Compared with nearby Dubrovnik and Split, the city of Zadar isn't a well known tourist hot spot. A few years ago, a sudden increase in cheap flights from elsewhere in Europe certainly helped to put Zadar on the map, but it's still lagging behind its neighbours in terms of tourist numbers.
This is despite Zadar offering plenty for the curious tourist to get their teeth into - a beautiful old town, fabulous museums, tonnes of architecture and landmarks from generations of colonialism and countless high quality restaurants and bars.
On top of that, Zadar also has a reputation for having a great sunset. In fact, in 1964, Alfred Hitchcock himself went as far as to say that, "Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world [...]." That's really saying something!
Arguably, he was right. The peninsular upon which the old town perches points alluringly westward, creating the perfect spot to sit and watch the sun sink into the horizon, painting the sky shades of orange, pink and purple whilst silhouetting numerous off-shore islands.
While the view from the land is picture perfect, an even better view can be enjoyed from aboard a boat sailing on the sheltered Adriatic. From the water, a more intimate view is on offer, far away from disturbing crowds.
Advertisement feature: This post was written as part of a collaboration with ZadarSUP. Our editorial independence and integrity were not influenced by this partnership.
Our Sunset Sailing Trip in Zadar, Croatia
There's no end of companies in Zadar offering to take tourists out on boats. Around the pedestrian bridge connecting Zadar's new and old towns, there's a sea (pun intended) of stalls offering a plethora of options. It can be quite overwhelming deciding which to choose.
After some searching online, we decided to embark upon a sunset sailing with ZadarSUP, an independent family-run business based in Zadar, specialising in stand up paddleboarding and sailing trips. The owners, Rajko & Anna promised an evening of sailing aboard their boat, accompanied by wine and nibbles and a great view of the setting sun.
At 18:30, we arrived at the meeting point. Doug and Vitalija, a couple on holiday from Louisiana, USA were already waiting and we exchanged notes about our respective trips around Croatia as we waited for the boat to arrive.
A few moments later, silhouetted by the already setting sun, Rajko arrived captaining Kron, the boat we would be spending the next few hours aboard. As if by magic, Anna arrived at the same time by land to help Rajko moor on the dockside.
It seemed it was just going to be Jade and I and the couple from Louisiana on the trip. Nice and intimate.
Climbing aboard Kron
The couple had some experience with being on boats and deftly climbed aboard. Jade and I, living quite far inland and therefore not very familiar with being afloat, clambered onto the vessel more than climbed. Neither of us were sure what to grab onto at first, but Rajko assured us we could hang onto anything we liked to help us get on-board.
Without fanfare, we waved goodbye to Anna and Rajko fired up the engine. Slowly but surely, we departed the harbour, passing by the lighthouse at the harbour's entrance where a Zadar boatman (Zadarski Barkajoli) was rowing another group of passengers from the old town to the new town. To our left, lights from the bars and restaurants in the old town began to shine enticingly in the day's fading light.
Out into the Adriatic Sea, we kept close to the shore. Keeping one eye on the emerging palette of colours caused by the setting sun on our right, we watched as we sailed past the flock of sunset watchers on the land to our left. They'd be getting a great view, but our view would be that much better.
Zadar's famous solar-powered light installation, the Greeting to the Sun, and the equally famous art/musical piece, the Sea Organ, drifted past as we curved around the peninsula in the direction of Ugljan, a nearby island served by regular passenger ferries to and from Zadar.
As we sailed, Rajko told us we needn't stay seated and could explore the bow of the boat. Excitedly, we clambered onto the deck and posed for photos. With a GoPro in my hand, I contorted myself into weird positions in order to get some artistic shots.
The jib goes up
After a short time, Rajko cut the engine and raised the jib. There wasn't much of a wind, but there was enough to keep us slowly moving back in the direction we had come. The drone of the engine was replaced by a peaceful stillness. Occasionally, distant engine noise from ferries and other passing boats could be heard, but otherwise, it was just our voices and the calm Adriatic waters lapping the hull.
We chatted with our American sailing buddies for hours, covering a wide range of topics but mostly about our travels and our respective home countries. After a time, Rajko went below deck and emerged with three bottles of local wines (a red, a white and a rosé) and a two sharing boards of fruit, cheeses, nuts and bread. Our boat mates also enjoyed some dried meats, whilst Rajko made some extra allowances for our Pescatarian diets with the addition of anchovies and capers.
As the sun finally set beneath the horizon, turning the sky and clouds all shades of purple, we were content. We had wine, we had food, we had fabulous company and we were enjoying our last night in one of Europe's most beautiful countries.
With the time approaching 2200, we made our way back to the dock in the centre of Zadar. We'd had a brilliant evening, one we would fondly remember for some time.
If you're looking for a memorable, romantic, enriching and fulfilling experience whilst you're in Zadar, we would highly recommend a sunset sailing with ZadarSUP.
Find out more: See more information, prices and contact details on the ZadarSUP website.
Do you like the sound of a sunset sailing in Zadar? Or, have you been on a sunset sailing elsewhere in the world? Let us know in the comments below.
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