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Is Zagreb worth visiting? Your travel dilemma finally solved
By andrea pisac - 40 comments - april 29, 2022 - min read.
When I put my superpower travel goggles on, I can see you hover over a map of Croatia, tracing a wish-route that’ll make your holiday unforgettable.
Your eyes sparkle at the sight of Croatia’s crystal blue water.
Next, your mouth waters as you read about Istria’s hand-harvested wines and pastas drowned in opulent truffle sauces.
Finally, your heart races when you imagine yourself exploring ancient Dalmatian towns that your blogger idols just returned from.
And there’s just one question before your sweet travel anticipations turn into a set itinerary.
What about Zagreb? Is Zagreb worth visiting too?
Romantic Zagreb Upper Town - photo by Marko Vrdoljak (Zagreb Tourist Board)
If I simply told you ‘Yes, of course it is’, you’d want to know why. Is it an instant winner as the fabulous Croatian coast? Is it ‘the next Prague’? Or something completely different?
I hear you.
When I lived in London, I’d coax my British friends to stop in Zagreb before rushing off to the coast. Not a single one regretted changing their plans. Even when it meant less time sun-bathing or island-hopping.
Of course, I made sure they had me to unravel Zagreb for them. But even if I don’t take you by the hand to my favourite places and share the city’s stories over a cup of coffee, this post will help you find out:
- what to generally expect from your visit to Zagreb
- what travel experiences Zagreb is worth visiting for
- where to get information and inspiration to have a blast in Zagreb
So, is Zagreb worth visiting?
Timeless and elegant like a small black dress, Zagreb is a city that draws you in slowly. If there’s a destination that delivers on the ‘still water runs deep’ statement – it is Zagreb.
Like any Central European capital, Zagreb is not short of praiseworthy highlights: bountiful museums , captivating architecture and an explosion of outdoor activities.
So, think of vibrant food markets, everyday cafe culture, lush greenery and a host of street festivals. But know, they are stylish accessories to the graceful fabric of its biggest highlight – the life attitude.
Where other cities attract with charismatic yet prepackaged tourist attractions, Zagreb delights with its human-scale graciousness.
As James of Nomadic Notes says, it’s ‘a real city, without all the tour buses and restaurants with menus in four languages’. Even when you set out to explore its sights, you’ll be spared the corporate tourist aftertaste: a feeling that you’re in a theme park.
Maybe you’re already itching to explore the best of Zagreb? Then dig into my ultimate guide!
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Of The Best Places To Visit In Croatia
Zagreb is worth visiting if you like:
1) getting around in a laid-back style.
If you have a thing for characterful public transport, such as trams in Lisbon or San Francisco, you’ll be easily impressed in Zagreb.
The squealing sound of Zagreb blue trams adds a note of the old word charm to the city’s unhurried pace. Riding a packed carriage will give you a flavour of the local life. But you can just as easily explore the historic centre on foot.
Zagreb trams - photo by Marko Vrdoljak (Zagreb Tourist Board)
Walking is one of the greatest things you can do in Zagreb.
The Upper Town dimly lit narrow streets will draw you in on a romantic quest. You’ll be poking your head around each corner, wondering where such a secluded alleyway or a staircase might lead? A mysterious park, hidden courtyard, or a world-class museum?
Even when you join pedestrians in the busier Lower Town, walking from point A to point B will be a joyful sidewalk dance. A mellow stroll infused with window-shopping, people-watching and happily getting distracted with new discoveries.
1) Michael Hodson of Go See Write loved the idea that you can get inside a courtyard of each historic building and find a world for yourself: a café or a boutique shop. He could stay in Zagreb for 3-4 months! 2) Frank of Frank about Croatia created a guide to Zagreb for couples , revealing places and itineraries that make Zagreb a perfect romantic getaway. 3) Some Upper Town spots are so perfectly hidden and beautiful, they just lend themselves to romance. I call them Zagreb kissing spots. Find them on this Romantic Zagreb Walk .
2) STRAYING OFF THE PATH
Rambling around Zagreb pretty cityscape will put you in a perfect holiday mood. You’ll be carefree as well as thrilled with things you do and places you see. If you completely ditch your to-do list, Zagreb’s walkable character will wow you even more.
Aimless meandering could take you to secluded leafy paths, just around the corner from bustling streets and squares. So follow your curiosity. There is street art, spooky gargoyles, bygone courtyard wells or painted water pumps waiting out there.
You’ll wonder why these enchanting oddities are not sign-posted or widely advertised. The answer? Because Zagreb is still not a touristy place. You’ll be thankful for that because part of the excitement is discovering them on your own.
1) Get deliciously aimless with my self-guided Zagreb walks through city’s uncharted territories. You’ll get a map and a bunch of captivating stories, from art history to the city lore, to keep you going. 2) Iva Silla from Secret Zagreb is more than a tourist guide. Her gripping storytelling about Zagreb legends leaves no stone unturned, even in the darkest Upper Town alley or inside secret Zagreb tunnels. If you want your curiosity fired up and then be guided to lesser-known parts of the city, book one of her inspiring walks. 3) Kris and Sarah of Jetsetting Fools stayed in Zagreb long enough to discover the delights of many Zagreb outdoor spaces. Follow their trail through landscaped parks, such as Maksimir, the Green Horseshoe or the Botanical Garden, or venture out to semi-wild greenery and Zagreb lakes.
3) TRAVELLING WITHOUT TO-DO LISTS
Do you know the feeling of overwhelm after spending a few days in Paris or London?
It’s not only the busy ‘things to do and places to see’ itinerary that sends you off spinning but the gnawing guilt about not having covered it all. Even your memory of these grand places carry a tinge of failure.
On the other hand, Zagreb is utterly different. Not only can you do your to-dos short and sweet, it’s a city that forgives you for missing out on some of its official highlights.
In fact, many travellers wish they had allowed more time in Zagreb. But the regret is not about running out of time to do more sightseeing. It’s about not realizing sooner that Zagreb is at its best without an itinerary.
Anne Lowrey of Part Time Traveler said next time she visits Zagreb, it’ll be only to loaf around and sip one coffee after other. Honestly, if you want to experience Zagreb at its most exquisite, you need to match its languid attitude to life.
COFFEE DRINKING IN ZAGREB
What Zagreb people love most is their free time. Actually, they’ll conduct even their busiest tasks in what seems like a leisurely context – coffee drinking .
If the sight of crowded terraces in the middle of a workday makes you think no one works here, remember that you might be witnessing a bunch of business meetings.
Also, having a drink with friends is often a spur of the moment thing. Few people will ever require you to arrange a date long in advance. It’s an attitude thing.
Zagreb people believe they should have time for their friends , even if it means taking it out of their work schedule.
Coffee with friends at Britanac Square
So throw away your agenda.
Instead of getting busy sightseeing, meet a local and enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing… one cafe after another after another. Or if Zagreb is a stop on your world travels, use your time here to slow down and recover from other busy destinations.
Pretend you live here and the coulda woulda shoulda’s will soon disappear. You’ll love Zagreb for giving you a wonderful freedom to just be.
As you move from a café to a restaurant, you’ll soon encounter something worth seeing. Maybe it won’t be a guidebook highlight, but it will be just as memorable. Why? Because you’ve discovered it by chance.
And because it’s the way Zagreb unfolds to visitors.
1) The beauty of Zagreb for Matt Long of Landlopers is in discovering small and unexpected delights like statues of the famous sculptor Ivan Meštrović: ‘a tour just of his statues in Zagreb could easily fill a day’. 2) Iva Silla’s guestpost for the popular Croatia blog Chasing the Donkey praises Zagreb street art scene – just as vibrant and interesting as must-see museums. Why not track down the Zagreb Solar system – a treasure trail of nine planets scattered around the city, relative in size and distance to the real thing. Or stop at a painted water pump to learn about the Pimp My Pump art project? 3) Kami of My Wanderlust took amazing photos of the Zagreb graffiti – another lesser-known city delight, discovered only if you lose your itinerary and hop on an aimless walk.
3) CITIES WITH THEIR OWN COOL
People often compare Zagreb to the Croatian coast or to cities like Prague or Vienna. But Zagreb is neither and both at the same time.
An eclectic mix of Central European and Mediterranean mentalities, it’s smart in an Austro-Hungarian way and spruced up with warm Southern gusto .
Most of all, Zagreb has developed its own way of cool.
Resisting the onslaught of large international franchises, the city centre abounds with idiosyncratic cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, even old-style cinemas.
In the words of Jonathan Bousfield , author of the Rough Guide to Croatia, this ‘makes Zagreb something of a collector’s item among connoisseurs of Central European authenticity’.
Read about other places to visit in Croatia.
Facts that make Zagreb a singular city:
#1 zagreb has the biggest number of museums per square meter..
The Museum of Broken Relationships is the most raved about gallery. But more unique museum spaces are sprouting all the time.
There is Lauba , an Austro-Hungarian riding stable turned interactive contemporary art showroom, small but quirky Mushroom Museum or the bewildering Museum of Illusions .
1) Sarah Ricks of Traveling Mom speaks of Zagreb as an architectural feast and includes a list of must-see museums . Her impressions will set you off on a cultured trail. 2) There’s hardly a blog post about Zagreb that doesn’t praise the Museum of Broken Relationships. You get the point – go see it. But Wandering Earl has the most poetic and touching review of his afternoon spent in this ‘graveyard of love’. For him it was an uplifting experience.
#2 ZAGREB IS A CINEPHILES’ PARADISE IN MORE THAN ONE WAY.
It was a movie set for the famous films Sophie’s Choice , Fiddler on the Roof and Orson Welles’ The Trial .
It hosts an incredible number of independent film festivals. For example, The Zagreb Film Festival (October), Animafest (June) and Fantastic Zagreb Film Festival (June/July).
Independent films are screened in old-style arthouse cinemas and are never dubbed. Come summer, you can watch them under the starry skies in the middle of the Tuškanac forest.
Tuškanac open-air cinema - photo by Saša Pjanić
#3 ZAGREB HAS OVER 20 FARMERS MARKETS.
The most central and famous one is Dolac. Mingling at colourful fruit and veg stalls is a prime tourist attraction.
But markets here still keep their primary function. They connect Zagreb people with local food producers. Walk into any neighbourhood and the freshest from farms awaits at the stalls.
#4 ZAGREB RESTAURANT SCENE HAS EXPLODED.
The whole of Croatia is dished out on Zagreb plates: traditionally cooked or with a twist.
Fish restaurants cook up a storm with ingredients caught the same day. Whiffs of Turkish-influenced filo pastry or kebab radiate from street bistros. And continental meat dishes wait at vaulted-brick dining rooms.
Eating out in Zagreb has never been so exciting and so easy on your wallet.
Frank of Frank about Croatia really knows his way around Zagreb restaurants. Not only does he know what and where to eat, but, most importantly, how to eat. Dig into his guide to Zagreb best lunch restaurants and learn why gablec (lunch-time meal) is so crucial for the city food culture.
4) LIFE ALFRESCO
From April to October, Zagreb lives outdoors.
Café terraces swarm with happy faces, their chirpy chatter pulling you in like a siren song. But the city alfresco life doesn’t stop there.
Festivals of all kinds roll in week after week: coffee and chocolate, street food, art performances, music – the weirdest one possibly being the festival of pickles.
C’est is the Best , the oldest street festival, launches the season, turning the city centre into an open-air theatre. Think live music, hula-hoop, joggling, but also get ready for more unusual gigs. Like checking into the centre for mood repairs where your long face can easily get fixed.
The fun continues through the summer at the Upper Town Strossmayer Promenade, dubbed Strossmartre. Even when Zagreb people leave for the coast , Summer on Stross keeps going with music, art and theatre festivities.
The most recent gem is Dvorista festival. For one week in July Zagreb Upper Town courtyards open their doors and throw up music and food parties.
Winter doesn’t mean the end of open-air fun.
Yes, Zagreb gets snow – real thick and crispy – but it doesn’t stop us from getting out and about. During December there’s a Christmas buzz around town called Advent in Zagreb .
Advent in Zagreb - photo by Hrvoje Pili (Zagreb Tourist Board)
Streets are lit up, food stalls sell sausages and mulled wine. And each square has a unique range of tidbits at their Christmas fair.
The rhythm of live music quickly makes you forget the below zero temperature that turns your feet stiff with cold. If your inner child rejoices at the thought of ice-skating, you can glide across Europe’s biggest open-air ice-rink at the Zrinjevac Square.
HIKING IN ZAGREB
Finally, Zagreb’s quintessential open-air experience is climbing the Medvednica Mountain .
Within 20 minutes on public transport, you’ll start on the trails through an unspoilt nature park. Whatever the season, there are lodges with hearty meals and impeccable city views waiting at the top.
Locals venture out there every weekend, so if you really want to crack Zagreb, you’ll follow too.
