What You Need To Know
Zadar is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Croatia. It is situated on the Adriatic Sea, at the northwestern part of Ravni Kotari region. Zadar serves as the seat of Zadar County and the wider northern Dalmatian region. The area of present-day Zadar traces its earliest evidence of human life from the late Stone Age, while numerous settlements have been dated as early as the Neolithic. Before the Illyrians, the area was inhabited by an ancient Mediterranean people of a pre-Indo-European culture. Zadar traces its origin to its 4th-century BC founding as a settlement of the Illyrian tribe of Liburnians known as Iader. In 59 BC it was renamed Iadera when it became a Roman municipium, and in 48 BC, a Roman colonia. It was during the Roman rule that Zadar acquired the characteristics of a traditional Ancient Roman city with a regular road network, a public square (forum), and an elevated capitolium with a temple.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and the destruction of Salona by the Avars and Croats in 614, Zadar became the capital of the Byzantine theme of Dalmatia in the 7th century. In the beginning of the 9th century, Zadar came under short Frankish rule, and was returned to the Byzantines by the Pax Nicephori in 812. The first Croatian rulers gained control over the city in 10th century.
Today, Zadar is a historical center of Dalmatia, Zadar County’s principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, educational, and transportation centre. Zadar is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zadar. Because of its rich heritage, Zadar is today one of the most popular Croatian tourist destinations, named “entertainment center of the Adriatic” by The Times and “Croatia’s new capital of cool” by the Guardian. In 2016, Zadar was named “Best European Destination” by the Belgian portal Europe’s Best Destinations.com after a three-week period of online voting and more than 288,000 cast votes.
The Croatian currency is the Kuna (not the Euro!), which is divided into 100 lipas. (The word ‘Kuna’ means marten, a weasel-like animal, whose fur Croats used as payment many centuries ago. The word ‘lipa’ means lime tree, but we don’t know the connection here!) When listed as a price, Kuna is abbreviated to Kn.
The Kuna comes in dominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 as notes and 1, 2, 5 and 25 (25 Kn being largely commemorative) as coins. The Lipa comes in coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50. In Croatian, the plural of Kuna is Kune (pronounced ‘koo-neh’), although it is fine to pluralise it – as many outside of the country do – to Kunas.
Zadar has a borderline humid subtropical (Cfa) and Mediterranean climate (Csa), since only one summer month has less than 40 millimetres (1.6 in) of rainfall, preventing it from being classified as solely humid subtropical or Mediterranean. Zadar has mild, wet winters and very warm, humid summers. Average annual rainfall is in excess of 917 mm (36.10 in). July and August are the hottest months, with an average high temperature around 30 °C (86 °F) or 29 °C (84 °F). The highest temperature ever was 36.1 °C (97 °F) on 22 July 2015 and 2 August 1998. Temperatures can consistently reach over 30 °C (86 °F) during the summer months, but during spring and autumn may also reach 30 °C (86 °F) almost every year. Temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) are rare, and are not maintained for more than a few days. January is the coldest month, with an average temperature around 7.7 °C (46 °F). On 23 January 1963 was recorded the lowest temperature ever in Zadar, −9.1 °C (16 °F). Through July and August temperature has never dropped below 10 °C (50 °F). October and November are the wettest months, with a total precipitation of about 114 mm (4.49 in) and 119 mm (4.69 in) respectively. July is the driest month, with a total precipitation of around 35 mm (1.38 in). Winter is the wettest season, however it can rain in Zadar at any time of the year. Snow is exceedingly rare, but it may fall in December, January, February and much more rarely in March. On average Zadar has 1.4 days of snow a year, but it is more likely that the snow does not fall. Also the sea temperature is from 10 °C (50 °F) in February to 25 °C (77 °F) in July and August, but is possible to swim from May until October, sometimes even by November. Sometimes in February the sea temperature can drop to only 7 °C (45 °F) and in July exceed 29 °C (84 °F).
The official language in Croatia is Croatian.
Major industries include tourism, traffic, seaborne trade, agriculture, fishing and fish farming activities; metal manufacturing and mechanical engineering industries; chemicals and non-metal industry; and banking. The headquarters of the following companies are located in Zadar:
Maraska (food industry)
Adria, Mardešić (fish production)
Zadar (shipping company)
SAS (machine tools)
Arsenal Holdings (tourism)
The farmland just northeast of Zadar, Ravni Kotari, is a well known source of marasca cherries. Distilleries in Zadar have produced Maraschino since the 16th century.
There are nine primary schools and 16 secondary schools, including six gymnasiums, in Zadar.
University of Zadar was founded by the Dominicans in 1396 as Universitas Iadertina, a theological seminary. It was the first institute of higher learning in the country. In 1807 it ceased to become an independent institution and its functions were taken over by other local universities. In 1956 the University of Zagreb, the country’s second oldest university, re-established it as its satellite Faculty of Arts campus. The Faculty later became a part of the University of Split, and in 2003, a full-fledged independent university. University comprises 25 departments with more than 6.000 students.
The Old Town is easy enough to get around on foot. To reach the bus/train stations you can walk or catch one of the frequent local buses (bus 2 or 4 will take you there from the Old Town).
Buses in Zadar are relatively new and well maintained, and you will be able to catch a bus to any part of the city from the main hub in the city called Mala Pošta (Little Post Office); ask any local where this is and they can direct you to it. A bus ticket in one direction costs 10 Kuna (cca. US$1.75) while a two way ticket costs 16 Kuna (cca. US$2.80). However, two way tickets are only available for purchase at newspaper stands, although they are easy to find. One way tickets are available for purchase upon entering any bus. Buses are run by Liburnija; an online timetable is available.
Be advised that bus services cease just after midnight during the summer, so if you plan to get back to a hotel that isn’t close to the city center after that time, you might have to walk or catch a taxi. Do not attempt to board a bus without a ticket, without purchasing a ticket or avoiding stamping a bus ticket. Bus drivers in Zadar are notoriously militant about enforcing payment, and you could get into trouble.
Taxis – a trip of up to 5 kilometers (enough to get almost anywhere within the city) may cost up to 80 Kunas, as the taxi drivers have a habit of overcharging tourists. Inquire first, as it will be almost impossible to find a taxi for the advertised price of 20-40 Kunas (circa US$3.5-7). Ask before you get in the cab – there should be a printed price list, although many drivers will not obey this list. There are taxis waiting on both sides of the bridge in the Old Town, and around the bus/train stations.