Sep
30

Zagreb – A Traveler’s Guide to Croatia’s Capital City

Let’s uncover Zagreb, Croatia; one subtlety at a time.

Deep red hearts embellished with white fringes caught my attention as I strolled along Zagreb’s streets.

Known as Licitars, these heart-shaped honey dough biscuits akin to Gingerbread are gifted during celebration times and are an integral part of Croatian culture.

In fact, they’ve come to become a traditional symbol of Zagreb.

souvenir stall selling Licitars zagreb
Souvenir stall at Strossmayer Promenade selling Licitars

Looking at those tiny red hearts, I at once grasped the idea why Zagreb’s often invoked as “The City With a Million Hearts.”

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Visiting Zagreb, Croatia? Read our complete guide to the capital city of Croatia with everything from things to do in Zagreb to where to stay in Zagreb, where to eat in zagreb and everything in-between to make the most of your trip!

Visiting Zagreb, Croatia? Read our complete guide to the capital city of Croatia with everything from things to do in Zagreb to where to stay in Zagreb, where to eat in zagreb and everything in-between to make the most of your trip!

Zagreb – Cultural and Lively Capital of Croatia

Zagreb, an inland capital of a country celebrated for its incredible sun-kissed Adriatic coastline sprinkled with idyllic islands, mystic coves, hidden sea caves, and cerulean beaches is missed more often than not by tourists.

The city of Zagreb ensconces at the base of Mount Medvednica across the river Sava.

Vibrance, culture, history, nature, innovative architecture, street art, savoir-faire are ubiquitous in Zagreb’s character that charms its visitors endlessly.

In one moment it’s full of cosmopolitan gusto and in another, it radiates with rustic warmth – that’s the charm of Zagreb. You never know what’s around the corner.

3D Metal map of Zagreb in City Square, Croatia.
3D Metal map of Zagreb in City Square, Croatia.

Zagreb is divided into two halves, Zagreb Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and Zagreb Lower Town (Donji Grad).

Zagreb Upper Town

Zagreb Old Town began in the 11th-century as two medieval settlements alight on the hill – Grič (the civil settlement) known as Gradec (today the Upper Town) and Kaptol (the ecclesiastical settlement) and thus, is loaded with the stories of times gone by.

The intense past reverberates at every corner here.

Medieval buildings with red tile roofs, intriguing museums, cozy cafes, and restaurants lining the narrow winding cobbled streets; Zagreb’s Upper Town exudes the old-world charm.

With easy pace and compact character, the old town is meant for walking.

cobbled streets of zagreb upper town gradec
Another beautiful cobbled street in the Upper Town
zagreb upper town gradec Ćirilometodska
Ćirilometodska street near St. Mark’s Square in the Upper Town
Zagreb Lower Town

Zagreb Lower Town is a new town and a commercial hub of Zagreb.

It’s all about Baroque buildings housing offices, museums, and galleries, wide boulevards, spacious parks, and huge squares.

Draped in the gorgeous Austro-Hungarian architecture with 20th-century façades and extensive garden squares, the Lower Town appears to be influenced by classic Viennese Art Nouveau.

Ban Josip Jelačić Square Zagreb Lower Town
Ban Josip Jelačić Square, Lower Town

Fab Things to do in Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb with its compelling blend of old and new is flourishing as a tourist destination. Locals are fueling Zagreb’s Art scene by reinventing the city’s streets with unique art projects.

We walked the length and breadth of Lower and Upper Town and used the Uber plus tram to explore Novi Zagreb. I prepared a self-guided walk map that made things easy and less time-consuming.

I’ll list the attractions and places in a way that’d help you to walk in our footsteps.

Here’s how and what you can explore in Zagreb to make the most of your trip.

Walk the Upper Town (Old Town) – Gradec and Kaptol

Ban Josip Jelacic Square

The best way to explore the Upper Town is to start from Zagreb’s Main Square, Ban Josip Jelačić Square in Lower Town dominated by the bronze statue of Ban Josip Jelačić, the 19th-century Ban (governer) of Croatia.

The square is the city’s social hub and a major tram intersection point. You’ll see it brimming with locals and tourists all the time.

Ban Josip Jelačić Square
Zagreb’s expansive central square, Ban Josip Jelačić Square flanked by Hapsburg-era buildings

The Manduševac Fountain at the square was built above a 19th-century natural spring that supplied drinking water to Zagreb.

They say that if you drop a coin in it and make a wish, it comes true.

