncream regularly to prevent a nasty burn from ruining your trip. We use this specific sunscreen to protect us as it is not as oily and irritating as other sunscreens.
Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you will see in Zadar, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.
Where to Stay in Zadar
Due to how popular Zadar is, there is a good variation of accommodation. The below accommodations are all central.
Luxury – DeZign Superior Apartments and Rooms offers very reasonably priced luxurious accommodation in the heart of Zadar near plenty of well known attractions and a short walk from the beach. A continental breakfast is included at the accommodation and some rooms feature a larger kitchen area. Wifi and air conditioning are included.
Mid-Range – EM Kastelo Zadar is a one-bedroom accommodation located a short walk from the beach that features air conditioning and free wifi. Free bikes are also included in this accommodation.
Budget – Unique Rooms is a beautiful 4 star acccommodation in the heart of Zadar coming in at a very reasonable price. It is located in the heart of the city and a short walk from the beach. Rooms include free wifi and air conditioning.
If you are more into the hostel scene when you travel, there are an unbelievable number of funky, cheap, and social hostels spread through the country. Browse the full range of hostels that Zadar has to offer and book your stay right here.
So there you have it, a guide to the things to do in Zadar. If you have visited Zadar recently, let us know what you thought of it, or if you have any suggestions let us know in the comments below.
As always, sharing is caring so make sure to share this photo guide with your family and friends and inspire them to head off on their own Croatian adventure. If you are planning the trip for yourself, make sure you have a look at the rest of our Croatia content for more inspiration.
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