The famous English film director Alfred Hitchcock in 1964, who was already a star of world cinema, once said about Zadar that it has the most beautiful sunset in the world. It is an amazing compliment from someone who knew the iconic views of the United States very well. Hitch decided that the Zadar sunset even beats the hell out of the one in Key West in Florida!
What’s worth seeing in and around Zadar?
Zadar is quite an intimate, although pretty large city in Dalmatia. The region is known mainly for popular tourist resorts, such as Makarska, as well as the main city – Split and the mecca of Adriatic sailors that is Trogir. However, Dalmatia has more to offer than just those famous places, all the more, Zadar has an international airport, and when it comes to the beauty and number of attractions, it is no less spectacular than the above-mentioned resorts..
Walk around Zadar
Since we have already started with the sunsets, let our virtual walk around the city start on the Riviera – a seaside promenade, from where you can admire not only the multicolored rays spreading over the Adriatic and enjoy the view of the sea, but also… hear the music composed by its waters! Installation The Sea Organ is a system of pipes built into the steps of the wharf, descending directly into the Adriatic Sea. The water pushes air into the pipes, which flows through the entire complex system, turning into the sounds of an unprecedented sea symphony!
Nearby, on the very edge of the peninsula where the center of Zadar is situated, there is another interesting municipal installation; Pozdrav Suncu (meaning “praise of the Sun), which consists of solar panels placed under glass plates accumulating energy during the day to emit light rays of different colors in the dark! Riwa is not only about modern public attractions and a great atmosphere, but also pubs and restaurants where you can try local specialties, including Zadar’s maraschino liqueur!
The old town and the royal history of Zadar
The riviera is an integral part of Zadar’s old town. It is a densely built-up area located on the peninsula and because of that, despite it being quite tight, it is a very picturesque place. The buildings here are witnesses of a long, turbulent history and remember the Venetian and Austrian times, when Zadar was the capital of the Kingdom of Dalmatia, which was dependent on the Austrian Empire, and later on Austria-Hungary. The city itself has its origins… in the 9th century BC, making it one of the oldest still inhabited cities in the world! However, Zadar’s old town owes its final appearance to the times of World War II – then the city, which was still part of Italy after the collapse of Austria-Hungary, became the target of Allied bombing. Fortunately, it was rebuilt after the war and today you can soak up its specific and unique atmosphere.
The old town can certainly boast numerous monuments. The oldest ones are the remains of the local Roman Forum, located between the Riviera and the Romanesque church of St. Donatus and the Cathedral of St. Anastasia. The main street, Široka, runs right next to it. It is the center of city life and a fantastic place to soak up the local atmosphere. However, we recommend going for a walk here in the morning, when it is not so crowded and you can fully enjoy the view of the surrounding tenement houses and churches. From the land side, you can admire the imposing Venetian defensive walls with the impressive Porta di Terraferma gate decorated with the image of the Lion of St. Mark – the symbol of the Venetian Republic, to which Zadar belonged to for over five centuries. The local museums – the Archaeological Museum (which is not surprising when you think about… the thirty-century history of the city!) and the Museum of Illusions are worth visiting too.
The island of Pag and seaside resorts
But Zadar is not a treat exclusively for fans of city tourism and those who like visiting museums and churches. The surroundings of Zadar will also please those who prefer to relax by the water and have contact with nature over stone buildings. Right next to it is the island of Pag with a rocky landscape, but also beaches that cut into the rocks leading into the sea. Nearby is also Biograd na Moru – one of the most famous and longest operating resorts on the Adriatic, which itself is also an interesting and charming town with a historic center. Nearby is Pakoštane – also a small and charming town, a great place for a blissful vacation on the Adriatic Sea or at the largest lake in Croatia – Vransko jezero.
National parks around Zadar
When it comes to contact with nature and admiring the wonders of Croatian nature, a visit to Zadar and its surroundings will also be a great idea. Several dozen kilometers southeast of the city is the Krka National Park, where you can admire picturesque waterfalls and cascades. In turn, north of Zadar there are karst canyons protected under the Paklenica National Park. These fantastic places are located in the Velebit Mountains, which are also a treat for hiking enthusiasts. Rivers and mountains in such an area are not the only natural attractions around Zadar. The Kornati islands, which are also protected in the form of a national park, are nearby. From Zadar itself, you can take a boat trip to Kornati!
Zadar and its surroundings have a lot to offer, so when considering a trip to Croatia, this beautiful Dalmatian city is worth visiting!