Others say if you drink water from the fountain, it puts a magical spell on you to never forget Zagreb in your lifetime.

Did you Know How Zagreb Got its Name? Legend has it that an old Croatian war leader came near the spring while searching for water to quench his thirst and requested a girl named Manda standing near the spring to scoop some water for him. He uttered a Croatian word “Zagrabiti” that means to scoop up water in English. That’s how the spring got a name Manduševac (after the girl) and the city got the name Zagreb (after the scoop of water).

The flower stands under huge red parasols selling colorful fresh flowers fill one side of the square.

Kaptol Square

As you walk uphill from Trg bana Jelačića to Kaptol Square, the sight of the Neo-Gothic Cathedral of Zagreb with its soaring twin towers gracing Zagreb’s skyline is sure to stun you.

Known as St. Stephen’s Cathedral in earlier times, it’s now called the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Though, “the cathedral” usually suffices for the name.

Zagreb Cathedral
Zagreb Cathedral
Virgin Mary with Angels Fountain
Virgin Mary with Angels Fountain

Did You Know?Zagreb Cathedral is the tallest buiding in Croatia and is depicted on Kuna (Currency of Croatia).

kaptol square zagreb

Kaptol Square looks arresting with Zagreb Cathedral, cathedral’s Renaissance defensive walls with round towers, St Stephen’s Chapel inside the Archbishop’s Palace by the cathedral, Zagreb Cathedral Treasury, Virgin Mary with Angels Fountain right in front of the cathedral, Ribnjak Park, The Franciscan Church, and Prišlin’s Tower.

Dolac Market

A few meters away from the square is Dolac, fondly known as the Belly of Zagreb. It’s the most famous daily open-air farmers market close to the cathedral. There can’t be a better place to experience the local life.

Here’s where you can sample local dishes.

flower stalls near dolac zagreb
Flower stalls near Dolac

Dolac graffiti zagreb
Interesting graffiti on steps leading to Dolac

Tip: If you find yourself in Zagreb on weekends during April to October, be a part of Changing of the Guards Ceremony wherein exactly at noon the 12 soldiers of Cravat Regiment followed by trumpeters, gunsmiths, drummers, flag-bearers and their commander march from Dolac to St. Mark’s Square via Church of St. Mary, Tkalčićeva street, Bloody Bride, Radićeva street and Stone Gate. It’s your chance to get to know the rich history of Zagreb.

Tkalčićeva Street

As you walk away from Dolac towards Tkalčićeva Street, you’ll run into a three-aisled Baroque Church of St Mary’s and a Statue of Petrica Kerempuh standing in a tiny square filled with flower stalls.

Tkalčićeva Street or Tkalča, the most colorful downtown street and the bohemian heart of Zagreb is lined with chic boutiques, traditional shops, cafes, and restaurants.

It’s built at the same place where once Medveščak Creek flowed separating the districts of Kaptol and Gradec.

Tkalčićeva Street zagreb
Tkalčićeva Street. Picture Credits: Mister No (Wikimedia Commons)

You can’t help but pause at an interesting bronze Statue of Marija Juric Zagorka, first Croatian female journalist and writer who’s known as the lady with a pungent pen.

Now, move north of Tkalčićeva to see Glyptotheque, one of Zagreb’s best-preserved industrial buildings, belongs to the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences now and showcases a collection of sculptures.

Moving a bit further you’ll reach an alley that connects Tkalčićeva to Radićeva known as Bloody Bridge.

This place was a spot for frequent quarrels between Kaptol and Gradec communities, thus the name. Though the bridge was demolished a long back, the street still carries the name.

bloody bridge zagreb
Walking the Bloody Bridge
HPB Bank Jurišićeva
Jurišićeva Street
Radićeva

Radićeva is an inclined street that leads to the Zagreb Upper Town. This is one of the best places in the town to eat and drink.

Radićeva Zagreb
Radićeva Street

Zagreb 80s Museum at Radićeva 34 on the first floor of an old building demonstrates life and times in 80s Yugoslavia.

Before you make your way uphill to Stone Gate, I’d urge you to stop and admire the statue of St George with a beautiful backdrop of a building with a living wall.

statue of St George
Statue of St George
Stone Gate Chapel

The Stone Gate (Kamenita Vrata), the only preserved old town gate is the passageway to the Upper Town and a significant sacred site in Zagreb. Its archway houses a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, a guardian saint of Zagreb.

