In a country like Croatia that’s filled with so much natural beauty, cities like Zagreb are usually overlooked by first time visitors. However, in recent years, Zagreb has been able to make a name for itself as a popular European city destination – and rightfully so. The city’s charming medieval streets are bustling with historical sites, quirky art galleries and Croatia’s trendiest food scene. Our Zagreb City Guide covers the highlights and experiences you don’t want to miss!
When to Visit Zagreb
In general, Croatia enjoys pleasant weather year-round. But if you want to make the most of your trip to its capital city, visit Zagreb between April and September. During these months, Zagreb enjoys sunnier days and warmer temperatures. Keep in mind, though, that July and August are the peak of the travel season in Croatia so you’ll want to avoid visiting during those months if you wish to escape the crowds.
What to See in Zagreb
You can spend as little or as much time as you like in Zagreb. While 24 hours is enough to cover the highlights of our Zagreb City Guide, with a few more days to spare you’ll be able to explore at a more leisurely pace and discover some off-the-beaten-path gems. If you want the opportunity to explore Zagreb’s surrounding region as well, consider extending your stay to 4-5 days.
Originally, Zagreb grew out of two separate medieval communities – Gradec to the west and Kaptol to the east – and that distinction can still be felt today when meandering through the city’s compact historical center.
Originally, Kaptol was where the clergy was based so this is where you will find Zagreb’s most impressive religious presence today. The main landmark here, however, is the Zagreb Cathedral which boasts two 335-feet-high Gothic-style towers making it the tallest building in Croatia.
In the Gradec district you’ll find the city’s medieval core as well as most of the city’s upscale hotels, restaurants and bars. This part of town is also filled with interesting museums and art galleries providing a peak into Croatia’s culture and history. Leading into this part of the city is the Stone Gate – Gradec’s only surviving gate – featuring a fascinating open-air chapel.
Museums and Galleries
Zagreb’s cultural scene is quirky, thought-provoking and offers a captivating look into Croatian society through the centuries. The Museum of Mimara houses a selection of artwork donated by Ante Topic Mimara, a private collector, that covers a wide range of items from a variety of time periods. Highlights include paintings by Rembrandt, Goya and Raphael as well as sculptures by Rodin and Houdon. For more contemporary works, head to Zagreb’s Art Pavillion. The Croatian Museum of Naïve Art features an impressive collection of naïve paintings from renowned Croatian and international artists.
One of Zagreb’s most unique museums, however, has to be the Museum of Broken Relationships. Here, you’ll find a fascinating mix of funny and heartbreaking love letters and personal objects donated from old lovers around the world.
While Zagreb takes the crown as Croatia’s largest urban center, the city offers plenty of green spaces to relax in and explore. For a quiet escape from the city buzz, head into Maksimir Park. This is Zagreb’s oldest and largest public park featuring beautifully landscaped gardens, wild natural forests as well as the town’s Zoo.
If you’re craving waterfront views, enjoy a bicycle ride along Jarun Lake or take a leisurely stroll through “Lenuci’s Horshoe”. The latter is a unique urban complex made up of landscaped town squares and even a botanical garden.
What to Eat in Zagreb
No Zagreb City Guide would be complete without mentioning its vibrant culinary scene! In more recent years, Zagreb has really come into its own as a foodie destination. Every street corner has its own bistro and restaurant serving the best of Croatian grilled meats and fish with a modern twist. There is plenty to delight the most adventurous taste buds, but you won’t want to miss out on classics like strukli, pag cheese and a refreshing octopus salad.
And while Croatia may be best known for its wines, Zagreb has a vibrant craft beer scene that can be experienced at places like Mali Medo bar and Craft Room.
Where to Stay in Zagreb
Regardless of your travel style and budget, you’ll want to stay in the city’s Old Town for easy access to the best that Zagreb has to offer. The Upper Town district is where you’ll find the city’s trendiest bars, restaurants and hotels. The city’s Lower Town is more recent but still features fabulous architecture and leaves you closer to beautiful gardens, restaurants and lots of shopping venues. If you have some extra time or want to take a tour to your next destination and carry on from there, consider a day tour to Plitvice Lakes or Istria!