Zadar - Croatian Sea Organ

Zadar is a town with the most unique and most interesting features on the Croatian Coast! Known as a place with the most beautiful sunset in the world, it is also a home to the Sea Organ (the only one of its kind in the world!) and the Monument to the Sun – an amazing light-show experience. If these are not the reasons for you to visit Zadar, read the article below and think again!

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Get to know the city of Zadar

The City of Zadar is one of the largest Croatian cities on the Adriatic coast. This beautiful city has a rich history that goes back three thousand years. During that time, Zadar has been ruled by many different empires and nations. It was only after the Second World War that the city was finally annexed back to Croatia.

Because of this long and diverse history, the appearance Zadar has today is a result of various different influences. The historic center, situated on a peninsula, is full of cultural heritage and monuments dating to different periods in the past. Under the rule of the Republic of Venice, the city of Zadar was the largest city-fortress in the entire Republic. In 2017 the defensive system of Zadar, dating to that period, was inaugurated into the UNESCO World Heritage list!

Nowadays, Zadar is a modern city and a major tourist destination. People are coming from all over the world to see its main attractions – Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun, enjoy the beautiful architecture, relax on the lovely beaches, swim in the crystal-clear Adriatic sea, and admire the most beautiful sunset in the world!

years of history

m long Sea Organ

organ pipes

UNESCO’s World Heritage Site

Panoramic view of the city of Zadar

Where is Zadar?

Zadar is located on the Adriatic coast, in northern Dalmatia region. It is around 300km away from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, and about 150km from Split, the main coastal city.

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What to see in Zadar

Visiting Zadar is like visiting an old Roman colony, a walled Venetian fortress, and a modern piece of art. Zadar has it all!

Zadar Sea Organ

The Sea Organ is by far the most famous attraction in Zadar. And this is not surprising since it is the only one of this kind in the world! The Organ is situated on the Zadar’s Riva, next to the Greeting to the Sun. At first glance, it is just a set of white marble stairs which descend towards the sea. But, what is hiding beneath the stairs is that matters! There are 35 pipes with whistles built-in under the stairs. The air is pushed through the pipes by the sea, making an unusual sound that comes out through the apertures in the stairs. Since the Sea Organ is played by nature itself, each sound is different and unique. It may seem a little strange at first, but it is definitely interesting to hear the “sound of the sea”!

Zadar's boardwalk seen from the air

Greeting to the Sun

At the very end of the Zadar peninsula, right next to the Sea Organ, the unusual installation is embedded in stone. Known as the Greeting to the Sun, this circular piece of art gave Zadar its modern look. Both the Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun are work of the same man – architect Nikola Bašić. The Greeting is, in fact, a glass circle with built-in solar modules. The modules absorb the solar energy and transform it into electrical energy, that is then used for the lighting of the entire waterfront. After the sunset, visitors can enjoy a unique light-show experience. The entire installation is connected to the Sea Organ, which allows it to convert the sound of the Organ to different lighting effects!

The Greeting to the sun instalation by day
The Greeting to the Sun instalation by night

Roman Forum

The Zadar’s Forum was the largest Roman Forum on the eastern side of the Adriatic, which says a lot of the importance that Zadar had in the Roman Empire. There are several architectural remains in Zadar that testify to the time of the Roman rule. For example, the street layout in the old town center remained the same to this day. When building their cities, the Romans used the grid plan with a big square called Forum in the middle. Only stairs, pavements, and two monumental pillars have been preserved, but the ancient Forum has remained the main square in the city of Zadar. The park around Forum holds many remains dating to that period, that are exposed to the public in the form of an open-air museum.

St. Donatus Church

The most famous building in Zadar is the St. Donatus Church. This round pre-Romanesque church was constructed on the remains of the Roman Forum in the 9th century. Named after the bishop who had it built, it is the most recognizable symbol of Zadar. The sacred Mass is no longer served at this church, but St. Donatus still welcomes the residents of Zadar, as well as tourists who decide to visit it – the entrance to the church costs 20kn. Due to its cylindrical shape, and great acoustic characteristics, the church is a stage of Musical Evenings in St. Donatus, which are held during the summer.

