Zadar is like the first guy you date in high school because you’re young and you don’t know any better. It’s not very exciting, but there’s nothing that wrong with him, and you can easily talk yourself into thinking the whole thing is more fun than it really is.
NO. I WILL NOT ALLOW THIS.
Don’t waste your time with Zadar. As your relationship coach/travel guide, I’m telling you… there are so many better options.
Want excitement? Go to Split.
Want culture? Go to Zagreb.
Want romance? Go to Rovinj.
You should go to Zadar if:
- If you make your living as a photographer/Instagrammer.
- You won a free trip there, because HELL YEAH – free trip!
- You want to receive lots of ridiculous hate mail 😂 (wait, what? yep, keep reading…)
It pains me to say this, because I was reallyyyyy excited about visiting Zadar! But if I’m being honest… it was my least favorite city in Croatia. (And FYI, we traveled around Croatia for 2.5 months, and saw 9 different cities there.)
Sadly, Zadar just wasn’t that great. It’s overrated and over-commercialized, and it’s one place I wouldn’t go back to. (Unless I won a free trip there, in which case, HELL YEAH.)
I will say, however, that it does have a lot of good photo ops.
It would actually be really easy to make Zadar look like an incredible destination. (That’s probably why I was so hyped about it in the first place.) I mean, other travel bloggers dated Zadar, and made him look so cool.
But anyone who tells you that Zadar is ABSOLUTELY AMAZINGGGGG is lying. Or trying to make you jealous with #FOMO Facebook posts and Snapchat stories. Or has never been literally anywhere else in Croatia.
Yes, Zadar has the Sea Organ.
If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an experimental instrument that plays “music” with the sea’s waves going in and out of various tubes.
Which – I know – sounds like a pretty neat idea. But do yourself a favor and just watch it on YouTube. I promise, you’re not really missing out on anything.
(Yes, this is a vertical video. Sorry. It was an attempt to crop out the hordes of other people – and their nose hairs.)
It was crowded at the water’s edge. And to be perfectly honest, the Sea Organ sounds like a humpback whale giving birth.
But I couldn’t even pretend to enjoy it, because moments after I took this video, a beat boxing/b-boy team got there and played obscenely loud rap music right next to the Sea Organ.
So the musical birthing of a calf was obliterated by a throbbing baseline and white boys jumping around like roosters on the prowl. Meanwhile, the seating was so crowded I was practically sitting in a stranger’s armpit.
(But wait. This is probably the picture you should post to Facebook.)
“But wait,” a well-researched person might interject.
“Zadar also has the Greeting of the Sun!”
The Greeting of the Sun is an art installation consists of 300 glass plates in the shape of a giant circle.
The panels are charged by solar energy during the day, and then produce a light show at night. (It’s also on the ground, so you can stomp all over it and show the sun who’s the real boss.)
If you’re counting on this to be your big entertainment, think again. After you walk around for a few minutes, you realize that the lights change reallllyyyy slowly, some of them are broken, and once you’ve watched the lights lazily flash for a few minutes, there’s really nothing else to do here.
You could try taking a sweet Instagram photo though. #socialmedia #selfie #fomo #thetimeofmyliiiiiife!
Or you could take a time lapse. That’s what I did. (And then shared it with exactly nobody. Until now. And only so I could warn you.)
(This gif is at like 50x real speed, and makes it look cooler than it is. Don’t be tricked!)
There’s also a church tower, a narrow staircase you can climb, and a viewpoint of Zadar’s Old Town.
You might get some good pictures, depending on your level of artsy-ness and the quality of your camera.
But here’s the thing. While Rovinj‘s Old Town has local artists selling hand-made crafts and family-run restaurants serving up delicious Istrian food… Zadar’s Old Town is filled with chain stores like Mango, Calzedonia, and MAX&Co.
Idk. Maybe I’m being a little harsh, but it was a bit over-commercialized for my taste. It didn’t have that quaint atmosphere or old-world charm that makes you feel like you’re somewhere truly special.
Even the gelato was… kind of disappointing.
But it was just kind of bland and… only okay.
If we’re trying to find something good about it…
Well, I did think this sign was kind of funny.
I mean, I don’t know.
Everybody has a different travel style. And that’s totally fine. Go to Zadar if you want.
Sometimes you have to date the kind-of-boring, nothing-too-special guy in order to really appreciate the amazing guy that comes after him.
But if you’re going to go… make it a summer fling. Maybe a one-night stand.
Nothing too serious.
Because there are some truly fantastic Croatian cities out there waiting for you. And you can do way better than Zadar.