Looking for the best things to do in Zadar, Croatia?
We’ve rounded up the best things to see in Croatia’s fifth-largest city!
Located on the Dalmatian Coast, Zadar generally sees fewer tourists than cities like Dubrovnik or Split.
However, this ancient, coastal city has a charm all its own and is a fantastic alternative option for travelers looking to enjoy a (slightly) more offbeat section of Croatia’s popular coastline.
Whether you’re looking for a jumping-off point for visiting the Kornati Islands, are interested in Roman or Venetian history, or just want to enjoy the sun and sea, this guide to what to do in Zadar is bound to keep you busy.
Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.
Fun Things to Do in Zadar, Croatia
Listen to the sea organ.
Installed in 2005, this organ–which resembles a set of benches leading into the Adriatic Sea–plays music through the movement of the water.
It’s hard to describe, but a very cool to experience in person!
Unsurprisingly, the sea organ is one of the top attractions in Zadar, and every evening at sunset, you can find crowds of locals and tourists alike sitting on the “instrument” to enjoy the music and views.
Explore the Cathedral of St. Anastasia.
As the largest church along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, the 12th-century Cathedral of St. Anastasia (sometimes called the Zadar Cathedral) is absolutely worth a visit.
Though the building was badly damaged during WWII, it has been beautifully reconstructed.
Be sure not to skip the view from the bell tower, either–the view is well worth the roughly 180 steps it takes to get there!
Step inside St. Donatus Church.
Believed to have been completed in the 9th century, this round church is located near the Roman Forum, and belongs on your list of things to see in Zadar, Croatia.
Interesting inside and out, the building has served a wide variety of purposes over the years, from worship to storage (when the Republic of Venice controlled Zadar), to now, a music venue, thanks to its acoustics.
It’s considered one of the most remarkable examples of early medieval architecture in Croatia, and is a symbol of the city–odds are if you’ve only seen a handful of photos of Zadar, one of them was of the Church of St. Donatus!
Pay a visit to the Greeting to the Sun.
Made up of 300 glass plates that absorb sunlight during the day to transform into a light show at night, Zadar’s Greeting to the Sun (also sometimes called the Monument to the Sun) is one of the best places to visit in Zadar–especially after sunset!
Located near the water, just steps from the sea organ, the Greeting to the Sun is a must-see when visiting Zadar.
Check out the Museum of Ancient Glass.
Located in a former palace dating to the 19th century, Zadar’s beautiful Museum of Ancient Glass is home to one of the most impressive collections of glass items from Ancient Rome that can be found outside of Italy.
For a unique Zadar museum to visit, you can’t beat the Museum of Ancient Glass!
Set sail for the day.
No trip to Zadar is complete without some time spent on the water!
Set sail via this popular half-day tour to explore nearby islands, check out a fishing village, enjoy beautiful views, and–most importantly–swim and snorkel in stunning inlets and coves near Zadar.
Book your Zadar sailing trip today!
Explore the Kornati Islands.
The Kornati Islands are one of the most beautiful places in Croatia, and absolutely one of the best places to visit in Zadar (or technically speaking, near Zadar).
This archipelago is made up of 140 islands, 89 of which constitute Kornati Islands National Park.
The best way to explore them? Via sailboat, of course!
Visit the Land Gate.
There are several gates in Zadar that separate its historic center from the more modern city, but perhaps none is as beautiful as the Land Gate!
Built by the Venetians in the 16th century (check out the lion of St. Mark carved into the gate–if you’ve been to Venice, you’ll likely recognize the image), the Land Gate is gorgeous, and a strong visual reminder of the days when Zadar was protected by its city walls.
It’s also located right next door to the picturesque Fosa Harbor!
Discover the local food scene.
Croatian food, especially along the Croatian coast, is characterized by excellent seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fantastic cheese (especially cheese from a very special island–more on that below).
One of the best things to do in Zadar is to enjoy the food scene via a market tour and cooking class, which will take you beyond Zadar’s restaurants and into its kitchens.
As far as Zadar restaurants go, though, we can enthusiastically recommend Restaurant Bruschetta. Be sure not to miss the chocolate dessert!
Visit Pag Island.
One of the most popular day trips from Zadar is the small island of Pag, best known for its quiet villages (including Pag Town itself), rocky landscape that looks distinctly different than much of the Dalmatian coast, and–above all–its cheese.
Pag cheese is widely considered the best cheese in Croatia (we don’t disagree), and though you’ll find it across the country, it’s made solely on the small island of Pag.
Made from sheep’s milk, the cheese is hard, with a sharp, salty flavor.
Go see the Gold and Silver Museum.
The Gold and Silver of Zadar is one of the most impressive museums in the city.
Housed in the Benedictine convent of St. Mary’s, as it has since the end of WWII, this incredible collection of silver and gold religious art is one of the most memorable sights in Zadar, Croatia.
Wander through the Forum.
Roman Forums dot the former empire, and that includes Zadar, which is home to the remains of the largest Roman Forum in Croatia!
Not many of the structures still stand today, but wandering through the layout of the public space and various temples commissioned by Emperor Augustus roughly 2000 years ago is one of the best things to do in Zadar–and considering how centrally located it is, it’s also incredibly easy to access!
Take a walking tour of the city.
Want to check out several of the best things to see in Zadar in one go? Sign up for a walking tour!
This popular tour is affordable and will help you get your bearings on Zadar’s history and attractions as you explore the city.
Book your Zadar walking tour today!
Relax on the beach!
Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Croatia without some time spent on the beach!
Popular Zadar beaches include Kolovare Beach and Borik Beach.
Head a bit out of the city, though, and especially onto the nearby islands, and you’ll find some truly world-class beach options like Dugi Otok that belong on any list of what to do in Zadar, Croatia.
Stroll through the People’s Square.
One of the prettiest squares in Zadar, People’s Square dates back to the middle ages and is dominated by its beautiful clock tower.
Be sure to check out the loggia, grab a coffee, and seek out the nearby Church of St. Lawrence while you’re there!
Where to Stay in Zadar
Wondering where to stay in Zadar?
On our first trip, we stayed about a 10-15 minute walk outside the historic center and regretted it.
We highly recommend staying in a very central location while in Zadar–the city’s walkability means that it is best enjoyed from the center of the action!
Here are a few popular, well-reviewed properties to consider while visiting Zadar, Croatia.
Boutique Hostel Forum — Located in the heart of Zadar’s Old Town, along Kalelarga, lies the Boutique Hostel Forum.
With rave reviews and an ideal location–you can literally see the Church of St. Donatus practically pushing up against the windows in some rooms–you can’t go wrong with the Boutique Hostel Forum while in Zadar.
Riva Palace — Impeccably decorated, located near the water, and featuring beautiful city views, the popular Riva Palace is the perfect choice for travelers looking for a well-reviewed boutique hotel near all of the amenities that Zadar has to offer!
Bastion Heritage Hotel — Built partially into Zadar’s historic fortress but with all the modern amenities, the Bastion Heritage Hotel is the best place to book when looking for luxury in Zadar.
Featuring an on-site spa, fine dining restaurant, excellent views of the water, and a perfect location in the historic center, there’s no better base to explore the best things to do in Zadar from than the relaxing Bastion Heritage Hotel.