21 Marvelous things to see in Zagreb Croatia: The ultimate travel guide

Despite not being located on the coast, there are plenty of marvelous this to see in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city.

Zagreb is located in the northwest of Croatia close the Slovenian border. Despite being the capital of Croatia is a small city but it still packs a punch. Filled with culture, music, amazing food and of course, gorgeous buildings you will find plenty of things to see in Zagreb Croatia.

During the summer you will treated to warm weather and long days and in the winter you will be amazed by the gorgeous Christmas markets and charming skating rinks. No matter the when you decide to visit you will find plenty of things to see in Zagreb.

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The best things to see in Zagreb Croatia

Museum of broken relationships

A neon sign behind a table and chairs reading Museum of Broken Relationships

So, we had been told we had to go and visit the Museum of Broken Relationships when we were in Zagreb. By the way, Zagreb is full of museums, you could be entertained for days with all of the museums.

The Museum of Broken Relationships sounded the most interesting (to us) and intriguing that we had to go and check it out. We had no idea what to expect but eseentially, when the museum was opening they put out a call for people to send in artifacts they had left over from a relationship ended.

Artifacts sitting on top of white columns under lights at the museum of broken relationships in Zagreb

From friendships to romances to families and everything in between. The museum is filled with items from broken relationships all around the world. From the flour left behind to the home videos. Each item comes with a description of the relationship and its eventual downfall. Some of the stories will make you laugh while others will touch your heart.

Not matter what kind of museum buff you are, you have to check out the museum of Broken Relationships, you will not regret it!

St Marks Church

The decorated tiled roof of St Mark's Church in Zagreb

Located in St Mark’s Square, St Mark’s Church was built in the 13th-century it is one of the oldest monuments in the city of Zagreb.

The beautiful titled roof that you see today was constructed in 1880 and includes the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia on the left side of the roof and Zagreb’s emblem on the right.

If you are in Zagreb between late April and October you see the Changing of the guard ceremony outside every Saturday and Sunday at midday.

To see the inside of the church it is recommended that you attend a daily mass. Mass occurs seven days a week. Monday – Friday mass is at 6pm, Saturday at 7:30am and mass is twice on a Sunday at 10:30am and 6pm.

Cathedral of Zagreb

The Cathedral in Zagreb with the Mary Column in the foreground

Zagreb Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral, located in the Upper Town/Kaptol area of Zagreb. The Cathedral is also the tallest building building in the city.

The Gothic Cathedral consists of 2 tall spires. Sadly, the cathedral has been damaged in two large earthquakes, the first in 1880 and more recently in March of 2020.

The Cathedral is free to enter and explore and it is highly suggested that you do explore the Cathedral. Fun fact, the chandeliers inside the Cathedral used to live inside a Casino in Las Vegas.

In front of the Cathedral is the beautiful Holy Mary Column and the Four Angels surrounded by a fountain.

Not only is the Cathedral and fountain beautiful but the whole square surrounding the Cathedral is gorgeous.

Lower town (Donji Grad)

The old buildings surrounding Ban Josip Jelačić Square in Zagreb

The lower town is busy bustling heart of Zagreb. It is home to Ban Josip Jelačić Square where locals gather for concerts, festivals and sporting events. You will also find many shops, designer shops, restaurants, cafes, street Ilica, Zrinjevac Square, Trg Zrtava Fasizma with Mestrovic Pavillion, Umjetnicki Paviljon, HNK building, Mimara Musem and Ethnographic Museum.

If you are taking any tours within Zagreb they will likely start in the muddle of Ban Josip Jelačić Square.

Upper town (Gradec)

The Upper Town is on top of the hill. In the 13th century the Upper Town used to be surrounded by city walls and watch towers. Today it is is filled with beautiful cobblestone streets that over look Zagreb.

In the upper town you will find Dolac Markets, Lotrščak tower and the Strossmayer promenade. In winter, the promenade is beautifully decorated for Christmas.