As you exit the archway and look back, you’ll spot a bronze sculpture of Dora Krupić, a character from Croatia’s first real historical novel (The Goldsmith’s Gold) adorning the right wall of the gate.

Stone Gate Kamenita Vrata Zagreb
A chapel inside the Stone Gate (Kamenita Vrata)

Kemenita ulica (Stone Street) is also home to Zagreb’s Oldest Pharmacy functioning since 1355.

A few steps away stands a statue of Admiral Nelson’s lion and under it attached to a stone dais are two chains holding Nelson’s admiral ship “Victory” after the Battle of Trafalgar known to be the Chains from HMS Victory.

Grič Tunnel

Not far from there, running between Radiceva and Mesnička streets is Gric tunnel that was used as a bomb shelter in World War II. The admission to the tunnel is free and it is open from 9 am to 9 pm.

One of the six exits of tunnel leads to Zagreb Art Park which is a nice open space to visit with kids and admire artsy surroundings.

Opatička ulica

Opatička ulica, a quaint and charming street in Gradec is flanked by splendid Baroque and Classical palaces. The left side (Opatička 20-22) is lined by the former Clares convent that houses the Zagreb City Museum now.

Opatička 18 is a Neo-Classical People’s House that serves as an Institute for the History of Croatian Literature, Theater, and Music.

Croatian Institute of History
Croatian Institute of History

At Opatička 10, a beautiful palace with impressive wrought-iron railings holds the Croatian Institute of History today.

Hidden Zagreb: Visit the ruins of Jurjevska Street Cemetery (Jurjevsko groblje) aka The Cemetery By The Chestnut Tree for some offbeat and mystical experience.

At the junction of Opatička, Jurjevska and Radićeva Streets is Llirski trg or Illyrian Square with a pretty chapel in the center.

Llirski trg or Illyrian Square zagreb
Illyrian Square

The round tower known as Priest’s Tower at the northern end of Opatička houses the Zagreb Observatory. It’s open for public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 8 pm to 10 pm and the entry is free.

St. Mark’s Square

Now, you’ll reach the heart of the Upper Town, St Mark’s Square dominated by the 13th-century impressive St Mark’s Church, a colorful tiled roof three-aisled Romanesque church.

It’s one of the most photographed sites in Zagreb. For a reason, of course!

St. Mark's Church Zagreb
I, posing in front of gorgeous St. Mark’s Church

While you are at St. Mark’s Square, spend some time observing other attractive buildings and sculptors around St. Mark’s Church – Banski dvori (Governer’s Palace), the Croatian Sabor (Parliament), Atelijer Meštrović (Art Museum), and the Croatian History Museum.

Walk towards Ćirilometodska, a street running parallel to St. Mark’s Church and admire the Baroque buildings on both sides. The major attractions here are the Old City Hall and the Croatian Museum of Naive Art.

museum of broken relationships zagreb
Museum of Broken Relationships

You can visit the Museum of Broken Relationships here, a unique and quirky museum that treasures the items that are remnants of love and relationships that failed each accompanied with a story, some sad, others funny.

We decided to skip the museum (even though I wanted to buy famous bad memories eraser from the museum shop) because didn’t feel it worth-a-visit with young kids.

Next, you’ll spot Catherine’s Square dictated by a medieval St Catherine Church that looks beautiful in all its simplicity. You can have views over Kaptol from the church’s courtyard.

Also, make sure to notice the impressive graffiti work by Etien – a blue whale painted on a deserted building and a 3D sea turtle accompanied by a fish painted on the ground.

Zagreb’s first Humanistic Secondary School dating back to 1607 is another worth-a-stop attraction here.

A little further, a teeny-weeny Jesuit Square features the Klovićevi Dvori Gallery and a plain-looking sculpture of a fisherman.

Stroll along the Strossmayer Promenade

Stretching along Gradec Hill’s southern border is Strossmayer Promenade beautifully lined with lush chestnut trees – a perfect place to spend some time during the hot summer and relish the panoramic views over Zagreb.

Mini-me posing at one of the many interesting installations at  Strossmayer Promenade
Mini-me posing at one of the many interesting installations at Strossmayer Promenade

Take in the amazing views over Zagreb with Zagreb Cathedral as a backdrop from Strossmayer Promenade.

views of zagreb cathedral from strossmayer promenade

Head to the end of the promenade towards the love locks filled railing and capture the views over Zagreb from a different angle.

views over zagreb from strossmayer promenade

A silver statue of a Croatian poet, Antun Gustov Matoš sitting on a bench beside promenade seems to be waiting for someone to give him company.

