How to spend an amazing one day in Zadar (12 must-see sights!)


Alfred Hitchcock once claimed that the sunsets in Zadar are the most beautiful in the world.

If you spend one day in Zadar and make sure to venture out in the evening, you can see for yourself (I’ll show you the best spot)!

Here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip. From what to do in Zadar Croatia and where to eat to the best hotels if you’re spending the night.

Let’s dive in!

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Is one day in Zadar enough?

Yes, one day in Zadar is enough to see the main attractions. A great way to experience the city is on a walking tour.

This 2-hour walking tour through the UNESCO old town centre takes you to all the highlights and includes Maraschino liqueur and Pag cheese tasting. It’s very affordable!

If you want to soak up the Dalmatian coast and Zadar city vibe, you can easily spend a few days here too, though. Zadar is also eminent as an anchor for day trips to Plitvice Lakes, Split or Dubrovnik

Introduction to Zadar Croatia

So, Zadar…. Let me introduce you to this charming and romantic little town in the Balkans.

Zadar is a small town by the Dalmatian coast in Croatia. It dates back to the 4th century BC and with only 75,000 inhabitants, it has that charming, homely atmosphere that only small towns have.

Zadar is famous for the Roman and Venetian ruins around the Old Town and also for the two enigmatic art installations; the sun salutation and Sea organ. And the sunsets, if you ask Alfred Hitchcock.

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Is Zadar worth visiting?

Yes, absolutely!

Zadar is small enough to walk around, yet there are enough attractions to keep you busy for at least a day. If you’re interested in beautiful beaches, museums, ancient history and delicious Croatian food, you’ll love Zadar. 

It took me exactly 0.0 seconds to like Zadar, because it’s intimate and has several romantic spots. Even a sphinx from Egypt that supposedly grants love wishes. 

12 things to do in Zadar

1. St Anastasia’s cathedral and bell tower

Zadar’s only cathedral, St. Anastasia, is Roman catholic and the largest church in Dalmatia. The current cathedral in Romanesque style was built between the 13th and 14th century.  

Pro travel tip: Climb the bell tower for a great view of the town.

Zadar, Croatia-3
The bell tower next to St. Anastasia Cathedral
The bell tower next to St. Anastasia Cathedral

2. St Simeon church

St. Simeon church is probably best known for its sarcophagus of St Simeon! Commissioned in 1377, the medieval masterpiece is decorated with gold-plated silver reliefs and placed above the alter. 

St. Simeon Church
St. Simeon Church

3. Five Wells Square

In the 16th century, the Venetians helped Zadar stand against Turkish attacks by building a huge water tank and five ornate wells lined up in a row. There’s no water in the wells today, but it’s still a sight worth visiting.

one day in Zadar Croatia

4. Roman Forum

Your one day in Zadar should include a visit to the Roman Forum. 

This ancient Forum is constructed between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD and is the nexus of religious life.

St Donatus church on one side and St Mary church and monastery on the other. You can also see Roman ruins scattered around in the lawn in front. 

Zadar, Croatia-7

5. St. Donatus church

St. Donatus church is named after the bishop who commissioned it. This unique cylindrical church dates back to the beginning of the 9th century. 

For the last 200 years years, it hasn’t been used for services. Instead, due to its excellent acoustics, it’s used as a concert hall or exhibition space.

Church of St. Donatus
Church of St. Donatus

6. Church and monastery of St Mary

This 16th century Benedictine convent is a remake of a Romanesque church from 1066.

The treasury next door is run by nuns and holds religious 16th century Venetian art, Byzantine ornamentations and other fine artefacts. 

Do visit!

Church and monastery of St. Mary
Church and monastery of St. Mary

7. Narodni Trg (People’s Square)

This pretty little square has been the centre of public life in Zadar for centuries. It still is today; buzzing with people at the many cafes.

Notice the late-Renaissance city guard building from 1562 on the western side and the clock tower from 1798. 

