Exploring Zagreb: Uncovering the Best Things to See and Do in Croatia’s Capital City

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Learn What To See And Do In Zagreb, Croatia’s Bustling Capital

If you’re planning a trip to Europe and looking for an interesting, off-the-beaten-path destination, then you should definitely consider adding Zagreb, Croatia, to your itinerary. This vibrant city is jam-packed with interesting sights and activities, from incredible food to exciting nightlife, however is often overlooked in favour of Split and Dubrovnic. 

I personally loved Zagreb and I would highly recommend a few days in Croatia’s capital. Here’s a look at some of Zagreb’s history, its culture and the best things to do in Zagreb.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia and the country’s largest city, with a population of over 800,000. It is located in the northwest of Croatia, at the foot of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb is known for its rich cultural heritage, with a number of museums, galleries, and theaters.

Nestled between the Sava River and the majestic Medvednica mountain, Zagreb is a city of contrasts, brimming with rich history, diverse architecture, and vibrant culture. As a past visitor to this city, I can vouch for the alluring charm that Zagreb, Croatia carries. It’s a city that seamlessly combines the old and the new, the traditional and the modern, the quiet and the bustling.

I was so surprised by Zagreb. I expected nothing and really loved it.

Zagreb is a place where you can wander through cobblestone streets, marvel at medieval towers, explore vibrant markets, and enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the many charming cafes. But Zagreb isn’t just about historical charm; it’s also a progressive city with a thriving arts scene, bustling nightlife, and a wide range of culinary delights.

Zagreb has a number of festivals and events throughout the year and is especially known for its music and art festivals, so if you’re looking for a unique cultural experience, Zagreb is the place to be, especially over the summer months.

Quick History of Zagreb – Gateway to Croatia’s Culture

Zagreb’s history is a mosaic of influences and milestones that have shaped it into the gateway to Croatia’s culture. The best things to do in Zagreb often involve delving into its past, from its medieval roots to the role it played as a cultural hub through the centuries.

Each cobblestone in Zagreb tells a story, with the city’s historical narrative woven into the fabric of its streets and buildings. This rich history is not just preserved in monuments but is a living part of the daily life and traditions of its people, making it an essential destination for cultural enthusiasts.

The actual foundation of Zagreb, began with the establishment of two medieval hilltop settlements, Gradec and Kaptol, in the 11th and 12th centuries. These settlements, situated on neighboring hills, formed the nucleus of what would become modern Zagreb.

The 13th Century saw the Hungarians create a more entrenched settlement which included the construction of the Zagreb Cathedral. Throughout the next 400 years Zagreb fell under Ottoman rule before beginning to flourish under its own steam in the lat 18th century.

The city experienced rapid industrialization and modernization during the 19th century before suffering greatly during World War II and the Croatian War of Independence in the 1990s.

Today, Zagreb is a testament to its rich history, with its well-preserved medieval architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and bustling urban life. It stands as a symbol of Croatian heritage and progress, continuing to captivate visitors and residents alike with its unique blend of history and modernity.

Zagreb’s Unique Vibe – What Makes It Special

Zagreb’s unique vibe is the result of old-world charm meeting a more contemporary lifestyle, creating an atmosphere that’s both nostalgic and forward-looking.

This special vibe is also reflected in the way locals embrace life, with a laid-back attitude that invites visitors to slow down and savor each moment. It’s in the spontaneous conversations, the leisurely walks through ancient streets, and the vibrant nightlife that Zagreb’s spirit truly shines through.

Zagreb actually really reminded me of Malta in a lot of places. I guess the many different influences over the centuries have resulted in both being quite diverse.

Locals on the streets of Zagreb
Locals on the streets of Zagreb

Iconic Landmarks and Things To Do in Zagreb

Among the city’s numerous attractions, Zagreb Cathedral stands tall with its twin spires, a beacon of Gothic splendor and an essential stop for Zagreb sightseeing. While the Cathedral is the most Iconic landmark in Zagreb, there is heaps more to see and do. 

Visit the Museum of Broken Relationships

The Museum of Broken Relationships is one of the most unique museums in Zagreb. This museum celebrates the stories of relationships that didn’t quite work out, with a number of fascinating exhibits and artifacts.