The view of the square from the above
An old baroque church
Stone walls of the church

St. Anastasia´s Cathedral

Right behind the St. Donatus Church, you can visit the biggest cathedral in Dalmatia – St. Anastasia’s Cathedral. This magnificent Romanesque cathedral got its present appearance in the 12th century, but some parts of the church are even older, dating all the way back to the 5th century. Its recognizable characteristics include Romanesque-style rose window and Gothic-style oculus, three portals with statues and a hexagonal baptistery. Near to the cathedral, there is a bell tower, built in two stages – the lower floors date to the 15th century, while the upper floors were built in the 19th.

Kalelarga

The main street in Zadar is popularly called Kalelarga. The name comes from the Italian Calle Larga, meaning the Wide Street (Široka ulica). As its name says, Kalelarga is the widest street in the old town of Zadar, as well as the longest. It is a place with a lot of cafés and a lot of movement. The street leads from St. Donatus Church to St. Anastasia’s Cathedral, and it also connects the Roman Forum with People’s Square.

The aerial view of the Kalelarga street
Beautiful white cathedral with Romanesque-style rose window

People’s Square

The People’s Square is the center of public life in Zadar. On this square, you will find some of the most beautiful buildings in the city, such as the City Guard, built in the late Renaissance style, or the City Loggia, which today serves as an exhibition space. There is also a small pre-Romanesque church of St. Lawrence on the square, as well as the City Hall and Ghirardini Palace.

Five Wells Square

The Five Wells Square is located right outside the city walls, next to the Captain´s Tower. The square was built by the Venetians as a large water cistern with five ornamental wellheads. Today, the wells are no longer in use, but they remained on their spot, giving the square its name. Close to the square, there is a park named after Queen Jelena Madije, which was the first public park in Croatia!

A stone-built tower
Stone walls

City Walls

Being the largest city-fortress in the Republic of Venice, Zadar still houses city walls around the historic center. The walls are now turned into parks and promenades, but they remain as a reminder of the city’s glory. Today, only a few city gates are left in the town. The most famous one, as well as the most beautiful, is the Land Gate. This Renaissance gate was once the main entrance to the city. The gate has three arches, which are decorated with different statues and motifs. The other gates are Bridge Gate, Sea Gate, St. Rocco Gate, and Chain Gate.

Other attractions

There are many other historical monuments, attractions, and museums that you can visit in Zadar. For example, there is Mary’s Church and Convent, which houses a permanent exhibition of religious art. The church is located near the Forum, right next to the Archeological museum. Further on, you can take a walk on the Zadar’s Riva from the Greeting to the Sun installation to the University of Zadar, the most beautiful university edifice in Croatia. And, just outside the city walls, close to the Land Gate, there is a big park situated inside the old fort, where you can enjoy your free time in the shadow.

A beautiful sunset on the sea

Zadar’s sunset

A lot has been told about the beauty of the sunset in Zadar. But the most famous observation is, probably, the one by Alfred Hitchcock, who said: “Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West, in Florida, applauded at every evening“!

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What to do in Zadar

Apart from sightseeing, Zadar has much more to offer to its visitors. This lovely town is, without any doubt, full of history and charm. But it is also full of life, especially during the summer!

Beaches in Zadar

Since the Adriatic sea is one of the cleanest and one of the most beautiful seas in the world, you should definitely consider visiting one of the nearby beaches. Despite being a moderately large city, Zadar has some nice beaches close to the city center. One of the best is Borik, a hotel beach opened for public, which even has an aquapark. There is also Puntamika, a sandy beach near the lighthouse, and rocky beach Punta Bajlo.

Zadar islands

The Archipelago of Zadar counts several bigger islands and many more smaller uninhabited islands. This means that there are many bays and coves that hide some lovely beaches. All these islands are accessible by boat from the Zadar peninsula. There are various agencies that offer one-day excursions of all kinds, as well as a simple panoramic boat ride if you are short with time.

Nightlife in Zadar

All those who are interested in Zadar’s nightlife offer will be happy to know that most of it is located in the historic center. There is a lot of pubs and bars that are open till late hours, but for the real nightlife experience, you will probably want to visit one of the nightclubs. The one that stands out is The Garden, a club situated on the city walls! There’s also Arsenal, an event venue, that houses a lot of concerts during the summer.

A sunset seen from the shore
Club full of people dancing

Weather in Zadar

Zadar is a coastal city, which means it has a mild and generally warm climate. With the average temperature of 25°C, July and August are the warmest months. But don’t be mistaken, the summer temperature can go as high as 35°C! The average winter temperature is around 7°C.

