Kiki and Jazzie with a view of Zagreb
Blog Zagreb | a complete travel guide to Croatia’s capital

Zagreb | a complete travel guide to Croatia’s capital

Welcome to the ultimate city guide about Zagreb! Discover everything from informative must-sees to hidden gems, top-notch restaurants, vibrant bars, and ideal accommodations. Get ready to explore the best of Zagreb!
Introduction to Zagreb

Welcome to Zagreb, the charming capital city of Croatia! Located in the heart of Europe, this vibrant city is a fascinating blend of old and new, with a rich history that dates back to medieval times and a modern atmosphere that is both cosmopolitan and traditional. 

As you wander through the streets of Zagreb, you’ll discover a city that is alive with culture, art, and history. From the stunning Austro-Hungarian architecture to the vibrant café culture and diverse culinary scene, this city has something for everyone. But Zagreb is more than just a pretty face. It’s a city of friendly locals, welcoming visitors with open arms and inviting them to experience the best that the city has to offer. Whether you’re an art lover, a foodie, or just looking for a good time, Zagreb is the perfect destination.

So what are you waiting for? Get ready to discover everything that this incredible city has to offer with our comprehensive city guide.

Getting started in Zagreb

Arrival information

By plane

Zagreb is served by Franjo Tuđman Airport, the main international gateway to the city. Located approximately 17 kilometers southeast of the city center, the airport offers a range of services and facilities, including transportation options to and from the city. Visitors arriving here will find efficient ground transportation services, such as taxis, shuttle buses, and car rentals, making the journey from the airport to the heart of Zagreb convenient and accessible.

By train

For those arriving by train, the main railway station is Glavni kolodvor. This centrally located station connects Zagreb with various European cities, providing a convenient and scenic way to travel to the capital. The railway station is well-equipped with amenities, including ticketing services, waiting areas, and cafes, ensuring a smooth transition for travelers embarking on their Zagreb adventure by rail.

By bus

For travelers opting for bus transportation, Zagreb boasts a well-connected and extensive bus network, with the Central Bus Station, or Autobusni kolodvor, serving as the primary hub for domestic and international routes. Situated near the city center, this modern station provides a plethora of amenities for passengers, from ticketing kiosks and waiting lounges to snack bars and information desks. With regular schedules and a variety of bus operators offering services, arriving in Zagreb by bus offers an efficient and cost-effective means of reaching the heart of the city.

Overview of public transportation options

Zagreb boasts a well-developed and efficient public transportation system, making it easy for visitors to explore the city and its surroundings. Visitors can opt for single-ride tickets or explore the various transportation cards available for extended stays. These cards often cover multiple modes of transportation, providing flexibility for travelers. The integrated public transportation system ensures that iconic landmarks, cultural sites, and vibrant neighborhoods are easily reachable, allowing you to make the most of your time in Zagreb without the hassle of navigating unfamiliar streets.

Tram

The city’s tram network is a popular mode of transportation, weaving through key districts and attractions. 

Bus

Additionally, buses complement the tram system, offering extensive coverage to areas not directly accessible by rail.

Taxi

For those who prefer the convenience of door-to-door service, taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber are readily available in Zagreb. Taxis can be hailed on the street or found at designated taxi stands throughout the city.

Zagreb ensures that getting around the city is a seamless and enjoyable experience for all travelers.

Neighborhoods and Accommodations in Zagreb

Different neighborhoods and their characteristics

Selecting the right neighborhood in Zagreb depends on your preferences, whether you’re drawn to historic charm, vibrant city life, or a tranquil escape. Each area offers a unique experience, ensuring that you can tailor your stay in Zagreb to match your interests and desires.

Upper Town (Gornji Grad)
Charming cobblestone streets, historic architecture, cultural landmarks, and panoramic views. Immerse yourself in Zagreb’s rich history by choosing accommodations in the Upper Town. This area is home to iconic landmarks such as St. Mark’s Church and the Lotrščak Tower. Enjoy the picturesque atmosphere, explore local museums, and indulge in the city’s vibrant café culture.

Lower Town (Donji Grad)
Lower Town is the heart of Zagreb’s contemporary scene, featuring trendy boutiques, diverse dining options, and bustling city life. It’s an excellent choice for those seeking a balance between historic charm and modern amenities, with easy access to cultural attractions and shopping districts.

Tkalčićeva StreetIf you’re looking for a lively atmosphere and vibrant nightlife, Tkalčićeva Street is the place to be. Accommodations here provide easy access to the city’s best bars, cafes, and entertainment venues. Enjoy the energetic ambiance and the convenience of being at the heart of Zagreb’s social scene. It’s a pedestrian-friendly street, lively atmosphere, cafes, bars, and street performers.

