Zadar is a city in Croatia, located 115 km northwest of Split, the historic center of Croatia and Dalmatia coasts. The settlement has been known since Neolithic times, since then Zadar has experienced many changes. At first the city was a Roman colony, as part of the Byzantine Empire – the administrative center of Dalmatia, then Venice, Austria, Hungary, France, Italy and Germany fought for it, and finally, during the last war from 1991 to 1995, it also withstood a siege.
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Perhaps the city’s involvement in many conflicts was due to its location, and today it is what attracts tourists here. To the west of Zadar splashing waves of the wonderful Adriatic Sea, to the north there are hundreds of islands. Tourism here began to develop in the 19th century: the city is not large, you can walk around it, and there is much to see. The history of Zadar is fascinating, be sure to take a tour of the ancient church of St. Donat of the pre-Romanesque period. Zadar has four patron saints: St. Simon, St. Krcevan, St. Anastasia and St. Zoil. In honor of each is consecrated its own church. In Zadar are daily open fish and food markets, the biggest in Croatia, where traders gather from Lake Vrana, Ugljan and Pasman.
Zadar is surrounded on three sides by walls, and the Venetian lion still guards the Port and City Gates. Spend an evening with a glass of Maraschino, a liqueur which has been popular since the 19th century, and has been made here since 1821. The latest landmark to appear here is the “Sea Organ” of 35 pipes with whistles facing the sea. The sea wind blows into the pipes and extraordinary sounds are heard over the harbor.
Sea organ and the Zadar quay
The sea organ and the architectural complex of the Zadar Riva belongs to those rare sights, which are not built in Antiquity, the Middle Ages or the Roman Empire, but in modern times. The Zadar embankment is undoubtedly one of the most unusual and beautiful promenades on the Adriatic.
The northern end of Zadarska Riva is captured in many photographs: steps made of white stone cascade down to the sea. Built into these steps is a system of pipes of various diameters and lengths. The pipes lead deep into the embankment, where you can see the outlets for sound. The waves of the sea and the wind force the air into the pipes, which, as it passes through them, is transformed into real music of the sea. Zadar embankment is a unique place for relaxation and unity with nature, the steps in the warm season are always filled with people.
A number of specialists worked on this project: the famous Croatian architect Nikola Basic, a team of specialists in hydraulics at the University of Zagreb and the world famous organ workshop Heferer. The Zadar maritime organ has won a number of awards in international architectural competitions.
Greetings from the sun (Pozdrav suncu)
Following the sea organ, in 2007 Zadarska Riva was enriched by another installation – a light panel with the symbolic name “Sun Salutation”. The panel is in the shape of a circle 22 meters in diameter, it is flush with the embankment slabs and consists of 300 laminated glass plates, behind which there are solar panels and LED lighting. After sunset, the panel flashes with different colors, creating a color-music effect with a nearby sea organ. To the color circle symbolizing the sun lead 8 small, also built into the promenade, luminous circles representing the planets of the solar system.
Thus the Zadar embankment is a special place where the music of the sea can not only be seen but also heard.
“Sun Salutation” invariably attracts children of all ages who are eager to catch up with the fleeing and changing patterns of light.
When to come
Although it’s crowded from June to September, it’s best to come in the summer to enjoy the warm sea.
Not to be missed
Drive 15km north to the ancient island town of Nin and see the Roman theater and the Church of St. Cross, the smallest church in the world.
Need to know
Try not to enter dangerous areas north of Zadar, there are still left many anti-personnel mines.
How to get there
Zadar is connected by a regular bus service to all major cities in Croatia, towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina and some European capitals
Zadar is a city located in northern Dalmatia, Croatia.
How to get there
In the city limits, within walking distance from the old town, there are train station and bus stations. Outside the city there is an airport.
Zadar International Airport operates as a commercial airport and air training base. In 2012, the airport handled about 370,000 passengers for 4,000 flights. You can find the prices for airline tickets, for example, here.
Buses from the airport reach the central bus station and the train station in the Old Town. Their departure time is related to the arrival time of airplanes, because at weekends and holidays there are more planes coming, so more buses are allowed in. A detailed schedule can be found at the airport. Buses are clean and comfortable, the fare is 25 kuna. There is no charge for luggage. Travel time is 20 to 25 minutes.
From the airport you can always leave by cab. The fare to the city center is about 150 kuna.
The station is located at the intersection of Ante Starčevića and Ante Starčevića streets, next to the intercity bus station.
Several passenger trains a day go to Knin and join the trains to Zagreb (5.5 hours and 8.5 hours at night) and Split (3.5 hours). In practice, no one uses these trains to get to the cities mentioned. The train to Knin is only one carriage long, moreover, without
air conditioning, is not very comfortable, despite the wonderful scenery outside the window. Check the online timetable here: HŽ Putnički prijevoz. Tel. 2013-06-09, the route search works only in Croatian.