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How to get to Zadar

Zadar is accessible by car, bus, train or plane. If you choose to come by public transportation, you should definitely book in advance, especially in the high season. On the following links, you can find detailed bus and train timetables for Zadar main bus station and Croatian railways

How to get to Zadar from Zagreb

If you decide to drive from Zagreb to Zadar, you will need approximately 3 hours to get there. Get on the motorway A1/E71. Continue on E71 and take Exit 17, following the sign for Zadar. Next, continue on Jadranska Magistrala and you will soon reach the city of Zadar.

How to get to Zadar from Split

When heading to Zadar from Split, you will need less than 2 hours by car. First, follow the signs for Zagreb/Rijeka/Sinj to get to the road D8. On a roundabout, take the second exit to get to D1. Continue on D1 and get on the motorway A1 at Dugopolje, direction Zagreb/Šibenik. Continue on A1/E71 all the way to Zadar. Take the Exit 18-Zadar II and follow the sign Zadar Centar until you reach the town.

How to get to Zadar from Dubrovnik

Zadar is located about 4 hours from Dubrovnik. When leaving Dubrovnik, get on the road D8 and follow it until you reach the road D425. Continue on D425 and get to the motorway A1/E71 direction Zagreb/Šibenik. Follow A1 and take the Exit 18-Zadar II. Next, follow the sign for Zadar Centar until you reach the town. On this route you will be passing the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, so don’t forget to take your passport!

Zadar airport

The Zadar airport is located just outside the town, approximately 15 minutes by car from the city center. All the information about the available flights, as well as prices, is available on the link. The other available airports are those in Zagreb, Split, and Dubrovnik.

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Where to stay in Zadar

The city of Zadar offers all kind of accommodation, both in the historic center and in other parts of the town. Below, you can find the best hotels that are centrally located, which comes in handy when exploring the city.

The exterior of the hotel

Hotel Bastion ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Built on the remains of the medieval fortress, this lovely boutique hotel is just what you need if you are looking for a luxurious stay in Zadar. Bastion is a heritage hotel, located only a few steps away from Zadar Riva and the most famous attractions – Greeting to the Sun and Sea Organ. The hotel offers 28 luxury equipped rooms, as well as a restaurant, summer terrace, and a wellness center. Find more information here.

The interior of the summer garden

Hotel Almayer ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Art & Heritage Hotel Almayer is an eclectic boutique hotel located in the very center of the Zadar old town, close to all the main attractions. It is a small hotel with only nine accommodation units, but it offers full and exclusive service. The hotel also has an amazing “secret garden” and a bistro, and everything is housed in a reconstructed 19th-century building. Book your accommodation here!

A modern hotel sign on the wall

Hotel Kalelarga ⭐⭐⭐⭐

As its name says, Art Hotel Kalelarga is located on Zadar’s main street – the famous Kalelarga. The hotel offers accommodation in 10 modern rooms, all of which are thematically designed and inspired by the town’s history. There is also the bistro Gourmet, which serves coffee, breakfast, seasonal dishes, and the best regional vines! Check the link for more detail.

Hotel building seen from the above, with a beach located next to it

Hotel Kolovare ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Located just outside the historic center, Hotel Kolovare is the one closest to the sea. The Kolovare beach is right in front of the hotel, so guests can enjoy their view or even their morning coffee from the beach. The hotel offers accommodation in more than 200 rooms and suites. It also has a restaurant, wine boutique, a bar, hair salon, massage parlor, and an outdoor swimming pool! Book your room on the link.

Marzito Tip

Always book your accommodation in advance. Due to its popularity, Zadar is all booked out during the high season!

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Where to eat in Zadar

As every other coastal town in Croatia, Zadar is a place with a great restaurant offer and the best food. Mediterranean cuisine, fresh fish, meat dishes, traditional cakes – they are all here for you!

Restaurant Kornat

Restaurant Kornat is located at the very end of the Zadar peninsula, on the entrance to the port. Along with the view of the boats coming in and out of the port, the restaurant serves the best Dalmatian dishes, which include a lot of fish and seafood. Nevertheless, it also offers meat dishes, such as veal or beef. The restaurant, decorated in the Art Deco style, has both indoor and outdoor seating. Check out the link.