Jarun Lake
Recreational opportunities, lakeside views, outdoor activities, and a more relaxed setting. Jarun Lake offers a refreshing escape from the urban bustle. Accommodations around the lake provide a peaceful retreat with opportunities for outdoor activities such as cycling, jogging, and water sports. Ideal for those seeking a more tranquil experience while still being within reach of the city center.

Maksimir
Green spaces, Maksimir Park, Zagreb Zoo, and a residential feel. Maksimir is a residential neighborhood with lush greenery, making it perfect for those who appreciate a quieter environment. Accommodations here offer proximity to Maksimir Park and the Zagreb Zoo, providing a relaxing retreat while still being well-connected to the city’s attractions.

Accommodation options

Budget
Hotel Mali Mrak
Need a break from generic hostels and commercial routines? If you’re looking for a place with sublime atmosphere, local culture & genuine hospitality, then Mali Mrak may be the place you’re looking for.

Mid-range
Rose & Margaret Kallina
Ever wanted to live in a slice of Zagreb history? That’s what you get with Rose & Margaret. Tucked inside the iconic Kallina building, it’s where old-school charm meets modern comforts. Plus, being at the heart of Masarykova and Gundulićeva streets means you’re never far from the action. Psst… the secessionist decor? Pure eye candy!

Luxury
Esplanade Zagreb Hotel
For those who like their stays with a side of grandeur, there’s the Esplanade. A Zagreb gem since 1925, this place screams class without being stuffy. Expect top-notch service and a dash of that old-world charm that never goes out of style. 

Attractions and Landmarks in Zagreb

Ban Jelačić Square
Ban Jelačić Square stands as Zagreb’s vibrant focal point, surrounded by historic edifices, lively cafes, and intriguing shops. It serves not only as a central gathering spot but also as a pivotal starting point for visitors eager to delve into the city’s rich tapestry of attractions and experiences.

Manduševac Fountain
Deeply rooted in Zagreb’s folklore, the Manduševac Fountain is believed to mark the very source of the city’s drinking water. Local lore suggests that those who drink from its waters are destined to return to Zagreb. Moreover, the fountain boasts an iconic statue crafted by the renowned Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović, adding to its allure.

Zagreb Cathedral
Zagreb Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, graces the city’s skyline with its majestic spires and intricate Neo-Gothic architecture. More than just a religious landmark, it stands as a testament to Zagreb’s rich spiritual and architectural heritage, drawing history buffs and art enthusiasts alike.

Dolac Market
The vibrant Dolac Market offers a sensory feast, brimming with fresh produce, aromatic spices, artisanal crafts, and vibrant flowers. It serves as a vibrant reflection of Zagreb’s daily life, where locals and visitors alike come together to savor the city’s culinary and cultural delights.

St. Mark’s Church
St. Mark’s Church is instantly recognizable for its distinctive tiled roof, adorned with the medieval coat of arms of Zagreb and Croatia. Beyond its iconic exterior, the church’s Gothic architecture and exquisite interiors, featuring works by celebrated Croatian artists, make it a captivating landmark that encapsulates Zagreb’s rich history and artistic legacy.

Tkalčićeva Street
Tkalčićeva Street is a bustling pedestrian thoroughfare, adorned with colorful facades, charming cafes, and eclectic boutiques. It serves as a vibrant hub of Zagreb’s street culture, offering a delightful blend of shopping, dining, and people-watching opportunities.

The Museum of Broken Relationships
The Museum of Broken Relationships offers a poignant exploration of love, loss, and human connection through a curated collection of personal mementos and stories from around the world. This unique museum invites visitors to reflect on the universal experiences of heartbreak and healing, creating a deeply moving and thought-provoking experience.

Funicular
This historic funicular, one of the world’s shortest, offers panoramic views as it connects the Lower Town with the historic Upper Town, making it a convenient and memorable way to explore Zagreb’s architectural and cultural landmarks.

Mirogoj Cemetery
Mirogoj Cemetery, a tranquil sanctuary, is renowned for its stunning architecture and serene ambiance. Designed by Hermann Bollé, it’s a place of remembrance for notable Croatian figures, offering a serene setting for reflection and reverence.

Stone Gate (Kamenita Vrata)
Stone Gate, or Kamenita Vrata, stands as a cherished symbol of Zagreb’s spiritual legacy. Dating back to the 13th century, it houses a revered painting of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child, making it a beloved shrine and pilgrimage site steeped in history and devotion.

