When first arriving in Croatia, we jumped in our rental car and made our way from Dubrovnik to Zadar. It was a four and half hour ride, however when we were driving through a place as beautiful as Croatia we really couldn’t complain.

Once we arrived in Zadar, we quickly got our first taste of how unique the cities are within this small country. Croatia has been influenced by various countries as it has been ruled for centuries by many foreign powers and only fully gained its independence in 1991. With that being said, when visiting a city like Zadar, you can see examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance architecture and more. 

We spent three days making our way around Zadar, from walking through Old City to enjoying the scenic views of the Adriatic. Below is a breakdown of how we spent our time and the reasons we feel in love with this coastal town!

Zadar Croatia

Old City:

Bell Tower at St. Anastasia Cathedral

  • Climbing the 180 steps inside the Bell Tower at St. Anastasia Cathedral gave us a birds-eye view of Zadar and its surroundings. It was a bit of a work out to get to the top but well worth it when you see the view!

St. Anastasia Cathedral Bell Tower Zadar Croatia

St. Anastasia Cathedral Bell Tower Zadar Croatia

History lesson at the Archeological Museum

  • Located across from the Roman Forum (prime real-estate), this museum displays archaeological remains from various cultural and historical periods. Although it’s pretty small in size, they had some incredible pieces of history on display and it was the perfect place to escape the mid-day heat!

Archeological Museum Zadar Croatia

Admired the Church of St. Donat

  • For those walking around Old City, you really can’t miss the Church of St. Donat. The circular shape of the building is one of its defining characteristics and is a beautiful example of pre-Romanesque architecture.

Church of St. Donat Zadar Croatia

Shopped along the Kalelarga and wandered through the Old City streets

  • The Kalelarge is the largest and widest street within Old City and is considered the pulse of the city. It’s also was the perfect starting point to wander the side streets. Zadar is relatively small, making it the ideal location to get lost and wander in and out of the pastel buildings and white stoned streets.

Kalelarga Zadar Croatia

Zadar Croatia

Zadar Croatia

Along the water

The Sea Organ:

  • The Sea Organ is not your typical musical instrument, as its music is produced through the movement of the waves and wind. The organ is located underground, beneath large marble steps, and could be easily missed if we weren’t listening. However, once we heard that first sound coming from the Sea Organ we were immediately drawn in and just sat along the water to listen.

Sea Organ Zadar Croatia

Greeting to the Sun:

  • Located next to the Sea Organ is the Greeting to the Sun, a solar-powered light installation that comes to life once the sun goes down. After the sun sets, three hundred glass plates shine and move creating an animated light show. The architect, Nikola Bašić, who also created the Sea Organ, kept with the theme of communicating with nature. One way being with sound from the force of the waves and another being the light installation absorbing the energy from the Sun.

Greeting to the Sun Zadar Croatia

Beautiful Sunsets:

  • Zadar has a pretty big historical figure vouching for this cities sunsets. Alfred Hitchcock visited Zadar in 1964 and made the bold statement that “Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West, in Florida, applauded at every evening.” Woah, those are fighting words Key West!

We’ve never been to Key West, but have seen many beautiful sunsets during our travels, and Zadar is up there! In fact, it turns into quite the gathering just as the sun begins to set. Families and friends can be seen sitting along the Sea Organ, and people even dive into the water to swim straight into the sunset!

Sunset Zadar Croatia

Sunset Zadar Croatia

Hanging with the locals at the beach:

  • To be honest, Zadar doesn’t have your quintessential white sand beaches, but if you’re willing to walk on some rocks you can enjoy a dip in the Adriatic. Most tourists don’t come to Zadar for the beaches, so when we made our way to “beach” near our hotel we found ourselves surrounded by locals. We had a great time just swimming, relaxing and enjoying the laid back lifestyle you tend to find while visiting Zadar. Our hotel was outside the Old City walls, which is where the locals tend to hang out.

Zadar Croatia

After visiting Zadar, we’d say it is the place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle that you’ll find when visiting Dubrovnik. We loved exploring within Old City and enjoyed interacting with nature through the Sea Organ, Greeting to the Sun and being able to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world!

Have you been to Zadar!? What was your favorite part?