8. Zadar city walls and gates

Zadar used to be a large fortified city, but today only part of the walls and four gates remain. Here’s where you can find them:

  • Land Gate on Fosa harbour from 1543 (the most impressive)
  • Sea Gate from 1573 is found behind the Church of Chrysogonus 
  • Bridge Gate is the newest gate from 1930s
  • St Rocco Gate, the smallest from 1570, connects the Five Wells Square with the harbour
Zadar, Croatia

9. Best beaches in Zadar

Zadar is on the Dalmatian coast which has some of the best beaches in Croatia. These are the best Zadar beaches both in and around town:

Kolovare Beach

Located in Zadar, just 10 minutes walk from the city centre. The beach is pebbly and shaded by a forest that provides you with shade on a hot summer day. You’ll find change rooms, beach chairs, ice cream shop and more here.

Borik beach

Just 4 km from the city centre, you’ll find Borik beach. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Zadar and there are restaurants nearby. Free parking.

Puntamika Beach 

About 3,5 km from the city centre (5 mins drive from Borik beach) is this pebble beach with nice shallow water. Great for families. 

Duboka Draga 

A little hidden cove, about 20 km from Zadar city. There’s little shade and you need to bring water (no shops nearby), BUT it’s super beautiful and the water is crystal clear! Just take a look ↓

Vrsi beach
Photo by Canva

10. Stroll along the promenade

Spend some time at the promenade and find a nice spot to enjoy some prosciutto and wine while you watch the world go by.

The promenade seems to be the place to sit and hang out, either to swim or to lounge on the steps descending to water level.

Zadar, Croatia-30

Zadar, Croatia-13

11. Zadar Sea Organ

Just before sunset, head to the most famous sunset spot in Zadar: the sea organ. Find sunset times here.

The sea organ is an art installation by Nikola Bašić. You can’t actually see it, but underneath the steps are a series of musically tuned pipes and blow holes that create music when air is forced through by the waves. The windy melodies are similar to a pan flute, but deeper in timbre.

It’s an incredibly impressive and wondrous thing. The tunes are calming and almost tranquil, and when the sun sets dozens people sit there on the steps in silence, listening to the music, watching the sky change in multiple colours.

With music in the background from Zadar’s Sea Organ and the uninterrupted views over the Adriatic Sea, it is definitely a sunset that is hard to beat. I can honestly not think of a more romantic place to watch the sun go down.

The sea organ, Zadar
One of the Sea Organ pipes
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12. Zadar Sun Salutation

The last thing to do on your one day in Zadar is the sun salutation – another innovative creation by Nikola Bašić. It’s right next to the Sea Organ.

The Sun Salutation is a 22 metre diameter solar panel formed from 300 multi-layered glass panels.

Underneath these glass conduction plates, there are a series of solar cells that store energy during the day, and after dark they produce a changing wave of beautiful colours.

It’s like a giant disco floor.

Zadar is indeed a special place to watch the sunset. Hitchcock was right. For me, it wasn’t the sunset alone because I have seen prettier in the Philippines and Thailand.

It was the lulling sounds of the waves through the sea organ and the shifting mesmerising lights of the sun salutation that did it for me and made this a unique experience.

These moments are what I love most about traveling, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience this.

The sun salutation, Croatia

Best restaurants in Zadar

During your one day in Zadar, make sure to sample some of the delicious Croatian food. Here are some of the best restaurants in Zadar:

Pet Bunara – Local dishes, seafood and a kind staff. They also have Istrian truffles with homemade pasta (my all-time favorite!!). Great location in the Old Town. 

Konoba Malo Misto – Delicious food and lovely, attentive service! Try the homemade gnocchi.

one day in Zadar

Where to stay in Zadar

If you’re spending the night in Zadar, you’re in luck. Zadar is great value for money so you’ll get quality accommodation at very affordable prices!

I stayed at an apartment, which is a common type of accommodation in Croatia. 

Allegro Exclusive Suite – A lovely apartment with air-con (a must from June-Aug). It’s located just a few minutes walk from the Old Town and comes with parking. Click here to find the latest prices.  

Beautiful sunset, Croatia

Ask me anything about your one day in Zadar!

