The Northern Dalmatian Coast – Places to Visit in Zadar

After spending a night in Split, we set off on the first part of our adventure, a drive along the northern part of the Dalmatian Coast to Opatija, stopping on the way discover the best places to visit in Zadar, home to the sea organ. So as to shorten driving time, we used the faster highway for part of the drive rather than the coast road.

Croatia has amazingly good roads which are half-empty most of the time so driving is really easy (we only appreciated this fully when driving through Albania’s horrendous, pot-holed roads). Highways tolls, though, are rather expensive in Croatia. Read on as we highlight our trip to the northern dalmatian coast and review the places to visit in Zadar.

The Northern Dalmatian Coast – Places to Visit in Zadar

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We always promote independent travel, without the need of an organised tour, but if you have difficulty planning your own trip, or you are short on time, we suggest that you take a look at the trips by G-Adventures or Viator.

St. Donat’s Church

We parked close to the bridge and headed to the old town, making our way through its maze of intersecting, narrow roads until we arrived to St. Donat’s Church, now a museum. Wikipedia informed us that the church, thought to have been built some time in the 9th century, is a well-preserved example of pre-Romanesque architecture and is surrounded by a Roman forum. It is indeed quite pretty on the outside but rather boring on the inside.

Climbing on top of the bell tower for a token fee of  €2 (at time of writing) allows for a magnificent 360 degree view of the old town of Zadar. Though we started off our own road trip in Split, Zadar is also a favourite starting point of other bloggers for a road trip around Croatia.

Related: Plitvice Lakes National Park – Croatia’s Garden of Eden

Path leading to St. Donat's church with a Roman forum - The Northern Dalmatian Coast - Places to Visit in Zadar

St. Donat’s Church

Sun Salutation and Sea Organ in Zadar

From the church it was a very short walk to the Sun Salutation and Sea Organpossibly Zadar’s most curious landmark, on the coast both designed by the same architect. The bizarre-looking Sun Salutation is a huge glass circle filled with photovoltaic cells which collects energy from the sun during the day and lights up at sunset, producing bright patterns which represent the movement of the solar system.  The part of the Sea Organ that shows above ground, consists of an inconspicuous set of steps on the waterfront; underneath the steps are a series of pipes which produce sound when stimulated by the sea waves. We stopped for a short break on the steps as we listened to the organ music which was actually quite loud (maybe because the sea was rather rough). If you are lucky enough to be there after sunset, you’re treated to a lightshow too.

Related: Treasures of Istria

A huge glass circle filled with photovoltaic cells next to the ocean - The Northern Dalmatian Coast - Places to Visit in Zadar

Sun Salutation

a series of steps on the waterfront making up the sea organ - The Northern Dalmatian Coast - Places to Visit in Zadar

Sea Organ

A short break at the old town of Senj – Northern Dalmatian Coast

It was then time for burek and coffee, and after a quick look at the bridge outside Zadar old town, we made our way to Senj, our next rest stop along the dalmatian coast. Senj is just a  short drive away, and can be included in any road trip of places to visit in Zadar.

Senj is an old town on the northern part of the coast with a pretty waterfront and a little-fishing-village kind of feel. A medieval fortress overlooks the town, and the little harbour provides some shelter to the groups of ducks and ducklings swimming in between the fishing boats.

Although the town is quite picturesque, there isn’t much to do there so after a quick coffee, for which we were heavily overcharged (partly our fault for not checking the bill properly), we headed off to Opatija, our final stop for the day. We drove this last part of the route along the beautiful coast road during a gorgeous sunset and it pretty much set the mood for the mouth-watering Istrian dinner that followed. 

Related: Visit Zagreb – Croatia’s Underrated Capital City

The waterfront on the coastal town of Senj - The Northern Dalmatian Coast - Places to Visit in Zadar


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The Northern Dalmatian Coast - Places to Visit in Zadar, home to the Sea Organ

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