Ride the shortest funicular in the world

The shortest Funicular in the world in Zagreb

Fun fact, Zagreb is home to the shortest funicular in the world at just 66 meters. The ride takes just over a minute in each direction. It connects the lower and upper towers. In an emergency, you can pay 25KN for an urgent ride. Regular tickets are 5kn each way, unless you have the Zagreb card and then it is free.

The 130 year funicular is considered a protected monument of culture in Zagreb as it still has its original appearance and constructions.

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

The entrance in the lower town is Tomićeva street, a short stroll from ban Jelačić Square. In the Upper town the entrance is  Lotrščak Tower at Strossmayer promenade.

Tkalčićeva Street

Tkalčićeva Street in Zagreb at dusk with street lamps lit

Tkalčićeva Street was once a river that marked the border between upper (Gradec) and Lower towns. In the 1800s Tkalčićeva street was filled with gravel but today it is a bustling pedestrian street that is lined with gorgeous cafes, restaurants and bars.

The hotel we stayed in over looked Tkalčićeva street and at night time we loved to have the windows open to let sounds below float up in to our window.

If was one of my favourite areas in Zagreb and I am so glad we chose to stay so close. It was the best place to have breakfast and to enjoy a late lunch with an afternoon drink. It is the kind of street that you will come back to more than once during your trip (even if you are only in Zagreb for one day).

Dolac Market

Located in the Upper Town, the markets have over 20 market stalls and is one of the largest markets in Zagreb. The farmers market is filled with fresh fruit, vegetables, cured meats, breads and cheese. If you are looking for some to buy picnic supplies, food to cook in your own apartment or snacks for your onward journey then you will love the Dolac market.

Take a walking tour

One of the best ways to get to know the city is to take a free walking tour of the upper and lower town of Zagreb. The tour lasts two hours and gives you an understanding of the history Croatia’s role in the Balkans and in Europe and the civil wars that occurred as recently as the 90s. The tour also introduces you to modern life in Zagreb and your guide will give you some recommendations on how to spend the rest of your time in Zagreb.

There are a few companies that operate free walking tours in Zagreb and we chose to go with Free Spirit Tours. The tours depart in front of the horseman statue at Ban Jelačić Square and depart twice a day in summer at 11am and 5pm, and once a day in winter at 11am.

Step back in time in the Grič tunnels

Lights inside the Gric Tunnels in Zagreb

The Grič tunnels are pedestrian only tunnels that run under the city of Zagreb. The tunnels contain a central hall that is connected by two passageways that go to Mesnička Street in the west and Stjepan Radić Street in the east, and four passageways extending to the south.

The tunnels were built during WWII by the government to act as a bomb shelter and a promenade. After the wall, the tunnels were no longer used and fell into disrepair. In the 1990s the tunnels were opened again and hosted on the first raves in Croatia and once again, served as a shelter during the Croatian War of Independence. The tunnels were remodeled and open to the public in 2016.

The entrance to the tunnels are marked by the Croatian coat of arms and are open from 9am until 9pm each day of the week and are free to enter. The main enterances are found at Mesnička, Radićeva 19, Art Park Entrances 1 and 2 and the Ilica Entrance.

Parliament building of Zagreb

Zagreb parliament building with the Croatian flags flying out the front

Located in St Mark’s square right next to St Mark’s Church. The Croatian parliament convened its first session in the building on the 6th of May 1737.

It is still operating as the current Croatian Parliament building. If you take a walking tour of Zagreb you will stop out side of the Parliament building and hear about Croatian War of Independence and some interesting stories about things that happened at the parliament building during that time.

Pass through the stone gate

A stone gate in wall in Zagreb

The Stone Gate is the eastern gate to the medieval Gradec Town which now become a shrine. The story goes that in the 1730s there were a big fire that destroyed every part of the wooden gate expect for a single painting of the Virign Mary.

The locals believed that the painting possessed powers and came to the painting to pray, light candles and leave flowers.

Today you will find stone slabs that are engraved with praise to the Virgin Mary and small chapel where people still light candles and attend services.