One day in Zadar FAQ

Is 1 day enough in Zadar?

Yes. You can see everything Zadar has to offer in one day.

Zadar is a great base for exploring the rest of Dalmatia, so you can stay here while you visit Plitvice Lakes, Split or Dubrovnik.

How much time do you need in Zadar?

One day is enough to explore everything Zadar has to offer.

Which is nicer Zadar or Split?

That depends on what you’re looking for.

Zadar is a smaller, less crowded city with a rich history and a more relaxed atmosphere.

It’s known for its Roman ruins, medieval architecture, and the famous Sea Organ, an art installation that creates music from the waves.

Split, on the other hand, is a larger and more vibrant city with a lively atmosphere. It’s home to the magnificent Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as numerous restaurants, bars, and shops.

Split also serves as a transportation hub for exploring nearby islands like Hvar and Brač.

Is Zadar worth a trip?

Absolutely! There’s a lot to see in Zadar and it’s a beautiful city.

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    1. I absolutely agree. Although I’m not a morning person, I find myself getting up early to watch the sunrises whenever I travel. Especially in Slovenia where they are so beautiful.

  1. Man I’m so bummed that we cut Zadar out of our honeymoon last year! It looks like a really neat place to relax and just enjoy yourself (and it’s way less busy than Dubrovnik). Great pics and great idea for our return trip to Croatia!

    1. Thanks, Bailey! It’s definitely less crowded than Dubrovnik and much more intimate and personal. Maybe a second honeymoon is in order? 🙂

  2. I love romantic sunsets, especially when I travel with my boyfriend! Never heard of Zadar! It’s so beautiful. In some way it reminds me of Crete – white + blue = love!

    1. Those are the best! I was so sad that Thomas couldn’t be there with me, but he will next time! Ryanair has crazy cheap tickets from Denmark to Zadar – maybe you can find some good ones from Netherlands, too.

  3. The photos included in this post are amazing, especially the ones of the sun setting. I was unfamiliar with Zadar until I read your post, but I’m so glad I know about it now. I can only hope I get to experience these sunsets and hear the sea organ myself one day. Great post!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Sanura. Zadar is such a little town and I hadn’t heard of it myself until recently. If you find yourself in Croatia someday, I highly recommend stopping by for a few days. It really is charming.

  4. Superb report and pix! I never tire of hearing / reading about Zadar and like you, I was pretty blown away with the place. Sunset, sea organ and some of the finest gelato (sladoled) in the entire world – what more could a guy want to chill out of an evening? 😉
    Let’s hope mass tourism doesn’t catch up (and overtake!) Zadar like it has done to Dubrovnik and Kotor (Montenegro) is not too far behind!
    So much to do locally, too. Numerous islands, served by ferry from Zadar, Paklenica national park, The Zrmanja River & Gorge for rafting, etc.
    Wonderful place – with it’s own airport, too 🙂

    1. I absolutely agree, Jon! 🙂

      I don’t think tourism will take over the same way as in Montenegro. Did you go to Budva? I passed through a couple of times and it looked so ruined compared to Kotor. Hopefully, Zadar will survive – here’s to hoping!

  5. WOw! Zadar looks amazing!!! And those sunsets are simply gorgeous! I have never been to Zadar and actually never thought of visiting it in the near future, you certainly made me want to get to know it! BTW – I found you via Twitter :))))

    1. Welcome, Pati! It’s great to have you visiting my blog 🙂 If you’re ever in Croatia or the Balkan area, I highly recommend paying Zadar a visit. It’s such a romantic and cosy town with knock-out sunsets. Absolutely worth a trip.

    1. Hi Milly, it’s almost impossible to miss, but you can always ask someone. Zadar is a small town so it only takes 5-10 minutes to walk there from the center.

  6. Thanks for the great into. We will be in Split at end of Sept and plan a drive up the coast to Zadar. Now i will have to plan the day to be there for the sunset.

  7. Hi Miriam, I loved your impressions of my home town 🙂
    Just a small correction: St Rocco Gate, the smallest from 1570, connects the green market (not the Five Wells Square) with the harbour.

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