1) Follow Frank’s suggestions on how to conquer Medvednica for yourself. If you prefer a more unorthodox leafy stroll, take his word and go to the amazing Mirogoj cemetery. 2) Rambling Mandie has a funny account of hiking up Medvednica in search of the elusive Medvedgrad Castle. 3) Travel writer Anja Mutic takes you on an intriguing exploration of Zagreb hidden courtyards . You’ll be amazed with cafes, restaurants and shops concealed from the main street view and better understand why Zagreb keeps its biggest charms away from the spotlights.
Are you sold on the idea of Zagreb now that you know what to expect?
Drop me a comment if there’s more you need to dispel your dilemma…
AND BOOK YOUR PERFECT STAY IN ZAGREB NOW!
Try Swanky Mint B&B in the centre of Zagreb. It’s a revamped 19th-century factory full of character and historic industrial features. The best part? It has a fantastic garden and a private roof-top pool! Imagine chilling with a cocktail (they’re famous for that) and enjoying a superb view of the city!
Book Swanky Mint
Fancy something similar?
Quiz: where to go in croatia to have a perfect holiday, down drava river: chasing mythical creatures and artwork, imotski croatia: the land of epic nature and poetic people, zagreb vlog – best and funniest way to experience the city [video], 10 zagreb museums that made museum hopping extra exciting, 10 reasons to fall in love with sinj: the heart of dalmatia.
It seems like there are a lot of museums in Zagreb that I wouldn't mind visiting. My wife and I have been cooped up in our house the whole pandemic and we want to go somewhere fun. I'll have to get a travel agent to hook me up with the cheapest flights.
Hello, I arrive mid-Sept. My plan is to rent a car to Zagreb and explore for about 4 days. Do you think renting is best?
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A Solo Traveller's Guide to the World
Is Zagreb Worth Visiting Alone?! My Honest Opinion
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Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, and it often doesn’t find its way onto the list of top places to visit in Croatia. So, that begs the question is Zagreb worth visiting?
And is Zagreb worth visiting alone as a solo traveller?
I personally don’t think Zagreb gets as much love as it should.
I loved Zagreb and 100% think Zagreb is worth visiting alone. It is so different than everywhere else you’re likely to visit in Croatia and is well worth a trip inland.
I don’t know why Zagreb doesn’t get the love it deserves, but hopefully that changes in the future!
This article will help you decide if visiting Zagreb is worth it for you and your travel style. I know Croatia is best known for it’s beautiful old towns, clear water, island hopping, and Game of Thrones.
But, there is more to the country than just the western coast. Zagreb is worth visiting as a solo traveller, and it isn’t even that far out of the way if your trip is centred around the coast.
I know this will be a controversial opinion, but Zagreb was my favourite city in Croatia that I visited.
A solo traveller’s guide to Croatia
Table of Contents
Is Zagreb Worth Visiting Alone? Here’s My Experience
The question here may be less to do with whether Zagreb is worth visiting alone or if it is worth visiting in general.
Zagreb is super solo travel friendly.
It’s easy to get around Zagreb either by foot or public transportation, it’s a bustling city where people are too busy to notice a solo traveller, the sights are better than you might think, and it is relatively affordable.
Especially when you compare it to some of the more expensive areas of Croatia.
Cough cough. The coastal part of Croatia and island hopping.
The Upside of Travelling to Zagreb Alone
Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia and is by far the most populated city in the country. It has almost 700,000 more people than the next most populated city.
That alone makes Zagreb super unique from everywhere else in the country, but there are more reasons to visit.
Firstly, the architecture is stunning .
St. Mark’s Church is to this day one of my favourite churches I’ve visited. You don’t even need to go inside to appreciate it. The outside architecture (especially the roof) is so beautiful.
One of my favourite museums in the world is also located in Zagreb: the Museum of Broken Relationships . It’s exactly like it sounds and should not be missed!
And, of course, the main attraction that drives the tourists to Zagreb is Plitvice Lakes National Park .
Although I would say if you can go to Krka National Park on your journey up the coast, do that instead of Plitvice or in addition to it. I personally think it’s the superior waterfall in Croatia.
Outside of all the things you can do in Zagreb, it’s a super easy city to travel in. It’s a great city for people new to travelling alone and people who are experienced solo travellers.
Everybody is super friendly, you can walk to all the major tourist attractions, it’s very hard to get lost in Zagreb, and it won’t break the bank.
You can also find more variety of food in Zagreb than you can in the coastal cities. Pretty much any food you’re craving, you can find. And for less than in coastal cities.
The reason I love Zagreb so much and think it’s worth visiting is because of the vibe. Some cities have an amazing vibe that’s hard to put into words, and Zagreb is one of those cities.
The Downside to Travelling to Zagreb Alone
There isn’t really a downside to visiting Zagreb alone.
It is a very easy city to travel in, and it is no different visiting Zagreb than it is visiting pretty much any other city in Europe.
What I’m saying is there isn’t anything particular about Zagreb that would make you not want to travel there alone.
If you’re comfortable with travelling alone or want to try travelling alone, Zagreb is a great choice if it’s a city you’re interested in visiting.
The only thing some people may feel uncomfortable with or hesitant about (especially new solo travellers) is visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park alone.
But the good news is is that it’s super easy to get to the national park via public transportation, or you can pay and take a guided tour.
If that’s the only thing that makes you question is Zagreb worth visiting alone, than you shouldn’t fret over that too much.
If you’re staying at a hostel, there is a pretty good chance you can find someone else in your room who is planning on going to Plitvice Lakes National Park the same day you are and go with them if you really don’t want to go alone.
Another reason you may not want to visit Zagreb alone is if you’re interested in going to the clubs and partying. I always find that it’s more fun to do that with another person.
So, either travel with a friend or make friends at your hostel if you’re staying at one.
What I wish I knew before backpacking Europe alone
The Bottom Line
The answer to the question is Zagreb worth visiting alone is yes.
At least in my opinion.
It’s a very easy city to travel in, has great sights for you to visit, and you likely won’t feel awkward being alone in the city.
If you’re thinking about visiting Zagreb alone, maybe this is the sign you need to book that trip!
Reasons to Visit Zagreb Alone
- It’s the biggest city in Croatia and has a much different vibe than anywhere else in the country you’re likely to visit
- Lots of fun things to see and do including museums, culture, and nature
- Affordable compared to the coastal cities
- It’s super easy to get around Zagreb by foot or public transportation
- Nobody will bat an eye that you’re travelling alone
Reasons to Not Visit Zagreb Alone
- If you’re not planning to see any other part of Croatia, it probably isn’t worth going to Croatia just to visit Zagreb
- If you’re interested in partying and going out a lot, you may want to visit Zagreb alone
- While Zagreb is cheaper than the costal cities, it isn’t the cheapest city in Europe. If you’re on an extreme budget, consider visiting Croatia’s neighbour Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s absolutely stunning and way cheaper than Croatia
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The Importance of Being Internet Safe
No matter where you travel, you’ll be relying on public wifi networks a lot. The problem with public wifi networks is that anybody can access them and steal your personal online information if they know how to and choose to.
And yes even hotel and restaurant wifi networks with a password are still public wifi networks because anybody who is staying there or eating there has access to the password!
Relying on public wifi networks is essential while travelling, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your personal online information (including your banking information) at risk.
The only way to make sure your online information is safe when using public wifi is by installing a VPN on your devices.
A VPN essentially puts up a forcefield around your devices that makes it impossible for people to access your online information.
It makes using public wifi networks just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.
Being internet safe while travelling is so important, and not enough people are talking about it!
My Favourite VPN
I’ve used a lot of different VPNs during my years of travel, and most of them frankly suck.
VPNs are notorious for slowing down your devices and making it super painful to use the internet.
I’ll be honest and say that there have been many times where I’ve put myself at risk and chose not to use a VPN because I was tired of how slow the internet was with the VPN turned on.
The frustration went away when I started using NordVPN .
It is the fastest VPN on the market, which is why I love it and recommend it to all my friends and family members. And to you as a fellow travel lover.
NordVPN is the only VPN service that I’ve enjoyed using and the only one that I’ve renewed my subscription with!
You can protect up to six devices with a single subscription, so you can keep all your devices safe and secure from prying eyes with one account.
Plus, NordVPN is super affordable.
The price of their two year plan is less per month than the price of a single latte at Starbucks.
My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect yourself with a VPN.
It’s a super small price to pay to know that all your personal online information is safe.
Top Zagreb Attractions
Museum of Broken Relationships Skip-the-Line Ticket
Plitvice Lakes National Park Day Trip
Nikola Tesla Technical Museum Skip-the-Line Ticket
Zagreb Food Tour
Zagreb Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
I hope this article has helped you answer the question is Zagreb worth visiting alone?
I 100% think Zagreb is worth visiting alone or with a group. It’s a beautiful city, and it is actually quite underrated .
You won’t see nearly as many tourists as you do in the costal cities, and it’ll feel like you’re really getting to know the city.
If you’re already planning on visiting Croatia, tack a few extra days on to your trip to visit Zagreb.
You won’t regret it!
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10 reasons why Zagreb, Croatia should be your next European city break
As the inland capital of a country famous for its dazzling island-speckled coastline, Zagreb is often overlooked by travellers.
It may not have the Adriatic Sea or the beach, but I was immediately charmed by the Croatian capital’s vibrance, culture and history. Visiting a less well-known city meant I arrived with no expectations. Unlike iconic European heavyweights such as Paris and Rome, Zagreb is not instantly recognisable, which meant I could enjoy exploring and discovering local life without feeling the pressure to tick off its most famous sights.
From its intriguing architecture to nearby natural havens – not to mention its coffee scene – this underrated European capital has something for everyone. This all-encompassing Zagreb guide provides proof.
Its intriguing cityscape
Unlike most western European capitals, Zagreb’s cityscape is a fascinating mixture of classic Austro-Hungarian architecture and gritty socialist structures. Some of the city’s most emblematic buildings include the iconic, colourful roof of St Mark’s Church and the twin spires of Zagreb Cathedral which tower above the Croatian capital.
View from Zagreb 360° tower
In contrast to old-world cobbled streets of the old town lined with ornate, centuries-old buildings, Novi Zagreb is home to starkly brutal and modernist communist architecture and concrete structures built under the Yugoslavia era. I loved checking out Zagreb’s cityscape from the Zagreb 360 tower and Lotrščak Tower.
ZAGREB IS ONE OF OUR TOP 7 UNDERRATED CITIES IN EUROPE; SEE THE REST
Croatian coffee culture
Caffeine addicts will be in their element in the Croatian capital. One of the first things I noticed when wandering around downtown Zagreb was the endless row of café terraces filled with people sipping coffee. With an electric mix of Italian, Turkish and Austro-Hungarian influences, coffee culture here is steeped in history.
While many enjoy sitting and watching the world go by, in Croatia coffee is all about socialising. Whether its catching up with friends or doing business, the social role of coffee is crucial. And unlike in many bustling cities, coffee is not just a quick pick-me-up but an event, only to be drunk at a café table and never to take away.
For the best beans, try Cogito Coffee, U Dvorištu or Eli’s Caffè.
For those who love the outdoors, Zagreb has far more to offer than your average European city. Mount Medvednica perching over the Croatian capital offers a natural escape for locals who come to admire beautiful views over Zagreb. While hiking up the heavily wooded slopes I couldn’t believe I was only a short tram ride away from the city centre.
If hiking isn’t your thing, spend a summer’s day basking in the sun at Jarun Lake or wander around Maksimir Park.
VISIT ZAGREB ON THIS 10-DAY TRIP FROM DUBROVNIK TO VENICE
Every European capital has some very impressive art and history museums, but few have displays as quirky as the Museum of Broken Relationships.
Initially an art project between two Zagreb-based artists after they broke up, the exhibition toured the world for several years before becoming the city’s most unusual museum. From an old vine record to a toaster, each seemingly mundane item on display comes with an emotionally charged story about a lost love. It was definitely one of the most memorable and poignant exhibitions I’ve been to.
READ MORE: A GUIDE TO CROATIA’S VIBRANT ART SCENE
Its historic Upper Town
Perched on two small hills encircled by Renaissance-era walls, the Zagreb’s oldest district is home to many of the city’s main attractions. The picturesque medieval part of the Croatian capital boasts its most impressive architecture and great views over the rest of the city.
St Mark’s Church
Croatian beer and wine
For those who aren’t so keen on coffee, there are other popular beverages on the Zagreb drinking scene. After sunset the city centre comes alive as the streets and squares transform into an open-air party. The epicentre of Zagreb nightlife is on Tkalčićeva street, a buzzing, pedestrianised street lined with bar and restaurant terraces.
Beer drinkers will love the huge selection of locally brewed craft beers – starting at just €2 to 3 per half litre – at the Craft Room. Wine lovers have to make a stop at Bornstein, Croatia’s oldest winery.