Listen to the cannon fire at Lotrščak Tower

At midday, everyday you will hear the blast of cannon from the Lotrščak Tower. Be warned, it is loud! If you are right near the tower your ears will be ringing.

Legend has that a once upon a time a cannon was shot from Lotrščak tower and went over the river into a Turk camp and landed on a platter of chicken was being carried to the Pasha for his lunch. Due to the cannon landing on his lunch, the Pasha decided again attacking the city of Zagreb.

Ever since that cannon was fired, it has been fired every day at noon. The tower is located in the Upper Town and was originally part of the city’s refences and even served as a prison.

Climb to the top of Kula Lotrscak

A view over Zagreb from Kula Lotrscak

As mentioned above, at midday every day the cannon fires from the Lotrščak Tower. Today, you can climb the stairs to the top of the tower and get some gorgeous 360 views of Zagreb.

Not only do you get some beautiful views but there is also an art gallery and shop up the top for you to explore. The tower is open every Tuesday – Sunday from 11:00am until 8:00pm. The entrance fee is 20KN for adults and 10KN for children under the age of 18.

Strossmayer promenade

Strossmayer promenade at sunset over looking the Funicular and the lower town of Zagreb

The Strossmayer promenade is located in the upper town and can be accessed from the Funicular. The promenade is free to explore and provides some of the most beautiful views of Zagreb. It is a great place to visit at sunset to get those perfect photos.

King Tomislav Square

A Christmas tree and ice skating rink at King Tomislav Square in Zagreb

King Tomislav Square represents the middle of the city. It is an open public area that over looks the central train station.

In the summer it is a vibrant areas that attracts locals and tourists who enjoy the open grass areas and sit on terraces to enjoy a coffee.

In front of the 19th centaury art pavilion is a towering statue of King Tomislav. In the winter you will be treated to a large ice skating rink surrounded by fairy lights and Christmas decorations.

Watch as the street lanterns are lit at night time

There aren’t many places around the world who have a story about their street lanterns, but Zagreb does. There is nothing more romantic than taking a stroll around the upper time at night with the dim light from the burning lanterns on the walls.

For over a century the lanterns have been lighting up the streets of Zagreb. The super cool thing about the lanterns in Zagreb is that they are manually lit every single night. Mr Kufner has been walking around the streets at dusk every day lighting the lanterns. Mr Kufner then returns at dawn to turn off the lanterns.

If you are in the upper town at dusk, look out for Mr Kufner in his navy blue uniform and watch him light a lantern or two.

Get the best views in town

A view over Zagreb and the cathedral

For some of the best views in Zagreb head to Zagreb 360 observation deck. The observation deck sits 182 meters above sea level and has a bar with 360° views of Zagreb.

Located on Ban Jelačić Square on the 16th floor of a Zagreb Skyscraper. On a very clear day you can see as far east as Moslavačko gorje, and west to Žumberak and Slovenia.

Children under 3 are free, children over three and under 150cm in height are 30KN and adults are 60KN. Zagreb 360 observation deck is open 365 days a week from 10am – 11:45pm

Take journey through town on the city trams

On a rainy day or if you’ve had enough of walking, jump on one of the city trams and take in the sites of the city from the comfort of the trams.

Trams were introduced to Zagreb in 1891 and were drawn by horses, electric trams were not introduced until 1910. Today, there are 19 tram lines in Zagreb that cross the cities. 15 of lines run during the day and four are night services that run from midnight until 4am.

You can purchase your tickets on the tram from the drive (it is helpful if you have exact change) or the newspaper kiosks sell tickets for 4 – 10KN during the day and 15KN at night time. You need validate your ticket in the yellow boxes on the tram.

Once your ticket is validated you can use your tickets as many time as you like in one direction for up to 30 or 90 minute depending on the ticket you have purchased.

You can purchase a day ticket for 30KN, these tickets are valid until 4am the next day. Most tram stations have route maps but these aren’t always reliable so, when they are available check the live screens at the tram stop.

