15 Cool Things to Do in Zadar, Croatia

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.

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.

fosa harbor in zadar as seen from above surrounded by orange rooftops

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.

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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.

jeremy storm in a blue shirt standing on the sea organ as waves crash into him, one of the best things to do in zadar croatia

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!

zadar cathedral front facade, one of the best places to visit in zadar croatia

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.

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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!

exterior of st donatus church and bell tower on a sunny day, one of the fun things to do in zadar croatia

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.

crowd of people at sunset in zadar croatia during a purple and orange sunset

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!

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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!

sailboat on the water with city of zadar croatia in the background and mountains behind it

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!

This incredibly popular tour will allow you to experience the best of the park on a day trip from Zadar–be sure to bring your swimsuit!

Book your day trip to the Kornati Islands today!

aerial view of the kornati islands in croatia

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!

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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!

land gate in zadar croatia with winged horse of st mark in the center

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!

Arrange your Zadar market tour and cooking class now!

market stall in croatia with fresh fruits and olive oils

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.

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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.

slices of pag cheese set on a platter outside on a wooden table on pag island, one of the best day trips from zadar croatia

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.

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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!

roman forum remains in zadar croatia with church of st donatus in the background

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!

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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.

beach on dugi otok croatia near zadar with lighthouse in the foreground

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 clocktower. 

Be sure to check out the loggia, grab a coffee, and seek out the nearby Church of St. Lawrence while you’re there!

pink clock tower in peoples square as seen from the front, one of the best places to visit zadar croatia

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.

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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.

kate storm and jeremy storm at the sea organ in zadar croatia with water in the background

Budget

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.

Check rates & book your stay at the Boutique Hostel Forum!

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Mid-range

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!

Check rates & book your stay at Riva Palace!

Luxury

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.

Check rates & book your stay at the Bastion Heritage Hotel!


two photos of zadar croatia: greeting to the sun with a crowd at sunset and cityscape as seen from the bell tower. black and pink text on a white background reads "15 cool things to do zadar"
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

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