Zagreb is a unique holiday destination for a few reasons: it’s almost a thousand years old, it’s a political, business, and cultural center of Croatia, and it’s on the smaller side, compared to other European capitals. But – it has something they don’t.
Zagreb has a young soul; it’s alive with playfulness and modern touches, where hustle and bustle of daily lives meet the traditional and historic. Zagreb lets you in and gently guides you through the footsteps of history, while letting you relax, unwind, and take it all in, one comfortable step at a time.
Ready to explore the best things to do in Zagreb?
No matter what makes you tick, there’s something for everyone in Zagreb. It’s a vibrant city where you can cycle, stroll, hike, walk, or simply sit in a café and sip your coffee for hours. Here, having a cup of coffee is a culture, not simply a daily fuel that helps you keep going.
What’s more, Zagreb is an excellent starting point for further exploration of the area; you can easily get to other parts of Croatia, or even head abroad into Slovenia, Austria, or Hungary.
But first, let’s focus on the Zagreb city break and discover what to expect from an old city and Croatia’s cultural center!
Top spots in Zagreb not to miss
1. Don’t miss Zagreb Old Town: Kaptol and Gradec
Old Town consists of two hills: Kaptol with Zagreb’s Cathedral, and Gradec, the Upper Town. This area is the oldest part of the town, full of narrow streets, hidden courtyards, secret passages, art galleries, and charming cafes, shops, small museums, and restaurants. You can discover many of Zagreb’s top sights in the area, which is somewhat popular yet also quiet and calm.
2. Visit Main square, Ban Jelačić Square
In the heart of the city, you’ll find Ban Jelacic square, with Mr. Jelacic’s statue on a horse in the center of it. This is a popular meeting point with the locals; the square is continuously busy; if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, hop on a tram and take a ride around Zagreb.
Be sure not to miss a complete view of the city from Zagreb 360 observation deck from the 16th floor, the very top of the Zagreb Skyscraper. Sip on a cocktail or a glass of wine while taking in the spectacular views of the city. On a clear day, you can see as far as Slovenia!
3. Stroll down Tkalčićeva street
Tkalciceva, or Tkalca – as the locals call it, is a pedestrian-only street where you can get the real feel of the city. It’s lined with small shops, cafes, and restaurants and its colorful and historical houses just add to the overall charm of the street. The street is lively, visited by the young and old, locals and tourists. Tkalca street is also great to visit at night!
If you pay attention while strolling Tkalciceva, you may come across Marija Juric Zagorka statue, who was an important Croatian female journalist and a writer.
4. Shop at Dolac Market
Follow the locals and head down to Dolac market where they’ve been buying fresh produce since 1926. This is an outdoor market where you’ll find sweet and crunchy seasonal fruit and veg, colorful umbrellas, stinky delicious cheeses, and a selection of fresh and cured meats.
5. Cry and laugh at Museum of Broken Relationships
This is one of the more unusual museums, but worth of a visit if you’re looking for a museum with a twist. It used to be a traveling museum, but it now has a permanent location. The museum displays objects of broken relationships, where each relic has a story to accompany it. Some stories are hilarious; others are truly heartbreaking.
6. Visit Gric Tunnel
For all history buffs, Gric (Gradec) Tunnels are something not to miss. They were built during World War II as a bomb shelter and they run beneath the Upper Town. The tunnels were abandoned after the war and only recently reopened to the public in 2016. Now, the tunnel is open for people to stroll through. On occasion, it’s used as a free museum and to host special events, such as Advent Christmas Market.
7. Stroll around the Mirogoj Cemetery
While it’s not the most cheerful activity on the list, Mirogoj Cemetery is one of the most popular attractions in Zagreb, as odd as may seem. Established back in the 19th century, it features arcades, ornaments, monuments, and gravestones. It was designed by a famous Croatian architect Herman Bolle and you can find many famous Croatians buried here. If you think visiting a cemetery is somewhat odd, don’t worry. You won’t be the only tourist walking around its grounds!
