This article covers Zadar, Trogir, Šibenik, and Krka National Park. Each of them can be visited on a day trip from Split, and each town can probably sustain a longer exploration. The two major destinations on the coast, Dubrovnik and Split, enjoy separate entries.
Zadar is the most Renaissance in its core of all Dalmatian towns, with wider streets and public spaces.
Five Wells Square ♥ and Narodni Trg ♥ are among the most interesting squares. The walls are part of the serial Venetian Defenses UNESCO World Heritage site, with a couple of impressive gates, the Land Gate ♥ and the Sea Gate ♥.
Most of the top attractions are clustered around the cathedral in what is known as the Episcopal Complex. The cathedral tower ♥ is fairly easy to climb and has nice views on all sides; the viewing platform on top is small and narrow and can feel crowded with just a dozen of people on it. The Cathedral of St Anastasia ♥ is comparatively spartan, but sporting a tremendous organ as well as a few other nice features.
The round church of St Donatus ♥ is almost without any decorations, but its column capitals and a couple of reliefs are exquisite and well worth a look.
The open-access Roman Forum is relatively compact and, due to its location in the same central cluster of sights, cannot be missed.
The killer feature of Zadar is the Sea Organ ♥♥♥ at the end of the seaside promenade. In order to fully appreciate it, in case you happen to come by when the waters are completely calm, you need to wait for the waves from a passing vessel. At night, the same edge of the promenade is reputedly gorgeously lighted by the installation known as the Greeting to the Sun.
The artisan market along the sea promenade has a number of interesting stalls. There is also a great children’s playground for younger visitors.
Among the other attractions in town that could be included in an itinerary are the Museum of Illusions and the Museum of Antique Glass, located near each other. There are also other churches that could be stepped into.
Trogir’s core is a small densely-packed and largely pedestrian island, with flavors of both Venice and Florence, some medieval, other Renaissance. The mix is awfully picturesque, although the closeness of buildings allows very few wide photographic perspectives.
The main square ♥♥ by the cathedral is one of the focal points, surrounded by beautiful palaces and sporting a Loggia ♥ with an obvious resemblance to the Florentine Loggia dei Lanzi.
At the Cathedral of St Lawrence ♥, the carvings at the entrance are probably the most impressive feature, but the interior is still worth a look. The cathedral tower ♥♥ is not an easy climb in its last portion, but the views reward the effort: there is a roof platform with views over palaces on the main square, and then the top platform has wonderful perspectives over the town, the surrounding water, and beyond. There is a sign prohibiting children under 14 to climb, but many people ignore it.
The fort of Kamerlengo is another place for reputedly good rooftop views. Beyond that, other attractions consist of a number of churches and the south-side promenade with several nice mansions. Most people will simply stroll around the narrow streets.
Šibenik retains a comparatively lower billing among the sights on the Dalmatian Coast, so you will likely encounter smaller crowds here throughout the year. It stands apart in having an all-pedestrian core that runs up the side of the hill, with stairs replacing most of the streets, and that gives it a very medieval feel.
The Cathedral of St James ♥♥ is a stand-alone UNESCO World Heritage sight and is unusually situated not at the highest point of the town. Walking up the street-stairs opens several elevated viewpoints of the cathedral. There are interesting decorations on the exterior, and a few pleasant features in the interior, admittedly not of the “breathtaking” grade. It is also relatively not big.
Beyond the cathedral, stroll around the streets and stairs of the old town. Picturesque corners abound. The garden of the monastery of St Lawrence ♥ is intimate and peaceful, despite housing a café at the entrance.
World Heritage chasers may also be interested in visiting the Fort of St Nicholas, part of the serial Venetian Defenses UNESCO site. The fort is surrounded by the sea and guards the entrance to the harbor. It can be visited on a boat trip from Šibenik port.
Krka National Park
The most popular part of the Krka National Park, while located not directly on the coast, is within a short drive from Šibenik.
The Skradinski Buk waterfall area ♥♥♥, accessed either through the Lozovac entrance or via a boat from Skradin, is not too large; the whole circuit is just 2 kilometers long, and relatively flat on many stretches, making it easy to navigate even for small children or people in indifferent physical shape. The route is very picturesque, with many gorgeous viewpoints. There are nice amenities, including a large food court, and various vendors sending local delicacies suitable for a picnic.
The defining feature of this park area is the ability to take a dip on a beach by the waterfalls. The beach could be a trying experience, due both to the crowds and the large sharp rocks right under the surface; water shoes are essential, and skinned legs and stubbed toes are practically unavoidable. Still, an undeniable highlight.
There is a limit to how many tickets to the park are sold every day, and although the counter at the reception still showed a couple of thousand available tickets in the afternoon, the park felt rather crowded in early July. All locals say that crowds at the more iconic Plitvice Lakes – which are several hours away to the northeast – are worse than in Krka at the height of summer.
There are options to take boat tours on the lakes for an extra cost. The park entrance ticket allows access to the other parts of Krka NP which are undoubtedly comparatively deserted, not having any waterfall swimming areas.