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Get a taste of local life by browsing Dolac Market, a colourful, open-air fruit and veg market in a picturesque setting in the old town. Buy yourself some fruit or a pastry and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
You can also try Mali Plac (little market), a weekly event which promotes local produce from small producers.
One of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe
Situated on the lower slopes of Mount Medvednica, Mirogoj cemetery is home to the graves of many famous Croatian figures. Its majestic leaf-covered arcade boasts an impressive, fortress-like piece of architecture from the outside which provides a place of tranquility and peace on the inside. The lush cemetery’s winding paths are lined with sculptures and beautifully decorated tombs.
RELATED: HERE’S HOW TO SPEND THE ULTIMATE 7 DAYS IN CROATIA
Adventure to the Plitvice Lakes
If you’re staying in Zagreb for more than a couple of days, it is the perfect distance for a day trip to the gorgeous Plitvice Lakes.
Yours truly at Plitvice Lakes
This densely forested, eden-like paradise is home to 16 crystal clear lakes which change colour according to the season. I debated over I had the time to visit but I am so glad I did – the lakes are absolutely breathtaking.
Wander along the Green Horseshoe
Unlike many capital cities, Zagreb is not short of green spaces thanks to a forward-thinking urban planner called Milan Lenuci. The trademark U-shaped collection of urban greenery is home to parks, squares, fountains and beautiful architecture.
Want to pay this special city a visit? Check out Intrepid’s range of small group adventures in Croatia.
(Hero image c/o Intrepid Travel. All other images c/o Selina Sykes.)
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Selina is a Londoner living in Paris where she is often found drinking wine and eating cheese. She's a news producer at a French television channel and Franglais is officially her first language. When not embracing that famous joie de vivre, she’s probably traveling somewhere in Europe. Her favorite city in France (other than Paris) is Lyon and she’ll happily talk your ear off about why Belgium is the most underrated country in western Europe.
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Zagreb Travel Guide
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Croatia is a very popular spot for travelers, but most don’t visit Zagreb. While it’s the capital of Croatia and its largest city, Zagreb is land-locked and doesn’t have the stunning beaches and azure waters of Dubrovnik, Hvar, Zadar, or Split. However, there are still plenty of things to do in Zagreb. This Zagreb Travel Guide will help you plan your trip to this underrated city and give you ideas for where to stay, where to eat, and what to do in Zagreb.
If you are debating whether you should visit Zagreb at all, check out our post on Is Zagreb Worth Visiting ?
Where to Stay in Zagreb
Zagreb is the biggest city in Croatia by population, but for travelers, it doesn’t feel too large. You can basically stay anywhere and be close to everything you’ll want to do in Zagreb. We generally recommend to stay somewhere close to the city center though, so you won’t have to walk as far when you want to see or do something.
Depending on your travel budget and how you like to travel will determine what type of accommodation you want. Hostels are great for budget travelers and hotels are typically better for those with a bigger budget who want the amenities and comfort of a private room in a hotel . Airbnbs are generally somewhere in the middle as some are entire houses or apartments and others are a private room in a local’s house.
Your preferences will determine which one you want to book. If you’re feeling lost in planning your trip, we offer our Travel Planning Services to help you plan the trip of your dreams!
What to Do in Zagreb
There are plenty of things to do in Zagreb, and you can spend a couple days visiting the city. However, if you you can only spend one day in Zagreb , you’ll be able to see a lot of the city too!
Walking around Zagreb’s quaint Old Town and city center is really nice, and it’s similar to Bratislava . Make sure to visit Dolac Market, Park Zrinjevac, Ban Jelačić Square, Tkalčićeva Street, and Ilaic Street to do some shopping.
Aside from those places, here are some other ideas for things to do in Zagreb.
Zagreb 360 is a tall building right on Ban Jelačić Square that has a bar and observation deck at the top. It offers the best view in Zagreb.
It also only costs 60 kn (about $9 or €8) to go up to the observation deck. It’s worth paying the fee to go up Zagreb 360°, especially because the ticket is good for 24 hours, so you can go back at night to get a different view.
Museum of Broken Relationships
Zagreb is home to one of the two permanent Museum of Broken Relationships . The other is in Los Angeles. The museum is truly unique and innovative. There are personal objects that were associated with people’s past relationships. Each object has a story with it about why it was important to the relationship. The stories were everywhere from funny to depressing. The Museum of Broken Relationships is a must-visit when in Zagreb.
St. Mark’s Church
Located right by the Museum of Broken Relationships is St. Mark’s Church. The church is memorable because of its super detailed, colorful roof.
If you want more things to do in Zagreb, read our post on 10 Ideas for What to Do in Zagreb to further explore the city.
Day Trip from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes
A great idea when you visit Zagreb is to spend two total days there. Spend one day in Zagreb and another on a day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Zagreb is one of the best cities in Croatia to take a day trip from to Plitvice Lakes.
For more information on taking a day trip from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes check out our post on a Day Trip from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes to plan your trip!
If you’re going on a day trip to Plitvice from Zagreb or another city in Croatia, you’ll also want to read these tips on a day trip to Plitvice Lakes , so you can make the most out of your time there!
Where to Eat in Zagreb
La Š truk is one of the best restaurants in Zagreb. They are best known for Zagorski Štrukli , or Strukli as it’s more commonly known. It’s a traditional Croatian dish that’s typical in the northern region near Zagreb.
Strukli is made of different types of dough and is filled with various food. It can be made sweet with nuts or honey or savory with pumpkin, spinach, or cheese. This is a must-eat food when you visit Zagreb.
Tip-Top is a traditional Croatian restaurant in Zagreb that serves the Croatian dish Crni rizot , a risotto dyed black with squid ink. If you’re in Croatia, definitely find a good place to order C rni rizot because it’s DELICIOUS!
If seafood isn’t your thing, they have a variety of other traditional dishes from Croatia that will allow you to try authentic Croatian food in Zagreb.
Kava Tava is not a traditional Croatian restaurant, but if you are looking for empanadas, burgers, sandwiches, or a day-long breakfast , it’s a good place to stop for a bite to eat.
Where to Drink in Zagreb
Alcatraz Bar is a really laid-back bar with a nice area for outdoor seating. They serve Croatia’s most popular drink, Rakija. It’s a fruit flavored brandy that comes in different flavors with plum being the most traditional. There are a lot of other flavors, so keep trying them until you find the one you like!
Hopefully this Zagreb Travel Guide has helped get some ideas for where to stay, where to eat and drink, and what to do when you visit Zagreb.
If you need more help with travel in general, check out our Travel Resources , and if you would like to work with us on planning a trip to get you an authentic cultural travel experience check out our Travel Planning Services .
What recommendations do you have for people who visit Zagreb? What would you add to this Zagreb Travel Guide?
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32 Things To Do in Zagreb (And What Not To Do) + Best Food
Table of Contents
This post may contain affiliate links to things like tours, hotels, Amazon associates and products. These help me earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.
I recently spent a wonderful week in Zagreb, eating, exploring, spotting street art and drinking coffee (the things I do best!). To help you have the perfect trip, I’ve prepared this list of things to do in Zagreb, Croatia including the main tourist attractions and some hidden gems. Enjoy!
ZAGREB ESSENTIALS Accommdation: Booking.com / Hostelworld Getting there: flight ( Skyscanner ) / car / bus ( Flixbus ) / train ( Trainline ) Getting around: foot / bus / tram / taxi Activities: GetYourGuide Food activities: EatWith
Read next: my tried & tested Croatia itinerary
How long to spend in Zagreb?
Around 2-3 days in my opinion. There’s lots to do in Zagreb and, while you could do a walking tour of the main sights in a day, you wouldn’t have time to linger. As the ‘city of museums’, you may want to spend longer to tick off a few. Add an extra day to visit Plitvice Lakes. Mini Zagreb itinerary: Day 1: Free walking tour and Zagreb sightseeing. Day 2: Plitvice Lakes day trip. Day 3: More Zagreb sightseeing. Visit extra museums, parks, street art… Whatever takes your fancy. All the options are coming up.
Getting to Zagreb
By air: As Croatia’s capital, Zagreb is well connected with the world, particularly other European cities. I flew from London for €8! I use Skyscanner to get the best deals on flights. By car: Many tourists cross the Croatian border by car. To hire one in Zagreb and explore further afield, use Rentalcars.com . By bus: The Flixbus is the cheapest way to travel between cities in Europe. My ticket from Zagreb to Split was €15. Bargain! Book on the Flixbus website . By train: Although there aren’t many trains in Croatia, you can arrive in Zagreb from other European cities. Use Trainline to find tickets .
To get around Europe, use Omio to compare journey prices & times .
What is Zagreb like?
Zagreb isn’t my all-time favourite city in Europe but it’s still pleasant. With just 700,000 residents, it has the feeling of a ‘big village’. During my free walking tour, the guide bumped into four people he knew and each time reminded us that everyone knows each other in Zagreb. With a mountain backdrop, it’s a relaxed place to be. Although there are many derelict buildings and Soviet-style architecture, there are also grand buildings that will remind you of Germany , Budapest , Prague , Vienna and Bratislava . Zagreb is made up of Upper Town and Lower Town . Upper Town can be reached by foot or the funicular and has older buildings, while Lower Town has wider streets and large baroque buildings from Austria-Hungarian Empire days. Many of the notable things to see in Zagreb are located on Lower Town’s green horseshoe of parks.
Quick history of Zagreb
Zagreb was originally two cities, Gradec and Kaptol. The latter was the bishop’s turf while the locals, ruled by the king, resided in Gradec. Tensions divided the two settlements and the river connecting them was often red with blood. Ancient city walls surrounded Zagreb to protect against Turkey invading. Sections of the walls and one of the gates remain to this day. Following the breakdown of the Austrian-Hungarian empire after WWII, Croatia became part of former Yugoslavia. The Croatian War of Independence (or the Homeland War) in the early 1990s saw Croatia fight for its independence which it was granted after the dissipation of Yugoslavia.
Things to do in Zagreb
Let’s start with the main tourist sights before moving onto a few quirky Zagreb attractions, day trips and of course, what NOT to do in Zagreb.
1. Museum of Broken Relationships
Croatia’s most popular museum is the world-famous Museum of Broken Relationships , showcasing donated items from around the world that tell the story of love lost. As the museum explains, society has funerals and marriages but there’s no way to lament – or indeed celebrate – the ending of relationships. I wondered if the museum but seem depressing. Far from it! The items and stories are a mix of funny, rude, jaw-dropping and thought-provoking. Many come back to the relationship with oneself and how healing and growth occur with the passing of relationships and time. If I had to recommend just one thing to do in Zagreb, it’s this! Don’t miss it. Entry price: 40kn (€5). Address: Ćirilometodska 2, 10000, Zagreb. Opening times: 10am-9pm.
Tip – stick around for a coffee or cocktail at the stylish cafe, Brokenships Bistro . With signs saying ‘we have drinks colder than your ex’s heart’, it could only be the Museum of Broken Relationships!
2. Visit art museums in Zagreb
Zagreb is an arty city encompassing all types of creation from fine art to contemporary and even street art (more about that later). Here are a few of the best art museums for your Zagreb sightseeing plans:
- Croatian Society of Fine Arts (KOPAC) – built by Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović and converted to a mosque during WWII, this space displays work by famous Croatian artists. Entry costs 55 kuna, closed Mon & Tues. Head to nearby Monocycle cafe after.
- Museum of Arts and Crafts (temporarily closed in 2023) – this sunny yellow museum opened in 1880 to preserve national Croatian crafts. Browse over 100,000 items from fine art to ceramics and textiles. Entry costs 30 kuna.
- Art Pavilion ( temporarily closed in 2023) – on the Lenuci Horseshoe, this is an iconic yellow mansion hosting art exhibitions from all periods. Tickets from 40 kuna.
- Mimara Museum – hosting over 3,000 items from around the globe belonging to private art collector, Ante Topic Mimara, the collection is almost as impressive as the neoclassic mansion housing it. Entry costs 40 kuna.
- Museum of Contemporary Art – in the south of Zagreb, the country’s biggest museum is worth a visit for modern art fans. Entry is 30 kuna or free on Wednesday mornings. Take a walk in Bundek Park after.
- The Croatian Museum of Naïve Art – near St Mark’s Church, this museum displays Naïve Art (a style with childlike simplicity popular in the 20th century). Entry costs 25 kuna.
- Lauba – catch number 11 tram to east Zagreb to visit this modern Croatian art gallery in an old warehouse with a bar. Entry costs 25 kuna.
3. More museums
Zagreb isn’t dubbed the city of museums for no reason! If you love history and culture, these are some of the best places to visit in Zagreb:
- The 80’s Museum – tour a recreated former Yugoslavian home, learning about the era in an interactive way. It sounds similar to one I did in Sofia , Bulgaria which was fantastic. Entry is 40 kuna.
