When I told people that I would be visiting Croatia, I heard stuff like - "Where's that?" I had to actually open a map and point it out for them and tell them about former Yugoslavia. The rest of people who did know where Croatia was, exclaimed "Don't go to Zadar, its boring". Apparently, they've been to the other popular beachy parts of Croatia like Split, Dubrovnik, etc.
If you know me, you know very well that I wont listen to anyone. I'll research about a place and even if I like one thing it it, WE ARE GOING! So yes, we were going to Croatia & Zadar would be a part of it! This city was the start of our great Croatian adventure.
Getting to the city from Zadar airport:
Here's how the entire trip started - we landed in Zagreb, then took a domestic flight from Zagreb to Zadar. Our international flight was from Abu Dhabi to Zagreb via Belgrade, so you can imagine that amount of travel in those 24 hours. Once we reached Zadar, we took the airport bus to reach the city. Its probably the cheapest way (25 Kuna) to get to the city & takes almost the same time as a taxi. Our accommodation was located within old town & the bus stopped just 5 minutes away from Old Town.
Where we stayed
We stayed at Apartments Blue Ivy - a 1BR apartment owned by a lovely lady. It was clean and tastefully designed. The only problem was the walk upto the apartment. There were no elevators, so poor Mr. D had the painstaking task of carrying 2 suitcases up & down. I wouldn't recommend it for older people or people with health issues. Otherwise, it was perfect and right in the centre of Old Town. Our host was very helpful too in guiding us through the popluar attractions in Zadar.
What to see ...
The good thing about Zadar is that, all the attractions are within walking distance to each other. Remember me telling you at the start of this post, that it just takes one thing to catch my attention before visiting a place? Well, in Zadar it was the Sea Organ.
Sea Organ - The Sea Organ in Zadar operates like a normal organ, and is one of the most spectacular thing I've seen in my life. There are stairs with holes in them, and when the waves crash through them, they make sweet music. Its unlike anything I've ever seen.
Sun Salutation - Right next to the Sea Organ is this huge circle with lights on the ground. My suggestion is to come here just before sunset. The sunset in Zadar in considered to be one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. What basically happens here is the lights on the ground harness the sun's rays & put up a show at night. Its an amazing sight.
Church of St Donatus & Zadar Cathedral - We saw a 15th century church called the Church of St. Donatus from the outside, as they had an exhibition going on, however, we visited the bell tower of St Anastasia Church (Zadar Cathedral) which was next to it. The stairs are very narrow and not the most comfortable, but you'll be rewarded with a wonderful view of the city. (P.S. Its a good idea to cover up a bit before entering a cathedral as you may not be allowed in)
The Forum - The area next to the cathedral has some Roman ruins and offers great photo opportunities. There are some souvenir shops around there too.
Zadar City Gate - Its a nice walk along the harbour, and at the end of it you'll find a Roman style wall with various designs. This serves as a reminder of the country's history.
We barely spent 24 hours in Zadar and still felt like we covered a lot. Just walking around Zadar old town was quite an experience. You'll find gelato, pizza shops and cafes at every nook & corner. Zadar also serves as a base for many day trips eg. Plitvice National Park, Krka National Park, Pag, etc. The main bus station is barely a 10 minute ride away from Zadar Old Town & the bus network is excellent! For those of you visiting Croatia, make sure to spend atleast one day here. You wont regret it.
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