Home to exquisite Roman ruins, ornate buildings and religious art dating back to the eighth century, the Croatian city of Zadar is a treasure trove of history and culture. But there's plenty more to do here than just visit museums – the city's lively nightlife and excellent restaurants have given it a high rank among Croatia's bucket-list destinations. It's also the gateway to some of the country's most pristine islands just offshore.
One thing you can't miss in Zadar is its UNESCO-listed Old Town, which offers an eclectic mix of Byzantine, Roman and Venetian architecture. Surrounded by a series of defensive walls and situated on a peninsula that juts out into the glistening waters of the Adriatic Sea, this is a magical spot that was once the largest city-fortress in the Republic of Venice. And while you're here, visit the circular Church of St Donatus, the symbol of Zadar, as well as the 12th-century cathedral that offers magnificent views from its bell tower.
Zadar is famous for its food and wine – and the seafood, in particular, is something worth trying while you're here. There's a smattering of brilliant fish restaurants situated behind the ancient city walls, and you'll get more for your money here than further down the coast. Kornat Restaurant has a daily seafood menu that includes delicious venus clams, whereas Foša offers a romantic setting overlooking a picturesque harbour. For Dalmatian classics such as cuttlefish stew and almond-flaked sea bass, Pet Bunara is the place to be.