- Zagreb City Museum – for a full introduction to Zagreb (and info about the witch trials of Europe), visit this museum for 30 kuna.
- Museum of Illusions – made with Instagram in mind, this is the place to take cool photos with trickery and props. Entry costs 50 kuna.
- The Mushroom Museum – now here’s a quirky thing to do in Zagreb! This collection of fungi is managed by an enthusiastic man (don’t make me say fun-guy) who will spoil you with facts. It’s a small place (not mush-room) but worth a quick visit. Entry costs 20 kuna.
- Nikola Tesla Technical Museum – named after the Serbian-American inventor, this museum showcases scientific inventions from Croatia’s history including aircraft and cars. Entry costs 20 kuna.
4. Take a free walking tour
I do these everywhere I go! They’re a fantastic introduction to new cities, usually led by funny and informative local guides. My Zagreb tour was no exception! I tend to give €5-10 depending how much I enjoy the tour.
5. Visit St Mark’s Church
St Mark’s Church is one of the oldest buildings in Zagreb, dating back to the 13th century and reconstructed in the 19th century. The tiled roof we see today shows the emblem of Zagreb as well as the flags of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia. Inside, you can see sculptures by Croatia’s most famous sculptor, Ivan Meštrović.
6. Walk through the Stone Gate
The last remaining of Zagreb’s original five gates is the Stone Gate . It survived many fires and when you consider the city was basically made of wood, it probably didn’t deserve to! In a particularly intense fire in 1731, a statue of the Virgin Mary survived unscathed: a miracle or made-up story depending who you listen to 😉 To this day, locals still come to light candles in gratitude and pray to the Virgin Mary. Walk through the Stone Gate to see them at worship and spot ‘hvla’ tiles: messages of thanks etched onto the walls.
The small blue-green star on top of the Stone Gate? An ancient device used to knock witches off their brooms, evidence of the horrific Witch Hunts of Europe that continued to the 18th century.
7. See Vegas chandeliers inside Zagreb Cathedral!
Perhaps you’re keen to visit Zagreb Cathedral for its own merit. Personally, I’ve seen one too many religious buildings in Europe and found the story about Vegas chandeliers more interesting! The story goes that a Croatian was working in the Gold Coast casino in Vegas and asked the owner (at his mum’s request) if they could donate some decadent chandeliers to Zagreb Cathedral which badly needed new lights. The clergy accepted them once they were blessed with holy water! As you can see from the photo, one Cathedral turret is under construction after being damaged in the 2020 earthquake.
8. Ban Josip Jelačić Square
This typical European square in Lower Town with a statue of a man on a horse is one you’ll naturally pass through as several streets connect to it. Ban Josip Jelačić was a key player in the Revolution of 1848, however his statue was removed when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia. After the country gained independence in 1995, the statue was returned to its rightful place much to the delight of the newly-liberated Croatians.
9. Shop at Tržnica Dolac Market
Known as the ‘belly of the city’, Tržnica Dolac Market has been feeding the people of Zagreb since the 1930s. As a tourist, it’s unlikely you’ll need fresh produce (unless you plan to cook in your Airbnb) but it’s still a notable place to visit in Zagreb. Goods on offer include fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, baked goods… the list goes on! Small stands around the outskirts sell wine and typical souvenirs.
Top tip – it’s cash-only. Brush up on your Croatian please (‘molim’) and thank yous (‘hvla’ pronounced fala) because the older locals manning the stands are less likely to speak English than young people working in cafes.
Foodies, keep reading: I have lots of gastronomic things to do in Zagreb coming up.
In the heart of the city, Tržnica Dolac is both a local haven and a Zagreb tourist attraction. For a totally local alternative, visit Tržnica Trešnjevka before 2pm. From flowers to cheese, honey, jam and veggies, it’s an atmospheric experience whether or not you buy (although there’s a bakery stand, Dubravica , where I think you WILL want to buy!). Although it’s a trek from the centre, one of my favourite coffee shops, Karibu Kaaawa is just around the corner. If you’re at a loose end, take a 25-minute stroll from town.
10. People-watch on Tkalčićeva Street
Ranked as the #1 thing to do in Zagreb on Trip Advisor, Tkalčićeva is a pedestrianised street prime for people-watching. There are outdoor cafes and restaurants benefitting from live music. In the evenings a bunch of lively bars get going.
11. Buy souvenirs (cravats and truffles) on Radićeva
Did you know neckties originate from Croatia ? Croatians started wearing neckties for good luck during the war but the French adopted them as a fashion item during the Napoleonic wars, calling them ‘cravats’ after the word ‘Croat’ (the name for Croatian people). If you want to buy your own cravat to take home, alongside other souvenirs, wander the length of Radićeva .
Once you’re tired from shopping and Zagreb sightseeing, stop for a drink at Mio Corazon , a quirky bar on Radićeva. In the winter, they serve mulled wine and hot chocolate.
12. Ride the tiny funicular to Upper Town
Places usually show off about being the biggest, tallest or grandest. Zagreb? They have a unique claim to fame: the world’s shortest funicular railway ! The ride takes less than two minutes along a 66-metre track. Since trams depart every 10 minutes, most travellers will find it quicker to walk up the flight of stairs beside it. But for those with mobility issues, it’s a handy option with tickets for just 5 kuna. It connects the Lower Town with Strossmayer Promenade and the Upper Town where you’ll find Lotrščak Tower, St Mark’s Church and the Museum of Broken Relationships.
13. Grič Tunnel
This eerie – and arty – tunnel runs underneath Zagreb, connecting several areas of the city. The Grič Tunnel was built as a World War II evacuation tunnel, repurposed as a storage unit, then abandoned for years. In the 1990s, it became a popular venue for underground raves. Finally, in 2016, it was reopened as a cultural centre. Spot modern art exhibits as you walk through. With a few relatively clean public toilets, it’s also a useful addition to Zagreb city centre. Several entrances have colourful designs adorned with street art including one in the park next to Roots cocktail bar .
14. Soak up views from Strossmayer Promenade
At the top of the funicular tracks lies Zagreb’s best viewpoint. Running along the old city walls once used for defence, Strossmayer Promenade is an atmospheric part of Upper Town to wander at sunset. Park yourself on a bench or get a bird’s eye view from…
15. The Lotrščak Tower – climb for sunset views
For panoramic views, one of the best things to do in Zagreb is climb the Lotrščak Tower . Admire the city to one side and the mountains to the other. Visit just before sunset to see the city bathed in golden light. The tower is home to the Grič cannon , a notable Zagreb landmark fired daily since 1877 to mark midday. After the 2020 earthquake, it’s temporarily out of action. Entrance is just 20 kuna and opening times are 11am-7pm, closed Mondays. It’s a steep climb to the top but I believe in you!
16. Catch a show at the National Theatre
If you’re looking for things to do in Zagreb at night (and fancy something more unusual than hitting the bars) you might be interested in the Croatian National Theatre . This neo-baroque palace is part of Lenuci’s Horseshoe (a U-shaped set of parks with notable buildings including the Botanical Gardens). Theatre, opera and ballet all take place at the National Theatre with tickets from 50 to 170 kuna. Get dressed up and enjoy your night!
Top tip – it’s best to watch the opera or ballet as the language barrier won’t be such a problem. Watching a theatre production in Croatian may be a little confusing.
17. Zagreb 360° Observation Deck – temporarily closed in 2023
I was hoping to get a panoramic view from Zagreb 360° Observation Deck but it’s currently closed, whether due to the impact of the 2020 earthquake I don’t know. I’ll update this when it reopens.
18. Admire the Oktagon
Petar Preradović Square is connected with Ilica street via the Oktogon , a gorgeous passageway designed by architect, Josip Vancaš, in the late 1800s. It’s worth wandering through to snap some photos and admire the symmetrical glass-domed ceiling. Walk through from 8am to 8pm (or until 3pm on Saturdays. Closed Sunday).
Nearby on the street outside, you’ll notice a huge gold orb. This is part of the Zagreb Solar System , an art initiative featuring small planets dotted around the city.
19. Learn about the 1990s war
Croatia has been through a lot in the past few decades including one of Europe’s most recent wars. The Homeland War saw Croatia struggle for independence after its time in Communist Yugoslavia. Since the War Photography Museum has closed, your best option to learn about this era is a walking tour with a knowledgeable local guide. Walk through underground tunnels and visit the Memorial Centre of the Rocket Attacks on Zagreb .
20. Relax in Park Maksimir
If you’ve exhausted the other things to do in Zagreb, spend half a day relaxing in Park Maksimir , the oldest and largest green space in the city. Bring a picnic and sit by the lake or visit the open-air cafe pavilion in the centre. On a sunny day, this is a lovely place to grab a coffee and overlook the long promenade running through the centre. Considering it’s not a speciality coffee shop, I thought the coffee was decent! Maksmir is a bit of a trek from the city centre so I would recommend catching the tram . Numbers 4, 11 and 12 stop near the entrance.
Foodie things to do in Zagreb
Sure, the cultural and historical attractions in Zagreb are nice but what’s more important than food? Nothing. There’s plenty of great food in Zagreb and, better yet, it’s affordable. Although there are tourist restaurants, there are always local eateries in a city this size. Croatian wine is great and there’s also a notable Zagreb craft beer scene . Here are some of the top Zagreb activities revolving around food & drink…
21. Try štrukli (cheese heaven)
As I discovered on my mission to find the best restaurants in Ljubljana, Slovenia , one of the top dishes from the Balkan region comprises of cheese and dough. Bliss! There are two ways to serve štrukli : baked and wrapped in dough, or in a dish (pictured above): kind of like white lasagne. La Štruk restaurant serve both types for 35 kuna with toppings including truffles, walnut & honey, pumpkin pesto, and even sweet ones like blueberry. For a super-indulgent option, I can vouch for the truffle cheese!
22. The coffee scene
One of the best things to do in Zagreb is relax and enjoy the coffee scene. I take coffee so seriously that I put together a whole Zagreb coffee guide based on my findings during a week in town. A few great options are:
- Cogito – this is one of Zagreb’s most famous cafes with excellent third wave coffee and baked goods.
- In the Yard – also serving Cognito coffee, this is a hidden gem with outdoor seating and cool murals. I get the feeling it’s local students who hang out here rather than tourists (but you’ll still feel welcome). I had a great matcha latte while befriending some local cats.
- Korica Bakery – I don’t think you’ll find better baked goods in Zagreb. The cruffins (croissant muffins) were delicious with various fillings like pistachio cream and chocolate. I paid 30 kuna for a cruffin and cappucino.
- Quahwa – this speciality roastery is spacious with a warehouse feel, giant roasting machines and booths for co-workers upstairs. Although I kept it simple, there are lots of unusual options like espresso tonic and matcha lattes.
Read next: a complete guide to speciality coffee in Zagreb
23. Try truffles
Harvested in abundance in Istria, it’s not surprising that many restaurants in Zagreb serve truffles . Many delicatessens stock truffle-infused alcohol, cheese, meat, and even honey. Buy them in jars to take home and serve over pasta or eggs. Next door to Mio Corazon bar is a luxury deli where you can sample products before buying.
24. Take a food tour
One of my favourite things to do while travelling (especially solo) is take food tours! With just a few days in a city, it’s hard to get an understanding of the cuisine independently. Take a Zagreb food tour for €60 including 6 dishes, a market visit and wine or beer. Having a local guide will bring you up to speed on what and where to eat in Croatia’s capital!
25. Sample Croatian tapas at Heritage
Easily some of the best food I had in Zagreb was at Heritage Croatian Food , a tiny restaurant using fresh ingredients sourced sustainably in Croatia. Try one of the meat or fish flatbreads (24 kuna) with a fig, cheese and walnut salad (55 kuna and serves about four… I ate it solo, obvs!). Wash it down with Croatian wine or craft beer. DON’T do what I did and order a mint juice. Weird. Don’t know what I was thinking! In peak season, make sure to book ahead. It’s the #1 rated restaurant in Zagreb and there are only a few tables.
26. Meat coma at Pri Zvoncu
When a tour guide mentioned a local restaurant off the tourist track with huge portions of food, I knew I had to go! Pri Zvoncu is a cosy, authentic spot serving Croatian dishes as well as general European dishes with a focus on meat and fish. With a friend from the Plitvice Lakes tour, I tried an enormous Weiner schnitzel, a pork fillet stuffed with cheese and ham, the fried cheese starter, and tiramisu. We were stuffed and paid €25 each.
27. Try Bosnian/Serbian food
Börek (pastry filled with meat or spinach) is found from cafes to supermarkets for 5 kuna apiece, while cevapi (ground meat sausages in bread) is a typical dish in modest restaurants. Plac Kitchen & Grill i s a popular option for cevapi but, if you don’t mind the walk, MERAK is ridiculously cheap. A serving of cevapi bigger than your head costs 17 kuna (€2!). Don’t miss the baklava . It closes at 9pm.
