Much more than your typical Dalmatian town
Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich
June 21, 2022 – Is Zadar one of the most underrated cities and regions in Croatia? Like many other towns and villages along the Adriatic coast, you tend to think you’ve seen it all in two or three days. Think twice.
Facebook is a wonderful world where you can go from being a tourist to being a travel guide without any training. You go from asking for recommendations to becoming an authoritative voice in tourism. I wouldn’t mind if it was about people discovering the magic of an undiscovered and little explored place, bringing to light what a place has to offer that maybe others weren’t aware of. But I find it interesting that a user (who I will remain anonymous) declares in a Facebook group that Zadar is a destination not to stay more than 2 days.
I’ll pretend I haven’t read this, and instead try to answer this other user as concisely as possible:
Unfortunately, many Croatian towns are stereotypical and reduced to one or two points of interest. Dubrovnik is its walls and the filming location of Game of Thrones. Split is the palace of Diocletian. Pula is the Roman amphitheater. While none of this is bad, it’s true that for many people who stick to their travel itineraries, they can come in and say they’ve seen it all. I don’t mean to change your mindset, but word of mouth can be beneficial as well as dangerous if the first word of mouth is fake.
I can say that I was on both sides. Almost exactly two years ago, my parents visited me in Rijeka, where I had just finished my study semester. The plan was to drive me to our house in Split, and we rented a car in Rijeka. Although it is possible to travel to Split on the same day, we decided to sleep one night en route. We chose Zadar. The apartment we rented was right in the heart of the old town of Zadar and we were at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It was a very minimal trip, and we barely got to know some of the main points of interest around the old town: the Sea Organ, the Greeting to the Sun, the Roman Forum, the Church of St. Donat , and I think that was it.
I wish I could say that the pandemic was a legitimate justification for not exploring further (Novak Djoković’s infamous tennis tournament was taking place at that time), but I’m sure at some point before resuming the trip to Split tells us: ”We have seen it all”.
Fate brought me back to Zadar two years later, and how wrong I was. I did not see anything.
I have to mention that what you probably already know about Zadar is definitely worth finding out. Watching a sunset from the Sea Organ and Sun Salutations is by no means something to be underestimated. Likewise, the history that accompanies the old town through its churches, the Roman forum, the convents and the city gates deserves your full attention, since it is one of the most important cities of Croatia in terms of history.
If you’re not sure what else to see, it doesn’t hurt to go to a tourist office or ask a local for recommendations. It’s different when the person giving you recommendations on places to see or things to do was born there. It’s already personal. In most cases, they will want to leave a good impression of their hometown and will also recommend things one wouldn’t usually see. It should also be remembered that Croatia is not a country with isolated cities, but that it stands out a lot by all of its regions. Administratively speaking, yes, it is true that some cities are better positioned such as Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Sibenik, Split or Dubrovnik. But you’d be surprised if you knew how much you can find beyond the Roman ruins and beaches in these towns.
Zadar is its Sea Organ, Roman Forum, Sun Salutations, St. Donatus Church, Franciscan Monastery and Old Town.
But Zadar is also the historic town of Nin and its healing mud beaches. (Photo: Nin Tourist Office)
Zadar is the largest lake in Croatia, the Vrana and its surroundings. (Photo: Pakoštane Tourist Office)
Zadar is the royal city of Biograd na Moru. (Image: Biograd na Moru Tourist Board)
Zadar is the Ottoman residence of Maškovića Han. (Image: maskovicahan.hr)
Zadar is the breathtaking sight of Vidikovac Kamenjak. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)
Zadar sails through the archipelagos of Kornati and Telašćica. (Photo: Mario Romulic)
Zadar reconnects with the nature of Paklenica. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)
Zadar is hiking in the Northern Velebit National Park. (Image: Northern Velebit NP)
Zadar tastes internationally recognized wines like those of Fiolić Winery. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)
Zadar tries the famous Pag cheese. (Image: Pag Tourist Office)
Zadar is all of this and more. In the end, I think the lesson is to dare to look for something different from what you usually see in pamphlets, on TripAdvisor, or in the comments section of a Facebook group.
To find out more about traveling in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN page.