Lotrščak Tower

Lotrščak Tower, a medieval tower with a look-out post (offers 360° view) on the promenade is famous for its Noon Grič Cannon Shot where the cannon is fired every day over the city at noon supposedly to celebrate Zagreb’s victory over the Turks.

Ride the World’s Shortest Funicular

From here, take a ride in the world’s shortest funicular (66m) and Zagreb’s oldest means of public transportation to reach the Lower Town.

It safely connects the Lower Town (Donji grad) and the Upper Town (Gornji grad) and takes just about a minute in 4 HRK per person.

zagreb funicular strossmayer promenade

The funicular departs every 10 minutes from 6:30 am to 10 pm.

Note: This self-guided walk can be done the other way round too. Take the funicular to the Upper Town and finish at Ban Josip Jelačić Square.

Walk the Lower Town

Donji Grad or Lower Town starts at Jelacic Square with Ilica Street running along with it.

Ilica is one of the main streets through Lower Town and is known to be the shopper’s paradise.

Ilica street zagreb lower town
Walking the Ilica Street
ilica street zagreb

Close to Jelacic Square, named after the Croatian Ban, Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square is one of the green squares of Zagreb with Zrinjevac (a promenade with trees, a wrought-iron bandstand, fountains, and the busts of famous personalities) in the center of the square.

Zrinjevac zagreb

Another stellar here is an ancient marble meteorological pole that shows the temperature and air pressure with a 24-hour dial.

Zagreb’s first-ever fountain called The Mushroom by locals because of its shape stands in Zrinjevac.

The square in all the directions is flanked by notable buildings – the Archeological Museum housed in the Vranyczany-Hafner Palace, Hazu – The Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences, Gallery of Modern Art, and Image of War Photography Museum.

 A wrought-iron bandstand in Zirnjevac ZAGREB
A wrought-iron bandstand in Zirnjevac
gallery of modern art zagreb
Gallery of Modern Art

Few yards away south of Nikola Subić Zrinski Square is the King Tomislav Square where the gorgeous bright yellow Art Pavilion (Art Gallery) designed using metal frame techniques steals the show.

art pavilion king tomislav sqaure zagreb
Dramatic Art Pavilion

On the opposite end of the square stands a statue of King Tomislav (Croatia’s first king).

statue of King Tomislav zagreb
A statue of King Tomislav

You could see the Main Railway Station building across the road from the statue. If you stand with the main railway station at your back, you’ll have stunning views of King Tomislav statue, Art Pavilion, Zagreb Cathedral’s spires with a backdrop of Mount Medvednica lush slopes.

main railway station zagreb glavni kolodvor
Main railway station
king tomislav square
King Tomislav Square from a different angle

Close to the main railway station, at Mihanoviceva street is the city’s iconic Hotel Esplanade built in neoclassical style in 1925.

hotel esplanade zagreb
The Iconic Hotel Esplanade

It’s expensive obviously but is a perfect place to stay owing to its strategic location close to all the attractions and means of public transport.

Walkabout a little less than a mile towards the right to reach the Marko Marulić Square loomed over by the former National and University Library, now home to the Croatian State Archives, one of the finest examples of Croatian Art Nouveau

Running parallel to the railway tracks on Mihanoviceva street, the Botanical Gardens with its mind-boggling collection of Croatian plants form the southern part of Lenuci’s Horseshoe aka Green Horseshoe, a green belt in Zagreb.

Marko Marulić Square zagreb
Marko Marulić Square

Lenuci’s Horseshoe unites the 7 squares (Nikola Subic Zrinski, Josip Juraj Strossmayer Square, King Tomislav Square, Ante Starcevic Square, Botanical Garden, Marko Marulić Square, Mazuranić square, and Marshal Tito Square) on 3 sides in the shape of letter U.

Mažuranićev Square

Around 700 m from Marulić Square is Mažuranićev Square that offers the Zagreb’s Ethnographic Museum located in an Art Nouveau building which was the Chamber of Trade formerly.

Republic of Croatia Square

Formerly known as University and Theater Square, Trg Republike Hrvatske is the last in the Lenuci Horshoe’s arc of 8 green squares.

The main attractions here include the Croatian National Theater, the Well of Life (water fountain in front of the theater), Zagreb University (oldest in Croatia), the Museum of Arts and Crafts, and St. George Statue.