July 2022 update & bonus item – I just visited Zagreb again and discovered the city’s best burgers at Submarine . My Beyond Meat burger with truffle cheese fries was to die for!
Unusual things to do in Zagreb
Maybe you’re spending more than a few days in Zagreb or perhaps you’re bored of seeing churches and medieval fortifications around Europe. Here are some unusual Zagreb sightseeing activities…
28. Find street art
With plenty of old Soviet-style buildings, Zagreb is the perfect canvas for urban art. As a big fan of street art , I was excited to check it out. I found lots of colourful murals including a few dedicated street art parks.
Read next: Zagreb street art guide
Take a street art tour of Zagreb with a local guide .
29. Kaptol Boutique Cinema & Bar
North of the city centre inside Centar Kaptol is an offbeat Zagreb attraction: a boutique cinema with quirky aesthetics and a bar and lounge. Luckily, Croatia generally add subtitles rather than dub movies which means you’ll be able to understand. The only thing dubbed is generally the cartoons, which actually was a shame since I wanted to watch Encanto and couldn’t! Check movie times on the Kapitol Cinema website. Google the days of the week in Croatian to work out what’s on.
30. Mirogoj Cemetery
This is certainly an unusual place in Zagreb and not somewhere you’ll visit during a flying trip. However, if you have spare time, Mirogoj Cemetery is not as morbid as it sounds. This tranquil park and cemetery is full of elaborate graves that resemble tombs or mini churches. With lavish domed gates surrounding the plot, it looks more Ottoman than Roman Catholic (the national religion of Croatia). Several Croatian celebrities like Dražen Petrović (basketball legend) and Petar Preradović (poet) are buried here.
It goes without saying that you should be respectful as there will be locals remembering their loved ones. I only got my camera out when no one was around. I’ve heard that All Souls’ Day (November 2) is a particularly atmospheric time to visit when candles are light and flowers laid. Catch bus number 226 or take Uber/Bolt there (€5) from Zagreb centre.
Take day trips from Zagreb
Most of these activities in Zagreb will fit into two days (unless you want to visit ALL the museums then you need to stay a month!) so spend a third day exploring Northern Croatia.
31. Plitvice Lakes
Read next: How to visit Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb
Although it’s 2 hours away, one of the most popular things to do near Zagreb is visit the majestic Plitvice Lakes National Park . The natural wonderland of flora and fauna is world-famous for its cascading waterfalls and sixteen lakes with brilliant blue water.
I visited in February and had the rare and magical experience of seeing Plitvice almost empty! In the summer months, it’s undeniably more green and bountiful but receives up to 18,000 tourists visit PER DAY, turning into a packed Disneyland. To get there , you can drive, take a public bus or an organised day trip. There are two types: mass coach trips from April-October that take a shorter hike around the park, and small group tours (max 8 people) all year which take you deeper into the park, climate dependant. I would obviously recommend the latter! Small group tours cost around €30 more so it depends on your budget, of course. Plitvice entrance fees (included in the price of tours) vary from €10-35 depending on the season.
32. Truffle hunting in Istria
Although it’s an expensive excursion, it’s high on my bucket list next time I visit Zagreb. You may have tried truffles before but do you know they’re harvested in Istria in Northern Croatia? Several companies including Truffle Hunting Zagreb will take you from Zagreb to Istria to hunt your own truffles and eat them during the tour. I’m drooling at the thought.
I was recently interviewed about my travels by the Nomadic Foodie podcast and I noticed he also has an episode on truffle hunting from Zagreb . Check it out!
What NOT to do in Zagreb
I think this section needs to become standard in all my blogs. Every city has overrated attractions ( Porto , I’m talking about your ‘Harry Potter’ library!) and sometimes as a tourist, you just don’t know. Here’s what I did in Zagreb and didn’t love…
The Museum of Hangovers
After visiting the Museum of Broken Relationships, I heard about the Museum of Hangovers which sounded equally quirky. I headed to check it out but didn’t find it worth the 40 kuna. Although it doesn’t say so, it was certainly inspired by the Broken Relationships concept. I can’t criticise because it IS a good concept; however the museum is very small and the content wasn’t super engaging. The personal stories were the sort of things teenage boys show off about, and the other information (facts about alcohol, the history of US probation etc) felt a bit disjointed. I bought a beer and regretted it since I didn’t stay longer than 20 minutes in the two rooms that comprise the museum. Since they offer the chance to win a ticket by wearing ‘beer goggles’ and throwing darts, I would suggest only entering if you can get it for free! Nurse a beer elsewhere.
Ride the tram in the wrong direction
One evening when I was trying to avoid a 30-minute walk to dinner, I accidentally caught the tram in the wrong direction not once but twice! It took me over an hour to get to dinner. Fail! Make sure to check you’re getting the right number in the right direction. It’s surprisingly easy to go wrong since trams sometimes travel in the direction of traffic and sometimes in the opposite direction.
Go for a coffee at Booksa
I heard this place mentioned as a nice cafe to go for a coffee or get some work done. However, I walked there for 30 minutes lugging my laptop only to be told it’s members-only and I couldn’t stay for a coffee without paying a monthly fee. Annoying!
Where to stay in Zagreb
Lower Town, Upper Town and Kaptol are all great places to stay in Zagreb. A few accommodation options include… Hostel – right in the Old Town, Swanky Mint has dorms, privates and studios with a young clientele of travellers from around the world. There’s even a seasonal pool and a cool Asian restaurant, Soi Fusion, attached serving amazing food. Book from €11 a night . Apartment: Close to the Cathedral, Apartments Downtown are clean and cool with thoughtful details, TV, Wi-Fi and toiletries. Check availability from €40 . Affordable hotel: the oldest hotel in Zagreb, Hotel Jägerhorn, is one of the best with period rooms and spacious courtyards to eat the complimentary breakfasts. Check availability from €80 . Splash out hotel: the Esplanade Hotel is known as one of the best hotels in Zagreb with five-star rooms, art-nouveau rooms and bathrooms with marble floors and elegant bathtubs. If you need a treat, this is it! Check availability from €150 .
How to get around Zagreb
It’s easy to get around Zagreb on foot. If you stick to the city, you won’t need any transport. If you leave the city centre, your best options are… Trams: These are a quick and efficient way to travel around. Buy tickets for 4 kuna at any newspaper stand (look for the red Tisak stands) then validate them on board. Generally, only the machines at the front and back carriage have the validation machines. Bus: I didn’t take any myself but I hear you can pay onboard with cash (6 kuna). Uber/Bolt: These taxis work as they do elsewhere. Travelling from one end of the city to the other generally costs 35 kuna. My airport taxi was 90 kuna. Cycling: Rent a Next Bike for 5 Kunas per 30 minutes. Download the app, register then unlock bikes using your phone. Tour bus: finally, for a tourist-friendly way to see the city, take the open-top bus tour .
Is Zagreb solo travel friendly?
Yes! As you can tell from the lack of photos of me in this blog, I was in Zagreb solo and felt totally safe. Croatia has the 17th best safety index in the world with little violent crime. Zagreb is a safe place to walk even at night. It’s worth noting there are earthquakes but these are usually relatively mild. It’s also a good place to meet people while travelling solo because there are lots of hostels. If that’s not your vibe, try walking tours or group tours for example to Plitvice Lakes. Use all my solo travel tips if you need them. Enjoy!
Read next: the ultimate guide to solo travel in Croatia
Thanks for reading!
More Croatia blogs…
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- The perfect Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes day tour
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- A day trip to Pag Island from Zadar, Croatia
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TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING EUROPE Getting around by air – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going. Driving in Europe – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in European countries (and all around the world). For trains, I use RailEurope and Trainline . The search features allow you to compare prices and book in advance. For buses, I use FlixBus . Find journeys between European countries from €1! Use Omio to compare trains and buses in one search. It’s so handy! For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com . You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com . To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters , a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets. Browse tours and activities on GetYourGuide . Need travel insurance ? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote . For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing . Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!
Rose is a solo traveller from the UK who has been on the road since 2015. She wants to show other women that solo travel isn't scary and doesn't have to be expensive! Rose has lived in Mexico, Canada and all over Asia, seeking out food, bubble tea and street art wherever she goes!
8 thoughts on “ 32 Things To Do in Zagreb (And What Not To Do) + Best Food ”
Great guide to the city! Very helpful. Cheers!
Glad you like it. Thanks, Anthony!
Thanks for sharing your information.
No problem, have a great trip!
This has been really helpful! We just arrived for business and have the day off. Thanks for taking the time to publish this!
You’re welcome, hope you enjoy Zagreb!
Hello, not sure where specifically to place this comment since it’s relevant to all of the Balkans. Was wondering if it’s best to buy bus tickets (from Sofia to Skopje, Skopje to Ohrid, Dubrovnik to Split, Split to Zagreb, etc) online or at the bus station I get off at? Thank you for your content! I’ve found them most helpful!
Hey I like to book Flixbus where possible but for the others I would just buy them from the bus station!
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How to Perfectly Spend 3 Days in Zagreb Croatia (2023)
Zagreb is the vibrant capital of Croatia and has an abundance of green spaces, mesmerizing architecture, and museums to explore! If you’re planning a trip to this captivating city for the first time and looking to make the most of your limited time, here is my ultimate guide for how to perfectly spend 3 days in Zagreb!
Table of Contents
What is zagreb known for, how to get around zagreb, 3 days in zagreb, croatia itinerary (2023), how to get to zagreb, where to stay in zagreb, where to eat in zagreb, what to bring to zagreb.
- 3 Days in Zagreb: FAQ
Wrap-Up: Perfect 3 Days in Zagreb, Croatia Itinerary (2023)
With almost 800,000 residents, Zagreb is known for being the most populous city in Croatia and is home to around 1/4 of the country’s population.
Those who visit the city may notice that there are museums seemingly on every street. This is because a fun fact about Zagreb is that it is home to 30+ unique and diverse museums, making it the city with the greatest number of museums per capita.
In addition to its impressive museum offerings, Zagreb also boasts an array of traditional Croatian dishes. Cheese-filled dishes like Zagorski štrukli and Bučnica are popular amongst locals, as are meat dishes like šestinska pečenica and zagrebački odrezak. But more on food later…
Overall, Zagreb is a vibrant and colorful city filled with all kinds of interesting attractions, historic landmarks, and excellent cuisine. And to anyone hesitant about visiting Zagreb or venturing into Eastern Europe in general, I promise both are so incredibly worth visiting!
The main way of getting around Zagreb is simply by foot! In my opinion, it’s a very walkable city, much like Ljubljana or Carcassonne .
Of course, though, there are a couple of tram lines that run through the city. You’ll likely see them at Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića since that’s the main stop. That said, you won’t need to use them for my 3 days in Zagreb itinerary as I planned everything with walking distance in mind. Plus, the Upper town area doesn’t offer any public transit.
The only scenario I would really recommend utilizing Zagreb’s public transit is if you need to travel to the outskirts of the city. For example, I rode the tram to the bus station when leaving Zagreb. It took me 23 minutes to get there instead of an hour of walking!
By Walking Tour
And if you don’t want to worry about navigating the city or simply want to learn about the city from a local, I recommend taking a walking tour . My friend and I took one, and it was fantastic. There was only one other person in our little group, and we were able to ask our guide lots of questions. Plus, our guide incorporated so many stories, was super friendly, and just really made us feel welcome!
✅ 🇭🇷 Check rates & availability for the 2.5-hour walking tour of Zagreb I loved taking … Or, for fellow foodies, this is a pretty cool food tour that lets you try lots of traditional Croatian cuisine .
Alternatively, if you don’t want to just walk from place to place, I recommend doing a nice bike tour. This is an easy way to see both central Zagreb as well as explore what lies on the outskirts of the city. And if you aren’t super athletic, don’t worry — the bike tour makes tons of stops and gives you plenty of photo opportunities!
✅ 🚴♀️ Check rates & availability for this awesome and highly rated 2.5-hour bike tour of Zagreb
Alright, now that you have a bit of background information on the Croatian capital, let’s talk about what’s in store for your 3 days in Zagreb! This itinerary includes all the essential highlights that I think every visitor to the city should make an effort to visit if they had only one day in Zagreb as well as some hidden gems that I loved and discovered during my 5 days in the city 🤠
🇭🇷 NOTE: I have grouped places and attractions in close proximity together. This will hopefully help save you both time and energy by not having to unnecessarily cross the city!
Day 1: 3 Days in Zagreb, Croatia Itinerary
For the first day, I recommend spending your time soaking in the city’s history and culture at its core. You can do this best by exploring Zagreb’s Upper Town, which has the highest concentration of the city’s oldest buildings!
1. Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića
First, make your way to Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića ( trg means square )! This is the city’s main square and the most popular meeting point amongst locals!
