The following guest post is from Anna Timbrook who chronicles her travel experiences on Expert World Travel
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Visiting Zadar Croatia On A Budget
It’s often said that Croatia’s most beautiful city on the Adriatic coast is Zadar. And we couldn’t agree more; with a stunning old town that lies on a peninsula and offers spectacular sea views no matter where you look, there’s definitely something enchanting about this coastal city.
What makes Zadar even better is that you can explore it without breaking the bank. It’s not really an expensive city by Croatian standards, and nowhere near as pricey as the ever so popular vacation spots like Dubrovnik and Hvar. Our guide will teach you how to explore Zadar on a budget, and tell you all about the amazing things you can do there for free!
Tips For Visiting Zadar Croatia On A Budget
Accommodation in Zadar is not very expensive – it’s possible to find decent double rooms in the center of Old Town for some $40 a night. If you look outside the historic part of the city, those prices go down all the way to $20 for a room for two, and studio apartments can cost as little as $30.
The further you are from the old town, the cheaper everything is from accommodation to cafes. And bear in mind that Zadar isn’t exactly a massive town – it’s easy to walk from one spot to another, and the public transport within the city is pretty okay.
We’d recommend visiting Zadar in the off season for the most-budget friendly experience. Prices of everything are slashed by some 50% compared to what you’ll see in July and August, and the weather is much more pleasant.
If you are visiting Zadar only for a day and you’re driving there on your own, the only thing you need to think about is where you will park the car. We recommend the Zadar Parkplatz – a massive parking area just outside the entrance into the old town, which happens to be the cheapest parking in the city.
What To See In Zadar
Zadar is full of interesting places to see, and the best thing about them is that most are completely free of charge. It costs nothing to stroll around the old town, go for a swim on the beach and visit some ancient buildings and award-winning monuments.
The Sea Organ is Zadar’s most impressive attraction and it’s entirely free of charge. It’s a unique monument that represents an attempt to communicate with nature via sound, and you can actually hear it before you see it.
This is in fact a set of polyurethane tubes that are hidden below stone steps that descend into the sea. You can see openings in the stone when you’re walking along the promenade – that’s where the music is coming from. As the waves crash into the tubes, they produce amazing melodies that just give you the chills – especially when you realize that it’s nature that’s creating the wonderful music.
The steps of the Sea Organ also serve as an impromptu beach, meaning you can easily go for a swim here. Just bear in mind that the water is very deep in that area, so we’d only recommend that to experienced and confident swimmers.
Monument To The Sun
The Monument to the Sun and the Sea Organ were both designed by the same architect, Nikola Bašić, who was actually awarded for these designs. And both monuments are an attempt to communicate with nature – where the Sea Organ does that with enchanting melodies, the Monument to the Sun does so with light.
This is a light installation that consists of several different circles that represent the solar system and its planets. The largest circle of all represents the sun, with the smaller ones that practically meet with the Sea Organ depict planets. This monument only lights up at night, and it’s a truly spectacular sight.
But even when the massive installation isn’t lit up, it reflects colors magnificently – witnessing the sunset here is truly a spectacular experience. This sun circle is fenced off for now, due to it being vandalized a few times in the past.
Church Of St. Donatus
The Church of St. Donatus is a massive pre-Romanesque church in Zadar old town. Its initial construction began in the 9th century, but it wasn’t actually finished until the 15th century.
This catholic church absolutely dominates the entire Roman forum where it stands, and that’s not even the weirdest thing about it.
That would be the circular shape, which is rather unusual for such an old church. It’s absolutely a glorious sight, and it’s not very easy to comprehend its size until you are actually standing in front of it.
Right next to the massive church is a bell tower that offers breathtaking views of Zadar from the top. There is an entrance fee but it’s only about 15 kuna – totally worth it if you want a panoramic vista of this stunning city.
Five Wells Square
The Five Wells Square is another interesting spot in Zadar that’s entirely free to see. If you enter the old town through the Land Gate head right up the stairs – you will see the square, as well as the vast Queen Jelena Madijevka park.
The square was originally built in the 16th century, when those wells were a rare water source for the people of Zadar. Nowadays it’s a popular tourist attraction, as well as a great spot for open air concerts. The only thing we don’t like is the cafe right there on the square – it does kill the overall ancient vibe, but it’s actually a decent spot for a coffee break.
The park is another spot worth checking out – it’s just steps away from Zadar’s historic center and yet it feels like you’re in a completely different place. It’s a rather serene setting that’s the complete opposite of the tourist crowds in the old town, while the massive trees make it a great spot to escape the city heat.
Museum Of Illusions
The world’s first Museum of Illusions opened in Zagreb, and soon after it became such a massive hit that you can now find branches in places like New York and Toronto. It’s one of the few things that’s absolutely worth paying for – during peak season the tickets are some 50kn, which isn’t that expensive to begin with. And they’re a lot cheaper in the offseason.
The Museum of Illusions is a unique experience with more than 70 different exhibits. From illusions like your head on a silver platter to a room that makes you dizzy as soon as you step inside – it’s truly a one of a kind experience that you will not regret having. It will take you about two hours to explore the entire museum, and it’s best if you bring someone along so you can get some really unique photos.
About the author, Anna Timbrook:
Anna was born to travel the world having studied languages all her life. Although she has traveled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on Expert World Travel. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.