The museum is dedicated to showcasing items that symbolize the end of a romantic relationship or a personal connection. The museum features a collection of donated objects, each with a story attached to it, providing visitors with a glimpse into the various emotions associated with breakups and failed relationships.

There are so many weird and wonderful things, like belly button lint, hand made drawings, a hair dryer, shoes, pictures and even an espresso machine. It does sound weird, but they all have the stories attached to it and they are pretty much all worth reading.

Museum of Broken Relationships Location:

The Museum of Broken Relationships is located at Ćirilometodska ul. 2, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia.

Museum of Broken Relationships Opening Times:

The opening hours of the Museum of Broken Relationships are as follows:

Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm

Saturday and Sunday they closer later: 9:00 am to 10:00 pm

Museum of Broken Relationships Cost of Entry:

The entry fee for the Museum of Broken Relationships is as below:

Adults: 50 HRK (approximately $8 USD)

Students and Senior Citizens: 30 HRK (approximately $5 USD)

Children (up to 7 years): Free

Get your Skip the Line Tickets for the Museum of Broken Relationships early.

Please note that the entry fee is subject to change, and it is always a good idea to check the museum’s official website for updated information before visiting.

I didn’t take any photos inside the museum as there was a tour group there when we visited and it was hard to get anything without 25 people in the photos.

There is a little cafe at the museum which has the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten and of course a little shop for souvenirs. I’m not usually an ice cream lover but Brad got one and I had a taste. That was a mistake from a calory intake perspective, but not from a taste one. I don’t know what they do but its worth the entry fee just to get some ice cream!

More info and the digital version of the museum are available via their website.

Explore Maksimir Park

Maksimir Park is the largest park in Zagreb, and a great place to spend the day. The park is full of lush greenery, with a number of trails and outdoor activities to enjoy.

The park is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, offering plenty of opportunities for relaxation and recreation. It is massive and there are many things to see and do inside the park, which I’ve listed below.

Maksimir Park Address:

Maksimir Park is located at Maksimirski perivoj bb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia.

Maksimir Park Opening Times:

The opening hours of Maksimir Park vary depending on the season. Generally, the park is open daily from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm during the summer months (April to September) and from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm during the winter months (October to March). However, the opening hours may be subject to change, and it’s always a good idea to check the park’s official website for updated information before visiting.

Maksimir Park Cost of Entry:

Maksimir Park is open to the public, and there is no entry fee. However, some of the park’s attractions may have a separate admission fee, such as the Zagreb City Zoo or the Maksimir Stadium. If you wish to visit any of these attractions, you will need to purchase a separate ticket.

Things to See and Do in Maksimir Park :

Maksimir Park is a large and spacious park with plenty of attractions and things to see and do. Some of the most popular attractions in the park include:

Zagreb City Zoo:

This is a popular attraction within the park, and it is home to over 275 animal species. I didn’t go into the zoo. I can’t do zoo’s so I can’t say what the quality is I’m sorry.

Maksimir Stadium:

This is the home stadium of Dinamo Zagreb football club.

The Lakes:

The park has several large lakes, including the Upper and Lower Lake, which are popular spots for picnics and relaxation.

Walking and Cycling Trails:

The park has numerous trails that are perfect for walking, running, or cycling. There is all sorts of art installations, a Swiss House, an old Obelisk, a Spruce forest and even a secret bunker.

The Spruce Forest at Maksimir Park Zagreb
The Spruce Forest at Maksimir Park Zagreb

Marvel at the Gothic Splendor of Zagreb Cathedral

The Zagreb Cathedral is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture, with a number of beautiful features.

Zagreb Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a landmark attraction in the heart of Zagreb, Croatia. The cathedral is one of the most iconic structures in the city, and it attracts visitors from all over the world.

Unfortunately the church spires were damaged in an earthquake in March of 2020 and the city has since taken one of the spires down. The cathedral had not yet re-opened when we visited, however they were hopeful it would be opening early 2023.

Keep in mind that the Cathedral isn’t a massive building like the Hassan II Mosque in Morocco for example but it is very important to the local community and worth visiting.

