photo of the rooftops and a large river flowing through a city

How to Spend Two Days in Zadar

Zadar is one of the most underrated cities in Croatia. Easily accessible and offering a huge range of activities, it more than rivals the more popular coastal destinations of Split and Dubrovnik. Even if you don’t have much time, this northern Croatian city is a great option for a short break. Keep reading to find out the best way to spend two days in Zadar, making the most of the city and its surroundings.

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Day One

Morning

You should spend the morning of your first day exploring the heart of the city, the Zadar Old Town. It’s easily walkable, although the pavement can be uneven, so sensible shoes are a must. Here are some of the main attractions:

  • The Sea Organ: An architectural sound art object and experimental musical instrument, the Sea Organ plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps. It was designed by Croatian architect Nikola Bašić.
  • The Greeting to the Sun: Also designed by Nikola Bašić, this installation located a few steps from the Sea Organ consists of 300 multi-layered glass plates placed in a 22-metre diameter circle, with photovoltaic solar modules underneath. At night, it produces a fantastic light show.
  • The Land Gate: Built in 1543, the Land Gate used to be the main entrance to the Old Town. It features a central passage for wheeled traffic and two smaller arches for pedestrians, adorned with various decorations.
  • Zadar Cathedral: The Cathedral of St. Anastasia is the Roman Catholic cathedral of Zadar and the largest church in Dalmatia. Its origins date back to a Christian basilica built in the 4th and 5th centuries, with the current Romanesque building constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries.
  • The Roman Forum: Commissioned by the first Roman Emperor Augustus, the Roman Forum in Zadar was the centre of public life, dating back to the 1st century BC. It’s located right in front of the Church of St. Donatus.

Walking tours in Zadar

Most, if not all of the attractions above are included on walking tours. Walking tours are a great way to see a new city, especially if you don’t have much time and want to focus on seeing the most popular landmarks.

You can see what options are available on sites like Viator and Get Your Guide, including history and food tours. You can also use these sites to book other activities in Zadar, like boat excursions and day trips.

Afternoon

How you spend the afternoon largely depends on what time of year you visit Zadar. If visiting during colder months, obviously outdoor activities won’t be as fun. Therefore, you should check out some of Zadar’s museums. The Archaeological Museum and the Ancient Glass Museum are both popular, as is the Zadar National Museum.

If the weather is pleasant, spend some time on the beach. Kolovare is the most popular, and has pretty good facilities. You could also spend the afternoon on a kayaking or snorkelling excursion, as there are plenty of tour operators and places to rent equipment in the area.

Dining options

For lunch, there are two options, and they largely depend on your budget and the time of year. If you’re on a tight budget, a great way to save money is to buy ingredients for your own picnic. This option is best during warmer weather, when you can enjoy it on the beach. Generally, from May to September is best for a picnic.

You can get ingredients from a number of places. There are plenty of shops and bakeries in the Old Town, where you can buy fresh bread, cakes, and sweet and savoury pastries. However, you should check out the Zadar market. Here you can buy locally produced ingredients such as cheese, olives and fresh fruit like cherries and plums. You should also look for a bottle of maraschino cherry liqueur, a local specialty.

If your budget allows, eating in a cafe or restaurant is a great way to try local food and traditional Croatian cuisine (for both lunch and dinner). There are plenty of establishments in Zadar where you can get fresh seafood and Mediterranean inspired dishes, although be warned- the closer you are to the waterfront, the more you’ll gave to pay. You can also join a food tour, which is a great option for gastronomy lovers.

Check out How to Spend One Day in Zadar, Croatia for more information on how to spend your first day in Zadar. Top Things To Do in Zadar, Croatia is also full of ideas.

Day Two

Given that Zadar’s main attractions can easily be seen in one day, you should spend your second day exploring the surroundings. Zadar is arguably the best city in Croatia to base yourself if you want to see everything the country has to offer- the Adriatic, mountains and incredible national parks.

Other coastal cities like Split and Dubrovnik also offer islands and boat trips, so you should focus on dry land. One of the best things about Zadar is that you can easily access four of Croatia’s eight national parks within a few hours. These include the two most popular, Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Parks.

Known for their cascading waterfalls and stunning lakes, Plitvice and Krka are both reachable within ninety minutes. There’s a huge range of day trips available, including transport, park admission and guided tours within the parks. Compare prices and tour operators on the previously mentioned Viator and Get Your Guide to find the best option.

Remember that peak tourist season in Croatia is from June to August. If this is when you’re visiting, expect crowds at Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Parks. For a more peaceful experience, head to the Velebit mountain range, home to both Paklenica and Northern Velebit National Parks. Both parks offer great hiking trails with incredible views of the Adriatic. Paklenica, the closer of the two parks to Zadar, is also a favourite amongst rock climbers.

For more information about the best way to spend your second day in Zadar, check out the following articles:

Conclusion

Spending two days in Zadar is a great idea, either as a short break or as part of a longer trip to Croatia. While there are definitely more popular Croatian cities, Zadar is small enough that you can fit all the major attractions into one day, and then spend the second day exploring the surroundings. The huge range of excursions and day trips from Zadar are what makes the city one of the best in the whole region, and two days is perfect to get a taste of what makes it so special.

CTA: Head to Booking and Kiwi to compare flight deals to Zadar so you can book your next trip!

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