The Mimara Museum on Roosevelt Square holds the art collection by Wiltrud and Ante Topić Mimara.

museum of arts and crafts zagreb
Museum of Arts and Crafts
Masarykova

One of the fascinating streets in Zagreb, Masarykova is named after the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk.

Filled with impressive 19th-century office buildings and apartment blocks, palaces, cafes, restaurants, bars, small shops by craftsmen, this street offers an interesting walk.

The Kallina House, Apartment of Viktor Kovačić, Zagreb’s First Skyscraper, and Statue of Nikola Tesla are attractions worth-a-look here.

statue of Nikola Tesla at Masarykova
Statue of Nikola Tesla at Masarykova
Petar Preradović Square

The square is a popular meeting point in Zagreb. Locals call it Flower Square (Cvjetni trg). Named after Petar Preradović, the square has his statue in the center.

The square and its surrounding streets are lined with sidewalk cafes that make it a perfect place to experience the outdoor lounge culture of Zagreb.

Must-Experience: Zagreb’s coffee culture at the most celebrated coffee strip in Zagreb, Špica (the peak), the pedestrianized stretch between Ban Jelačić Square and Petar Preradović Square.

Other attractions in and around the square are the statue of Tin Ujević, Miškec’s Passage (connects Masarykova with Varsavka), The Oktogon (pre-world war I arcade connects flower square with Ilica), a sculpture of Grounded Sun, and the Napredak Skyscraper.

The Skyscraper with its Zagreb 360 Observation Deck offers amazing views over Zagreb.

View from Zagreb 360 degree observation deck
View from Zagreb 360 degree observation deck
Ilica

You’ll realize local’s love for Ilica while talking to them. 6 kilometers long, Ilica remains the main artery of Zagreb since 15th-century.

The attractions you should stop by while strolling this iconic street are – the statue of Andrija Kačić Miošić, Mesnička (connects Ilica with upper town), Britanski trg (aka British Square or Ilica Square is famous for its farmer’s market), and the Church of Saint Blaise.

Zagreb’s first brewery lies here on Ilica.

If you happen to be in Zagreb on Sunday and are by chance also an antique lover, don’t miss some great bargains at Sunday Antique Fair on British Square.

Jurišićeva

Zagreb’s commercial street, Jurišićeva boasts a huge Post Office built in Hungarian Art-Nouveau style, a statue of Stjepan Radić Statue, the Stock Market at the Square of the Great Croatians (Trg hrvastskih velikana), HDLU (Croatian Artist’s Association Headquarters) at Victims of Fascism Square (trg zrtava fasizma), Novakova (inter-war era residential street), Vlaška (the street originally settled by Italians), and August Šenoa sculpture.

Explore Novi Zagreb (Outside the City Centre)

The suburbs of Novi Zagreb across the River Sava though not as charming as the old town, still offer a different cultural experience.

The Technical Museum

Housed in a wooden pavilion, the museum displays horse-drawn trams, space capsules, vintage road vehicles, old airplanes, and much more.

Vukovar Avenue

The avenue with its planned series of European modernist style towering buildings and state organizations. Vukovar Avenue swanks New City Hall, Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall, and National and University Library.

Did you Know?

Mamutica (literally translates to She Mammoth), a largest residential building not only in 

Croatia but entire Europe is in Novi Zagreb.
The Museum of Contemporary Art

A brand new museum in Novi Zagreb hosts a permanent exhibition showcasing Croatian and International modern art and organizes temporary exhibitions from time to time which reflects the current art trends.

The River Sava

The River Sava is one of the three longest rivers in Croatia. It starts in Slovenia and flows all the way to Serbia to meet River Danube.

The old town is on its left bank while Novi Zagreb is developed on its right bank.

river sava zagreb croatia
Bundek

Bundek is a haven of tranquility and nature adjacent to the River Sava on the fringes of Novi Zagreb.

It’s a great place for biking, walking, and fishing.

Jarun

Jarun, a region southwest of the city center is named after Lake Jarun aka Zagreb Sea formed by the backwaters of River Sava.

The region now has been developed into a sports and recreation center making it a great place to spend some time away from all the hullabaloo of city life.

If swimming is what you love, you’d love the lakeside pebble beaches.

Mirogoj (Zagreb Cemetery)

Gorgeous. Just. One Word.

I never thought a cemetery can be as beautiful as it is.

Its monumental arcades, pavilion chapels, domed gatehouses, aesthetically sculpted graves, living walls or vertical gardens, lush surroundings ooze artsy charm.

