Zadar is the oldest town in Croatia that has been continuously inhabited. The old town consists of Ancient Roman and Venetian ruins and spectacular views of snow capped mountains and clear blue water. Zadar is the perfect day or weekend trip to experience history, a great food scene, and grab some Instagram-worthy pictures.
Grab a Pastry and Coffee
You’ll quickly realize that the coffee culture is huge in Croatia. People will sit for hours with a single cup of coffee at a cafe and enjoy conversation with friends. In the morning, on your way to grab a cappuccino from Harbor Cookhouse across the river, you’ll want to grab a pastry from Pekarnica Kroštula. I recommend tasting the almond croissant – it was so delicious I forgot to grab a picture of it!
While walking to Harbor, stroll through the market to see fresh fruits, vegetables, and local homemade products while you enjoy your pastry.
Saint Anastasia’s Cathedral
The main cathedral in Zadar is Saint Anastasia’s. It was built in the 12th and 13th Centuries and is easily the focal point of the old town. Its massive size will make you question just how it was built so many years ago. Unfortunately it was bombed during WWII and had to be reconstructed, which is what you’ll see today.
Just outside of the cathedral you can see the Roman Forum. These are old ruins from the Ancient Roman period. You’ll notice parts of columns that have since fallen, stone burial caskets, and much more. The beauty of this site is that you can interact with the ruins. During a warm sunny day, don’t be surprised to see local children playing hide and seek amongst them.
Right next to the Roman Forum, you’ll find the Archaeological Museum, which is home to even more artifacts. These pieces range from the Stone to Medieval Ages. So you’ll have quite a few hundred years of history to cover.
Zadar’s Sea Organ was designed by Nikola Bašič and installed in 2005. This unique art piece is designed so that the waves from the ocean make music. You’ll be able to walk along the water while listening to the music naturally made from the flow of the sea. It’s one of the best free attractions that Zadar has to offer.
Lunch at Stari Most
If you’re traveling around Croatia, then you absolutely have to try ćevapi. Ćevapi is a traditional dish found throughout the Balkans and consists of sausages in a local flatbread and served with onions, sour cream, and a red pepper spread called ajvar. For the best ćevapi in Zadar, you’ll have to take a short Uber ride from the Old Town to Stari Most.
This gorgeous restaurant is very trendy with plants hanging from the lights and a gorgeous terrace overlooking the sea and the town of Zadar. It is located on top of a hill that looks like it really is in the middle of nowhere, but the trip is definitely worth it.
Ancient Glass Museum
After lunch, head back into the Old Town and take a stroll through the Ancient Glass Museum. Not only will you find extremely unique artifacts, but you’ll also learn the process of how glass has been made throughout the years. It’s definitely worth a visit, especially because you’ll need to walk off your lunch.
Five Wells Square
This square is home to five wells that reach into a water cistern built by the Venetians in the 16th Century to fend off a Turkish siege. You’ll see just how beautiful these wells are, all lined in the middle of the square. There is also a large tower, known as Captain’s Tower, which the Venetians also built to keep a lookout for the Turks.
Park of Jelene Madijevke
Right next to Five Wells Square, you’ll notice an entrance to a lush green park. This park was built on top of the city’s bastions, built by the Venetians as well. Climb up through the park and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view of all of Zadar, the mountains, and sea.
If you’re feeling a craving for a cocktail or an evening coffee you can stop by Ledana Lounge Bar located right in the park.
Greetings to the Sun
Heading back towards the tip of Zadar, you’ll find another creative art installation called Greetings to the Sun. As the sun sets, a large portion of the sidewalk is made up of solar panels that light up as darkness creeps upon the town. This is a great opportunity for a unique photo to show off on your social media.