Zadar is the largest city in northern Dalmatia and one of the top tourist destinations in Croatia. It is a city of long history, fascinating remnants of Roman culture, art and beautiful beaches. The old town of Zadar is located on a peninsula that is completely a pedestrian zone, which makes it a real pleasure to explore the incredible history of this city.
Read on to find out how best to spend three days in Zadar.
1. Kalelarga - It is best to start sightseeing in Zadar from its main street - Kalelarga. Kalelarga is one of the symbols of the city, we can say the legendary place in Zadar, which exudes a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, where visitors socialize, drink coffee, participate in cultural events, folk festivals and such.
2. Church of St. Donatus - Church of St. Donatus is a medieval monument from the 9th century, built on the remains of the Roman Forum. It has very interesting architecture, it is made as a cylinder within a cylinder. For centuries, it has changed its purpose from secular to religious and vice versa. Until 1956, it served as a military warehouse, wine cellar and archeological museum. Due to its excellent acoustics, today it serves as the main place in Zadar for concerts and recitals, as well as other cultural and artistic events.
3. Roman Forum - The Forum originated in the 1st century BC and it is amazing how well preserved it is even today. Although it is a bit decorated and decorated with some small details, the Forum still radiates a special ambiance that takes visitors back to some ancient times when the area was ruled by the Romans.
4. Zadar Waterfront - Zadar's southwestern waterfront is a great place to walk, drink coffee or even jump into the sea for a quick swim. You must definitely return to the waterfront at sunset. Alfred Hitchcock described the Zadar sunset as "the most beautiful sunset in the world" during his 1964 visit.
5. Martinac Tavern - Take a break with local specialties in the restaurant Konoba Martinac, which is located nearby, on one of the streets within the old town. The menu contains dishes of traditional and modern Mediterranean-Dalmatian cuisine with an emphasis on freshness, seasonality and originality of food. The atmosphere is traditional, rustic and you will feel as if you are at home.
6. Sea Organ - Designed by architect Nikola Basic and opened in April 2005, the Sea Organ records the movement of waves and turns them into music. It is an unusual sound that evokes the sea, wind and sky. The white marble stairs that descend into the sea are extraordinarily beautiful and make the perfect place to watch Zadar's beautiful sunsets.
7. Greetings to the Sun - At the top of the Zadar waterfront, there is an extraordinary installation "Greetings to the Sun", authored by Nikola Basic. An installation made of 300 photosensitive glass panels that absorb daylight and turn into a wonderful light show at night.
8. Degarra Winery - After a magical light show on the waterfront, it’s time to enjoy local wine. Degarra Winery is one of the top wineries in the city. It was founded in 2012 by wine lovers from the Pesti and Sulentic families. Today, they produce 30,000 bottles of white, rosé, red and sparkling wines a year. The pleasantly decorated winery offers the opportunity to enjoy Degarra wines with a snack, and often with live music.
9. Zadar Market - The second day in Zadar should start exploring the authentic life of local residents. The ideal place for that is the Zadar market. The market is actually an "exhibition" with a permanent display of nice local vendors, locally grown fruits and vegetables, freshly caught fish, traditional indigenous products and souvenirs.
10. Church and Monastery of St. Francis of Assisi - The oldest Gothic church in Dalmatia dates back to 1359 - and its monastery is even older. Early Gothic carvings, in the so-called floral Gothic style, and the peace and tranquility that permeate this historic building, as well as the rich collections of medieval religious art will remain in your fondest memories.
11. Sphinx - The story of the Zadar Sphinx is very romantic and very unusual. In one of the most prestigious parts of Zadar, where there are beautiful villas of old Italian owners with beautiful gardens and ponds, you will find the Sphinx. It is located in front of the home of local artist Giovanni Simrich and his wife Attila Spinede de Catneis. The couple adored nature, so they built a beautiful garden with a small lake inhabited by goldfish and a cave. After Attila died, Giovanni commemorated the construction of the Sphinx in her memory. It is built of concrete and, unlike other sphinxes, it is special in that instead of a paw it has toes, in which it holds a goldfish, which it seems to protect. There is also a relief of an eagle on the chest and an Egyptian hieroglyph that has never been deciphered. There is a legend that a treasure is hidden under the Sphinx.
12. Borik Beach - Borik beach is a beautiful sandy beach very popular with locals and tourists. Borik also has stone parts that are great for sunbathing, and it is located only four kilometers away from the center of Zadar, so it is easily accessible. The proximity of Zadar also allows you to enjoy many restaurants and cafes. The beach also has natural shade due to the high pine forest that surrounds it.
13. Varos - With its daily routine and especially the night program, Varos is the entertainment center of the city of Zadar. It is adorned by narrow streets imbued with an atmosphere of life and fun, and it can be freely said that Varos is a living exhibition of life in Zadar. Numerous cafes and restaurants, outdoor concerts and other various cultural events during the tourist season, put Varos at the top of the list of younger visitors looking for fun.
14. Paklenica Riviera - Use the third day to discover the surroundings of Zadar and embark on an adventure down the Paklenica Riviera. Along twenty kilometers of coastline at the foot of the magnificent mountain Velebit, the Paklenica Riviera connects the mountain and the sea, the Mediterranean with a mountain climate, tradition with modernity.
15. Starigrad Paklenica - Starigrad, the center of the Paklenica Riviera, was founded on the foundations of the ancient Roman city of Argyruntum. Today it is a lively tourist center with just over a thousand inhabitants, who replaced their traditional way of life at the foot of Velebit half a century ago with life by the sea. Starigrad is also known for its diverse offer of sports programs for active holidays, such as trekking, hiking, climbing, cycling and many others, all in beautiful and breathtaking nature.
16. Kuline Beach - Kuline beach in Starigrad is also called Vecka kula among the locals, because of the beautiful massive medieval tower from the 16th century, which is preserved in its remains. Throughout history, it had a defensive role against the Turks, that is, it was an observatory of the sub-Velebit channel. Kuline beach is made of fine sand and is quite long, and the entrance to the sea is easy and not steep, so the beach is especially popular among families with children and the elderly.
17. Paklenica National Park - On the rugged massif of Velebit, Paklenica National Park offers numerous outdoor opportunities for hiking, climbing and other sports. A UNESCO biological reserve, the park was established to protect the diverse flora and fauna, as well as the mountain itself. The park is home to numerous species of birds and colonies, making it a paradise for bird watchers, and occasional visits to wildlife such as bears and wolves are recorded. In the canyon of Velika Paklenica, you can try rock climbing. There are programs tailored to everyone, from beginners to advanced climbers.