Attend an epic event

Croatia is home to some beautiful events all year round. In winter, you will be greeted with some beautiful Christmas Markets that stretch from Ban Jelačić Square down the street to the ice skating rink at King Tomislav Square.

Zagreb hosts some epic all year round from music, dance, art, theater and many more festivals. To check for festivals during your stay have a look at Visit Croatia website.

Enjoy the Croatian Cuisine

Enjoy the Croatian Cuisine Zagreb is filled with amazing places to international and Croatian cuisine. Here are some suggestions of places to eat in Zagreb

Heritage – offers Croatian “street” food, usually sandwiches made with local and traditional ingredients. You can order to take away or dine in and you will not leave hungry.

Pingvin – is another amazing sandwich place in Zagreb and is a local favourite. Pingvin is open until 4am so you can grab a sandwich when ever you feel like it.

Pizzeria Karijola – is another local favourite. As the name suggests you will find some amazing (and huge) pizzas as well as a wine bar. This restaurant is located in a hidden courtyard so it feels a little off the beaten path.

Mali Bar – located in the same hidden courtyard as Pizzeria Karijola. Mali Bar serves unique tapas and their chef is a famous Croatian chef. The tapas is not cheap but is an experience that you cannot miss.

How long to spend in Zagreb

You see all of the top things to see in Zagreb in one day and many people do “do” Zagreb in one day. However, I feel to fully see and appreciate Zagreb you need to spend a couple of days. Zagreb is one of those cities where you can feel like a local very quickly and you can spend a day or two just being in Zagreb and enjoying the atmosphere of the city.

How to get to Zagreb

Zagreb is a city that can be accessed by plane, bus, train or car. You can access Zagreb from almost any European city.

We were visited Zagreb as part of a four month European trip, where we were travelling around Europe on the Eurail Pass. Before heading to Zagreb, we were in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Getting the train from Ljubljana to Zagreb was super easy and only took 2 and a half hours.

The train arrives to Zagreb Glavni Kol, which is the main station in Zagreb and is located a ten minute walk from the middle of town or you can take the tram which only takes a couple of minutes.

If you would rather fly, you can fly into Zagreb Franjo Tuđman Airport. The easiest way to get from the airport into town is to take taxi and costs around HRK 180 or 25€.

Of course, if you are doing a Croatian road trip you can hire a car. You will not need a car in Zagreb so if you are starting your trip in Zagreb I recommend hiring a car at the end of your stay in Zagreb.

Where to stay in Zagreb

A view of the colourful Tkalčićeva Street in Croatia

We stayed at Rooms Zagreb 17 located right in the heart of Zagreb, just meters from the main square and right above the famous Tkalčićeva Street.

From the window our room we could see Tkalčićeva Street and it was a gorgeous view out of the window. At night time it was amazing to have the windows open and here the vibe of Zagreb floating up from down below.

We stayed in a twin room which was beautiful and had a lovely bathroom. However, you can choose from a double room to a one bedroom apartment.

When we arrived at Rooms Zagreb 17, we were met our host who was beautiful and couldn’t have been more helpful. The day we left our train didn’t leave until the afternoon and our host was kind enough to hold our (massive) bags for the afternoon and met us back at the rooms before our train.

If you are looking for some where to stay in the middle of town that is not super expensive, I can’t recommend Rooms Zagreb 17 enough.

Getting around Zagreb

Zagreb is an extremely walkable city, so apart from taking the Funicular, you can spend the whole time in Zagreb just walking. However, there are also trams that go around the city if you would rather take the tram than walk.

Have you been to Zagreb before? What do you think are the best things to see in Zagreb? Let me know in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

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Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

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3 thoughts on “21 Marvelous things to see in Zagreb Croatia: The ultimate travel guide”

  1. Zagreb looks beautiful and I love all your pictures! There are so many beautiful churches and the architecture is just stunning. Just pinned this inspiration for later!

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  2. Wow! Zagreb looks absolutely beautiful. This is such a great and informative guide and I’m definitely keeping it handy since I’m planning a trip to Croatia at the end of this summer.

    Reply

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