Maksimir Park
Maksimir Park, Zagreb’s oldest public park, offers a serene escape with landscaped gardens and tranquil lakes. Spanning over 316 hectares, it’s a favorite retreat for nature lovers and families, complemented by Zagreb Zoo’s diverse wildlife.

Croatian National Theater
The Croatian National Theater, a Neo-Baroque gem, showcases Zagreb’s artistic heritage. Established in 1840, it hosts opera, ballet, and drama performances, offering a captivating blend of culture and history.

Grič Tunnel
The Grič Tunnel, beneath Zagreb’s Upper Town, offers a unique journey through history and art. Once a WWII bomb shelter, it now hosts exhibitions and events, blending past and present in an atmospheric setting.

Nikola Tesla Technology Museum
The Nikola Tesla Technology Museum celebrates Tesla’s innovations in a historic setting. Showcasing his inventions and artifacts, it provides insights into his pioneering work in electrical engineering and inspires future generations.

Dining and Cuisine in Zagreb

Food enthusiasts, prepare for a culinary journey through Zagreb’s gastronomic delights! Whether it’s a morning coffee ritual or an evening toast with local delicacies, the city has something to satiate every palate.

  • Café u Dvorištu: A sunlit oasis that quickly became our favorite spot for leisurely morning coffees and people-watching.
  • Figa Garden: Tucked away yet bustling, it’s our top pick for a relaxed breakfast, hearty lunches, and those long, lingering coffee conversations.
  • Melt: An irresistible combination of gelato, brunch delights, and a cozy ambiance, making it our chosen spot for sundown rendezvous.
  • Kata Brunch Bar: A haven for gluten-free enthusiasts, this spot won us over with its delectable sandwiches and vibrant atmosphere.
  • Mio Corazon: Transport yourself to Spain with tapas that tantalize the taste buds and sangria that’s simply unbeatable.
  • La Štruk: For an authentic taste of Zagreb, this spot serves štrukli, the city’s iconic dish, in all its savory glory.
  • SOI Fusion Food: Embark on an Asian culinary adventure with flavorful street food offerings paired perfectly with craft drinks.

Here’s a taste of what awaits you in Zagreb:

Štrukli
Indulge in štrukli, a traditional Croatian pastry filled with cottage cheese and sour cream. Whether you prefer it baked or boiled, this dish is a beloved staple in Zagreb’s culinary scene. You can find it in cozy local eateries or upscale restaurants, each offering their unique twist on this classic dish.

Čevapčići
Sink your teeth into čevapčići, grilled minced meat sausages served with ajvar and fresh bread. These flavorful morsels are a popular street food in Zagreb, perfect for a quick and satisfying meal while exploring the city’s sights.

Povrće na žaru
Vegetarians, rejoice! Povrće na žaru offers a delightful selection of grilled vegetables, seasoned to perfection. This vibrant dish showcases the freshness and diversity of Croatian produce, providing a healthy and flavorful dining option.

Strudel
End your meal on a sweet note with strudel, a thin pastry filled with apples, cherries, or cheese. Often enjoyed with a dollop of whipped cream or a sprinkle of powdered sugar, strudel is a delightful dessert that pairs perfectly with a cup of Croatian coffee.

Wine
Zagreb’s wine scene is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. From crisp whites to robust reds, Croatian wines offer a rich tapestry of flavors and aromas. Explore local wine bars and cellars to sample a diverse selection of indigenous grape varieties and regional specialties.

Ajvar
A savory relish made from roasted red peppers, ajvar is a versatile condiment that adds a burst of flavor to various dishes. Whether spread on bread, used as a dip, or incorporated into recipes, ajvar showcases the authentic flavors of Croatian cuisine.

Riba na žar
Seafood lovers, don’t miss out on riba na žar, grilled fish seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices. Served with a side of grilled vegetables or salad, this dish offers a taste of the Adriatic Sea in the heart of Zagreb.

Zagrebački odrezak
Treat yourself to Zagrebački odrezak, a breaded and fried veal or pork cutlet stuffed with ham and cheese. Served with mashed potatoes or fries, this hearty dish is a comfort food classic that embodies the hearty and indulgent spirit of Croatian cuisine.

Dobar tek!

Activities and Entertainment in Zagreb

Zagreb Events and Festivals
Timing is everything! If you’re lucky, you might catch some of Zagreb’s vibrant festivals, such as the INmusic Festival or the Advent in Zagreb, known for its festive atmosphere and enchanting Christmas markets in Ban Jelačić Square. 

Art and Galleries
Art enthusiasts, Zagreb awaits! Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art to immerse yourself in modern Croatian art, explore the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships for a unique emotional journey, and for a lighthearted twist, we even ventured to the Museum of Hangovers with, well, a lingering hangover of our own!

