The Ultimate Travel Guide to Zadar, Croatia

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Zadar, Croatia

Hey there, fellow wanderer! Welcome to Zadar, a hidden gem nestled along the stunning Adriatic Coast of Croatia. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes, Zadar offers a unique travel experience for adventurers, history buffs, and nature enthusiasts alike. Zadar is pretty special to me. After dreaming for literally years to visit Croatia, I finally started my Adriatic coastline road trip from this very small city. This comprehensive travel guide will provide you with essential information to make the most of your visit to Zadar, including how to get there, what to know before you go, transportation options, the best time to visit, and an exciting array of activities and day trips.

Where is Zadar?

Zadar is a historic city located in Croatia, situated on the Adriatic Sea. It occupies a prime spot on the Dalmatian coast in the northern part of the country.

Getting to Zadar

So you want to know how to get to Zadar. Let’s explore the possibilities.

By air: Like I said, for me, Zadar was my starting point in Croatia and I got there by air, coming from Bucharest. If you are from a major European city, chances are you can hop on a plane that will whisk you to Zadar International Airport (ZAD).

🚖 If you need a reliable, licensed taxi for getting from Zadar airport to your accommodation in Zadar, book your ride in advance.

By road: If you have a car and you’re down for a road trip, rev up your engines and hit the highways! Zadar is easily accessible by well-maintained roads, connecting you to the rest of Croatia and neighboring countries.

By Ferry: Fancy a sea voyage? Zadar has got you covered! Hop aboard a ferry from one of the nearby Croatian islands or even venture from Italy. I experienced a full night on the Adriatic Sea while going from Dubrovnik to Bari (Italy). Even though I didn’t take any ferry to or from Zadar, I can assure you that if you choose this option you will have a very special experience.

What to Know Before Going to Zadar

Currency: Keep those coins jingling! Croatia dances to the rhythm of the Croatian Kuna (HRK). While it’s advisable to have some cash on you, please note that mostly you can pay with a card. To benefit from low exchange rates and high flexibility, I recommend using Revolut.

Language: Don’t worry about mastering Croatian in a flash! Of course, it’s always useful to know a few usual phrases, but I was surprised at how many people knew English in this country. Therefore, don’t worry too much about language barriers, you’ll always find a Croatian willing to help you out.

🗣️ Read more: How to get past the language barriers in a foreign country.

Local Customs: Croatians are known for their warm hospitality. It’s customary to greet people with a friendly “Dobar dan” (Good day) and to say “Hvala” (Thank you) when receiving service.

Safety: Zadar is generally a safe city, but it’s always recommended to take normal precautions like anywhere else. Keep an eye on your belongings, avoid isolated areas at night, and follow local advice for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Where to stay

If you’re a solo traveler or a backpacker on a budget, a hostel might be the best option for you.

I recommend Sky Hostel, which not only is the absolute cheapest accommodation on, but it also has stellar reviews. Here you benefit from free parking, tea and coffee makers in all rooms, a 24-hour front desk (which means you can arrive at any hour, even at night), towels and linens included in the price, and much more.

For couples, I recommend Villa Queen. The property is modern, super clean, and has an excellent price. It’s not very central, but if you have a car you can move around easily (parking is free), but walking to the city center is also doable.

If you’re feeling more comfortable in a cozy hotel room, why not give Hotel Sky a chance?

If your requirement is to stay right in the Old Town, this modern apartment is the right choice. It features a private kitchen, where you can prepare your meals. There is also a coffee machine which comes complimentary to the balcony and terrace.

For the luxury life lovers, I recommend Apartment Bruno – a beachfront apartment, very modern and stylish. It is a 2 bedroom apartment, very spacious, with a hot tub. The perfect place to take amazing photos with a glass of champagne!

For groups, check out this 3 bedroom apartment, located very close to the city’s main points of interest and with plenty of space for all your friends!

Getting Around Zadar

Zadar is a compact city that can be easily explored on foot. Here are some transportation options within the city:

Public Transportation: Zadar has an efficient public bus network that connects different parts of the city. Tickets can be purchased on board or at newsstands.

Bicycles: Zadar is a bicycle-friendly city with well-marked bike lanes. You can rent bicycles from various rental shops to explore the city and its surroundings.

Taxis and Ridesharing: Taxis are available throughout the city, and ride-sharing services like Uber operate in Zadar, providing convenient transportation options.

Best Time to Visit Zadar

Zadar experiences a Mediterranean climate, with warm summers and mild winters. The best time to visit Zadar is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and tourist crowds are smaller. Summer (July and August) is the peak tourist season, offering beach activities, lively festivals and events but with larger crowds and higher prices.

Average Temperatures14°C/57°F24°C/75°F17°C/63°F8°C/46°F
Zadar weather

I visited Zadar in September and although the sun had some strong rays from time to time, the weather enabled me to walk around the city all day long, without continuously looking for shade. It also rained one day while I was there, so you have to take into account the chances of rainfall when visiting in Autumn (or Spring), especially if you’re in town for only a day or two (for some that might ruin the experience). Also, if you want to go to the beach, the summer months (even September to some extent) are ideal to hit the waves and catch a tan. My Croatian friend told me that in the summer the weather is way too hot and that September is perfect for the beach, but if you ask me, I would have preferred the mercury to be a little bit higher in the thermometer. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference. Hence, I didn’t sunbathe at any beach in Zadar, but I did it later on, in the islands near Dubrovnik.

Things to Do and See in Zadar

The Sea Organ and Sun Salutation

Witness the unique seafront installations that combine art, nature, and technology. The Sea Organ creates melodic sounds as the waves interact with the organ pipes and the Sun Salutation mesmerizes visitors with its colorful light display.