Zagreb Cathedral Address:

Zagreb Cathedral is located at Kaptol ul. 31, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia.

Zagreb Cathedral Opening Times:

The opening hours of Zagreb Cathedral were as follows. I am assuming they will reopen with the same times. You will need to check to see if the cathedral is in fact open to the public again before adding it to your itinerary.

Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday: 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Please note that the cathedral may be closed to visitors during religious ceremonies or events. It’s always a good idea to check the cathedral’s official website for updated information before visiting.

Zagreb Cathedral Cost of Entry:

Zagreb Cathedral is open to the public, and there is no entry fee. However, visitors are encouraged to make a donation to help support the maintenance and preservation of the cathedral.

Things to See and Do inside Zagreb Cathedral:

Zagreb Cathedral is a magnificent structure with a rich history and plenty of things to see and do. Some of the most popular attractions in the cathedral include:

The Main Altar: This is a beautiful and ornate altar that is the centerpiece of the cathedral.

The Stained Glass Windows: The cathedral has several stunning stained glass windows that are a sight to behold.

The Bell Tower: Visitors can climb to the top of the cathedral’s bell tower for a breathtaking view of the city.

The Treasury: The cathedral’s treasury houses an impressive collection of religious art and artifacts. 

Zagreb Cathedral under repairs
Zagreb Cathedral under repairs

Explore Zagreb’s Historic Centre

Zagreb is home to a number of historic centers, each with its own unique charm. The Upper Town is a great place to start, with its cobbled streets, charming cafes, and stunning architecture.

Zagreb’s Upper Town, also known as Gornji Grad, is the historical heart of the city and a popular destination for tourists. Here are some of the things you can see and do in Zagreb’s Upper Town:

St. Mark’s Church

This is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Zagreb, thanks to its colorful tiled roof featuring the coat of arms of Zagreb and Croatia.

Located in the heart of Zagreb’s historical Upper Town, the church stands as a testament to the rich cultural and architectural heritage of Croatia. This iconic church is renowned for its picturesque roof, adorned with colorful tiles that form the coats of arms of Zagreb and the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia.

Constructed in the 13th century, St. Mark’s Church has witnessed numerous historical events and has undergone various renovations, blending Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural styles. Its striking façade and the vibrant roof make it a must-visit landmark for tourists in Zagreb.

Inside, the church houses impressive works of art, including sculptures and paintings, that reflect the religious and artistic history of the region. The church’s unique charm and historical significance make it a symbol of Zagreb’s enduring legacy and a cherished jewel in Croatia’s cultural crown.

St Marks Church Location In Zagreb

The church is located at Trg Sv. Marka 5, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

St Marks Church Opening Hours

The church is open 24 hours, but please be aware it is an operating church so be respectful, dress appropriately and keep the noise down.

However – please be aware that the church is closed at present as it is undergoing repairs from the earthquake that damaged the cathedral. The times below are the operating hours that the church was doing but it may not be open again, depending on when you are in Croatia.

The celebrations are now conducted in the chapel at the Stone Gate.

Mass times for St Marks Church Zagreb

You can attend mass at 6pm during the week and 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m on Sundays.

St Marks Church Zagreb
St Marks Church Zagreb and its very distinctive roof.

Visit Lotrščak Tower

This historic tower was built in the 13th century and offers panoramic views of the city from its top. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower to enjoy stunning views of Zagreb.

It was part of the Zagreb city walls with its main function being to guard the Little Dverce Gate, which was the city’s southern entrance. The walls were taken down in 1812 during the construction of the Strossmayer promenade however the guard tower still stands.

Climb the Lotrscak Tower for Sunset Views

One of the best things to do in Zagreb is to climb up the Lotrščak Tower, a historical guard tower that offers unparalleled views over the city. The tower, a sentinel over the city, survived the 2020 earthquake, testament to its sturdy construction and the city’s resilience. Today, visitors can climb to the viewing platform to watch the golden hues of dusk wash over Zagreb.

The daily cannon fire from Lotrščak Tower is a tradition dating back centuries, marking the close of the day. This unique spectacle is a favorite among tourists and locals alike, adding to the tower’s historical charm and offering a memorable experience for those who witness it.

