Situated on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, Zadar is a crown jewel on any Adriatic itinerary. The city is easy to navigate, with the UNESCO-designated center at its core and landmarks including marvelous churches, unique museums, and a waterfront promenade emanating outward from there.
What We Love
Church of St. Donatus: Dating to the 9th century, this Byzantine church was built on what used to be a Roman forum. Inside, you can peer at some of the ancient ruins: a pair of columns and some original stonework.
People’s Square: Flanked by a clock tower and the City Loggia, this bustling arena has everything from mall-like shopping and discounted international name brand clothing to abundant sidewalk cafés.
Best Known For
Ancient Ruins: The famous forum dates back to the Roman era between the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD. Some of the impressive remains include Corinthian columns, the foundations of public buildings, and paving stones.
Sea Organ: Zadar is home to a musical Sea Organ, an interesting installation that uses ocean waves, the wind, and tides to play a song of sorts. You need to visit in the evening to get the full effect as the harmonic sounds — produced by 35 underground tubes — also trigger a light show at the oceanfront pier.
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Who It's Best For
Frequent Mediterranean Cruisers: Zadar’s harbor is too small to accommodate larger cruise ships, which means it’s not included on the major Mediterranean itineraries. That makes it an attractive port for those who already know the region and want to make a foray into new territory.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Summers Can Be Crowded: The good news is that the city isn't overrun with cruise ship passengers. But expect heavy crowds of vacationing Croatians — especially during the day — who flock to Zadar for quick summer getaways.
Chris Owen is a Florida-based travel writer and photographer.