Zadar Self-Guided Walking Tour 24 Sights To See JetSettingFools.com

Zadar self-guided walking tour: 24 sights to see

Before we arrived in Zadar, we felt sorry for it. After our three-week stay in idyllic Rovinj, we thought our next destination would surely disappoint. The fact that we were trading in one seaside town perched on a peninsula for another made us think we would easily draw comparisons and, in our minds, nothing could beat Rovinj. After staying in Zadar, experiencing the city and seeing the sights (which are included in our Zadar self-guided walking tour), we felt differently.

While there are some comparisons that can be made between Rovinj and Zadar, the two cities are drastically different. Even though Zadar may not be dripping with charm like Rovinj, it certainly has it. And, something it has that Rovinj doesn’t is a slew of sights – from Roman ruins to historic churches to a modern seaside promenade complete with new age art. Something else Zadar has: a university – and its students fill the streets and cafes, bringing a lively, youthful feel to the city.

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During our stay, we took advantage of Zadar’s close proximity to Krka National Park, Sibenik and a couple of boat trips to nearby islands by taking more day trips than normal. In between day trips, we eased into life in Zadar. Our apartment in the old town (booked through Airbnb) was ideally located for us to explore the city on foot. We covered every street in the old town, noting the odd mix of old and new. We popped into bakeries for fresh baked treats and, when the rain came, we ducked into cafes and sampled the local specialty, Maraschino, a sweet cherry liqueur that is made in the local Maraska factory.

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After spending two weeks in Zadar, we discovered a route that loops around and through the city, passing by the best sights in town. The stroll can serve as a Zadar self-guided walking tour. It should take a little less than an hour (but up to three hours for those walking a more leisurely pace), with plenty of places to get distracted along the way.

Zadar Self-Guided Walking Tour to 24 city sights to see

Start outside of the old town on the east end at the Land Gate.

 

Kopnena vrata (Land Gate)

Built in 1543, the Land Gate was once the main entrance into the walled town. It features St. Chrysogonus and the St. Mark’s Lion because, well, the Venetian’s built it.

Kopnena vrata (Land Gate) in Zadar, Croatia

Walk through the gate and take the first right, up a flight of stairs, into…

 

Trg 5 bunara (Five Wells Square)

The 16th century wells in Trg 5 bunara were built to supply drinking water to the city at a time when the Turks threatened to invade. The Captain’s Tower, built as another protective measure against the Turks, dominates the square from the far end.

Trg 5 bunara (Five Wells Square) in Zadar, Croatia

Take the steps leading up from the square into…

 

Queen Jelena Mdijevka Park

A lush escape from the old town, the Queen Jelena Mdijevka Park was built on top of a former military bastion. The peaceful garden has a few benches, walking paths and a café. In the center, trails circle a small hill, which is just fun to climb.

Queen Jelena Mdijevka Park in Zadar, Croatia

The view from Queen Jelena Mdijevka Park in Zadar, Croatia

Back in Five Wells Square, exit past The Captain’s Tower and take the steps that lead down to…

 

Trg Petra Zoranica (Petar Zoranica Square)

Trg Petra Zoranica feels different than most old town squares, probably due to the large trees and wide open space. A single, Roman column stands on the far end and other ruins that were discovered below ground level can be viewed through glass covers. Also on the square is a stone sarcophagus said to contain the remains of a 1st century monk (and three other unknown skeletons).

Trg Petra Zoranica (Petar Zoranica Square), in Zadar, Croatia, features Roman ruins

Leave the square by the Roman column, passing between the Rector’s Palace and St. Simeon’s Church and continue straight along Kotromanic Street to…

 

Narodni trg (People’s Square)

This typical old town square feels more enclosed, with city buildings making up three sides of Narodni trg. The columned City Lodge previously served as a courthouse, council chambers and library. Across from it, the Renaissance style City Sentinel features a clock tower. On the far end of the square is the current City Hall.

City Lodge on Narodni trg (People’s Square) in Zadar, Croatia

 

City Sentinel on Narodni trg (People’s Square) in Zadar, Croatia

Before leaving the square, walk into Café Lovro next to the Sentinel and find…

 

Crkva Sv. Lovre (St. Laurence’s Church)

Not much remains of the 11th century church, Crkva Sv. Lovre, but it is fascinating to see how a café has been built around it.

