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Cruises to Zadar

Zadar (Photo:OPIS Zagreb/Shutterstock)

About Zadar

The craggy Dalmatian Coast, across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, is a treasure trove of sea resorts and dramatic scenery where mountains meet water. Cruise ship ports offer access to beaches, parks, offshore islands, tours for soft adventure and insights into the cultures of the western Balkan Peninsula.

Most travelers have heard of Croatia's famous Dalmatian port of Dubrovnik, which appears on many cruise-ship itineraries between Venice and Athens. Not nearly as many cruisers have spent a day in Zadar.

Zadar is a treasure trove of ruins and old churches that sit in the middle of a pleasant, comfortable, working city. It's an easy city to explore, only a short walk from the cruise-ship dock to the city center. Streets in the Old Town are clean, and its historic sites are intriguing reminders of Zadar's tumultuous past.

Yes, this city has suffered. It started when the Romans decided they wanted Zadar, which resulted in 200 years of warfare to subdue the locals, back in the 1st century B.C. The Venetians later conquered Zadar several times, but the town kept throwing them out, only to fall to the Austrians. The Italians again ruled Zadar, followed by the French and then the Nazis during World War II, which meant bombs from the West until the Germans and much of Zadar were destroyed. The city then became part of Yugoslavia until that government fell apart. The city was shelled by Serbian forces from 1991 to 1993, cutting Zadar off from help from the mainland. The city remained in precarious shape until 1995. Today, the area has an energetic atmosphere, especially thanks to the young people of the local college.

For visitors, Zadar offers two special places: a sea organ that plays music from the mastery of the wind and the waves, and the outdoor Forum Bar, where you may sip, sup and 'tsup -- that's checking in with your friends by cell phone to find out what's up -- as you sit in the ruins of a real Roman Forum in the shadows of a 9th-century church.

  • Why go to Zadar?

  • Zadar Cruise Port Facilities?

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Seven Seas Mariner
Seven Seas Mariner (Photo: Regent)
Seven Seas Mariner

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

387 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
$11,499*pp
$1,643/night • suite

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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Brilliance of the Seas
Brilliance of the Seas
Brilliance of the Seas

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean

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Seven Seas Mariner
Seven Seas Mariner (Photo: Regent)
Seven Seas Mariner

15 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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Azamara Quest
Azamara Quest
Azamara Quest

8 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

707 Reviews
Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Azamara Voyages

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Virgin Voyages

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Seven Seas Mariner

10 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Cruise.com

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Marina

10 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises

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MSC Opera

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

336 Reviews
Leaving:Trieste
Cruise Line:MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises

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MSC Lirica

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises

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Westerdam

20 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Cruise Line:Holland America Line

Holland America

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MSC Opera

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Trieste
Cruise Line:MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises

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Viking Sea

9 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

1,339 Reviews
Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises

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Westerdam

19 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Holland America Line

Holland America

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MSC Opera

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Bari
Cruise Line:MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises

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Viking Sea

9 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises

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Riviera

10 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises

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MSC Opera

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Bari
Cruise Line:MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises

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Celebrity Infinity

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises

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Celebrity Infinity

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises

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Crystal Esprit

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Dubrovnik
Cruise Line:Crystal Cruises
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Riviera

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises

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Last-Minute Deal
Celebrity Infinity

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises

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Azamara Pursuit

7 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Azamara Voyages

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Seven Seas Splendor

17 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises

RegentCruises.com

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Azamara Journey

11 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Azamara Voyages

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Wind Surf

8 Night
Cruise to ZadarDetails

Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises

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Why go to Zadar?

Pros:

See (and hear) the magnificent Sea Organ, which is arguably Zadar's most famous attraction

Cons:

Because most ships dock during colder months, you might miss the chance to take advantage of the fantastic local beaches

Bottom Line:

Spend the day touring Roman ruins and medieval cathedrals in this historical, walkable town

Zadar Cruise Port Facilities?

There's a nice walk from the sea organ along the Western Quay, which has benches facing the water, used by locals as a picnic lunch spot. You'll find souvenir shopping opportunities, restaurants with beer and food, money exchange capabilities and Internet connectivity (wired and wireless) in the center of the Old Town, about a 15-minute walk from the dock. The Tourist Office is at Mihe Klaica 5, in the center of town (tel: 023-316 166).

Good to Know?

Many Europeans vacation in Croatia, including Zadar and nearby Pag Island, for its beaches and nightlife. However, as most cruise ships visit this port outside the summer peak season of July and August and don't overnight in port, cruise travelers may not get the chance to experience these major tourist attractions.

Getting Around?

Walking is the only way to move around the compact Old Town, where there are few cars on village streets. Most cruise passengers will confine their stay to the Old Town unless they are on a ship tour or their ships are in port for eight hours or more.

For tours outside of town, ask for planning assistance at the tourist office in the Old Town, which also has bus schedules from Zadar to other towns in Croatia. The main bus station is a short walk outside the Old Town. It's a busy place, as nearly every bus traveling up and down the Croatian coast stops at Zadar, but destinations may be out of reach for cruise passengers on short visits.

There is also a ferry port on the eastern edge of the Old Town. Ferry schedules to nearby islands vary by day and season; check Web site for schedules.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The local currency in Croatia is the Kuna. (Check XE.com for the latest exchange rate.) Merchants and restaurateurs will grudgingly accept euros, but almost none will take U.S. dollars. It's best to use a credit card wherever possible for the best exchange rate, though you'll want to change a small amount of money into Kuna for attraction admissions and inexpensive purchases. If your ship is stopping in Zadar and Dubrovnik, you will need a little Kuna in both Croatian cities. I spent about $30 in the two ports, and nearly half of that was for the 70-Kuna entrance fee to walk the city walls of Dubrovnik.

There are ATM machines and exchange bureaus in the center of Zadar's Old Town, a walk of about 15 minutes from the cruise-ship dock. The tourism office in the center of town will direct you.

Language?

The official language is Croatian, though just about everybody speaks fairly fluent English.

Where You're Docked?

The cruise-ship tie-up is one of the prettiest you'll see -- a white concrete dock at the edge of Old Town, next to the amazing sea organ, which, depending on the wind and waves, you can hear as soon as you get off the ship.


Zadar Cruise Reviews
It was cold a raining this day so we skipped the shore excursion and enjoyed our quiet time on the ship.... Read More
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TSFCRUZE
Very interesting place with a lot of history.... Read More
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davidvery
Could not get into Zadar due to weather, went to Split instead and enjoyed the tour very much.... Read More
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CablerCruises
Very small port. Good for a relaxing walk.... Read More
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Den II

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