Why Zadar should be on your radar

Have you visited Croatia’s hottest city yet? Here’s why I think Zadar should be on your radar.

Excusing the awful pun (it had to be done), Croatia’s Zadar should definitely be on your to-visit list.

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Croatia, in general, has risen through the tourist-ranks in recent years, even since I last visited in 2014. While destinations like Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb have been relatively popular for some time now, other equally beautiful cities are now seeing their visitor numbers swell during the warmer months.

Zadar is one of these cities. Improved flight connections to London now mean it is easier than ever to take a visit to the port city. Ryanair offers cheap airfare to Zadar – sometimes as little as £53 return – meaning that an affordable break is well within reach. Croatia is also still a cheap country to visit, thanks to it still using its own currency, the Kuna. The price of accommodation, food and activities also falls even more once you escape the tourist centres of Split and Dubrovnik.

 

zadar flights
This is the price for return flights from London Stansted to Zadar during mid-May 

 

Where?

Zadar is on the Dalmatian coast, north of the Krka waterfalls. In fact, Zadar is well within reach of more popular Croatian destinations such as the Plitvice Lakes, making it a great backpacker route destination, or even a base from which to explore the surrounding area.

Its well-equipped port boasts regular routes to the neighbouring islands. You could start an island-hopping holiday from Zadar, or simply take some day-trips to the islands, taking full advantage of the cheap accommodation in the city.

zADAR old town

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Zadar’s Old Town, where most of the hostels and attractions are 

 

How much?

FIVE VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY RESTAURANTS IN ZADAR

2Ribara Restaurant (££-£££)

Pet Bunara (££-£££)

Proto Food & More (£)

Pizzeria Tri Bunara (£)

The Garden Zadar (££-£££)

As I said, flights there are cheap, especially for Croatia. When we visited Zadar, we couldn’t find a great deal of information on the place, so we weren’t too sure what to expect in terms of pricing. However, both food and drink were more than reasonably priced (about £1 for a glass of wine…). The accommodation was affordable too; we stayed in The Old Town Hostel, which seems to be one of the most popular hostels. We visited during early-September and the hostel was quiet. The dorm was clean, staff were very friendly and the location was ideal, being right in the town square. We paid £28 each for two nights in a shared room. As The Old Town Hostel is the most popular, other accommodation may be cheaper, and of course Air BnB considerably less. But the location was perfect for us, something we considered worthy of paying slightly extra for.

 

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Old Town Hostel in Zadar was friendly, clean and in a great location 

 

What to do?

There are loads of things to do in Zadar, much more than we actually did or knew to do. As we visited at a time when it seemed the city was just starting to establish itself as a popular European holiday destination, there wasn’t loads of information for us and not many people spoke English. However, the Old Town (which is pretty much where you’ll stay if you visit) is beautiful. It’s so clean, the ancient architecture is lovely, and I really appreciated that we could walk all around the area in one day. There are loads of outside spaces to sit and lounge in the sun, a pretty-cool sea organ that kept us entertained for a while, and loads of pretty buildings to look at too. There was also a little market which was a lovely and great place to pick up some souveniers.

FIVE THINGS TO DO IN ZADAR

Morske Orgulje (Sea Organ)

Archealogical Museum 

Museum of Illusions

The Church of St Donatus and Zadar Catherdral

Museum of Ancient Glass

 

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The sea-organ in Zadar

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There are also some museums (not really a great love of mine) – the Museum of Ancient Glass and the Archaeological Museum being two of these. We visited the Archaeological Museum, but I can’t say I remember much about it. It was pretty small and uninteresting, although Zadar isn’t really known for being a ‘museum centre’.

 

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The 9th-century Church of St Donatus 
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Zadar Cathedral 

 

Unfortunately for us, the second day was overcast and rainy. This meant that we weren’t too keen on visiting the neighbouring islands, although I’m certain if we had more time we would have done so. I further researched the islands for this blog post and they look simply beautiful. There’s also loads of information on different ways to get there, what activities to do on each island, and (most importantly) how much everything would cost. Most of my research has shown that it doesn’t cost more than the equivalent of a few Euros for a ferry ticket – perfect for a day trip.

Because of just how close and how many islands there are, you could easily spend the best part of a week in Zadar: a few days spent exploring the islands properly and a couple of days meandering around the city.

 

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Krka National Park – just over an hour away on the bus
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You could take a ferry to the nearby islands of Pag or Kornati

 

Fly-drive holidays are also a suggestion when visiting Zadar, which is a terrific idea (although the buses in Croatia were really reliable in our experience and very cheap). The Krka waterfalls are really close and you could even venture down to Split if you had a car.

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I’m really glad that Zadar is making a bigger name for itself and becoming more accessible for tourists. Our visit may have been brief – and many moons ago – but it really was an attractive city in every sense.

I wish we got more time there and explored the surrounding islands, however I can definitely see myself going back to do that in the near-future. It’s a great, affordable, interesting destination that has loads more to offer than first meets the eye…or the Google search.

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Have you visited Zadar yet? Let me know in the comments 

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29 thoughts on “Why Zadar should be on your radar

  1. And to say i had never heard of this place until i read your post. It is now on my list and hopefully i will get to visit it someday. Enjoyed reading your post, thanks for sharing.

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  2. I loved Zadar – one of my favourite places in Croatia! We went to Ugljan island which was amazing!! So beautiful and an amazing walk up to an abandoned fortress with view of the other islands! Great post! 😊

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  3. I’ve never heard of this place before but it sounds like it’s worth it. I love that the flights aren’t at all expensive so you can easily go here from London. The place is beautiful with so many things to do!

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  4. Zadar looks beautiful. I like your idea of a fly drive as there are so many places in Croatia I’d love to see (I find the modern history of the Balkans in general fascinating!). My brother visited Zadar last year by flying into Trieste in Italy and hiring a car, then driving down through Slovenia and Bosnia. Once he hit Zadar, he headed back again. A beautiful part of the world!

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  5. The buildings, the water views, that beautiful rainforest park…this place is beautiful! I loved the pun and I’m certainly going to visit this place at the soonest possible time.

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  6. Zadar is so quiet and peaceful. All your pictures look amazing. The flight from London to Zadar is so inexpensive, will definitely plan this from London.

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