Witness the Cannon Fire from the Lotrscak Tower

At the close of the 19th century, the Lotrščak tower saw the installation of a cannon by the city council. The cannon played a vital role in setting time – it was fired every day at noon, cueing all city churches to ring their bells. This practice started on New Year’s Eve of 1877.

However, during World War I, this tradition was put on hold and the cannon was left unused and forgotten. In 1927, this tradition was restored and the cannon resumed its daily firing from the southern side of the tower’s fourth floor – a routine it still follows today.

If you are feeling brave time your climb to coincide with the cannon fire, but I warn you ITS LOUD!

These days, Lotrščak tower is not just remembered for its historical significance but has also become an integral part of Public Institution Klovićevi dvori Gallery’s offerings. The ground floor is home to an gift shop that offers a variety of products including souvenirs, books, small artworks and one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces.

Lotrscak Tower Location

Strossmayerovo šetalište 9 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia

Lotrščak Tower Opening Times

The Tower is closed on Mondays

Weekdays (Tuesday – Friday) it is open from 9am to 7pm
Saturday and Sunday its open from 11am to 7pm

Lotrščak Tower Entry Fees

Adults €3 / 22,60 kn
Children, ages 7 – 18: €2 or 15,07 kn
Children as a group (Groups are 10+ children): €1 or 7,53 kn

The view out to the mountains from Lotrscak Tower Zagreb
The view out to the mountains from Lotrscak Tower Zagreb

Visit The Stone Gate

The Stone Gate, known as “Kamenita Vrata” in Croatian, is one of the most significant and cherished landmarks in Zagreb. It is not just an architectural marvel but also a site of deep historical and cultural significance for the city and its residents.

The Stone Gate is the last remaining gate out of the four original gates that once provided access to the medieval walled town that now forms part of Zagreb’s Upper Town (Gornji Grad).

The gate was constructed in the 13th century, however its current form only dates back to the 18th century. Its historical significance is rooted in a dramatic event that took place in 1731 when a devastating fire ravaged the Gradec area, destroying most of the buildings.

However, amidst the ashes, the residents discovered something remarkable: a painting of the Virgin Mary and Child that was hanging on the wall of the Stone Gate’s passage, was miraculously undamaged. This event was interpreted as a divine sign, and since then, the Stone Gate has evolved into a shrine.

The painting of the Virgin Mary is now set in a niche in the wall of the gate, protected by a wrought iron grille. A small chapel-like space has been created around it, where people of all walks of life come to light candles and offer prayers. It is not uncommon to see both locals and tourists stopping for a moment of reflection or prayer, making it a unique blend of a historical site and a living place of worship.

The Stone Gate also holds a special place in the heart of Zagreb’s residents. Every year, on May 31st, the city celebrates the Day of the City of Zagreb, and a procession passes through the Stone Gate, commemorating its historical and spiritual significance. This tradition underscores the gate’s role as a symbol of the city’s endurance and faith.

Architecturally, the gate is a fine example of medieval fortifications. Although it has been restored and renovated over the centuries, it still retains its original charm and continues to stand as a witness to Zagreb’s rich history. The passage through the gate leads to the charming streets of the Upper Town, making it a popular starting point for exploring the historic and scenic parts of Zagreb.

This gate is popular with the local community who often come and light a candle to show their thanks to the Lady for her protections. 

Lighting Candles is allowed Monday through Saturday from 8 AM until 5 PM. On Sunday from 9 AM until 12 PM.

At 8pm on Tuesdays locals come to pray at the gate and you can often find them singing. Everyone is welcome and it is really something to experience. We actually didn’t know about it, we just happened to be there at that time, and some locals told us that it only happens on Tuesday nights. 

The Stone Gate in Zagreb
The Stone Gate in Zagreb

Zagreb Old Town Walking Tours

A great way to see everything and learn more about Croatian life is to do a walking tour of the old town. These tours are affordable and offer a great way to see everything you would like to without having to plan it all out yourself. This one includes a ride on the Funicular.

Alternatively you could buy tickets for the Zagreb Hop-On-Hop-Off bus and use that for your transportation around town.

Visit The Zagreb City Museum

This museum showcases the history and culture of Zagreb through a variety of exhibitions and artifacts. It’s a great place to learn more about the city’s rich history.

