Beautiful Zadar on the north Dalmatian coast is an absolute gem of a town, and very suitable for a two-day stay. The majority of the town’s main sites are in a very walkable area meaning it’s very easy to see quite a bit in just a short amount of time. Spend the first day exploring Zadar itself, and then the second day venturing a little further afield. We’ve also added in some all-important beach time for you too. Read on below for how to best spend two days in Zadar!
Two Days in Zadar Itinerary
Day 1 AM – Explore the Old Town
You can’t go wrong by exploring the bulk of the main sights of the Old Town on foot on your first morning here to really get a feel for Zadar.
Enter through the Land Gate (Korean Vrata) towards the south of the Old Town which will lead you directly to Five Wells Square (Try pet Bunara). From here, start heading north up Siroka ulica – also known as Kalelarga. You will soon pass St Simon’s Church on your right and the Rector’s Palace (Kneževa palača) on your left. Further still you will come to the People’s Square (Narodni trg), the main square in Zadar. In one corner here you will see the 16th-century City Loggia (Gradska Loža) as well as numerous cafes.
Continue further up Siroka ulica once more and you will come to two very famous Zadar landmarks – St Donatus Church and the bell tower of the Cathedral of Saint Anastasia. (With the actual Cathedral just behind.) For absolutely stunning views over the whole town and out to sea, we’d highly recommend climbing up the bell tower.
After this, we’d suggest continuing further up Siroka ulica to the very tip of the Old Town peninsula; on your right, you will pass the Church of Our Lady of Health and the Little Arsenal. Once you’ve hit the sea, circle back round on the left side to see two impressive modern sights in Zadar. In fact, see is the wrong word – at this time of day the Greeting to the Sun installation won’t look all that impressive, and the Sea Organ isn’t really a sight to see!
We’ll come back to those two interactive elements later. For now, continue in a southerly direction on this main seaside promenade, the Riva, taking in the beautiful view of the sea. About halfway down, head back into the heart of Zadar Old Town to take a look at the Forum, constructed between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD. Here you will see the ruins of a Roman portico, used as a gathering place (much like today!) but which also contained shops and galleries.
Day 1 Lunch
Step outside Zadar’s Old Town for lunch – it’s about a 15-minute walk to the excellent Gricko Grill which serves various grilled meat options at very reasonable prices.
Post lunch, make sure to treat yourself to an exquisite Croatian ice cream. You’ll notice plenty of ice cream shops on Siroka ulica with absolutely amazing displays of ice cream…and some rather unusual flavours too.
Day 1 PM Part 1 – Museum Time
Now you’ve seen a number of Zadar’s main sights in the morning, why not pick one – or several – of the town’s great museums for a quiet afternoon? Right by the Forum is the Archeological Museum which houses over one hundred thousand archaeological artefacts from millions of years ago through to the 11th century. Having been founded in 1832, this is also the second oldest museum in Croatia. This is a fascinating place in which to lose yourself for a few hours, examining the museum’s impressive collections.
The Rector’s Palace back on Siroka ulica stems from the 13th century. It has, however, undergone numerous works and renovations over the years – not least in the 21st century to fully repair and restore the building after it suffered heavy damage in the Homeland War. The Palace has for years been an important cultural space and is these days as well – it is worth visiting for its current exhibitions and to see the beautiful building too.
For a spot of interactive fun, head to the Museum of Illusions to engage in all sorts of tricks of the eye and optical stunts. (It’s definitely the kind of place to take lots of rather amusing photos!)
Alternative: If you’ve got kids in tow who might not like spending too long in museums (apart from the Museum of Illusions) take them instead to the Kids’ Escape Room!
Day 1 PM Part 2 – A spot of shopping
This afternoon would also be a perfect time to pick up souvenirs when walking around the town. In particular, we would recommend picking up some wines, spirits and cheese!
Maraska is a Zadar brand that makes the famous maraschino cherry liqueur, made from marasca cherries that grow in Dalmatia. You’ll surely see maraschino on offer in many shops on your walks through Zadar; The same brand also make sorts of other Croatian brandies and liqueurs; šljivovica (plum brandy), Pelinkovac (herbal liqueur), kruškovac (pear liqueur) amongst others. They’re all quite strong, however!
Head to Mooshine Liquor Store for more options for spirits, but also for excellent Croatian wine.
The famed Gligora Dairy has a shop right here and we’d highly recommend purchasing a block of its famous Paški sir (Pag cheese) made from sheep’s milk; other recommendations include Kolan and Žigljen cheeses. Or sample some of their cheeses here before making your own decision as to what to buy.
Day 1 Evening – Sunset and Dinner
Just before sunset, head back to the Sea Organ and sit yourself down to watch Zadar’s truly epic sunset – one of the best in the world! Even better, the gentle sounds of the Sea Organ are the perfect accompaniment to the gorgeous scene before you. Once the sun has gone down, make your way back to the Greeting to the Sun to see it in full force at nighttime.