The Zadar bus terminal is located at the intersection of Ante Starčevića and Kralja Tvrtka streets, next to the train station.
Frequent buses go to the following cities: Zagreb (3 hours and 30 minutes), Rijeka (with a transfer to Trieste in Italy), Pula, Sibenik, Split and Dubrovnik. About half of the buses to Zagreb pass through Plitvice National Park.
To see the bus timetable, please call +385 23 211555 or +385 23 315 940. If you can’t find a suitable bus there, try looking at the Zagreb station bus schedule (tel: 060 313 333, +385 1 6112 789) – these websites might not have all bus companies.
You can book tickets by phone at the following companies:
- Autotrans/Eurolines Croatia – departures to some Croatian cities as well as abroad;
- Contus: (2013-06-06) +385 23 314 477, +385 23 317 062;
- Touring Eurolines Germany – transports passengers between Zadar and some German cities;
- Čazmatrans – in the season daily buses to Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina;
- Croatia Bus – several buses a day stop in Zadar on the way from Zagreb to Split and Dubrovnik.
To get from the intercity bus station and the train station to the center of Zadar or the Old Town, go to the bus stop on the main road near the station. Buses number 2 and 4 will take you to the place in 5 minutes (the fare is 10 kuna). You can also take a cab (20 to 40 kuna), but beware: cab drivers often charge tourists five times what they’re supposed to. Take a bus or walk; it takes just 10 to 20 minutes, depending on where you are in the Old Town.
You can rent a car at the airport, see rental conditions and prices here.
Jadrolinja. Large ferries go up and down the coast between Dubrovnik and Rijeka every few days, stopping at ports (including Zadar) and at islands. In summer, there are ferries from Ancona, Italy, almost every day.
Local boats. Zadar is the center of local boats and boats in Northern Dalmatia. Boats run between the cities of Olib, Mali Losinj, Ugljan, Dugi Otok, Premuda and others. The timetable and prices can be found on Adrialines.
On a cruise ship
A large number of Adriatic and Mediterranean cruise ships stop in Zadar. Ships usually dock in the new port near the center, and from there it’s a 15-minute boat ride to the Old Town.
When it is in season. When is the best time to go
Zadar – weather by month
What are the prices of holidays
In the summer season, there are tours to Zadar from Russia, you can see the prices here. If you prefer to travel on your own, you can check out the hotel prices here, and book in advance on Booking. An alternative – rent private apartments, such offers can be viewed in this section Travelascope.
|Meal (lunch/dinner) in a cheap restaurant||480 rubles|
|Lunch/dinner for two, 3 courses, middle class restaurant||1800 rubles|
|McMeal at McDonald’s or similar combo-dinner||240 rubles|
Main attractions. What to see
Take a walk through the streets of Old Town, located on the peninsula. Here you’ll find 34 old churches, each with its own history. The oldest is the Church of St. Simeon (Sv. Šime).
St. Donat’s church
One of the best preserved pre-Romanesque buildings in the world. This church has become a recognizable symbol of Zadar, so it is impossible not to see it. The church is no longer a place for religious rites; today it is a museum, and every summer it hosts classical music concerts.
The Roman Forum
The locals love to walk here, sit among the ruins and enjoy the warm summer days.
The cathedral of St. Anastasia (Zadar Cathedral)
A city cathedral with a stunning organ that was nearly destroyed during the last war.
St. Mary’s church
Has become a museum of ancient religious relics and artifacts.
St. Simeon’s church (Sv. Šime)
One of the main attractions in Zadar. It contains a silver tomb with relics of a saint.
University of Zadar
The oldest university in Croatia and one of the oldest in Europe, founded by Dominican monks in 1396.
Archaeological Museum (Arheološki muzej)
The museum exhibition covers the period from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. Museum collections testify to the long and rich history of Zadar. Of particular interest is the Romanesque stone carving.
Sea Organ (Morske orgulje)
Man-made organ on the waterfront Riva in Zadar plays music through the waves and 35 pipes. Locals and tourists love to listen to the melody of the organ and watch the specially created light display. The sea organ was officially opened in 2005. It was designed by the local architect Nikola Bašić. It won him the European Prize for Urban Public Space in 2006.
Beaches. Which are better?
Kolovare – close to the center, the favorite beach of the locals;
Borik – a huge hotel complex with attractions such as sailing, water slides and more;
Vitrenjak. Located near the Zadar Yacht Club, where on the terrace of one of the cafes you can try refreshments and food. A family favorite beach.
Food. What to try.
There are many great pizzerias in Old Town, where you can get a big slice of pizza for 10 kuna. You can also try burek (burek) or any other pastry from the local bakeries.
Kornat restaurant is located near the harbor. Excellent Croatian Mediterranean cuisine.