They have many permanent displays with over 4500 items and also host various temporary exhibitions throughout the year. 

I will say that while we learned a lot and did like the museum, some of the exhibitions are a little strange. Check out what’s on via their website before you go.

Make sure you go down into the basement to see what they found when they were building the museum. Its worth it just to see that.

Zagreb City Museum Location

You can find the museum at: Opatička 20 10000 Zagreb

Zagreb Museum Opening Times

The museum is closed on Mondays.
Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Last admission 30 minutes before closing.

Zagreb City Museum Entrance fee

  • Adults: €5
  • Families (2 adults and 2 children under 15): €8
  • Pupils, students and retired: €3
  • Groups (10 or more persons): €3.50
  • Groups of pupils, students or retirees (10+ people): €2.50
The basement of Zagreb City Museum
The basement of Zagreb City Museum (with Brad’s head in the way!)

Visit the Croatian National Theatre

The Croatian National Theatre is one of the most important cultural canters in Zagreb. This theatre is home to a number of plays, operas, and concerts, making it a great place to experience the city’s culture.

The Theatre has traditional ballet performances, more modern dance nights, and of course Opera. Sadly we couldn’t get into any shows while we were in Zagreb but it is a stunning building and I can only  imagine what the Opera must be like. 

History of the Croatian National Theatre

In 1834, Zagreb witnessed the inception of its inaugural professional playhouse, a venture spearheaded by Kristofor Stanković, a local tradesman of considerable renown. The architectural vision for this establishment was entrusted to the Italian father-son duo, Christofor and Anton Cragnolini. Renowned for their work in Ljubljana (in neighbouring Slovenia), they designed the theater in a traditional neoclassical style.

The theatre building combines a blend of time-honored elegance and modern functionality. The grand unveiling took place on the 4th of October, 1834, marking a seminal moment in the cultural tapestry of Zagreb.

Tickets To Events At The Croatian National Theatre

Tickets can be purchase direct through the museum’s website, however the popular shows sell out fast. You can view the Schedule of upcoming events and see if there is something on you might like to see during your visit to Zagreb.

Zagreb National Theatre - an impressive building
Zagreb National Theatre – an impressive building

Soak Up Views from Strossmayer Promenade

Strossmayer Promenade offers a tranquil escape along the remnants of Zagreb’s old city walls. This scenic walkway, perched above the city, provides a peaceful respite from the urban bustle and affords some of the most picturesque views of Zagreb. It’s a favorite among locals for an evening stroll.

If you are planning a visit to the Lotsrscak Tower, you will walk up the Strossmayer Promenade so that will kill two birds with one stone so to speak.. 

From the promenade, you can see out over the red-tiled roofs that define Zagreb’s skyline, a sight that is especially pretty during sunset. The promenade’s charm is enhanced by the occasional street musician or artist, adding a cultural flourish to this already idyllic setting.

The red roofs of Zagreb from Strossmayer Promenade
The red roofs of Zagreb from Strossmayer Promenade

Experience the Bustling Atmosphere at Ban Jelacic Square

Ban Jelacic Square, known locally as Trg Bana Josip Jelačić, is the pulsating heart of Zagreb where the city’s energy is most palpable. This central square is named after Ban Josip Jelačić, a national hero, and is a hub for city tours and social gatherings.

Surrounded by historic buildings and bustling cafes, the square is a favorite meeting point for both locals and visitors. Whether it’s to catch a tram, enjoy a coffee, or simply people-watch, Ban Jelacic Square is a microcosm of Zagreb’s vibrant urban life.

There isn’t really anything to see in the square but it is surrounded by great cafes and restaurants so if you are wanting to grab a coffee, wine or a meal, this is a great place to do it. Actually there is a huge statue of a dude on a horse, but apart from that its more like the Piazza’s you find in Spain.

Ban Josip Jelačić Square Zagreb
Ban Josip Jelačić Square Zagreb

Uncover the Secrets of the Grič Tunnel

The Grič Tunnel, a mysterious subterranean passage beneath Zagreb, offers an intriguing journey through the city’s history. Originally built as a bomb shelter during World War II, the tunnel now serves as a unique pedestrian walkway and a venue for art installations and events.

