An ancient-walled city with a cool urban feel, Zadar has all you could want from a city break, and then some. A winning mix of outdoor art installations, Roman ruins and a bustling café culture makes this one of the Adriatic’s greatest treasures. Not to mention its fabled, dramatic sunsets, which film director Alfred Hitchcock once described as the most beautiful in the world. Although Zadar city breaks offer swimming, seafood and sunbathing aplenty, this isn’t your typical Croatian seaside town.
Bombed during World War II, modern-day Zadar is a compelling mishmash of architectural styles and influences. Italianate piazzas and crumbling medieval churches rub up against contemporary buildings and imaginative art installations. Nearby, there are vast expanses of rugged scenery to explore and quaint fishing villages, as well as fine-dining restaurants, meaning everyone – from couples to families – is kept happy. City breaks to Zadar wouldn’t be complete without a day trip to the Krka National Park – a verdant wilderness home to cascading waterfalls. Another must-visit is the surreal Kornati archipelago – a scattering of more than 140 uninhabited islands, many of which are dry and barren, which sit in bright blue translucent waters. The contrast is astonishing. For natural beauty and cultural cool by the Adriatic, Zadar delivers in spades.
The Sea Organ
A sound art installation on Zadar’s seafront, the Sea Organ creates a series of beautiful, melancholic sounds thanks to underground pipes that ‘play’ music powered by the sea waves.
Zadar’s sunsets are extraordinary. Walk to the main harbour at sundown to watch the sky swirl with shades of neon pink, vivid orange and deep purple.
Zadar’s central marina bobs with fishing boats, meaning caught-that-day fish and tasty seafood is always on the menu at its restaurants. Enjoy it with some local white wine.