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What to See in Zagreb

Updated on March 17, 2011

Whether you want to spend a lot of time in Zagreb, or it's just a day or two layover on your way to Dalmatia (the coast), there's still plenty to see and do in this city. Here are my recommendations. I've been to Zagreb about a dozen times, every few years since I was a kid.

Zagreb by Day

Zagreb at Night (video)

Zagreb

Zagreb is the nation's capital and has a little over 1 million inhabitants. An Austro-Hungarian city, it will share some design elements with Vienna and Budapest, although on a much smaller scale. You'll want to visit "Stari Zagreb" (old Zagreb), north of the Sava river.

(+) You'll most likely have to fly through Zagreb to get to the coast anyway

(+) The city has tons of foot traffic--lots of people-watching opportunities abound

(+) The old part of town is easily walkable in a day or two.

(+) There's an interesting mix of history in the city

(-) In the late summer, it can get oppressively hot. (Look for "klimatizacija" in hotel/shop windows--it means A/C)

(-) Not even close to the coast. Lake Jarun nearby is the closest you'll get to enjoying the water in Zagreb.

(-) Don't expect to be taken seriously if you ask for "non-smoking section, please".

I'll be building out a Zagreb Hub next, but in the meantime, here are some attractions worth seeing in Zagreb:

  • Ban Jelačić Square - the center of the city. The Ban (Duke) used to point his sword at Croatia's colonial master, Hungary; now it points to Serbia... A nice fountain, great cafes, and TONS of people-watching. Watch out for the trams!
  • Dolac - Zagreb's open-air market. Mostly for food, but you can buy some nice souvenirs like licitarska srca or lavender oil
  • Gornji Grad (Upper Town) - the really old, quiet part of town housing the presidential palace, Croatian parliament (Sabor) and St. Mark's Church, in addition to charming galleries, restaurants, and cafes. Take the funicular from Ilica, the longest street in Croatia, off Jelacic Square
  • Tkalčićeva ulica ("Tkalča")- street of Jelacic Square lined with cafes for about a mile. All the cafe seats face the narrow street; i.e. a people-watcher's dream. The place to go at night for some beer and pre-club socializing, too.
  • Architecture: Hrvatsko Narodno Kazalište (Croatian National Theater); Muzej Mimara; Glavni Kolodvor & Trg Kralja Tomislava (Main Railway Station and King Tomislav Square)

show route and directions
A markerHrvatsko Narodno Kazaliste - Croatian National Theater -
Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, Marshal Tito Square 15, 10000, City of Zagreb, Croatia
get directions

B markerBan Jelacic Square (Main Square in Zagreb) -
Ban Jelačić Square, City of Zagreb, Croatia
get directions

C markerDolac (Main Market) -
Dolac, City of Zagreb, Croatia
get directions

D markerMimara Museum -
Mimara Museum, Trg Franklina Delanoa Roosevelta 5, 10000, City of Zagreb, Croatia
get directions

Pivo, molim Vas

open-air bars like this are all over the center of Old Zagreb
open-air bars like this are all over the center of Old Zagreb
Beer (pivo) and ice cream (sladoled) *do* mix on hot summer days in Zagreb
Beer (pivo) and ice cream (sladoled) *do* mix on hot summer days in Zagreb

Funicular (uspinjača)

You can take this from Ilica (the longest street) to Gornji Grad (Upper Town)
You can take this from Ilica (the longest street) to Gornji Grad (Upper Town)

Dolac (open air market)

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    • nArchuleta profile image

      Nadia Archuleta 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Then there's the Gradska Kavana... I love Zagreb. Especially the central market! The first time I saw Zagreb (2000), it was gray and covered in Communist-era ash. It's been gussied up since then, but the youth hostel remains dismal as ever, and the central market never seems to change. Thanks for sharing!

    • livelonger profile image
      Author

      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you! I love the place. :)

    • PiaC profile image

      PiaC 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      This looks gorgeous! I especially like the photos of the outdoor cafes and bars.

    • profile image

      hhmtravelblog 9 years ago

      Lovely. I have visited Serbia and Montenegro and would like to visit Croatia next.

    • spacebull profile image

      spacebull 10 years ago from Space

      Great Hub with perspective and pics, thanks!

    • Amanda Kendle profile image

      Amanda Kendle 10 years ago from Perth

      Wow, I missed out. My only experience of Zagreb was three hours waiting at the bus station between midnight and 3am enroute from Dubrovnik to Vienna! Oh well, next time ...

    • livelonger profile image
      Author

      Jason Menayan 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Have never been there but the mineral springs seem appealing!

    • vic profile image

      vic 10 years ago

      Nice Hub. I would also highly recommend Mt. Sljeme just north of the city for hikers and cyclists. Further on Sljeme there are a number of reasonably priced hot/mineral spring spas. The area is magnificent.