Restaurant Nika is near the harbor in the Puntamika area. Great food and service in a beautiful setting.
Things to do
- Just sit in one of the cafes and enjoy the atmosphere of the city, the sun and the color. There are several internet cafes in the city, you can go to a travel agency for information.
- Take a dip in the beautiful clear waters. Quite often you can see people sunbathing and swimming on one of the beaches of Zadar.
- On a summer evening stroll along the cobblestone promenade, watch the best sunsets in Europe and listen to the relaxing sounds of the Sea Organ.
- Rent a boat and head out to explore nearby islands like Kornati Islands National Park, which has about 150 islands, high cliffs and saltwater lakes. Sharun Beach is considered one of the 50 most beautiful beaches in the world and is located far to the north, on an island called Dugi Otok.
- Visit the stunning waterfalls in Plitvice National Park. It takes about two hours to get there, head towards Zagreb.
- Explore the stunning scenery and swim next to the waterfalls in Krka National Park. It’s an hour drive to Sibenik.
- Go party on Zrće beach, near Novalja, which has some great nightclubs. The island is known as The Croatian Ibiza.
- Visit other parts of Northern Dalmatia, such as the historic village Nin, the island of Vir, the island of Pag with the cities of Pag and Novalja.
- Travel north along the picturesque coastline towards Rijeka (approx. 3 hours drive) and Trieste (Italy, approx. 4 hours drive).
- Head towards Šibenik (one hour drive) and Split (2.5 hours drive).
- Head north towards Karlovac (2hrs drive), Zagreb (3hrs drive).
- Head south towards villages Šibenik and Bibinje.
- Along the coastline head towards the villages Nin and Zaton. Here you’ll find sandy beaches of stunning beauty, which can be quite crowded in the peak season.
- If you want to take a half-day trip from Zadar, you can take a boat to the island of Ugljan. From the ferry port turn right to the town of Preko, left to the village of Kali (20 min walk) or walk to the fishing village of Kukljica (another 10 min). According to locals, the best beaches are on the nearby island of Pašman, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Buses to Pašman and to other destinations meet travelers at the ferry at the port of Preko.
- For 80 kuna rent a yellow submarine for 40-50 minutes and go sailing. You won’t see many colorful fish, but you’ll certainly enjoy the trip.
Shopping and Shopping
If you are looking for a printed guide, go to Petar Zoranic bookstore at Knezova Subica Bribirskih, 10.
Bars. Where to go
There are a number of bars in the narrow streets of the Old Town which are very close together, for example along Kovačka Street.
Since drinking alcohol is not against the law, you can buy something in a store and go to an organ, for example.
- The Garden, Bedemi zadarskih pobuna, +385 23 254509. An outdoor bar with a beautiful view of the harbor founded by drummer James Brown. An annual electronic music festival is held here.
- The Arsenal, Trg tri Bunara, +385 23 253 820. A 17th-century building that was once a Venetian warehouse and is now once again a bar-restaurant.
- Hitch Bar, Kolovare Beach. A bar and club located right next to the sea. Here you can not only dance, but also attend a concert.
- Maraschino Bar, 091 321 2323. A huge bar and club located near the Old Town. You can relax at the bar, dance on the big dance floor, and in the summer you can sit outdoors.
- Lounge & Bar Ledana, Perivoj Kraljice Jelene Madijevke, 23000 Zadar, Croatia, +385 95 3963 996. The open-air bar is located in the park Perivoj Kraljice Jelene Madijevke, near Pet Burana in the south of the Old Town. Here you will find a pleasant atmosphere for relaxation, great music and the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air in the open air.
Getting around the city
The Old Town is quite accessible on foot. You can also walk to the train and bus station or take buses number 2 and 4.
Cabs. What are the special features
A trip of up to five kilometers (enough to get you anywhere in the city) can cost up to 80 kuna, because cab drivers like to charge tourists. Find out the price first, although it will be difficult to find a cab driver who will take you for the proper 20 to 40 kuna. Ask for the fare before you get into a cab. The driver should have a printed price list, which cab drivers usually do not obey. Cabs can be found on both sides of the bridge in the Old Town, and near the train and bus stations.
All buses in Zadar are fairly new and maintained in good condition. From the very center of the city called Mala Pošta (where it is located, any local will tell you) you can go to any part of the city. A one-way bus ticket costs 10 kuna, about $1.75, while a round-trip ticket costs 16 kuna – $2.80. However, round-trip tickets can only be purchased at newsstands, although they are easy to find. A one-way ticket can be purchased at the entrance of the bus. The buses are operated by Liburnija and the schedule is available on their website.
Keep in mind that in summer the buses stop running just after midnight, so if you need to get back to the hotel after that time, you’ll have to walk or take a cab. Don’t try to get on a bus without buying a ticket. Bus drivers in Zadar are very belligerent towards the “hares” – you might get in trouble.