Crkva Sv. Lovre (St. Laurence’s Church) inside Cafe Lovro in Zadar, Croatia

Leave the square on Jurja Barakovica – the street to the right of City Hall – and exit through Bridge Gate. Cross the street to…

 

Most (Bridge)

For a view of the old town, walk halfway across the Most (bridge) and look back toward the high, thick walls.

A view of the Zadar peninsula from the bridge

Back on the peninsula, walk west past the day excursion boats and passenger ferries before heading back into the old town. At the end of the line of boats are the…

 

Barkajoli

The Barkajoli taxi row boats transport people from the peninsula a short distance to the pier – an 800 year old tradition.

Barkajoli, taxi row boats, have been transporting people in Zadar for 800 years

Go back toward the Jadrolinija Office to the Morska vrata (Sea Gate). Built in 1573 to celebrate victory over the Turks, it provided access from the port to the market. Climb the stairs to the right to stand atop the old town walls and get a better view of the port. Then head back down and re-enter the town through the gate to…

 

Crkva Sv. Kresevana (St. Chrysogonus Church)

Consecrated in 1175, Crkva Sv. Kresevana was part of the Benedictine Monastery.

Crkva Sv. Kresevana (St. Chrysogonus Church) in Zadar, Croatia

Continue straight ahead to the…

 

Forum

The cluster of historic churches and pieces of Roman ruins come together in the Forum; one place to tell a story that is 2000 years in the making. Interestingly, however, is that the Roman past was buried until the area was bombed during World War I.

The Forum in Zadar, Croatia is strewn with 2000 year old relics - and serves as a meeting place for locals

 

Bell Tower

The 183-foot-tall Bell Tower belongs to the cathedral, but was built separately from it. For views over the town and sea, visitors can hike the 180 stairs (wide and spacious!) to an observation deck for 15 kuna ($2 USD).

St. Anastasia's Cathedral Bell Tower in the Forum in Zadar, Croatia

A view over Zadar, Croatia from the top of the bell tower

 

St. Donatus’ Church

The centerpiece of the Forum is the St. Donatus’ Church. Built in the 9th century, the round church looks exactly as it did when it was built.

St. Donatus’ Church in Zadar, Croatia looks exactly as it did in the 9th century

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St. Mary’s Church

On the east side of the Forum, across the walkway, is St. Mary’s Church and convent belonging to Benedictine nuns. Originally built in 1066, the façade was redone in the 16th century.

St. Mary’s Church in Zadar, Croatia

 

Park of Roman pieces

Broken pieces of Roman ruins are displayed within the Forum. Unlike many ruins that have a look-but-don’t-touch policy, people are welcome to get up close and personal with these fragments from the past.

Pieces of Roman Ruins remain in the Forum in Zadar, Croatia

 

Pillar of Shame

The single column standing to the west of St. Donatus’ Church is the Pillar of Shame where those who committed crimes were chained for public humiliation and ridicule.

A Pillar of Shame still stands in Zadar, Croatia's Forum, but it's been a long time since it was actually used!

 

Sparse remnants of a temple

On the raised area beyond the pillar are a few columns that constitute the remains of a Roman temple, which was dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. On our visit, excavations were underway behind the columns near St. Elias’ Church (an Orthodox church that was built in the 18th century for the Greek population).

A team excavates an area close to St. Elias' Church and the remains of a Roman temple in Zadar, Croatia

Walk north toward St. Anastasia’s Square and…

 

St. Anastasia’s Cathedral

Building commenced on the Romanesque church in the 12th century. Decorative rosettes and a stone carved doorway complete the façade of St. Anastasia’s Cathedral.

St. Anastasia’s Cathedral in Zadar, Croatia

 

Local women knit and sell their products on the side of St. Anastasia’s Cathedral in Zadar, Croatia

Look along the side of the church that leads back to the bell tower, local women sit chatting as they knit sweaters, booties, caps and socks, which they offer for sale. Turn left (west) and walk to the…

 

Trg 3 bunara (Three Wells Square) and park

A church, Our Lady of Health, and a small park are found on Trg 3 bunara. The three wells were placed here in 1761 (a road now runs through the square and they are located across the street). The busts of Zadar’s most prominent citizens are displayed on columns in the park.