Head back to Siroka ulica to Restaurant Groppo for a lovely dinner with an excellent ambience in the Old Town. Enjoy pasta, fish or seafood or meat dishes.
Day 2 – Breakfast
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel or place of accommodation, or grab a tasty pastry from a local bakery for your morning meal on the go.
Day 2 AM – Hit the beach!
After your busy day hitting Zadar’s streets yesterday, why not take it easy in the morning and relax on one of Zadar’s beaches?
If you don’t want to head too far out of your way, you could in fact set up right on the main promenade for a bit of sunbathing, hauling yourself into the Adriatic every so often for a refreshing dip right from there. (Plenty of locals do!) But assuming you (rightly) want a proper beach, the best options closest to town are Kolovare Beach to the south or Borik Beach to the north.
Kolovare Beach is a pleasant 20-minute walk from the main part of Zadar. This pebbly beach has excellent facilities – beach furniture for rent, changing rooms, toilets – and there are also a number of cafes here too for refreshments. You can find a spot amongst the trees for a spot of shade if the sun gets a little too hot. There’s also a large inflatable fun park out on the sea for old kids to enjoy.
For Borik Beach, you’ll need to get a bus from just outside the Old Town – buses 5 or 8 go direct to Borik Beach. (It’s easiest to simply buy a ticket from the driver – you’ll need cash, however.) Again, this pebbly beach – with some sandy areas too – has plenty of great facilities and watersports offering. There is an entry charge to access the beach.
Day 2 – Lunch
Seeing as you’ve spent the morning on a beach, you may well want to grab a quick snack by the sea. Alternatively, head back into town for a simple lunch – Pizzeria Tri Bunara is a top pizza pick.
Day 2 – PM
Now that you’ve explored much of what Zadar has to offer, why not take a little excursion or a ferry to a nearby island? (There are a number right on your “doorstep”, it would be a shame not to!)
If you’re wanting to take public transport, Jadrolinija offers regular ferries to Preko on the island of Ugljan throughout the day, and sailing time is only 25 minutes. The latest return ferry is at 11pm peak-summer (or at 10.30pm at other times of year), although of course there are earlier return ferries too. Spend a leisurely afternoon exploring as much as you can of the island by foot or by (rental) bike, stopping off for a cooling dip in the sea or for a refreshing afternoon drink.
Alternatively, enquire at a local agency to see what local island tours they offer for an afternoon. As an example, Viator offer a 4-hour Half day Sailing Tour in the Zadar Archipelago or the Half day traditional wooden boat tour to the nearby islands of Zadar.
Alternative: Head out to the small town of Nin which has a huge expanse of – that wonder of wonders for Croatia – sandy beaches. Suburban bus 101 travels to Nin roughly every hour from Zadar, with the last return bus at 8.45pm.
Alternative 2: Lake Vrana Nature Park – the largest natural lake in Croatia – would be a very rewarding place to spend an afternoon. It’s a little tricky to get there by public transport – ideally, this is best done if you have your own car.
Day 2 – Dinner
A very fine choice for your final night in Zadar would be Fosa by the port of the same name right by the Land Gate. (Where you started your two days in Zadar, in fact!) In this beautiful setting enjoy fresh, beautifully presented seafood; 5-course and 8-course tasting menus – with a wine pairing – are also available.
Round off the evening with cocktails at the excellent The Garden Lounge, set right on the Old Town walls. From the same team as the epic festival site The Garden in Tisno, this laid-back lounge bar (and you really will do some stylish lounging!) is a great place to while away the evening until the early hours with some great company.
Two Days in Zadar – Where to Stay
Zadar has a very wide range of accommodation with something for all budgets and tastes.
If you’re trying to make the most of your two days in Zadar, we’d suggest staying as centrally as possible, likely somewhere right in the Old Town. For a bit of luxury, take a look at the Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel and Dependance, the Art Hotel Kalelarga or the Teatro Verdi Boutique Hotel which all have excellent locations. On the other end of the scale, we would highly recommend the very comfortable Boutique Hostel Forum, which has beds in small 4-person dorm rooms, or private twin or double rooms.
There are of course also plenty of private apartments and rooms in Zadar’s Old Town too. Alternatively, there is also plenty of choice in the wider Zadar area.
Take a look at our Accommodation in Zadar page for ideas on more places to stay in the town.
Two Days in Zadar – Getting Around
For the most part, Zadar is a very walkable place and you’ll mostly be using your feet to get around.
However, the town does have a good bus network if you wish to travel a little further afield. Take a look at the Zadar Bus Station website for details.
If you’re flying into Zadar Airport, there is a regular shuttle bus that will take you direct to Zadar’s Old Town. (It also stops at the main bus station). Take a look at our Zadar Airport page for details of this bus.
Two Days in Zadar – More Things to See
There’s a complete guide to all the wonderful places to see and experience in the town on our Sightseeing in Zadar page.
Do also take a look at the Zadar Tourist Board website for lots of helpful information.