Far from being overrun or overpopulated with tourists, the walled port of Zadar is a great destination to escape the summer crowds and enjoy the true Croatian coastal life. This entire stretch of coast is a region rich in history and natural beauty, with beaches that are still relatively undiscovered.
In recent years, Zadar has experienced a bit of a metropolitan revival. Local restaurants and bars are filling up, museums and churches are being restored and visitors are flocking in to take advantage of the quiet beaches, entertaining bars, restaurants and cultural offerings. Zadar has good quality seafood restaurants, student-filled cafes and increasing cultural events, such as art installations and summer festivals, which are attracting a younger crowd.
At the beginning of August each year, the Zadar Dreams festival brings contemporary theatre to the Old Town churches and squares, and at the end of August the entire city is transformed into a giant open-air cinema for the Zadar Forum Film Festival.
The two most interesting cultural sights are the Sea Organ, an art installation that transforms waves into the sound of glorious melodies, and the Sun Salutation, a circle of glass that captures the daylight and emits it at night.
Beyond the medieval centre of Zadar lies the economic heart of the city, and sitting about 6km to the north are the wooded beach suburbs of Diklo and Borik, which have developed into popular visiting areas, complete with hotels and resorts.
Zadar also lies within distance of four magnificent national parks: Plitvice Lakes, Krka Waterfalls, Paklenica and Northern Velebit. And just off the coast, you can easily sail to the large islands of Pag, Dugi Otok and the incredible culmination of beautiful islands, high cliffs and salt-water lakes of Kornati National Park. Our best pick for a spectacular nearby beach is one of Croatia’s most photographed beaches, Sakarun, with its crystal clear waters and secluded pine tree coverage. It’s perfect for a day trip and only a short sail away, on the Dugi Otok island.
Stroll along the paved seafront and lively streets of Old Town, where plenty of restaurants and small bars lie. There are 34 Zadar churches situated on this peninsula, and all of them have a rich history. The well-preserved remains of the Roman Forum are a popular sight and the Church of St. Donatus – one of the best-preserved pre-Romanesque buildings in the world – has become the most recognizable symbol of Zadar.
Zadar has it’s own airport, which is easily accessed from Zagreb and most cities within Europe. Airport buses run from the main Zadar terminal to the central station and the Old Town of Zadar, or alternatively, its only a short taxi ride. Zadar is also well connected by bus to Rijeka, Pula, Sibenik, Split and Dubrovnik.
Zadar’s marina, its nightlife, its pine scented beaches and hidden offshore islands make it both a great departure point to set sail from and a wonderful place to stop in during your sailing holiday in Croatia. With hundreds of secluded islands perched just off its coast, Zadar is an ideal place to sail through in your own private boat. You’ll have the flexibility to cruise these stunning island all day, sailing from beach to beach, soaking up the sun and experiencing some of Croatia’s top destinations.