Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and there is a lot to see. What are the most fun things to do in Zagreb? 14 tips.
Why should you visit Zagreb?
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and, like many other European capitals, is full of beautiful sights. Many of the buildings date from the thirteenth century. The city is very pedestrian-friendly and most of the beautiful sights are within walking distance of each other. That makes it a wonderful place to stroll around.
In addition, you can find many great restaurants and cafes in the city center and it is also very affordable. In short, Zagreb is definitely a great destination for a city trip.
Things to do in Zagreb
What to do in Zagreb? These are the most beautiful sights and fun things to do in Zagreb.
Trg bana Jelačića
Trg bana Jelačića (Ban Jelačić Square) is the large central square where everything comes together. Here you’ll find several shopping streets, restaurants, trams, and the square is surrounded by some beautiful buildings. In the center is a large statue of Ban Josip Jelačić, he was a famous Austrian general and ban (governor) of Croatia in the nineteenth century. Musicians are often playing in front of this statue.
In addition, there is also a nice (daily) market on the square. Here you can buy local food and beautiful traditional art. A good place to stock up on really nice souvenirs.
Visit Zagreb Cathedral
Near Trg bana Jelačića you will find the Zagreb Cathedral. It is a huge building and the second tallest building in all of Croatia. It is a Gothic church from the thirteenth century with striking towers. Unfortunately, one of the spires broke down in an earthquake in 2020, so there’s a big renovation going on. This is also why you can’t visit the cathedral at the moment, but from the outside, it is also a very impressive sight.
Eat out on the Ulica Ivana Tkalčića
Are you hungry or in the mood for a tasty cocktail? Then you should check out Ulica Ivana Tkalčića (Tkalčića Street)! Zagreb has some great food and this is the place where you are sure to find something you love. This is a long street stuffed with restaurants and cafes and almost all cuisines are represented. These are a few recommendations:
- Curry Bowl – This is a Sri Lankan restaurant and the food is absolutely delicious. The service here is also very friendly.
- Otto & Frank – Trendy bistro where they serve tasty dishes with a special twist. Tip: try the Zagreb breakfast.
- La Štruk – This restaurant is just down a side street, but is also not to be missed during a Zagreb city trip. They only serve one dish here (in various variants): štrukli, a typical Croatian oven dish with dough and cottage cheese. Very tasty and very affordable.
Visit the Dolac market
Every day between 7:00 and 13:00 there is a nice farmers market on Dolac, the square behind Trg bana Jelačića. It is mainly a food market, with meat products, fish, vegetables, and fruit. It’s great to stroll around and experience a more local vibe in Zagreb. The red umbrellas make it a wonderful sight.
The Zakmardijeve stube is a narrow alley with a very colorful floor. From the alley, you arrive at a number of stairs that lead you to the upper town.
Wander around the Upper Town
After the fairly busy lower town (Donji Grad) it is a relief to wander around the upper town (Gornji Grad). This is the place to discover the more historic buildings in Zagreb. Many of the sites even originated in the Middle Ages. Because of the narrow streets, it is a wonderful place to wander around and every now and then you will find a nice hidden restaurant or cafe.
Take a look at the Saint Mark’s Church
St. Mark’s Church (Crkva sv. Marka) is arguably one of the most beautiful buildings in Zagreb. It is also one of the oldest structures in the city and dates from the early thirteenth century. Especially the colorful roof of the church is very striking, it is made of red-white-blue tiles. On the roof are two large coats of arms: on the left is one of the former Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia and on the right, you’ll see the one of the city of Zagreb.
Go to the Lotrščak tower
The Lotrščak tower (Kula Lotrščak) can be found in the upper town. This tower was built in the thirteenth century to guard the southern gate in the city wall. At the top is the Grič cannon, which has been going off at noon every day since 1877.
Since the Lotrščak tower stands on the edge of the upper town, you also have several beautiful viewpoints in the area. It is especially recommended to go to this place at sunset because it gets very beautiful here!
Visit the interesting museums
You’ll find some very special museums in Zagreb. Sure there is a modern art museum and an archaeological museum, but there are also a few uncommon museums that are well worth a visit. How about for example:
Which one would you like to visit?
Discover the stone gate
A special place to walk through is the stone gate (Kamenita vrata) in the upper town. This gate was built between 1242 and 1266 and is actually a place to pray. It is quite dark in the gate, there are candles burning, and there are a few pews where you can let your thoughts go for a while. A very interesting place!
Take a break on the Strossmayer Promenade
After visiting all those beautiful Zagreb sights, you probably want to take a break. The Strossmayer Promenade is a path along the edge of the upper town and there are many benches. Just next to the Lotrščak tower you will find a large terrace and you can buy something to eat or drink at a stall. Relaxing music plays from the speakers (sometimes there is live music in the evenings) and you have a beautiful view of the city from here. A wonderful place to relax during your city trip to Zagreb.
Day Trips from Zagreb
Zagreb is a great base to discover various beautiful places in the area. Here are some fun (organized) day trips from Zagreb:
- Day trip to Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke.. Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Europe, full of waterfalls and bright blue lakes.
- Excursion to Ljubljana and Lake Bled. Zagreb is close to the Slovenian border and therefore it’s fun to visit Slovenia for a day. With this excursion, you visit the beautiful capital Ljubljana and the fairytale-like Lake Bled.
- Trakoscan & Zakretje Castle Tour with wine tasting. Do you want to see more of Croatian countryside? Trakošcan Castle is a beautiful castle from the thirteenth century in northern Croatia. This tour also includes a wine tasting.
How do you get to Zagreb and where do you stay?
How do you get to Zagreb?
- By airplane. Zagreb is well connected with most European capitals and other big cities all over the world. Check Skyscanner to find the cheapest tickets.
- By train. Zagreb also has a central train station, from here it’s just a 10-minute walk to the citycenter. Within Europe, it’s pretty easy to travel around by train. Check Rail Europe for timetables and tickets. Would you like to explore Europe by train? Then an Eurail or Interrail pass may be cheaper.
Where to stay in Zagreb
Since Zagreb is quite a big city, there are also plenty of places to stay overnight. If you’re short on time in Zagreb, it is smart to find a place within walking distance of the city center. These are some great places to stay in Zagreb:
- € The Dots Hostel – Small-scale hostel with only private rooms (shared bathrooms, but they are spotless). In a good location between the station and the center. Recommended for solo travelers and budget travelers.
- €€ Hotel 9(4*) – Modern furnished hotel with free parking. Located opposite the bus station and about a 20-minute walk from the center.
- €€€ Esplanade Zagreb Hotel (5*) – Very beautiful and luxurious hotel in a building from 1925. The rooms have an Art Nouveau style and there is also a fitness center and sauna. The hotel is located next to the train station and from there you can walk to the center in 10 minutes.
Since Zagreb is not an extremely expensive city, you only pay a fraction of what you would pay in other major European capitals for an overnight stay. Check Booking.com for more options and prices.
Read more about Zagreb and Croatia
Would you like to learn more about Zagreb and Croatia? These are a few great travel guides to discover more beautiful places:
You can also read more about the most beautiful places in Croatia on this website. For example, also read these articles:
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Get inspired: other amazing cities in Europe
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