Built during World War II, in 1943, as a bomb shelter and a strategic passageway, this 350-meter-long tunnel extends beneath the city’s historic Grič district. Originally constructed for the purpose of protecting civilians and facilitating undetected troop movements during the war, the Grič Tunnel has since transitioned from its utilitarian origins to become a cultural and tourist attraction.

After extensive renovations, it was reopened to the public in 2016, offering a fascinating glimpse into Zagreb’s wartime history. The tunnel features atmospheric lighting and sound installations, transforming it into a space for art exhibitions, cultural events, and a unique pedestrian route. It’s even been used for a rave!

Exploring this hidden part of Zagreb gives visitors a glimpse into the city’s past while enjoying a cool respite from the summer heat. I was so very surprised at how much cooler it was inside the tunnel. I did expect it to be but it must have been 8-10 degrees cooler than the outside air temp I think.

Grič Tunnel Location

Find the tunnel access via Google Maps.

Grič Tunnel Opening Times

The tunnel is open every day from 9am to 9pm.

As its a public access there is no admission fee.

Grič Tunnel Zagreb
Grič Tunnel Zagreb

Get Your Guide has a great War and history focused tour that covers Grič Tunnel if you would like to learn more about the conflict and its effect on Zagreb.

Visit Dolac Market

If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience, then Dolac Market is the place to be. This bustling market is full of local vendors selling everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts.

Dolac Market is a vibrant and bustling open-air market located in the heart of Zagreb, Croatia. The market is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a wide range of fresh produce, meats, dairy products, and handmade crafts.

There are both inside stalls and those that line the plaza. Saturday is by far the busiest day so if you want the loudest and most boisterous experience, go Saturday.

Inside you tend to find the goods most affected by the sun and heat, like meats, seafoods, cheeses etc. The outside area hosts a lot of vegetable vendors, flowers and all sort of local delights.

Find one of the ladies that makes the corn bread. OMG – almost as good as the ice cream at the Broken Relationships museum! If you are early it will still be warm from the oven.

Dolac Market Location

Dolac Market is located at Trg Petra Preradovića, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia.

Dolac Market Opening Times

The opening hours of Dolac Market are as follows:

Monday to Friday: 7:00 am to 3:00 pm (but sellers start to pack up around 1pm)

Saturday: 7:00 am to 1:00 pm

Sunday: Closed

Please note that the market may be closed on public holidays.

Cost of Entry for Dolac Market

There is no entry fee to visit Dolac Market. However, visitors are expected to purchase items if they wish to enjoy the market’s offerings.

Things to See, Do and Buy At Dolac Market

Dolac Market is a lively and colorful market with plenty of things to see and do. Some of the most popular attractions in the market include:

Fresh Produce: The market is home to a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, including local specialties like truffles and wild asparagus.

Meat and Dairy Products: Visitors can also find a variety of high-quality meats, cheeses, and dairy products at the market.

Handmade Crafts: The market also features several stalls selling handmade crafts, such as pottery, jewellery, and clothing.

People Watching: Dolac Market is a great place to people-watch and soak up the local atmosphere. The day we were there a local poet was busking and it was amazing. I have this tiny Kangaroo pin on my bag and he saw it and immediately launched into The Man From Snowy River. I almost cried and of course gave him a good tip!

The red and white umbrellas of Dolac Market Zagreb
The red and white umbrellas of Dolac Market Zagreb

Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She’s always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.

Food and Drink in Zagreb: A Taste of Croatia

Croatian cuisine is a blend of diverse culinary traditions, and Zagreb is the perfect place to explore these flavors. From traditional dishes to modern interpretations, the food scene in Zagreb offers a taste of Croatia’s rich culinary heritage.

To get a taste of traditional Croatian cuisine, visit one of the many ‘konobas’ (taverns) in the city. Here, you can try dishes like ‘strukli’ (a cheese-filled pastry), ‘cevapi’ (grilled sausages), and ‘pljeskavica’ (a meat patty).

Zagreb is also home to several modern restaurants that offer a contemporary twist on traditional dishes. These restaurants use locally sourced ingredients to create innovative and flavor-packed dishes.