Maksimir Park

Considered one of the masterpieces of garden architecture, Maksimir is one of the oldest public parks in the world.

Home to hundred-year-old oak forests, lush meadows, beautiful trails, lakes, and streams, different varieties of birds – it has all the ingredients one needs to feel how beautiful life is.

Zagreb Zoo inside the park is like icing on the cake.

Medvednica

Protected as a nature reserve, the capital of Croatia has Mount Medvednica at its doorstep. You can spot the hills no matter in which part of the city you are in.

Medvednica apart from giving beauty to the city protects Zagreb from cold northern winds.

Sljeme, Medvednica’s summit is quite famous among hikers.

Medvedgrad, a wonderfully preserved medieval castle rests on the southern slopes of Mount Medvednica.

If you have to choose only one park in Zagreb, let it be Medvednica Nature Park.

Hrelić – Jakuševac Flea Market

Bargain lovers delight, Hrelić is authentic and the biggest flea market in Zagreb. From old books to clothes, leather products, footwear and everything in-between at dirt cheap prices.

So, brush up your haggling skills before you hit the market.

Soak in Zagreb’s Street Art Culture

Zagreb is slowly embracing the graffiti and street-art culture.

You can experience Zagreb’s graphic art at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Modern Gallery, Dolac, Branimir, Dugava, and Pierottijeva.

Giant whale graffiti on a deserted building by a French artist, Etien
Giant whale graffiti on a deserted building by a French artist, Etien

You’ll find quirky water pumps in Upper Town uniquely painted by local street artists under a unique project Pimp my Pump.

Best Time to Visit Zagreb

The best time to visit Zagreb is from April until October. I’d recommend skipping the summer months of June, July, and August as the temperatures and crowds are too much to handle.

If you ask me, I’d say visit Zagreb during the months of May and September as you’ll have the place almost to yourself plus the weather and accommodation prices both are cool 🙂

April and October can also be good months to travel to Zagreb.

Weather in Zagreb

Zagreb has a coastal climate. The summers are hot and dry and winters are snowy and cold. The average summer temperature is around 20° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit) and in winter it’s around 1° Celsius ( 34° Fahrenheit).

Rain is experienced relatively all around the year with September, October, November, and December as the wettest months and January, and February as the driest months.

How many Days in Zagreb?

Two days (48 hours) are more than enough to explore Zagreb.

Getting to Zagreb

As the capital city of Croatia, Zagreb is well-connected to the rest of the world by air and the European countries by road.

By Air

All the major airlines link Franjo Tuđman Airport Zagreb to the world capitals year-round. Croatia Airlines is the best bet if you are traveling to and from other European capitals.

By Bus and Train

There are a plethora of international bus and train lines to Zagreb from other European cities and domestic bus and train lines to Zagreb from other Croatian cities.

You can check the bus schedules at the official website of Zagreb Bus Terminal and train schedules at Croatia Railways website and Die Bahn website.

By Car

We rented a car for our European adventure and drove to Zagreb from Ljubljana that took us a little over 2 hours.

Croatia is best explored by car. Croatian roads and motorways are a delight to drive on. Obviously, driving in cities isn’t fun with loads of traffic and parking problems.

Parking in Zagreb

We had faced the parking issues in Ljubljana and thus, left our car at our Airbnb parking to save the hassle.

Like in other European cities, Zagreb has options for street parking and public garage parking. Short-time street parking is organized in 4 zones as per the distance from the city center. You can find a free parking spot outside the city center.

Public Garages are safe and have no time limit but expensive. Petrinjska Street and Langov Trg are the closest to the center of the city. The parking cost ranges from 1 Kuna to 5 Kuna per hour. 

Car Rental in Zagreb

We recommend using the price-comparison websites Skyscanner and Auto Europe to evaluate the prices of various car rental companies before renting a car.

Getting Around Zagreb

Zagreb can be easily explored on foot, especially the Old Town. If walking is something you despise then Zagreb has a convenient and affordable public transport system consisting of trams and buses. Taxi and Uber are also an option while you travel outside the city center.

Zagreb Card

Zagreb Card is a tourist card that along with free entrance to various museums and attractions gives free access to public transport. Plus the card offers additional discounts and benefits to the cardholders.

You can buy a 24-hour (98 HRK) or 72-Hour (135 HRK) card from the Tourist Information Center at Ban Jelačić Square.