Zadar's most celebrated citizens are remembered in the park next to Trg 3 bunara (Three Wells Square)

If the doors are open, walk into the…

 

Church of Our Lady of Health

The pretty little Church of Our Lady of Health became a city favorite in 1447 when the painting of Our Lady of the Kastelo was hung behind the altar. (The original is now kept in the Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art, but a copy is still displayed in the church.) Since then, it has undergone several expansions and even endured a 1944 bombing and subsequent reconstruction.

Church of Our Lady of Health is a favorite in Zadar, Croatia

The originial painting that hung in Church of Our Lady of Health in Zadar, Croatia is on display at the museum and a replica hangs behind the altar

Continue straight through the park on the right side of the church, past the Customs House to the end of the peninsula and turn left (south) to the…

 

Pozdrav Suncu (Greeting to the Sun)

The large, circular technological art installment isn’t much to look at in the daylight. But, after dark, Pozdra Suncu puts on a light display.

In daylight, the Pozdrav Suncu (Greeting to the Sun) in Zadar, Croatia isn't much of a sight, but after dark it is a light show

The modern art installment, Pozdrav Suncu (Greeting to the Sun), in Zadar, Croatia attracts visitors and locals to its after-dark light show

Follow the sounds of music and continue around the corner to the…

 

Morske Orgulje (Sea Organ)

Not an ordinary organ by any means, the organist of Morske Orgulje is the sea itself. The water pushes air into thirty-five pipes positioned below the steps to play chords of music. The soothing sound attracts many at sunset.

The Morske orgulje (Sea Organ) in Zadar, Croatia is unique in that the sea is the organist, creating chords of music with the movement of the sea

Continue walking the length of…

 

The Riva

For many years, Zadar was a heavily fortified city with double walls protecting its inhabitants. In 1813, previous threats were no longer a concern and the outer wall was removed, leaving a lovely space along the waterfront. Gardens were planted and parks created – as well as the Riva, a long promenade for evening strolls.

The Riva in Zadar, Croatia

Many people come out to the Riva in Zadar, Croatia for an evening stroll

The Riva in Zadar, Croatia is a lovely place to watch the sunset

Continue walking to the…

 

Statue of Spiro Brusina

Near the end of The Riva is the University of Zadar and the statue of Spiro Brusina holding a conch shell. Born in 1845, Brusina excelled in natural science and the study of birds – and was a member of the Croatian freemasons.

The Statue of Spiro Brusina, a Zadar intellectual, sits in front of the University of Zadar along the Riva

Follow the shoreline into the…

 

Fosa Marina

The little Fosa Marina is packed with boats and schools of small fish.

The small Fosa Marina near the Land Gate in Zadar, Croatia

Continue to the stairs, which completes the loop of our Zadar self-guided walking tour.

 

Zadar Self-Guided Walking Tour Map

Zadar Self Guided Walking Tour Map

Note: Free maps and guide books are available in the Tourist Information Office on Narodni Trg.

 

Top Tips for Your Trip to Zadar, Croatia

 

Zadar Sightseeing Options

Sightseeing in Zadar isn’t limited  to the Old Town. The city’s location is prime for exploring Croatia sights inland- as well as out to sea. 

Within a day trip from Zadar are two incredible national parks: Krka and Plitvice Lakes. Both parks are known for their thundering waterfalls and picturesque landscapes. It is possible to visit the parks via public transport – but much easier to join an organized tour to Krka or Plitvice from Zadar.

If you are anything like us, you won’t be able to resist setting sail from the mainland to one of the nearby islands. For an inexpensive way to spend the day on the water, take the ferry to Dugi Otok or a short ride to Ugljan, where you can then explore the island on a self-guided bike ride. Or, take to the sea on a sailboat trip to the Kornati Archipelago

 

Where To Stay

During our visit to Zadar, we stayed in this awesome Airbnb Apartment. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) We have found that staying in apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, often, more space. Zadar holiday apartments can also be searched on FlipKey (which part of TripAdvisor) or VRBO.

However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Zadar hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip: Art Hotel Kalelarga, Hotel Niko and Bastion Heritage Hotel. Or, find a hotel deal by bidding on Priceline.