Here, you’ll find a massive statue of Ban Josipa Jelačića on top of a horse. He is famous for his military and political efforts, which ultimately granted Croatia independence from the Austrian empire. And behind the statue, you see 3 different architectural styles featured on the facades of the buildings! This is not common, so it’s worth taking a moment to walk around the pedestrian square and people-watch as you make your way to the next stop!
2. Dolac Market
Just a few meters north of Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića is Zagreb’s famous Dolac Market. You can easily find this bustling market by looking for the numerous bright red umbrellas atop each of the stalls!
Dolac Market is a massive open-air market where you can find anything — flowers, fruits, veggies, fresh cheeses, honey, and various handmade goods. There’s even an “underground” area filled with all kinds of meats for sale and fishmongers offering deliciously fresh products right from the coast!
Exploring the Dolac Market is an excellent way to get a taste of what life in Zagreb really is like. You can shop for local foods, chat with the vendors, taste samples or simply enjoy the lively atmosphere that takes place here every morning from 6:30 AM – 2 PM!
Plus, this is a wonderful place to pick up some souvenirs for loved ones back home. For example, I bought some chocolate and honey since I love gifts that offer a taste of where I’ve been!
3. Cathedral of Zagreb
When you are ready to leave the Zagreb Market, make your way over to the Cathedral of Zagreb.
At 344 ft (105m) tall, the Cathedral is the tallest building in Zagreb and the second tallest building in all of Croatia!
This stunning Roman Catholic cathedral church was built during the 13th century and is steeped with history—from its Gothic style architecture to its two grand spires that stand 104 m (341 ft) high.
You’ll likely notice that the right spire is having construction work done on it. This is a result of the damage that was caused during the giant earthquake that struck Zagreb in March 2020. And unfortunately, due to the reconstruction efforts, visitors are not allowed inside the cathedral.
However, it’s still worth spending a few moments walking around the exterior!
🇭🇷 NOTE: You can find a 3-D map of the city not too far from the Cathedral if you want to see how the city is laid out! I thought it was super cool to look at, but you might appreciate it more after you’ve seen more of the city!
4. Tunel Grič
From the Zagreb Cathedral, head over to the entrance of Tunel Grič , which can be found across from Kravi Most.
Tunel Grič is a series of pedestrian passageways that pass underneath Upper Town. The central hall in the tunnel is 1,150 ft (350m) long and about 10 feet wide.
It was originally built during World War II and functioned primarily as a bomb shelter. Of course, once the war was over, the tunnel was no longer needed and closed off.
Over the years, it has been restored and opened to the public. Since then, the tunnel has become a bit of a tourist attraction, and sometimes raves, parties, and other special cultural events have been hosted within!
One last thing to note is that you’ll find a bathroom inside… given the unique acoustics of the tunnel… I would strongly suggest avoiding using the bathroom inside at all costs. But that’s just my preference. 😅
5. Museum of Broken Relationships
When you emerge from Tunel Grič, you’ll be within walking distance of one of my favorite places in all of Zagreb…the Museum of Broken Relationships !
It sounds quite grim and when I first heard about it, I was a bit skeptical about visiting. However, when it was pouring rain while I was in Zagreb, this museum was the perfect place to retreat!
And let me tell you, I am so glad I went inside. The museum is filled with about 100 different items that have been donated by people across the globe. Each item serves as a token from a past failed or broken relationship.
Along with each item is a small card that tells the story or significance of the item. Some are very deep and sentimental, while others are more humorous and light-hearted.
Above is a picture of the story that touched me most and practically brought me to tears in the museum.
If you read it, you’ll be able to tell that broken relationships don’t just mean breaking things off with a person in a romantic sense. It can mean losing a friend, family member, or even a beloved inanimate object.
I cannot recommend going inside this museum enough. It took me only an hour and a half to read the story of every single item, and the entrance fee is only a few dollars.
✅ Purchase your ticket to the Museum of Broken Relationships here
6. Museum of Naive Art
On the same block as the Museum of Broken Relationships is the Croatian Museum of Naive Art !
As you can likely tell from the name, the museum contains artwork from naïve artists from the 20th century.
And if you aren’t sure what naïve art is, like I was, it is essentially artwork produced by artists who received no formal art education.
Inside, you’ll come across beautiful paintings, sculptures, and drawings that are made entirely by self-taught or untrained artists.
I will admit the museum is on the smaller side so if art isn’t your thing, it may not be worth going inside. However, if you’re an art enthusiast or just looking to escape unfavorable weather, this is a fun museum to walk through.
It took me about an hour to see everything, and again, costs only a couple of dollars.
🇭🇷 NOTE : The museum is unfortunately closed on Saturday and Sunday, so you may want to circle back to check it out!
7. St. Mark’s Church
Just up the street from the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art is the most iconic and recognizable building in all of Zagreb — St. Mark’s Church.
The church dates back to the 13th century, which like the Cathedral of Zagreb, makes it one of the oldest monuments in the city.
And of course, the most stunning feature is its roof – a colorful glazed tile roofing masterpiece designed by the acclaimed architect Herman Bollé.
The right side of the church’s roof features Zagreb’s three-towered city emblem, which you might recognize from Croatia’s flag. Meanwhile, the left side is made up of three separate coats of arms. You can spot Croatia’s red and white coat of arms at the top left, Dalmatia’s blue coat of arms directly to the right, and Slavonia’s medieval coat of arms at the bottom!
And on the south side of the church, you’ll find an intricately carved Gothic portal.
Unfortunately, St. Marks Square is fenced off, so you won’t be able to step foot inside. But even so, St. Mark’s Church is worth coming to just to admire the one-of-a-kind rooftop and architecture afar!
8. Stone Gate
About 100m south of St. Mark’s Church is Zagreb’s famous Stone Gate.
Originally, before stone was a commonly utilized building material, most everything was made out of wood. As such, the city frequently had to rebuild whenever a fire occurred. However, this one section of Upper town was built out of stone and was able to survive several fires.
But in 1731, a major fire swept through the city and destroyed almost everything in its wake, including most of Stone Gate. The one thing that remained perfectly untouched and undamaged is a painting of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.
Onsite, you’ll find an ornate, baroque-style fence that protects and displays this painting. And around the painting, you’ll notice there are lots of metal plaques with the names of people.
These are believed to be testimonies from people who have come to pray at Stone Gate for a miracle and then had their prayer answered. So don’t be surprised if you see some locals praying and be sure to remain respectful of the religious site!
🇭🇷 NOTE: Look at the roofs of buildings in Upper town! You may see something out of the ordinary and can learn about them and the hidden side of Zagreb here .
9. Art Park Zagreb
For the last stop of day 1 on my 3 days in Zagreb itinerary, make your way to Zagreb’s Art Park!
It’s located right behind the Cathedral of Zagreb and is the perfect place to relax and rest your feet after walking around all day long. You’ll find plenty of grassy areas and benches to take a break under the shade.
The art park isn’t particularly spectacular but it does have a few statues and some graffiti murals on the walls that can be fun to look at.
Plus, if you’re traveling with little ones, there are also kids-playgrounds scattered around the park!
For those looking for some music in their life, Art Park Zagreb is known to occasionally host live concerts during summertime!
🇭🇷 NOTE: Recommendations for places to eat are discussed later on in the post, but you can also click here to go directly to it!
Day 2: 3 Days in Zagreb, Croatia Itinerary
For day 2 of my ultimate 3 days in Zagreb tour, I recommend exploring Zagreb’s Lower Town!
10. Museum of Chocolate
For the first stop of day 2, we are headed to my second favorite museum…the Museum of Chocolate !
This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but as someone who can’t resist good dark chocolate, this place is heaven!
The museum covers the entire chocolate production process, its long history, and its evolving significance to society. Plus, the best part is that when you purchase your ticket on-site, you’ll receive a box of delicious chocolates as your physical ticket!
Then, as you make your way through each of the 8 rooms, you’ll be instructed to eat different types of chocolates in your box! There are also interactive games and even an all-you-can-eat liquid chocolate station (no containers are allowed for obvious reasons…)
In total, the museum takes about 1.5 – 2 hours to walk through if you read everything and engage with all the games. However, you could easily get through in under an hour if you’re short on time.
Oh! And I recommend not eating a massive breakfast because the Museum of Chocolate is a place that you’ll want to take FULL advantage of!
🇭🇷 NOTE: The Museum of Chocolate opens at 10 AM and is closed on Mondays
11. Green Horseshoe
As you make your way to the next stop, I highly recommend walking along the Lenuci’s Green Horseshoe !
In short, Lenuci’s Green Horseshoe consists of seven lush parks spread across the city and the famous Zagreb Botanical Gardens. If you were to look at the geography of the parks on a map or from above, you would notice that they make a horseshoe-shaped network.
Together, the green spaces are referred to as just the “green horseshoe”, and often referred to as the “lungs,” of Zagreb!
Each green space is different and offers something special… For example, I absolutely loved walking around the Zagreb Botanical Gardens. There is a very small entrance fee (~$1 USD I believe), but it’s absolutely gorgeous! I even made a few turtle friends!
Ultimately, strolling along the Green Horseshoe is a lovely way to spend the afternoon and take in the city!
🇭🇷 NOTE : Don’t forget to look closely at the mesmerizing architecture! For instance, I noticed several small famous faces carved into a building’s trim and thought was pretty impressive!
12. Nikola Tesla Museum
For the third stop for day 2 on this 3 days in Zagreb tour, I suggest checking out the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum .
It’s about a 7-minute walk from the Zagreb Botanical Gardens, so you’ll want to head there before walking the entire Green Horseshoe!
Although this museum is named after Nikola Tesla, one of the founding fathers of modern electricity, the museum is less about learning about his life’s history and more about the impact of his contributions.
What I mean by this is you can expect to everything from ancient motorcars, typewriters, radios, televisions, planes, and trains to the evolution of engines, motors, and computers! Technically speaking, there is a small section that goes over Tesla’s personal life, but it’s definitely not the main purpose of the museum.
In addition, the museum also has different mini excursions and demonstrations you can see. For example, they have an excursion to the coal mines at 3 pm (15:00) and Tesla experiments at 3:30 PM.
Thus, if you have any interest in engineering, physics, or STEM-related stuff, this museum is pretty cool to visit for both adults and kids! And for anyone wondering, you’ll need about 3 hours to explore the entire museum, demonstrations included.
✔️ Grab your admission ticket to the Nikola Tesla Museum
🇭🇷 NOTE: The museum is open from 9 AM – 5 PM Tuesday – Friday, 9 AM – 1 PM Saturday, and closed Mondays
13. Zagreb Funicular
When you’re done with the Nikola Tesla Museum, I recommend completing walking the rest of the Green horseshoe as you make your way over to the Zagreb Funicular.
Zagreb’s funicular was built in 1893 and is the shortest form of public transportation in the world! It transports passengers a whooping 217 feet or 66m between Zagreb’s Upper and Lower towns and costs only 5 kuna to ride, which is about 70 cents USD.
And for those who don’t know what a funicular is…(no shame because I didn’t know until I came to Europe) It’s a motorized rail car. Think of it like an elevator, but you move on a slant and it’s not housed inside a building!
Now you may be thinking why on earth would I take a rail car when I can just walk myself up the staircase on the right… Well, it gives your feet a solid 90-second reprieve and is a fun way to participate in the local culture!
Plus, you can then say you traveled in the shortest funicular in the world, which I doubt many of your non-Croatian friends could say :’)
14. Lotrščak Tower
Regardless if you choose to ride the funicular to UpperTown or take the stairs, the last stop of the day is Lotrščak Tower.
It is located right next to the funicular and can be easy to miss. However, if you go inside the tower, you can pay a couple of dollars to climb the winding staircase to the top!
See, another reason to ride the funicular — to preserve energy to climb to the top of Lotrščak Tower!
But seriously, even though Lotrščak Tower is right smack in Upper town, I think so many people don’t realize what they’re passing by.
Sure you have to climb several flights of stairs, but I promise the view at the top is worth it! And by checking out this amazing panoramic view towards the end of the day, I hope you’ll be able to witness a stunning sunset with it! Plus, there’s no time limit or anything. Once you’re at the top, you’re free to stay there for as long as you’d like…but fair warning, it might get a little crowded during peak tourist season!
Day 3: 3 Days in Zagreb, Croatia Itinerary
For the final day of this 3 days in Zagreb itinerary, I recommend opting for a quick change in scenery… especially because you’re likely all museum’d out.
15. Day Trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest and most popular national park in Croatia! And while it’s not technically in Zagreb, a day trip to the ridiculously beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park is something you won’t want to miss while staying in the Croatian capital! And by far the easiest way to get there is by going on a tour!