Zagreb Tram

There are several trams running on as many as 20 lines connecting the various parts of the city. The tickets can be purchased from Tisak kiosks or from the tram driver.

A standard ticket costs 10 Kuna (during the day) and 15 Kuna (at night) and is valid for 90 minutes in one direction.

There’s an option to buy a daily ticket that costs 30 Kuna and allows you to ride the trams as many as you want and as much as you like in any direction. Likewise, 3-day, 7-day, 15-day, and 30-day tickets are available.

trams in zagreb
Streetcars or trams at Trg bana Jelačića
Zagreb Bus

Bus service in Zagreb consists of about 134 lines connecting the different parts of Zagreb and the suburbs with the city center. The ticket system is the same as for the Zagreb trams.

Taxi

The prime taxi providers in Zagreb are Taxi Cammeo, Zebra Taxi, Eko Taxi, and Radio Taxi Zagreb. The start prices usually vary between 6 Kuna and 10 Kuna and most of them cost about 6 Kuna per kilometer.

Uber

Uber in Zagreb surprisingly offers great service at modest rates. The start charges are 6 Kuna and then about 3 Kuna per kilometer. The cost per minute is 0.60 Kuna and 13 Kuna is the minimum price.

It’s not as cheap as public transport for solo-travelers but a great alternative for family or group travelers.

We used it extensively and found the Uber drivers in Croatia to be pleasant, honest, and helpful. I’m saying this based on two instances we had in Zagreb and Dubrovnik.

Hubby forgot his iPhone somewhere in Zagreb and realized it soon after boarding the Uber. He wasn’t sure where. Maybe at a restaurant where we had dinner or at one of the two shops, we stopped by for souvenirs or…he had no idea.

The driver went out of his way to help us in tracing the mobile phone with a genuine smile. These kinds of gestures every now and then retain our faith in kindness and humanity.

Bicycle

I can’t emphasize enough that biking is the best way to explore European capitals. There are many public bike rentals in Zagreb who have locations scattered across the city where you can rent and return the bikes.

We’d strongly recommend Bike.com.hr, and Pedaloo to rent a bike in Zagreb.

Alternatively, you can choose one of many biking tours in Zagreb.

On Foot

The center of the city can be easily explored on foot. You can either take a self-guided walk or can join one of the numerous free or paid walking tours.

Where to Stay in Zagreb

Zagreb has a vast, easy, and affordable public transportation system so no matter which neighborhood you stay in Zagreb, you wouldn’t have to struggle to get around in Zagreb.

We found the accommodation options in Zagreb a great value of money as compared to other capital cities in Europe.

We’ve rounded up some of the best Zagreb accommodation options from Hostels to apartments, boutique hotels, luxury hotels, and Airbnbs to help you decide where to stay based on your budget or travel style.

Hostels in Zagreb

The Dots Hostel

Boutique Hostel Shappy

Main Square Hostel

Love Croatia Hostel

Budget Hotels in Zagreb

Hotel Academia

Hotel AS

Hotel Croatia

Luxury Hotels in Zagreb

Hotel Esplanade

Hotel Capital

Hotel Dubrovnik

Hotel Jägerhorn

Sheraton Zagreb Hotel

Apartments in Zagreb

4gZg Apartment

Apartments Simple Teslina

Ria Studioapartman

Feels Like Home Apartments

Apartment Old Zagreb

Airbnb in Zagreb

We stayed in Bianca&Marko’s property and loved every bit of our stay. It’s fairly close to the center of the city yet away from all the hustle and bustle of it.

If you haven’t tried Airbnb, it’s high time you do. Click here to get a discount on your first Airbnb booking.

Where to Eat in Zagreb

Zagreb has plenty of traditional restaurants serving Croatian cuisine and chic cafes that vouch for its vibrant cafe culture.

Being a vegetarian, I was apprehensive as Croatia was marked as the sixth-worst country in Europe for vegetarians as per the study by The Eco Experts but I had a great vegetarian food experience in Zagreb. Though, I found Croatian Islands attesting to this study.

Here are the few restaurants and cafes we tried during our time in Zagreb:

Restaurants in Zagreb

Zinfandel’s Restaurant

Restaurant TAČ

Konoba Didov San

Mali Bar

Dubravkin put

Vinodol

Vegetarian Restaurants Zagreb

Curry Bowl

Green Point

Zrno Bio Bistro

Cafes in Zagreb

Experience the lively Croatian Cafe Culture with a cup of coffee accompanied by a Croatian cake.

