Zadar Travel Guide: Top Picks and Tips
Discover the stunning coastal city of Zadar, Croatia, a hidden gem offering an unforgettable travel experience. Nestled along the Adriatic Sea, Zadar boasts a rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and a unique blend of ancient and modern attractions. In this travel blog, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about Zadar, including top-rated GetYourGuide recommendations, accommodation options on Booking.com, fascinating facts, transportation tips, and why you should make Zadar a must-visit destination on your Croatian adventure.
Why Visit Croatia and Zadar?
Before we dive into the specifics of Zadar, let’s address why Croatia as a whole deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. Croatia offers a diverse range of experiences, from pristine beaches and picturesque islands to historic cities and vibrant culture. The country’s Mediterranean climate, delectable cuisine, and warm hospitality make it a traveller’s paradise. And Zadar, with its unique charm, adds an extra layer of magic to your Croatian journey.
Here’s a list of lesser-known facts about Zadar that I learned on my visit to Zadar:
Sun Salutation: Zadar is not only home to the Sea Organ but also the Sun Salutation, a solar-powered art installation that produces a mesmerising light show at sunset.
Roman Legacy: The city’s Roman forum is one of the largest and best-preserved on the Adriatic coast, offering a glimpse into its ancient history.
Historical Layers: Zadar’s Old Town is like a history book with layers spanning over 2,000 years, showcasing Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, and Croatian influences.
Vibrant Nightlife: Zadar comes alive after dark with a vibrant nightlife scene, offering numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues.
Greeting to the Sun: The Sun Salutation and Sea Organ were designed by local architect Nikola Bašić, adding a unique touch to the city’s waterfront.
Island Hopping: Zadar serves as an excellent starting point for exploring the nearby islands of Dugi Otok, Ugljan, and Pasman, known for their pristine beauty and tranquillity.
Maraschino Liqueur: Zadar is famous for its Maraschino liqueur, made from marasca cherries, and you can visit the Maraschino liqueur factory for a tasting.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Praise: The legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock once said that Zadar’s sunset was the most beautiful in the world, and he wasn’t wrong.
Astronomical Heritage: Zadar has an astronomical tradition dating back to the 10th century, with ancient observatories like the Zadar Observatory and the one on the island of Pašman.
Cultural Festivals: The city hosts a variety of cultural festivals throughout the year, including the Zadar Outdoor Festival, offering opportunities for adventure and culture enthusiasts.
Gornji and Donji Grad: Zadar is often divided into two parts – Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and Donji Grad (Lower Town), each offering its own unique atmosphere and attractions.
GetYourGuide Recommendations for Zadar:
Zadar Old Town Evening Walking Tour: Immerse yourself in the rich history of Zadar by exploring its ancient streets, Roman ruins, and iconic landmarks such as the Church of St. Donatus, the Forum, Five Wells and People’s Squares, the Sea Organ and more with your guide as the sun sets over Zadar.
Sunset Sailing Tour: Witness one of the most breathtaking sunsets in the world as you sail along the Adriatic coast. The play of colours in the sky is truly mesmerising.
Kornati Islands National Park Tour: Discover the natural beauty of Croatia by visiting the Kornati Islands. This boat tour allows you to explore pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and untouched nature. Stop to swim and explore the island and enjoy an included breakfast and lunch.
Plitvice Lakes National Park Day Trip: Venture inland to Plitvice Lakes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its cascading waterfalls and emerald lakes. This day trip from Zadar is a nature lover’s dream.Tickets included.
Zadar and Nin Highlights: Private Tour: Discover Zadar and Nin, two old European cities, full of hidden treasures, interesting stories, rich history and good vibes. The tour includes a visit to Zadar Old Town, where you’ll discover the world’s smallest Cathedral in Nin and visit the Museum of Salt and the Museum of Ancient Glass.
Booking.com Accommodation Choices in Zadar:
When it comes to finding the perfect place to stay in Zadar, Booking.com has you covered. Here are five diverse options to suit every traveller’s preference:
- Bastion Heritage Hotel: A luxurious choice within the city walls, offering elegant rooms, a spa, and a stunning view of the sea. The 4-star hotel is nestled within the heart of Zadar’s historic core. It’s a true gem, just a stone’s throw away from the historic Arsenal and home to the renowned fine dining establishment, Kaštel, where you can indulge in Mediterranean cuisine amidst elegant interiors or on a spacious terrace with a delightful garden view. The hotel also boasts a top-notch spa, ensuring your relaxation needs are met, and they offer complimentary WiFi access throughout the property.
- Art Hotel Kalelarga: Located in the Old Town, this boutique hotel boasts unique artistic décor and comfortable rooms. Nestled within the UNESCO-protected Venetian walls in the heart of historic Zadar, you’ll find the enchanting Art Hotel Kalelarga. This boutique hotel is perched along the main promenade known as Kalelarga and boasts a charming on-site restaurant, as well as complimentary WiFi access. The hotel’s rooms are a testament to modern comfort, each thoughtfully air-conditioned and elegantly furnished.
- Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Iadera: For a seaside escape, this 5-star resort offers private beaches and impeccable service. Located 12 kilometres from the Old Town, One of the standout features of this exceptional retreat is its expansive wellness, beauty, and fitness facility, spanning over an impressive 6,000 square meters. The Acquapura Spa is a sanctuary of rejuvenation, offering the perfect opportunity for unwinding and pampering oneself. When it comes to dining, the Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Iadera has you covered.
- Boutique Hostel Forum: Ideal for budget travellers, this hostel is centrally located and offers a friendly atmosphere. The newly built Boutique Hostel Forum is located in the very heart of ancient Zadar, next to the Romanesque St. Anastasia’s Cathedral, pre-Romanesque St. Donatus’ Church and the Roman Forum.
- Apartments Donat: Enjoy the freedom of a self-catered apartment close to the main attractions. Couples particularly like the location — they rated it 9.7 for a two-person trip.
Getting to Zadar from Main Croatian Cities:
From Zagreb: The capital city is approximately a 3-hour drive from Zadar. You can also take a direct bus or train for a convenient and scenic journey.
From Split: Zadar is around a 2.5-hour drive south of Split, and there are frequent bus connections between the two cities.
From Dubrovnik: While Dubrovnik is farther away (about 6-7 hours by car), you can also opt for a picturesque coastal road trip to Zadar.
Renting a Car in Zadar with DiscoverCars.com:
For those seeking the utmost flexibility and convenience during their Zadar adventure, renting a car through DiscoverCars.com is an excellent choice. Zadar’s surrounding region is filled with hidden gems, and having your own wheels allows you to explore at your own pace. DiscoverCars.com offers a wide range of rental options, ensuring you’ll find a vehicle that suits your needs and budget. Whether you’re planning day trips to nearby national parks, or picturesque coastal towns, or simply want to explore the city at your leisure, having a rental car at your disposal opens up a world of possibilities.
Just imagine cruising along the stunning Dalmatian coast with the wind in your hair, stopping at scenic viewpoints and off-the-beaten-path destinations. With DiscoverCars.com, you can easily book your rental online and unlock more of Zadar’s hidden treasures.
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To discover additional helpful tips and valuable information, be sure to explore more of the Progressive Traveller “Destination Guides for Croatia.”
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