In terms of drinks, Croatia is known for its excellent wines and craft beers. When in Zagreb, visit a local wine bar or brewery to sample these local beverages. Hemmingway Bar in the lower town is nice, or The Garden Brewery is also great. It isn’t right in town though. I would say its a 5-10 minute cab ride.

Taste the Heavenly Štrukli Cheese Dish

Among the culinary treasures in Zagreb, the amazing štrukli cheese dish stands out for its comforting simplicity and rich flavor. This traditional Croatian delicacy, often served in the best restaurants, is crafted from layers of dough filled with creamy cheese, baked to perfection. There is a lot of cheese involved so be warned!

Savour the Local Flavors of Burek and Cevapi u Somunu

In Zagreb, the best restaurants are often those that celebrate local flavors, and dishes like burek and cevapi u somunu are prime examples. Burek, a savory pastry filled with meat or cheese, is a staple that can be enjoyed at any time of day. Cevapi u somunu, grilled minced meat served in a special type of bread, is another crowd-pleaser that encapsulates the essence of Croatian street food.

Try Zagreb’s Famous Submarine Burgers

For a contemporary twist on Croatian fast food, Zagreb’s famous Submarine Burgers offer a more gourmet burger experience than you might be used to. With juicy patties and creative toppings, these burgers have quickly become a city favorite. Their unique name derives from the submarine-like shape of the buns, enveloping the ingredients in a delicious embrace.

In the spirit of full transparency, I don’t eat burgers so I didn’t try one but Brad’s was gone in no time!

Best Places to Eat in Zagreb

From traditional Croatian cuisine to international dishes, here are some of the best places to eat in Zagreb:

  1. Vinoteka BornsteinVinoteka Bornstein is one of the most popular restaurants in Zagreb, serving up traditional Croatian cuisine in a cozy atmosphere. The food here is fresh and delicious, and the wine selection is top-notch.
  2. Zinfandel’s – Zinfandel’s is a popular restaurant serving up modern takes on classic Croatian dishes. The food here is delicious, and the atmosphere is cozy and inviting, however it is NOT a cheap restaurant. We went as a splurge after eating budget food for weeks and it was so nice, but like I say not cheap. I had a fish dish that was around 55 Euro from memory. Check out their menu for prices.
  3. Nona’s Pizzeria – While it is a limited menu, the food here is fresh and flavorful, and the atmosphere is relaxed and inviting. We were recommended this place by a guide at Medvedgrad Castle as it was on the way back into the city and it was very nice. Brad had a pizza that came with a poached egg on the top which seemed weird but he loved!
  4. Vinodol – Vinodol is a popular restaurant serving up traditional Croatian dishes in a modern atmosphere. The food here is fresh and flavorful, and the wine selection is top-notch. Brad had the Deer Fillet but I stuck with a Cabbage steak which was amazing. Just be aware that some of the meat dishes are priced per kilo so just ask what a typical serving is.

Food Tours In Zagreb

A great way to sample all the local delights is to do a food tour. Unfortunately we ran out of time, but these are all bookable through Get Your Guide.

Navigation and Accommodation Tips for Zagreb

Planning your trip to Zagreb involves considering your favorite things to do in Zagreb as well as the logistics of your Croatia itinerary. Navigating the city is straightforward, with an efficient public transport system and many accommodation options catering to different preferences and budgets.

Where To Stay in Zagreb, Croatia for Comfort and Style

For travellers interested in the history of Zagreb and the War of Independence, staying in Zagreb Centre offers proximity to many historical sites. Here, you can find a range of hotels that provide the perfect blend of comfort and style, ensuring a restful stay amidst the city’s vibrant history.

Best Zagreb Hotels – From Luxury to Budget

Zagreb’s accommodation options cater to all preferences, from the opulence of five-star hotels to the practicality of budget-friendly hostels. Luxury seekers might opt for the elegant Esplanade Zagreb Hotel, known for its history and grandeur, while those on a tighter budget can enjoy the modern and cozy rooms of Swanky Mint Hostel.

