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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.

  • More about Zadar

  • Why go to Zadar?

  • Zadar Cruise Port Facilities?

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Silver Moon
Silver Moon Exterior (Photo: Colleen McDaniel)

11 Night
Mediterranean CruiseDetails

13 Reviews
Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Oct 29, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Silver Spirit
Silver Spirit

7 Night
Mediterranean CruiseDetails

329 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Jun 9, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Star
Norwegian Star

15 Night
Europe - France & IberiaDetails

2,493 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Apr 15, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Pearl
Norwegian Pearl

10 Night
Europe - Greek Isles & Eastern MedDetails

2,342 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Amalfi & Dalmatian VoyageDetails

794 Reviews
Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Azamara
Sep 28, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Croatia Intensive VoyageDetails

25 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Azamara
May 6, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

9 Night
Croatia Intensive VoyageDetails

696 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Azamara
Oct 10, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Mediterranean CruiseDetails

360 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Aug 13, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Europe - Greek Isles & Eastern MedDetails

3,082 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jul 3, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Europe - Greek Isles & Eastern MedDetails

2,342 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Aug 19, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

9 Night
Empires Of The MediterraneanDetails

1,430 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Treasures Of The AdriaticDetails

155 Reviews
Leaving:Monaco
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
May 7, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Croatia Intensive VoyageDetails

116 Reviews
Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Azamara
Apr 20, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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13 Night
Best Of Mediterranean CruiseDetails

1,757 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
May 2, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Croatian Coast And The Best Of The AdriaticDetails

20 Reviews
Leaving:Dubrovnik
Cruise Line:Emerald Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Zadar

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
Enjoyed Zadar thought it was nice to walk around but bot in open sandals as some gravelled areas. The sea organ next to where the bus drops you off was interesting and the square next to the park was a nice place to Read More
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technoman
Zadar is a walled city with old churches and narrow paths and alleys. Commerce is alive and well The city market in the morning was real and alive with goods. WE used the city bus to go into the town while the cruiRead More
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Mary Seas
Our ship was docked at Zadar's new port at Gazenica, which is quite a distance from the Old Town. We would have to take a bus there later this afternoon for our walking tour. The ship proved a shuttle for those who wRead More
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cboyle
another port that ship parked right at, great to just walk around on your own. Again, not many excursions offered by Azamara,Read More
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danInNJ

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