Croatia’s capital Zagreb is not as popular destination for travelers as Dubrovnik, Split, Plitvice National Park, or its islands. Zagreb is no less than those destinations and should definitely be on your bucket list. Moreover, it’s one of the cheapest cities in the country! Usually, the capital is the most expensive one, but here, its the opposite.
Things to do in Zagreb is plenty; with its interesting culture, historic sights that date back to the Roman times, beautiful cathedrals, and world-known Museum of Broken Relationships will keep you intrigued and awed. Most of the Zagreb attractions are free, and some require a small fee to enter.
Top Things to Do in Zagreb, Croatia
The city is divided into two parts – Upper and Lower town – and exploring both parts are not hard at all. Zagreb attractions are well connected to each other, so you can easily walk around the city without taking any public transportation.
1Admire the central square of the city
Ban Jelacic Square has served as the city’s commercial heart since 1641, the year when the authorities declared the area as a place to hold fairs. Most of the buildings around the square date from the 19th century and display different architectural styles – Biedermeier, Art Nouveau, and Postmodernism.
The square is named after Governor (Ban) Josip Jelacic and features his statue in the center, Mandusevac Fountain, and a tourist information center.
2Wander through Kaptol district
Katpol developed as a canonical settlement back in the day and is located behind the Ban Jelacic Square. Here, you can see a beautiful cathedral, chapel, the Treasury. wander through Ribnjak park, visit Priskin’s Tower and admire old walls.
Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the city’s one of the defining symbols. Characterized by soaring twin towers, the cathedral is built in Neo-Gothic style and date back to the 19th century.
The cathedral’s defensive walls with round towers were built when the threat from the Ottoman Turks was at its height. The walls were built in record time – in about 10 years and are considered to be one of the best-preserved Renaissance defenses in Europe.
In front of the cathedral, you’ll see a fountain featuring Virgin Marry and four angel statues. The statues are gold-plated and the angel statues represent Christian virtues of Faith, Innocence, Hope, and Humility.
3Visit the market
One of the things to do in Zagreb is to visit Dolac Market, an open-air food market in the center of the town. Being one of the most popular attractions of Zagreb, here you can not only buy fruits to snack on while you wander through the streets but also buy vegetables, meat and fish to prepare dinner. Besides, there are souvenir stalls as well.
However, if this is not your cup of tea and you are more of a culture buff, then there’s St. Mary’s Church you can visit.
4Stroll down Zagreb’s most colorful street
Tkalciceva street used to house many workshops producing cloths, soap, liqueurs, and paper in the 18th century. However, at the end of the 19th century, it was transformed into a center of commercial activity and nightlife. Today, locals and tourists come here for its small boutiques, traditional shops, cafes, and restaurants.
5Pass through the Stone Gate
Stone Gate is the only old town gare that remains intact. Originally built in Middle Ages, what you see today was a reconstruction done in the 18th century. There’s a chapel dedicated to patron saint of Zagreb, Virgin Marry, under the arch.
6Visit the most unusual museum
If you read my blog, you might know that I am not a big museum fan. However, there are certain types I like, and Museum of Broken Relationships is one of them. Being only two in the world, in Los Angeles and Zagreb, the museum is a global crowd-sourced project that exhibits items and memorabilia of many different broken relationships – be it with a loved one, friend or parents.
Every item displayed has its own story you can read, giving the visitors a mixed feeling as they go. For instance, I was laughing at one stand and crying on another.
Fee: 30 Kuna = €4 = $4.97
7Admire the iconic symbol of Zagreb
If you’ve seen any pictures of Zagreb, you’ve seen the beautiful mosaic roof of St. Mark’s Church. The original church was built in the 13th-century church, while gothic arched ceiling, sanctuary, and 15 statues were added a bit later.
The church was substantially rebuilt in the Neo-Gothic style at the end of the 19th century. The tiles on the roof show the coats of arms of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slovenia, and the city of Zagreb.
8Ride the funicular
The funicular is only 66-meter-long and connects Upper and Lower Towns. It’s the shortest passenger cable railway that takes only about 55 seconds to get from one end to another. Opened in 1890, the funicular operated on steam and was the first public transport used in the city.
Fee: 4 Kuna = €0.54 = $0.66
Lotrscak Tower is the only preserved medieval tower that dates back to the 13th century. Slightly modified six centuries later, the tower, today, is famous for canon fired every day at noon.
10Relax at one of the parks
Zagreb has a fair share of green spaces and Zrinjevac park is one of the most favorable of them all. The park features plane trees, a wrought iron bandstand, fountains, and busts of famous Croatian figures.
11Look at the Metrological Post
At one end of the Zrinjevac park, there’s a metrological post that records city’s weather conditions since 1884. You can check the temperature, air pressure and coordinate your watch with a 24-hour dial.
12Watch the city life at King Tomislav Square
Tomislav was the first king of Croatia and the square dedicated to him is one of the busiest areas where you can sit down, enjoy a warm sunny day and watch the life of locals.
The main railway station of the city is also located here. The first railway arrived in Zagreb in 1862 and connected the cultural center of Europe – Viena, and Budapest. The building was built in 1892 with Renaissance and Neoclassical elements. The whole area is one of the most beautiful places in the Lower Town.