St. Donatus Church

Explore this remarkable 9th-century church, an iconic symbol of Zadar. Its circular shape and Byzantine architecture are truly captivating. You can buy a ticket to visit it the interior as well, but know that you’ll find almost nothing on the inside and honestly, I wish I didn’t spend the money. There is no actual museum, the walls are not painted and when I was there, some construction materials were left around the church. Let’s just say that for me, it was much more impressive from the outside. I heard that the building has amazing acoustics and for that reason, it houses the event Musical Evenings in St Donatus, so if you’re interested in classical music you can use the opportunity to see the church from the inside as well.

Zadar Cathedral

Visit the stunning Cathedral of St. Anastasia, a magnificent Romanesque building adorned with intricate stone carvings and a bell tower offering panoramic views of the city.

Five Wells Square

Discover the historic square featuring five wells, built in the 16th century to provide the city with water during sieges. The square is now a lively gathering place with cafes and art exhibitions.

Zadar Archaeological Museum

Delve into Zadar’s rich history at this museum, housing a collection of artifacts from ancient times to the Middle Ages.

Captivating Day Trips from Zadar

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Embark on a day trip to one of Croatia’s most remarkable natural wonders. Plitvice Lakes National Park boasts a series of turquoise lakes, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests, creating a picturesque paradise for nature enthusiasts.

How to get from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes National Park: You can reach the park only by car or bus. Both options will take around 1 hour and a half. Unfortunately, you’ll find little information online about the buses, so you’ll have to ask around at the Central bus station. The last bus from Plitvice to Zadar is pretty early in the afternoon and we were close to missing it, so make sure you’re there on time.

🚍🚏 To get the latest info about bus options and make reservations, check Omio.

There is also the option to book a day trip with a knowledgeable guide. Here are some options:

Kornati National Park

Join a boat tour from Zadar to the mesmerizing Kornati archipelago, a protected area encompassing 89 stunning islands and islets. Enjoy sailing, swimming, and exploring the untouched beauty of this marine wonderland.

How to get from Zadar to Kornati National Park: You can only book a sightseeing excursion by boat to get to Kornati. There is no ferry and no way to reach the area by car or bus. Here are some of the top boat tour options available:


Nicknamed the ‘ancient Croatian royal town’, Nin has a calm atmosphere. The town is home to the ruins of an old Roman temple as well as the smallest cathedral in the world, the Church of the Holy Cross. Apart from its historical importance, Nin has beautiful sandy beaches, like Queen’s Beach, which is well-known for its healing mud.

How to get from Zadar to Nin: Easily accessible by bus or car, the approximately 15-kilometer journey takes less than 30 minutes, making it a convenient escape.

🚍🚏 To get the latest info about bus options and make reservations, check Omio.

You might also be interested in these options that include a guide:

Krka National Park

Experience the natural splendor of Krka National Park, known for its magnificent waterfalls and crystal-clear pools. Take a refreshing swim beneath the cascades and explore the park’s network of wooden walkways.

How to get from Zadar to Krka National Park: You can either drive from Zadar to Krka National Park or take the bus. Although the car is slightly faster than the bus (the time difference is of about 20 minutes), the bus option is cheaper (around 10 euro per person).

🚍🚏 To get the latest info about bus options and make reservations, check Omio.

If you prefer to be comfortable and accompanied by a guide, give these options a chance:


Although Split deserves a few days of exploration, if you’re short on time you can visit it in only a day. Split, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a striking fusion of culture, history, and scenic beauty. Diocletian’s Palace, an ancient Roman marvel that sits at the center of Split’s old town, is the city’s crown jewel. Explore its winding streets, which are dotted with quaint cafes, stores, and historical sites. In addition, Marjan Hill’s pine forests and vast panoramas create a serene escape, while the Riva promenade offers stunning views of the Adriatic Sea. Split’s rich history, vibrant atmosphere, and coastal allure make it an unmissable destination for anyone exploring the Dalmatian region.

How to get from Zadar to Split: Buses leave from Zadar frequently (Flixbus has the lowest prices), and the drive along the breathtaking Dalmatian coastline is an enjoyable experience. The bus ride can take from 2.5 hours to 3.5 hours, depending on your departure hour (I took a Flixbus at 5:30 in the morning because of this exact reason – it was the fastest option). If you have a car, you can get to Split in about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

🚍🚏 To get the latest info about bus options and make reservations, check Omio.

🚘 Because Split is a major destination, you might want to go alongside an experienced guide. If that’s the case, consider seeing Trogir and Split in the same day with this tour.

🚗🧳 If you want a private, stress-free transfer between Zadar and Split, hotel-to-hotel, check this option.

👉 To get more ideas, check this detailed list of day trips from Zadar.

Conclusion – Is Zadar Worth Visiting?

Of course! Without a doubt, Zadar is worth visiting. With its medieval churches, Roman ruins, and architecture with Venetian influences, this city is rich in history. Beyond its historical charm, Zadar has special attractions like Sun Salutation, a modern art work that combines the sun and sea to create an enthralling experience, and the mesmerizing Sea Organ. For history buffs, nature lovers, and foodies alike, its breathtaking coastline with crystal-clear waters, neighboring national parks like Plitvice Lakes and Krka, and mouthwatering local cuisine make it a well-rounded destination. In addition, Zadar’s warm ambience and breathtaking sunsets are truly unforgettable!

Plan your visit wisely, immerse yourself in the local culture, and let the magic of Zadar unfold before your eyes.

ℹ️ You might also be interested in other destinations in Croatia: Exploring Kolocep Island: A Guide to the Best Things to Do

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