There are plenty of other places to visit, but these are a great start!
#5 Climb the bell tower
Want to get a view of those iconic Croatian red roofs?
The bell tower in Zadar is the perfect way to do this. After ascending a number of steps and passing the huge bells on the way, you’ll see a spectacular view.
Three sides of the bell tower showcase the stunning city of Zadar. The final side looks out to nothing but the turquoise sea and islands in the distance.
The whole experience won’t take longer than 30 minutes, but it’s something that you shouldn’t leave Zadar without doing.
Entrance to the bell tower costs only €2.
#6 Enjoy a boat trip to the Kornati islands
Situated just off the coast of Zadar are the 140 islands and islets that make up the Kornati islands. Of these islands, 89 are protected as part of the Kornati National Park that was established in 1980.
Once you visit these islands, you can see why they want to protect them. Their rugged landscape, rolling hills and crystal-clear waters are idyllic and picturesque.
How can you visit these incredible islands?
Zadar is one of the best places to visit the Kornati islands. Its close proximity makes it the perfect place to join a boat trip from.
You’ll spend the day gliding across the waves, visiting a number of the islands, getting to swim in the serene waters and simply soaking up the sun.
If you don’t fancy staying in Plitvice, Zadar is one of the best cities to do a day trip to Plitvice National Park from.
Zadar to Plitvice is an hour shorter than from Split, another popular place to visit from.
You can’t help but exclaim ‘wow’ when you get your first good view of Plitvice Lakes. The colour of the water almost looks fake, it’s so vibrant and turquoise!
Plitvice is made up of a chain of 16 terraced lakes that are all interconnected by magnificent waterfalls. You can’t help but be impressed by their immense power.
There are a number of walkways around Plitvice National Park, ranging from short to long. We’d recommend taking the longest route as the park is simply too beautiful to miss any part of it.
How to visit Plitvice National Park?
For those that have a car, the drive takes around 1.5 hours.
There are five daily bus departures costing €7-13 each way. The bus journey takes slightly longer than by car, about 2 hours.
However, we recommend booking a transfer instead. For only €10, you will be picked up and dropped off at your accommodation. It actually works out cheaper than the bus, and is considerably more convenient! Why wouldn’t you?
Once you arrive, entrance to Plitvice National Park costs €40 during peak season (June-September).
Join a guided tour with a boat ride
Sometimes you appreciate a place more after hearing about its history and story. If that’s something that you find to be true, then we’d recommend joining a guided tour of Plitvice.
Over 4 hours, your guide will show you the best spots in the park and take you on a boat ride across the lakes. You can’t swim in Plitvice, so the boat tour is a good substitute.
Krka National Park is one of Croatia’s biggest selling points. You can’t really visit Croatia without going to Krka National Park. It’s incredible!
Both Zadar and Split are great places to visit the park from. From Split, it’s a 1.5-hour drive and from Zadar only 1 hour. Either city is a good place to visit the park from.
Krka National Park has 16 plunging waterfalls, lush hiking trails and a monastery sitting on an island in the middle of the lake.
Krka also has a slight edge over Plitvice Lakes National Park – the second most popular waterfall in Croatia. In contrast to Plitvice, Krka offers the opportunity to swim in certain areas of Krka.
How to visit Krka National Park?
If you have a car, then the drive from Zadar to Krka National Park will take you around an hour.
For those without their own form of transport, you can also get a bus. The bus takes a similar amount of time as a car and costs between €7-10 each way.
Looking for a completely stress-free day? You can book a transfer that includes pick up and drop off from your hotel in Zadar. They also pre-book your tickets beforehand so there’s no waiting around! Great for the busy peak season. This service costs €40 per person.
Tickets to Krka National Park cost €13.30 per adult and the national park is open from 08:00 to 20:00 every day during the high season.
Everybody has heard of Plitvice and Krka National Parks, but Paklenica National Park has managed to slip under the radar.
Situated an hour outside of Zadar, Paklenica National Park is the ideal day trip.
What is there to do in Paklenica National Park?
If you’re a fan of hiking, climbing or just admiring dynamic and impressive landscapes, you’ll love it.
The national park can be found to the south of the largest mountain range in Croatia, Velebit. As a result, the 100 square km park is full of stunning views and deep gorges covered in a blanket of beech and pine trees.
Want to take on a challenge? Paklenica’s highest peak stands at an impressive 1,757 metres high. Don’t worry, if you want to stick to flat ground then you can enjoy one of the parks’ two canyons.
As you explore, keep your eye out for hidden caves and wildlife such as birds, deer, bears, foxes and wild cats.
How to visit Paklenica National Park?
Getting to Paklenica National Park by car is your easiest option. The drive only takes around an hour.
If you don’t have a car, there’s a bus that goes directly from Zadar Bus Terminal to Paklenica. The bus takes a little over an hour and costs €5.
The price for entry to the park depends on which month you visit:
March, April, May, October: €5.30
#10 Kayaking adventure to Dugi Otok
Want to add a splash of adventure to your city break to Zadar?
With its white sand, sheer cliffs, secret bays and diverse wildlife, a kayaking trip to the island of Dugi Otok is an image of pure perfection.
This kayaking tour is the perfect combination of adventure, relaxation and fun! Alongside the kayaking, you’ll visit a shipwreck where you can go snorkelling. You spend time relaxing in a hidden cove and have a go at the local game of picigin.
A beach holiday shouldn’t be the focus of your trip to Zadar. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any that are worth visiting.
There are actually a number of beaches near Zadar that are ideal for a refreshing swim or an opportunity to read your book.
Borik Beach, Kolovare Beach and Puntamika are all great beaches. They are mainly pebble beaches, which are small stones softened by sand and water. Once you’re in that turquoise water, it doesn’t matter that it’s no sand.
If you’re simply looking to go for a swim, head to, the concrete pier along the promenade. It’s a popular spot for locals to go swimming.
Kate is a writer, (ex)Management Consultant and avid traveller. She recently returned from a 2-year career break exploring the world and decided corporate life wasn’t for her. She’ll soon be testing life as a digital nomad. She’s visited over 40 countries and fell in love with Latin America in particular. Her travelling has inspired a passion for yoga, salsa, hiking and Spanish.
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.