Nightlife and Bars
Nightlife enthusiasts, Zagreb beckons with its vibrant energy! Dive into the trendy bars lining Tkalciceva Street or lose yourself in the rhythm of the city’s pulsating Lower Town clubs. And if you’re wondering where we found our late-night groove, here are some spots that lit up our nights:

  • Harat’s Pub: A cozy corner that quickly became our go-to; the kind of place where time just seems to slip away.
  • A Most Unusual Garden: More than just a bar, it’s an oasis boasting the town’s most unforgettable gin and tonics amidst lush greenery.
  • OUT Garden Bar: This gem offers not just drinks but an authentic slice of Croatian nightlife, ensuring every evening here feels like a genuine local affair.
  • Bacchus Jazz Bar: A harmonious blend of soulful jazz tunes, great company, and an ambiance that speaks of countless memorable nights.
  • Night Club & Rock Bar Alcatraz: A dynamic hotspot where the music’s always on point and the vibe’s perpetually electric, reminding us that in Zagreb, the party never truly ends!

Listen to Croatian music
Experience the rich musical heritage of Croatia with live performances at venues like the Lisinski Concert Hall or the Vintage Industrial Bar.

Hike Medvednica
Rent a bike or take a hike up Medvednica Mountain, offering breathtaking views of Zagreb and the surrounding area, as well as picturesque trails and nature reserves.

Visit Zagreb 360°
Head to Zagreb 360°, an observation deck offering panoramic views of the city from the tallest building in Croatia, the Zagreb Eye skyscraper.

Language and Customs in Zagreb

Language
Croatian is the official language spoken in Zagreb and throughout Croatia. While English is widely understood in tourist areas and among the younger population, it’s always appreciated when visitors make an effort to speak a few basic Croatian phrases.

In Zagreb and across Croatia, greetings are an essential part of daily interactions. Use “Dobar dan” (Good day) for formal daytime greetings, “Dobro jutro” (Good morning) in the early hours, and “Dobra večer” (Good evening) as the day transitions to night. For a more casual greeting among friends or peers, “Bok” (Hi) or “ćao” (Hello) is commonly used. And let’s not forget about “Molim” (Please) and “Hvala” (Thank you).

Tipping
Tipping is appreciated but not always expected. In restaurants, a tip of 10% is considered generous. In bars and cafes, rounding up the bill is a common practice.

Religious sites
If visiting churches or religious sites, it’s essential to dress modestly. Women should cover their shoulders, and both men and women should avoid wearing shorts or skirts above the knee.

Shopping in Zagreb

Ilica Street
Ilica Street is Zagreb’s main shopping thoroughfare, offering a diverse mix of fashion stores, boutiques, and specialty shops. It’s a vibrant area where you can find everything from high-end brands to unique local designs.

Tkalčićeva Street
Known for its charming atmosphere, Tkalčićeva Street is lined with cafes, restaurants, and a variety of shops. It’s a pedestrian-friendly zone, perfect for leisurely strolls and discovering local crafts, souvenirs, and artisanal products.

Britanac
The Britanac area, surrounding the British Square, is renowned for its antique shops, art galleries, and vintage boutiques. It’s a treasure trove for collectors and those seeking unique, one-of-a-kind items.

Cvjetni Square
Located in the heart of the city, Cvjetni Square is a modern shopping destination with a mix of international brands, cafes, and entertainment options. It’s a bustling hub, especially popular with the younger crowd.

Dolac Market
Zagreb’s iconic Dolac Market is a must-visit destination for fresh produce, local delicacies, and authentic Croatian products. From colorful fruits and vegetables to homemade cheeses and traditional crafts, it’s a feast for the senses.

Britanac Flea & Antique Market 
Held on weekends near the British Square, this antique fair features a wide range of vintage items, collectibles, and historical artifacts. It’s a paradise for antique lovers and those interested in Croatia’s rich cultural heritage.

Zagreb Christmas Market
During the holiday season, Zagreb’s Christmas Market transforms the city into a winter wonderland. With festive decorations, traditional foods, and handmade crafts, it’s been voted the best Christmas market in Europe multiple times.

We genuinely hope our guide has painted a vivid picture of Zagreb for you, just as it did for us during all of our memorable visits. There’s something truly magical about this city, a blend of historical elegance and warm-hearted hospitality that’s hard to resist.

From the lively buzz of Dolac Market to the timeless charm of its cobblestone streets, Zagreb invites you to create your own stories and memories. We can’t wait for you to experience the joy of discovering its hidden courtyards, sipping coffee in its quaint cafes, and feeling the heartbeat of a city that captivates every soul that visits.

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