Mid-range hotels like Hotel Jägerhorn offer a harmonious balance of comfort and affordability, with a prime location that allows easy access to Zagreb’s landmarks. No matter the budget, each traveller can find a place to stay that complements their experience in the city.

We stayed at a little apartment called “At Queens“. I booked through booking.com and it was only $60 per night. It is small but its in a great location, there is a supermarket close, the tram passes right by and we really loved it.

Getting to and Around Zagreb

Visitors can rely on Zagreb’s comprehensive public transport system, which includes trams, buses, and trains. Additionally, walking is a pleasant way to discover the city’s hidden corners.

Zagreb Airport and Public Transit Insights

Zagreb Airport, located just a short drive from the city center, offers various transportation options, including shuttles, taxis, and car rentals, to get you to your destination swiftly.

The public transit system is well-structured and provides easy access to all parts of the city. ZET (the Tram website) has a good journey planner that will enable you to plan your days out in the city.

Renting a bike is also an excellent way to navigate Zagreb, with numerous bike paths and rental stations available. For more personalized transport, ride-hailing services and taxis are readily accessible throughout the city.

The Fenicular between the lower and upper town Zagreb
The Fenicular that joins the lower and upper town in Zagreb

Day Trips from Zagreb – Extend Your Croatian Adventures

Extend your trip to Zagreb with excursions to nearby attractions. Lake Bled in Slovenia is a fairytale destination just a few hours away, and a trip from Zagreb to the baroque town of Varaždin offers a glimpse into Croatia’s noble past.

Visit the Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb

Northern Croatia is home to the breathtaking Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its cascading lakes and waterfalls.

Plitvice Lakes provides a contrast to the urban charm of Zagreb and can be easily accessed on organized tours.

As an alternative if you are heading toward Split (or vice versa) you can get transfers that enable you to visit Plitvice Lakes as well. This is what we did to get from Zagreb to Split. It was really easy to book and we had hours at Plitvice Lakes. I would really recommend it as a way to get from one city to the other.

They run buses or vans from both ends which meet at Plitvice Lakes. You then spend a few hours at the lakes, get some lunch and do a little boat trip before you get back on the bus to head to your final destination.

We were the only people coming from Zagreb the day we did it and the driver was amazing. He took us through a few small towns and showed us the still visible damage from the war and also took us to Rastoke a little town just before the lakes.

Jen at Plitvice Lakes Croatia
That me at Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Do A Day Trip to Lubjiana and Lake Bled

It is super easy to visit Ljubliana and Lake Bled while you are in Zagreb. Its a good day trip but its not hideously long. We did the small mini van tour and there was 6 of us total. Eight people would have been present, but a couple from a country without the Schengen option failed to obtain valid visas despite being told they must have them. Unfortunately we didn’t find this out until the border!

Our driver, primarily unimpressed because he had a visa but she didn’t, made it clear they knew they needed one. We had to turn around and drop them off at a shopping centre where they could find transport back to Zagreb, yet the day wasn’t rushed at all despite this.

There is also an option for doing a day trip to Varazdin a baroque town outside of Zagreb. This tour also includes Trakoscan Castle.

Understanding Zagreb’s Weather: Best Times to Visit

One of the crucial aspects of planning a trip to any destination is understanding the weather. A continental climate characterizes the weather in Zagreb, Croatia, featuring hot summers and cold winters.

The summer months from June to August are warm and sunny, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C. This time is perfect for exploring the city’s outdoor attractions, picnicking in one of the many parks, or enjoying a leisurely boat ride on the Sava River. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so you can expect larger crowds at popular attractions.

The winter months from December to February are cold and often snowy, with temperatures ranging from -1°C to 4°C. Despite the cold, winter in Zagreb has its own charm.

For the Christmas season, the city decorates beautifully, and offers numerous winter activities such as ice skating and attending the famous Zagreb Christmas Market. While we visited in the Summer I would love to see it mid winter with all the holiday lights and markets.

Why Visit Zagreb – Celebrate this great City’s Charms

Zagreb, Croatia, is a city that captivates with its rich history, vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and friendly locals. From exploring historical landmarks to sampling local cuisine, there’s no shortage of things to do in Zagreb.

Whether you’re visiting for a few days or spending a longer time, Zagreb is a city that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a longing to return.