Budget travelers can search for Zadar Hostels – like, Hostel Kolovare, Boutique Hostel Forum and The Hostel. For a true bargain – and a unique experience – search for hosts on Couchsurfing, where travelers stay with locals for free

 

Getting There…and around

In Zadar

Zadar can be reached by plane, boat, bus or car.  Flights to the Zadar Airport are seasonal. If arriving by bus, the bus station is not very convenient to the Old Town (map), but within reasonable walking distance. Although not 100% reliable, bus schedules can be searched on Bus Croatia and Get By Bus. It’s best to get around Zadar on your own two feet – as most of the Old Town is a car-free zone. 

In General

Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!). However, due to our unique circumstances (flight benefits earned from years of service with a major airline), we rarely buy airline tickets. That being said, when we do need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner or Flight Hub.

To get from city to city when flights are not possible, we usually rely on public transportation and take trains or buses. In Europe, we use Eurail to find train tickets and our preferred bus company is FlixBus – as it is economical, clean and comfortable with on-board wifi, seat-back entertainment, refreshments and a toilet. We aren’t keen on driving abroad, but renting a car can often save time and money (especially when traveling with more than two people) – and it allows for greater discovery.  

 

Before You Go

  • Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and SanukSanuk.
  • We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
  • Be sure to have a good guidebook for Croatia prior to arriving.  
  • We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.

Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for our complete packing list and other travel resources!

 

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We want to know: Have you been to Zadar, Croatia? What would you add to our Zadar self-guided walking tour? Let us know in the comments!

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18 thoughts on “Zadar self-guided walking tour: 24 sights to see

  1. Kathleen

    This was something I used when visiting the city and found very helpful! I am starting up a travel blog and was going to recommend folks visit your site for this self guided Zadar Walking Tour:) Hope thats okay! Thanks so much!

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  3. Andrew Tattersall

    Hi. We are visiting Zadar soon while on a cruise. This walk looks perfect. Approx how long is it (miles/km’s) and how much time should we allow? Thanks.

    • Hi Andrew – How exciting to see Zadar as part of a cruise! Our walking tour of Zadar is about and 3km takes about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace – add another 15 minutes if you are going to take the steps to the top of the church bell tower. Since you will be arriving via ship, you would obviously start at the other end of the peninsula from where our walking tour starts and, if you finish earlier than expected, there are cafes in the Forum that are nice. Have a great time in Zadar!

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  5. Simon Dickinson

    A great walk ! We’ve done it today ! And managed to take in the market.
    Had a nice lunch on Stormica at Bistro Pjat and sat for a while next to five Wells square. The most relaxed we’ve been for a long time.
    No phones or tablets with us….just a printout of your route.
    Thank you so much…..three more days of the area to enjoy. Ugljan tomorrow and Nin and Pag the day after.

    Regards

    Simon

    • Hi Simon – Glad you enjoyed the walk! Fantastic that you were able to make it to the market and relax. We loved our laid back days in Zadar. Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay! 🙂

  6. Kathy Cvitanovich

    Beautiful guided tour and spot on! My in laws are from Zagreb and Veli Iz, Croatia so we’ve been fortunate to visit there many times. Ahhh, the food, coffee, and my favorite; Burek, which is cheese or meat pastry. I agree, capturing Zadar’s open market and their fish market (which sadly doesn’t have size limits) would have been nice to see. Also, Zagreb is amazing!
    I just posted photos of Veli Iz, Croatia yesterday (Kathysews) on Instagram. I’m private but I think you follow me. Love your adventures. Safe travels!

    • Thanks Kathy! You are right about the burek – it’s one of our all-time favorites around the world. We very much enjoyed Zadar and hope to go back someday – hopefully when the market is active! We have also spent time in Zagreb and fell in love with it, too! We have not been to Veli Iz – only sailed past it, but it looks lovely. So much to love about Croatia 🙂

  7. cromercanary

    I know every town and city in Croatia has one, but you made no mention of the vibrant fruit / fish / cheese market positioned just inside the sea gate. Paški sir cheese, from nearby Pag island, is available in a bewildering array of styles, colours and ages!
    But a tremendous guide, well thought out, varied and really interesting. Makes me want to head back there! 🙂

  8. Very nice – we were in Zadar back in May and saw all the same sights over the course of 2 days. Pretty town and you captured it well with your photos.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  9. Anonymous

    What a wonderful tour! I sent it to my children who like to walk. They are certainly old enough and successful enough to get there! You should send it to the Croatian national tourist board.
    I read every post you send. And then knuckle down to RE. And the AZ Legislature. Not the same as Europe!!
    Sharon

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