Zadar is one of Croatia’s most attractive cities which is why we decided to add it to our Balkan itinerary. Our two weeks road trip through the Balkans began in Budapest and continued through Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro. On the way back we spent one day in Zadar, before returning to Hungary.
Even though we could only spend 24 hours in Zadar, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the city. Zadar has the reputation for being one of the most attractive cities on the Dalmatian coast. Question was would one day in Zadar be enough to see to see the city’s attractions?
Many people visit Zadar as a day trip from Split, or from Dubrovnik, so we figured one day should be enough. Although it’s the second largest city in Dalmatia, Zadar is actually very easy to explore on foot. That’s in part due to its many pedestrian-friendly streets, but also to the fact that most of its attractions are concentrated in the Old Town area.
What to Do in Zadar in One Day
Zadar is a place for wandering. Roaming the streets and squares in the Old Town is a pleasure. The area is relatively small, but jam-packed with incredible sites that are easy to discover. So here is what you can visit in Zadar in one day:
Pass Through the Venetian Land Gate
Once the largest city-fortress in the entire Republic of Venice, Zadar managed to retain its independence more than other neighboring cities due to its strong walls. Today only portions of the walls and eight gates remain.
The most impressive and elaborate one is the Land Gate, which is also the main entrance to the old town. The gate is decorated with a relief of the winged lion of St. Mark and the city’s coat of arms.
Visit the Roman Forum
The Forum is a huge plaza in the middle of Zadar, holding the remains of the city’s Roman forum. The complex of historic churches and pieces of Roman ruins is still the center of civic and religious life in Zadar.
Listen to the Sea Organ
Located on the Riva (Zadar’s seaside promenade) you’ll find one the more modern attractions in Zadar: the Sea Organ. Equally popular among locals and visitors, the Sea Organ is a true architectural marvel.
Nikola Bašič’s creation is not actually an organ, but rather an ingenious work of art capturing the force of nature. The magical ‘music’ is produced by the waves pushing air through 35 underwater pipes.
The pipes are located underneath a set of large marble steps descending into the sea. The sounds produced are a little haunting, yet enchanting and quite relaxing.
Send ‘Greetings to the Sun’
Greeting to the Sun is a solar powered work of art that explodes with an array of bright colored lights at night. The lights come from 300 multi-layered glass plates in the shape of a circle that is 22 meters in diameter.
This circle of glass stores the energy created by the sun rays during the day and emits it after dark as a magical light show. The flashing lights accompanied by the sound of the Sea Organ are quite dramatic and unique.
Visit the Five Wells Square
The Five Wells Square dated back to the 16th century on the site of a former moat . The square takes its name from the five wells that supplied Zadar with water until 1838.
Today a beautiful park sits on top of the nearby bastion. The park serves as the gathering board for skateboarders.
Stroll Through People’s Square
This pretty little square is constantly buzzing with people who gather here for a chat and a drink in one of the many cafés. On one side of the square you can see the City Sentinel, a clock tower that dominates the square since medieval times.
Also in this square is the Renaissance City Loggia, a splendid old building that functions today as an art gallery.
Visit Zadar Cathedral
Also known as the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, Zadar Cathedral was originally constructed in the 9th century by the Byzantines, but it was later rebuilt in Romanesque style.
The cathedral has a very beautiful façade with three entrances and numerous arches, as well two beautiful rose windows.
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