✅ Check rates & availability for the Rastoke & Plitvice Lakes National Park Tour from Zagreb
⭐️ RATING: 5 out of 5 – 525+ 5-star reviews! | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 10 hours
The Rastoke & Plitvice Lakes National Park Tour from Zagreb includes:
- Exploring the beautiful rural watermill village of Rastoke
- Guided tour through the park
- Electric boat ride across Lake Kozjak
- Quick lunch break
- Admission ticket into Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Comfortable round-trip transport in an air-conditioned vehicle
- 8 guests max
This is one of the highest-rated and most popular Plitvice Lakes Tours from Zagreb . It’s the best in that you get private transportation, can explore more than just the Plitvice lakes National Parks, and have a guide to ensure you make the absolute most of your day trip! Plus, the English-speaking guides are very friendly and are willing to answer any of your questions, which is something I always find to be super important. Ultimately, if you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure and ready to see the most picturesque views nature has to offer, I cannot recommend this tour to Plitvice Lakes National Park enough. It’s absolutely stunning out there and well worth the money!
What an amazing trip it was – I would highly highly recommend this trip. I booked the trip the day before and I received an email giving me the exact location to meet and the time to meet. The whole day was planned brilliantly and with good timing. Blaz provided some excellent history of the trip and highlights for the trip. Throughout the trip Blaz made sure we were comfortable and went at a pace we were all comfortable at walking with… It was a great tour! – Tour Guest ( SEE more reviews )
Or… Day trip to Lake Bled in Slovenia
An alternative day trip you can do is to Lake Bled in Slovenia ! It’s drop-dead gorgeous there as well, so it’s honestly a win-win situation no matter which day trip you select!
✅ 🇸🇮 Here is the fantastic tour from Zagreb to Lake Bled that I recommend taking if this is something you’re interested in!
To get to Zagreb, there are three main ways if you don’t have access to a car: by plane, by train, or by bus.
If you are traveling from overseas or simply don’t want to travel by road, you can fly directly into Zagreb’s Franjo Tuđman International Airport Zagreb (ZAG or LDZA). And for finding the cheapest flights, I suggest using both Skyscanner and StudentUniverse . From the airport, you can ride the electric tram into the city. Just beware, you will have to switch lines and it takes at least 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can opt to hire a private car service in the city. This is a highly rated (4.9 out of 5 stars) private airport transport that I would recommend utilizing. It costs a little less than $60 USD for 3 people, eliminates the stress of finding a taxi and navigating public transit, and drops you off right at your housing accommodations.
✅ ✈️ Check rates & availability for private transit to and from the Zagreb International Airport
The second way to get to Zagreb is to take the train to the Glavni Kolod train station. This is located in the heart of the city, and you’ll literally walk by it along the Green horseshoe. I am someone who loves to travel by train when traveling through Europe since it’s easy and efficient. So, if arriving in the city by train seems like something you’re interested in, you can find the cheapest train tickets here on Omio. Simply click the link , create an account, input your dates and where you’re coming from, and it will show you all the possible train routes.
✅ 🚂 Check train routes to Zagreb’s Glavni Kolod station here! 🌟 Using Omio for the first time? Grab $11 off your first booking here
The last main way to get to Zagreb is by taking a bus. If I’m traveling to/from a city or place with no train station nearby, I usually travel via bus. They tend to go to more remote locations and are often cheaper than trains (but take much longer). If traveling by bus seems like the best option for you, you can check bus prices and routes. Again, click here ( you’ll receive $11 off your first booking with them ), input where you’re traveling from and the dates, click enter, and toggle to the bus results. It’ll look something like the picture below.
✅ 🚌 Check bus routes and prices to Zagreb here.
Never heard of Omio? Read about my experiences with the company here to learn about it — the good, the bad, and how to save money.
Unless you plan on sleeping outside (which I don’t recommend), you’ll probably need housing for your 3 days in Zagreb. Here are the four places that I recommend checking out based on your budget!
📍 Swanky Mint Hostel | ⭐️ RATING: 8.9 / 10
- 3 blocks from Zagreb Funicular
- Female and mixed dorms
- Private Rooms available
- Studio apartments available
- Beds have privacy curtains (major +!)
- Private locker in the room (another +)
- Seasonal rooftop pool
- In-house restaurant – Soi Fusion
- Cocktail bar – Swanky Monkey Garden
- Communal Kitchen
✅ Check rates & availability for the Swanky Mint Hostel
📍 Indigo Centar | ⭐️ RATING: 9.0 / 10
- Located 4-minutes walking from Zagreb Botanical Gardens rooms
- A 14-minute walk from the Museum of Broken Relationships
- Rooms have air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, an electric teapot, and a desk.
- Some rooms have a full kitchen available
- Garden & terrace on-site
- Costs ~$77 / night — If you’re traveling with a partner or friend, this is a fantastic low-cost option!
✅ Check rates & availability at Indigo Centar in Zagreb
📍 Sheraton Zagreb Hotel | ⭐️ RATING: 8.7 / 10
- 5-star hotel near Zagreb’s main train station
- Spacious air-conditioned rooms with mini-bars, cable, and satellite TV
- Breakfast in the room
- Heated indoor swimming pool available year-round
- Taste Croatian and international cuisine at the on-site restaurant
- Enjoy snacks and beverages at Café Imperial or the Piano Bar
- A wide array of spa services is available
- Costs ~$115 / night — if you’re been wanting a luxury stay for comparatively cheap, this is the best opportunity to do so!!!
✅ Check rates and availability at Sheraton Zagreb Hotel
📍 Hotel Esplanade | ⭐️ RATING: 9.1 / 10
- A 5-star hotel that opened originally in 1925 and is well-known for hosting the most famous visitors to the city, such as Josephine Baker, Woody Allen, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Catherine Deneuve…
- Marble bathrooms include a bathtub and shower
- Outdoor furniture, sun deck, and terrace
- On-site spa center & massage service
- Fitness center + sauna
- 2 restaurants: Zinfandel Restaurant & Le Bistro
- Costs about ~$175 / night — To stay in the most prestigious and historically famous hotel in Zagreb for this price is an absolute steal… just saying.
✅ Check rates & availability at Hotel Esplanade
During my time in Zagreb, I got to eat at all kinds of different places around the city! And while I would love to give you a list of all 11 places, instead of overwhelming you… here are my 4 favorites/the ones I most highly recommend eating at! And if you’re a big foodie who loves to discover a culture by way of your tastebuds, I’d recommend taking a food tour of the city ! This highly-rated small group tour visits a couple of the places I recommend below!
✅ Check rates & availability for this beloved food tour through Zagreb!
Restaurants in Zagreb
- Otto & Frank: This was one of my favorite breakfast spots located a couple of blocks from the Dolac market! They offer outdoor seating and their breakfasts were so good that I actually came here twice haha! Here’s the restaurant’s location .
- La Štruk: This restaurant solely serves štrukli, which is a traditional Croatian dish that you won’t want to miss out on trying before leaving. More specifically, štrukli is made with a dough that’s filled with cottage cheese, butter, eggs, and sour cream. You then can add different toppings to make it savory or sweet! The location of the restaurant is in the alley next to the Dolac Market!
- Batak Grill : For dinner, I recommend Batak Grill. Everything about Batak grill is impressive. From the service to the ambiance, presentation, and of course, the mouthwateringly good food — it’s a great place to dine. And there are actually several locations in the city , so feel free to pick whichever is closer to you!
- Restoran Uspinjača: If you’re craving traditional Croatian food, I recommend this place! The food was quite good and the atmosphere was very homey. I was recommended this place by a local and it did not disappoint. It’s located on the same street as the Zagreb Funicular!
To ensure you have a smooth 3 days in Zagreb, here are a few essential items that you’ll want to make sure you pack!
- ☔️ Umbrella: Zagreb is known to receive a fair amount of rain throughout the entire year. On two of the days I was there, it was absolutely pouring rain, and only because of my umbrella was I willing to keep exploring the city. This is the sturdy travel-sized umbrella that I love and used almost every other day during my 7-week Europe trip. It comes with a velvet bag and automatically opens up!
- 🔋 Portable Battery: For days when you spend most of your time walking around, I always recommend traveling with a portable battery or two. You will especially want one if you do the day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park!! Trust me, there is nothing worse than thinking you’re going to run out of battery while in a foreign country. Been there…had a meltdown…would prefer to never experience it again!! Here are the two trusty portable batteries I prefer to travel with.
- 🔌 Adaptor: Lastly, this is a bit obvious, but if it’s your first time in Europe, don’t forget to bring a European adaptor. In the midst of the chaos, it’s easy to overlook bringing out. This is the universal travel adaptor I absolutely love to use because it has 4 USB ports, a USB-C port, and a regular plug! It’s amazing and been to 20+ countries with me.
3 Days in Zagreb: Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Zagreb is extremely safe and the level of crime is very low! The city’s rich cultural history and tourist attractions draw in more than two million visitors a year and Zagreb takes pride in creating a safe environment for its citizens and guests.
This is obviously subjective, but compared to Western Europe, Zagreb is extremely cheap! If you recall, entrance fees to their museums range from $1- $6 USD, which is unheard of in cities like Paris , Nice , or Montreal .
Personally, I stayed 5 days in Zagreb when I visited. Based on my experience, 3 days is plenty of time to see a good portion of Zagreb. You can see the main highlights and some lesser-known spots and will likely even have time to discover your own hidden gems.
Depending on your interests and everything that you want to see, I recommend spending at least 2 days seeing all the must-visit spots. Obviously, if you only have one day in the city, then you can work with what you’ve got. But, if there’s any wiggle room, I would say the ideal amount of time is 4 days. This will allow you to fully explore the city, do a day trip or two, and roam the city without feeling rushed for time!
When most people think of Croatia, they often first think about visiting beautiful coastal cities, like Dubrovnik or Pula. However, with all the fun museums, incredible green spaces, and breathtaking views, it’s worth spending at least a few days in Zagreb!
Plus, Zagreb makes the ideal home base for day trips to places such as Plitvice Lakes National Park or even Lake Bled in Slovenia !
Ultimately, I hope this 3-day in Zagreb itinerary has given you some valuable insight into what the city has to offer and you are able to experience the magic of Zagreb!
- Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića: The main square in Zagreb that everyone meets at.
- Dolac Market: A massive outdoor and indoor farmer’s market that is easily recognized by its many red umbrellas!
- Cathedral of Zagreb: Roman Catholic cathedral with Gothic-style architecture
- Tunel Grič: underground pedestrian passageways
- Museum of Broken Relationships: Museum filled with tokens representative of failed or broken relationships
- Museum of Naive Art: Museum with artwork from self-taught artists
- St. Mark’s Church: 13th-century church with mesmerizing tiled roof
- Stone Gate: Site that serves as a religious prayer site
- Art Park Zagreb: Popular park in Zagreb with a couple of art pieces
- Museum of Chocolate: Museum dedicated to…chocolate
- Green Horseshoe: 7 parks in Zagreb + Zagreb Botanical Gardens
- Nikola Tesla Museum: Museum that demonstrates the evolution of technology + talks about Nikola Tesla’s life.
- Zagreb Funicular: shortest funicular in the world
- Lotrščak Tower: Tower located in the Upper town that offers amazing panoramic views
- Day Trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park: the oldest and most popular national park in Croatia
Read More About Europe
- Looking for an Eastern Europe hidden gem to explore, consider traveling to the mountain village of Zakopane !
- Are you a tennis enthusiast who has always dreamt of going to Wimbledon, learn everything you need to know to survive the Wimbledon queue .
5 Best Lyon Wine Tours – All You Need to Know
With the city surrounded by some of the best vineyards in all of France, Lyon is known as one of the premier destinations for wine lovers. Thus, anyone looking to truly immerse themselves in the region’s amazing flavors and vibrant culture should definitely consider going on one of the many Lyon wine tours available!
How to Easily Day Trip to Auschwitz From Krakow, Poland
If you’re looking for an unforgettable day trip from Krakow, consider visiting Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp that was used by the Nazis during World War II. Today, the camp is a memorial to those who died there. In this post, I’ll detail everything you need to know about how to day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow.
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Kristin is the founder of Global Travel Escapades. She has explored 30 countries and is currently on a mission to visit 50 countries by age 30. Along the way, she hopes her passion for adventure, delicious food, and all things F1 & tennis inspires others to plan their next travel escapade!
Home » Travel Guides » Croatia » 15 Best Day Trips from Zagreb
15 Best Day Trips from Zagreb
The Croatian capital is a veritable hotbed of incredibly rich history, architecture and culture that wonderfully manifests itself in the form of charming cobblestone streets, bustling markets and Baroque cathedrals.
The quintessentially historic city offers fascinating sights and UNESCO-listed attractions, but some of the best kept secrets in the area lie outside the city limits.
The pockets of natural beauty dotted around the capital include everything from lakes, waterfalls and beautiful sweeping forests to majestic castles nestled among the rural countryside.
The variety of attractions around Zagreb is stunning, and visitors are usually spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what type of day trip to embark on.
Here are some of the best ones to get you started.
