Some say you can visit Zadar in one day. Other’s say it’s an underrated destination that deserves more time to uncover.
So, is Zadar worth visiting? And for how long?
My first impression of Zadar was underwhelming. Compared to Dubrovnik, Zadar is less impressive architecturally. It isn’t as cosmopolitan as Split, and the beaches are less picturesque.
When I arrived I immediately thought I’m not going to stay here long. A few days, tops. Six days later, I was still hanging around.
Yes, it’s possible to see the major sites in one day. But if you want to experience all Zadar has to offer, consider four or five days to explore.
Besides just saying, “It’s amazing and you have to go,” here are some key reasons why I love Zadar and why it should be on everyone’s Croatian travel itinerary.
I truly appreciated Zadar once I settled into a routine. I woke up around 10am, went for a quick run along the winding coastal roads (all the beaches near Zadar are cemented) and then took a dip in the water to cool off. It was beautifully peaceful as the city was just starting to wake up, and it was so gratifying to jump into the sea after running.
Afterwards I leisurely made my way to my regular coffee shop across the marina where I would read, write, and people-watch until midday. I observed locals relaxing with the classic summer trifecta: white wine, espresso, and a cigarette at 10am on a Tuesday. Starting off my day in this meditative and observant state inspired me to make this ritual a regular part of my mornings back home.
I loved Zadar because I feel at home in cities that feel a bit grungy and undiscovered.
I was lucky to be on a loose schedule and because of this I really enjoyed traveling slowly and not pack my days full of sightseeing and museums. Keeping my schedule loose allowed me to spend hours taking photos of alleyways or spend an afternoon wandering little nooks and crannies beyond the restaurants and souvenir shops.
After only a few days like this, I settled in and couldn’t imagine leaving.
When it comes to things to see, here are a few spots in Zadar you can’t miss:
The Sea Organ at the edge of town is an architectural masterpiece that is more than meets the eye. From far away it looks like a slew of oddly shaped steps, but the lower steps allow water and air to flow in such a way that produces chime-like sounds when waves crash against it.
One of my favorites is the Trznica Market in Old Town. Here you’ll find fresh produce, homemade cheeses, farm-fresh eggs, meats and fresh-caught fish, olive oils, honey jars and hand-picked cherries. Be sure to get here before the stalls close around noon each day.
Another must-see is the absolute best and most delicious gelato shop in Zadar, Slasticarna Donat. This shop has mouth-water gelato with innovative flavors and staff that always seem to be smiling.
I would wholeheartedly say that Zadar is worth visiting, and one of my favorite less-traveled destinations. Like anything though, it can take some time to fall in love!
Where’s your favorite place in Croatia? Let me know in the comments!