8. Observe at Green Horseshoe Park
There are eight connected squares in Zagreb that are a part of the Green Horseshoe Park in the center of the city. This is a must for all architecture fans since the area hosts some of the most impressive architecture you can find in the city, along with museums (Archeological, Ethnographic, Modern Gallery), the National Theater, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the famous Esplanade Zagreb Hotel.
9. Take a break at Medvednica Nature Park
If architecture and old buildings aren’t your thing, escape into the wild and head to Medvednica nature park, just a short drive from Zagreb. Medvednica is a hidden gem for nature lovers. This mountainous park has a bit of everything: a waterfall, a cave, a mine, and many hiking trails. To top it all off, it also offers breathtaking views of Zagreb from Medvedgrad fort!
Top experiences to have in Zagreb
As seen above, there are many things to do and see in Zagreb, but the list isn’t over yet. If you’re looking for a more profound experience of the town, be sure to put a few of the following activities on your to-do list while visiting Zagreb. If time allows, we’d definitely recommend taking a day trip from Zagreb to get a better grasp of the country, or even hop over to one of its neighboring countries, like Slovenia!
Here are some of the experiences not to miss in Zagreb:
- Sip on Croatian craft beer in Zagreb’s craft beer lane: Opatovina street
- Light a candle in the Stone Gate Chapel, an open-air chapel
- Slow down, sit down, and sip on Croatian coffee
- Ride a tram or two for a better feel of the city
- Sunbathe and swim in the Jarun lake, also known as the Zagreb Sea
- Sneak out and join the theatrical nocturnal tour of Upper Town
- Ride the world’s shortest funicular which dates back to 1890!
- Discover and observe Zagreb street art culture
- Climb Kula Lotrscak tower for amazing views of the city
FAQ on visiting Zagreb
Where is Zagreb, Croatia?
Zagreb is located in the continental part of Croatia, in the northwest part of the country. It’s quite close to the border with Slovenia. Zagreb is well connected to the rest of Croatia with a network of roads and motorways.
What’s the best time to visit Zagreb, Croatia?
Zagreb is a city that lives all year round. You’ll find something to do and experience no matter the time of the year, but the best time to visit is probably between April and October, with the busiest months being July and August.
How to get to Zagreb?
There are many different options of how to get to Zagreb. The city is well connected to the rest of Europe. You can choose to drive there, get there by bus or train.
The easiest option is probably flying to Zagreb international airport, which is Croatia’s main airport. It’s connected to most European cities; Brussels, London, Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Moscow, and much more.
Is Zagreb safe?
Yes, Zagreb is considered safe for tourists. Apart from pickpockets, the crime rate is very low; still, we advise you to keep an eye on your possessions and avoid carrying large amounts of cash with you.
What language do people speak in Zagreb?
The official language is Croatian but many people in the city, especially younger people, speak English.
How many days in Zagreb?
Three to five days would be best if you have time. However, you can get a good feel of the city in two full days.
Zagreb travel restrictions: Covid-19 in Croatia
For all updates and news on the current situation, feel free to visit the Croatian coronavirus website or the official EU website to stay informed on all European countries.
Conclusion: is Zagreb worth visiting?
Zagreb may not be the sea holiday destination where you laze on a beach and discover old fishing villages as you would while sailing around the Adriatic coast, or exploring the Dalmatian and Dubrovnik, but that doesn’t mean you can easily neglect it.
Since it’s the business, political, and cultural center of Croatia, it keeps itself, its inhabitants, and its visitors busy with activities, sighs, and various events all year round. Zagreb is an excellent destination if you’re looking for an active city break where you can easily get a good grasp of the city.
What’s more, its location makes Zagreb an excellent starting point for further exploration of the area; you can easily visit other highlights of Croatia or even head over to its neighboring countries; Slovenia is easily reachable and makes a great day trip destination. What’s more, the Croatian coast with its charming islands and summer sunsets is a logical next step if you’re looking for a more complete Croatian experience.