1. Plitvice Lakes
Home to 16 of the most breathtakingly stunning lakes in Croatia, meticulously preserved by the government to maintain their pristine natural beauty, the Plitvice Lakes make a phenomenal day trip for those looking to escape the landlocked capital.
In a few hours you’ll reach the crystal-clear waters, complete with waterfalls that cascade all year round.
Noticeably more popular during summer, the lakes form a natural playground for those looking to relax in the sun and explore the national park.
Some of the lakes offer gorgeous forest walks that fringe their shores and others provide excellent views of turquoise falls; the Plitvice Lakes have something for every nature lover.
Recommended tour : Rastoke & Plitvice Lakes National Park Tour from Zagreb
Almost straddling the Slovenian border in northern Croatia, Kumrovec is a classic day trip for visitors and locals who want to gain a fascinating insight into what life was like on a traditional village in the Zagorje region.
Surrounded by charming vineyards and thriving farms, the village’s center is an open-air ethnographic museum known as Kumrovec’s Old Village Museum.
Here you’ll find a mixture of political history with a focus on the communist leader, Tito, numerous quaint displays depicting life for the traditional peasant farmer, and some stalls selling truly delicious fresh produce.
Suggested tour : Kumrovec, Trakoscan Castle and Varazdin Tour from Zagreb
Home of hiking and hearty eating, Samobor is an incredibly pretty traditional Croatian town that is widely recognized as one of the most popular day trips to take from Zagreb, for both locals from the capital and visitors too.
Here you’ll find inviting cobbled streets flanked by brightly painted Baroque buildings and a multitude of truly excellent restaurants specialising in locally caught game.
Those who want to work up an appetite or simply want to escape into nature can enjoy the ideal hiking conditions in the wooded hills surrounding Samobor.
Whatever you decide, it’s almost criminal to leave the town without trying their famous cream cake delicacy known as samoborska kremšnita.
Close to the Serbian border, the city of Osijek has been growing in popularity thanks to its unparalleled and characteristic Baroque architecture, which is easily some of the most impressive outside of the capital.
Found in the far east of the country, Osijek is home to neat, paved roads, grand squares and some truly impressive buildings.
The central citadel of Tvrda overlooking the River Drava is one of the must-see sights in the city, whilst the Church of St Peter and St Paul is an unforgettable combination of Gothic opulence and numerous striking spires.
5. Lake Bled
Slovenia’s most popular mountain getaway is easily reachable from the Croatian capital in the space of a day, and is a beautiful combination of alpine peaks, gorgeous lakes, castles and churches.
The nation’s beloved Lake Bled can be found in the Julian Alps.
It is a picture-perfect destination not just for those looking for romantic scenery, but also for those in search of outdoor adventure.
Between the canyons, lakes, and mountains, there are endless opportunities for hiking, canoeing and climbing surrounding Lake Bled, attracting all manner of travellers – locals and backpackers alike.
Available tour : From Zagreb: Ljubljana and Lake Bled Tour
The peaceful Croatian town of Dakovo is characterised by the vast expanses of cornfields surrounding it.
One can easily spend the day exploring these before even setting foot among the pretty buildings that populate Dakovo.
However, the main reason people visit is the gorgeous landmark in the center known as Dakovo Cathedral, complete with soaring towers and attractive red brick masonry.
Here, you’ll find several folkloric events held throughout the year, which make for a perfect small-town getaway in contrast with the busy city of Zagreb.
7. Lonjsko Polje
The enormous natural preserve known as Lonjsko Polje is a vast strip of marshland that follows the course of the Sava River.
It contains a series of traditional villages in the confines of its 50,000 acres that are representative of traditional rural Croatia.
The highlight of these is the village of Krapje, where you can observe typically designed wooden houses built along the riverbanks.
Not only is it a cultural phenomenon for this reason, but the park also contains an astonishing diversity of bird, plant, mammal and fish species, thanks to its nourishing environment.
You can marvel at the ecological diversity on various well-marked hiking and cycling routes.
Zagreb’s very own prime skiing destination is frequented by world-class athletes, and Sljeme also doubles up as a beautiful green getaway during the summer when the snow melts.
As part of the Medvednica National Park, this hilly region populated by lush pine forests is home to various chalets and eateries, providing welcome rest stops for hikers exploring the crisp slopes.
The skiing opportunities are accessible for all skill levels, making it the perfect day trip for amateur skiers or travellers who simply wish to discover this slice of alpine Croatia.
The capital city of Slovenia is only a couple of hours away from Zagreb and offers a wealth of cultural and historical attractions that are well worth the cross-border journey.
Ljubljana is densely packed with seemingly endless gorgeous Baroque buildings, a great number of which are UNESCO-listed and most of which can be found in the captivating Old City center.
The Art Nouveau atmosphere is enough to keep any visitor wandering wide-eyed through the streets, and beautiful attractions like the majestic Triple Bridge are close to one another and easy to find.
Available tour : Full-Day Ljubljana & Postojna Cave Tour
A rural area in the hilly region near the Slovenian border, Krapina is famed far and wide for its density of mansions belonging to the past aristocracies, as well as several beautiful cathedrals and castles.
However, aside from wandering the pretty streets of the town of Krapina, visitors will want to also turn their attention to the Krapina Neanderthal Museum.
This museum is dedicated to the groundbreaking discovery of the remains of an early human community in the surrounding area, and attracts fascinated visitors each year to gain insight into their lives.
11. Kopački rit
Nestled in the countryside of Slavonia, you’ll find the gorgeous waters of the wetlands of the Kopački rit nature park which sees the merging of the Danube and Drava rivers.
Here you can marvel at the pristine condition the park has remained in because of its relative difficulty to access.
This untouched natural perfection comes in the form of herds of majestic deer and wild boar, not to mention an incredible diversity of bird species.
Though it’s possible to visit the park by car, the preferred and far more rewarding method is via boat.
The old capital of Croatia more than two centuries ago is a proudly Baroque city that lies close to the country’s border with neighbouring Slovenia and Hungary.
The architecture is arguably the city’s main attraction, and its opulent style can be seen in castles, churches and other impressive sites almost everywhere.
These ornate buildings also play host throughout the year to numerous music events and cultural festivals that celebrate the Baroque theme, making Varaždin one of the most culturally rich day trips to take from the capital.
Suggested tour : From Zagreb: Varazdin Baroque Town & Trakoscan Castle
Less than two hours from Zagreb, but seemingly a world away, lies the quintessentially alpine and gorgeously untouched mountainous region of Gorski kotar.
Here you’ll find the Risnjak National Park, a huge expanse of forested slopes that plays home to a great number of wild animals, from bears to lynx.
It goes without saying that the hiking here is phenomenal, with many areas of the park reminiscent of the Swiss Alps, including everything from snow-capped peaks to pine carpeted foothills.
The northern region of Zagorje, though close to Zagreb, feels completely detached from the pace of life found in the city, and contains some of the nation’s most beautiful and beloved national parks within its mountainous snowscapes.
Other than the incredible hiking that can be found in Zagorje, thanks to its pristine, natural preserves, there are also a multitude of cultural attractions to be found in the region.
It has the highest density of castles in Croatia – an impressive feat considering the amount found throughout the country – and some are truly breath taking.
Highlights include Veliki Tabor and Trakošćan, two of the largest in the entire nation.
Suggested tour : From Zagreb: Varazdin and Zagorje Castles Private Tour
The road leading to the Plitvice Lakes hides a hidden gem unknown to many visitors, but a firm favourite amongst locals looking for a picturesque getaway from the city – the impossibly beautiful watermill village of Rastoke.
The 300-year-old village sits on the water’s edge at a point where the Slunjčica braches out into various small cascades.
It makes for an incredibly scenic combination of nature and human ingenuity.
You can spend hours wandering around and snapping photos of the typical, traditional mills, some dating as far back as the 1600’s.
15 Best Day Trips from Zagreb:
- Plitvice Lakes
- Lonjsko Polje
- Kopački rit
In Texas, Local Laws to Prevent Travel for Abortions Gain Momentum
Lubbock County, home to more than 300,000 near the New Mexico border, has become the fourth and largest Texas county to bar travel assistance for abortions.
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By J. David Goodman
Reporting from Houston
In recent months, abortion opponents in Texas have succeeded in passing a growing number of local ordinances to prevent people from helping women travel to have abortions in nearby states that still allow the procedure.
On Monday, Lubbock County, a conservative hub of more than 300,000 residents near the border with New Mexico, became the largest county yet to enact such a ban . The county commissioners court, during a public meeting that drew occasionally impassioned testimony, voted to make it illegal for anyone to transport a pregnant woman through the county, or pay for her travel, for the purpose of seeking an abortion.
The county, which includes the city of Lubbock and Texas Tech University, joined three other far smaller counties — one along the New Mexico border and two others in the middle of the state — in passing ordinances that were drafted in part by the architect of Texas’s six-week abortion ban, adopted in 2021 even before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned of Roe v. Wade last year.
The city of Amarillo, in the Texas Panhandle, on Tuesday held an hourslong public hearing to consider a similar ordinance, which would apply to a network of roads and highways that pass through the city of 200,000 and lead toward New Mexico and Colorado, states where many Texas women have traveled for procedures.
“These abortion trafficking ordinances really are the next stage in an abortion-free America,” said Mark Lee Dickson, an anti-abortion activist who has traveled the state in support of the ordinances. He said he expected several more counties to adopt similar measures in the next few months.
The ordinances have been drafted by Mr. Dickson and Jonathan F. Mitchell , the former solicitor general of Texas who crafted the state’s 2021 abortion ban, and they rely on the same enforcement mechanism as the abortion ban: lawsuits by private citizens. They specifically prohibit the police, sheriffs or other county officers or employees from enforcing the ban — a means of avoiding an immediate court challenge and possible injunction.
Practically speaking, someone would have to learn of a person assisting a pregnant woman with travel out of state for a procedure in order to bring a suit. The ordinances will most likely function like the six-week abortion ban, which attracted few cases but had a chilling effect.
Some legal scholars said the ordinances could run afoul of constitutional protections.
“Even Justice Kavanaugh, in his concurring opinion in the Dobbs decision overruling Roe v. Wade, noted that a state would be violating the constitutional right to interstate travel if it sought to prohibit women from traveling out of state to seek a lawful abortion,” said Jeffrey B. Abramson, emeritus professor of government and law at the University of Texas at Austin.
Mr. Dickson said the ordinances are enforceable because they apply to someone assisting a pregnant woman with travel — including financial support — and do not prohibit a woman from driving herself or traveling by other means.
“We don’t see this as a travel ban,” he said. “We see this as a prohibition on abortion trafficking.”
In a statement , a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, Autumn Keiser, called the ordinances “unnecessary, confusing and fear-inducing barriers to essential health care.”
The Texas affiliates of Planned Parenthood, which have stopped providing abortions in the state, are also fighting a case brought by the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, that accuses the organization of defrauding the Medicaid program. That suit must go to trial, Matthew J. Kacsmaryk , a federal judge appointed by Donald Trump, ruled on Monday . Texas is seeking nearly $2 billion.
That Lubbock County commissioners would adopt the travel ordinance — in a 3 to 0 vote — was not a surprise. Voters in the city of Lubbock approved a ban on abortions in 2021, shortly before the statewide six-week prohibition went into effect. On Monday, a steady stream of residents spoke in favor of the measure, often on religious grounds.
“I come to this from God’s side,” said Tonya Gilliam, who told the commissioners that she had an abortion nearly 50 years ago. “This is very dear to God. Life is everything.”
Other women voiced opposition to the ordinance, and support for abortion rights. “There are thousands of people out there who couldn’t come, because they have to work, and believe that a woman’s body is her decision," said Charlotte Dunham, who told the commissioners that she believed abortion should be legal.
The county judge, Curtis Parrish, said he did not oppose the intent of the ordinance but abstained from the vote after saying he believed the ordinance, “as written, has many legal problems.”
Mr. Parrish also said that he wondered what impact the ordinance would really have, given that it only applied to the unincorporated portions of the county and not, for example, to the city of Lubbock. He said a person could still drive a pregnant woman to the airport in Lubbock for a flight to New Mexico for an abortion and not be in violation of the law.
Gilbert Flores, a county commissioner, also abstained from the vote. “I am 77 years old,” he said, describing times in his life when his rights were violated. “Now, what’s in front of me right now is, do I have the right, do I have the power, do I want the authority to tell these women what to do, violate their rights?” he said. “I have a difficult time with that.”
Another commissioner, Terence Kovar, said he had once helped out in a crisis pregnancy center and that a vote for the ordinance would be in keeping with his anti-abortion views, and those of his constituents.
“This may be a way that mothers think about it,” he said in an interview. “Instead of driving all the way to New Mexico, they come and find one of the local places here to help them get through a troubling time and end up having the kid.”
J. David Goodman is the Houston bureau chief, covering Texas. He has written about government, criminal justice and the role of money in politics for The Times since 2012. More about J. David Goodman