Kim’s Coffee

Cogito Coffee Shop

Eli’s Caffe

Najgora Kava U Gradu

Quahwa

Hendrick’s garden (A Most Unusual Garden)

Otto&Frank

Booksa

It’s not your regular cafe. This is a great place to read a book or two, write your heart out, work on your laptop, and relax for hours on with a cup of coffee or tea.

Bars in Zagreb

Obviously, you would want to feel the craft beer culture in Croatia and Zagreb has plenty of breweries, pubs, and bars to taste and enjoy nice brews.

Tolkien’s House

The Old Pharmacy

The Garden Brewery

Craft Room

What to Eat in Zagreb

You’d love Croatian food if you are a non-vegetarian as most of their traditional dishes include meat. Hubby and mini-me enjoyed some of them. For me, I was happy with the side dishes (potatoes, cabbage, and root veggies) and of course, desserts.

Some of the must-try Croatian dishes are:

  • Sir i vrhnje (cottage cheese and sour cream)
  • Crni rizot (black risotto)
  • Zagorsk Štrukli (dough filled with cottage cheese and sour cream)
  • Sopamik (savory pie filled with Swiss chard)
  • Cuspajz (vegetable stew served with polenta, parsley, carrots, celery, and sour cream)
  • Paprenjac (traditional Croatian cookies)
  • Rozata (custard pudding)
  • Krostule (traditional pastry)
  • Knedli (sweet potato dumplings)
  • Fritule (Croatian fried dought pastry)

Shopping in Zagreb

From local stores to huge shopping malls, Zagreb has plenty of options for a shopper in you. It’s always good to shop directly from the manufacturers at local markets than shopping malls.

Museum gift shops are also a good option to shop for local souvenirs.

Ilica street has some unique stores where you can shop for handcrafted local products.

Some of our recommendations are:

  • Bashota at Ilica for Croatian jewelry
  • Croata at Oktogon for Croatian cravats
  • Hippy Garden (Croatian fashion brand) at Masarykova for clothes
  • Natura Croatica at Preradoviceva for gastronomic souvenirs
  • Arkadija Bookstore at Trg bana Josipa Jelačića for bookish souvenirs
  • Bloody Bridge Souvenirs for all kinds of souvenirs for all budgets

Souvenirs to Bring From Zagreb

  • Licitars (red heart honey dough cookies)
  • Licitar shaped fridge magnets
  • Šestine motif umbrella or clothes
  • Lavender products like soaps, cosmetics, or dried lavenders
  • Wooden toys for kids
  • Croatian candies and chocolates for kids: 505 s crtom, Kiki, Bajadera, Griotte, Cedevita, Peppermint, Arancini, and Bronhi are some of the iconic Croatian candies.
  • Cravats (ties)
  • Traditional Croatian lace
  • Croatian jewelry
  • Croatian cheese

Day Trips from Zagreb

Located close to some of the region’s best attractions, Zagreb offers amazing day-trips. You can rent a car or ride public transport or join one of many guided tours to one of the day trip destinations.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Rastoke, Samobor, Krapina, and Varazdin in Croatia and Ljublijana and Lake Bled in Slovenia are recommended destinations for day-tripping from Zagreb.

Before You Plan

  • Know if you need a visa for Zagreb. The holders of uniform visa (C) for two or multiple entries, valid for all Schengen Area Member States don’t need to apply a separate visa for Croatia. Read our complete guide to Schengen Visa.
  • Make sure to have a guidebook before you set foot in Zagreb. That makes getting around the city easy.
  • As Zagreb is designed for strolling, you need comfortable and super light walking shoes. I wear Skechers while hubby loves Adidas and mini-me has got New Balance.

Have you ever been to Zagreb? How did you like it? We are all ears.

We sincerely hope our guide to Zagreb helps you plan a perfect vacation. If you have any queries, let us know in the comments section below. We’ll be happy to help.

Also, we’d be obliged if you could take five minutes of your time to share this post with the world if it helped you in any way.

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Visiting Zagreb, Croatia? Read our complete guide to the capital city of Croatia with everything from things to do in Zagreb to where to stay in Zagreb, where to eat in zagreb and everything in-between to make the most of your trip!
Visiting Zagreb, Croatia? Read our complete guide to the capital city of Croatia with everything from things to do in Zagreb to where to stay in Zagreb, where to eat in zagreb and everything in-between to make the most of your trip!

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