The interior of the restaurant

Restaurant Foša

Located in a small port called Foša, near the city walls and the Land Gate, Foša is a restaurant specialized in seafood dishes. The restaurant combines traditional recipes with modern ones and offers an unforgettable gourmet experience. It also has an extensive wine list, with more than 120 wine brands from all over the country. Get more info on the link.

The entrance to the restaurant

Restaurant Pet Bunara

The Pet bunara dine&wine is a restaurant located right next to the square that shares its name. The restaurant offer is based on seasonal food and locally-grown ingredients, which include fresh and organic meat, fish, and vegetables. The food is accompanied by the best local wines and a great atmosphere. More information is available here!

Restaurant's door with a tree next to it

Restaurant 2 Ribara

Located in the very center of the Zadar peninsula, 2 Ribara is a modern restaurant with a long tradition. The restaurant offers a variety of fish and meat dishes, as well as pasta and different types of pizza, baked in the traditional bread oven. With tasty food and great atmosphere, this restaurant is an ideal place for you to take a break from sightseeing! Follow the link for more.

Restaurant's terrace with many chairs
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What to visit near Zadar

Due to its position in the heart of the Croatian coast, Zadar is a great starting point for various day-trips. From Zadar, you can easily visit Split, Dubrovnik, or one of the nearby islands. Or, if you are a nature lover, you can pay a visit to one of the Croatian national parks!

Nin

Only 15km from Zadar there is a picturesque little town called Nin. The town of Nin is located on a small island, connected to the coast by two stone bridges. Nin is a place of great beauty and rich history, which makes it a perfect choice for your one-day trip. It is the oldest Croatian royal town, where you can also visit the smallest cathedral in the world! Its history, culture, and natural beauty have made Nin the European Destination of Excellence.

A small cathedral in the field
An island seen from the shore

Pag

The island of Pag is one of the largest Croatian islands and the most indented island in the Adriatic sea. The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge, which you can reach from Zadar in 30 minutes. The island is famous for its lacework and its cheese, which is said to be the best in Croatia! The town of Pag is located in the heart of the island, and it is a lovely old town with many historical monuments. Pag is also an island with the most famous party beach in Croatia – Zrće beach, located in Novalja.

National Parks

Zadar region is the one with the most national parks in Croatia. Five national parks are located near the city of Zadar, with the Paklenica National Park and the Kornati National Park being the closest to it. Paklenica is situated on the slopes of Velebit mountain, while the Kornati is a group of nearly 90 islands, all of different shapes and sizes, which you can easily reach by boat. The other parks are Krka, Northern Velebit, and Plitvice Lakes, all less than 2 hours away from Zadar.

Rocky beach on the island
People taking a ride in the amusment park

Fun Park Biograd

Fun Park Biograd is located just outside the town of Biograd na Moru, about 40 minutes from Zadar. This park is a perfect place for families with children, but also for those who enjoy the adrenaline rush! The park has a great infrastructure, with many attractions for both children and adults. These include Tornado, Pirate adventure, Zero Gravity Zone, Atlantis, and many more. Fun Park Biograd also has several restaurants and cafés. Check out the link for more!

Šibenik

Another beautiful Dalmatian city is the city of Šibenik. Rich in history and full of historical monuments and beautiful architecture, Šibenik is the city with the highest number of stairs in the historic center. The most famous monument in Šibenik is the Cathedral of St. James. The cathedral’s beauty and architectural value were recognized and it was put on the list of UNESCO‘s World Cultural Heritage. Another attraction is the fortress of St. Michael, situated on the hill above the historic center, which now serves as a concert venue, but is also opened for visitors.

Beautiful cathedral situated on the top of the stairs
Split boardwalk covered in marble stones, with two palm trees and a church

Split

The city of Split is the second-largest city of Croatia and the largest Dalmatian city. The historic center of Split, along with the Diocletian’s Palace, was included into the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. It is also one of the places where The Game of Thrones was filmed! The City of Split has the most famous boardwalk on the Croatian coast – the so-called Riva, which is full of restaurants and cafés. Full of archaeological monuments, old stone houses, and narrow streets, this old town is a real work of art and a must-see for all those who are visiting the region of Dalmatia.

Marzito day-trips

Marzito organizes day-trips or transfers to Zadar from Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, or any other town. Explore our offers here.

For more information and offers, feel free to contact us!

Zadar – Croatia sea organ was last modified: May 10th, 2019 by imirkovic

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