Zagreb is Croatia’s capital city. However, for a capital city it has much more of an old town charm rather than a buzzing modern city vibe. Majority of the residents living in Zagreb are native to Croatia and it is quite a small city, with only a population of 806,920 as of 2016 according to World Population Review.
In recent years Croatia has really picked up as a popular travel destination, especially amongst young backpackers. If you’re visiting in peak season (July and August) be prepared for hot weather and lots and lots of tourists.
I only had one afternoon to explore Zagreb. Personally, this was enough for me as I was growing tired of visiting small European cities (something I never thought I’d say- but after nearly 7 months away from home I was itching to get back to Australia).
If you are visiting Europe for a shorter period, I’d suggest spending 2 days in the capital to travel at a more relaxed pace and to get a better feel of the city.
1. St. Mark’s Church, 2. Cathedral of Zagreb from the Gradec Plateau, 3. Gradec area,
What to do:
- St Mark’s Church- This is one of the oldest buildings in Zagreb and is easily recognisable due to the colourful tiles on the roof. You can go inside free of charge.
- Cathedral of Zagreb- This is the tallest building in Croatia. I was told it has been being renovated for the past 20+ years! Perhaps when I go back to Croatia in 20 years or so it’ll finally be completed.
- Free Spirit Walking Tour- This is on a few times a day. The meeting point is in front of the horse statue at Ban Jelačić Square. The tour takes you around the old town area of Zagreb for 2 hours, informing you on the history of Croatia including the war with Bosnia.
- Museum of Broken Relationships- This is a museum displaying personal objects from former lovers all over the world along with brief stories explaining the item. It was an intriguing museum to visit. Allow about an hour for visiting. This cost 40 kuna ($8.50AUD) or 30 kuna ($6.40AUD) with a student card.
- Dolac Market- This is a cute market in the centre of the old town filled with bakeries, fresh fruit, fish stalls and florists!
- Jelačić Square- This is the centre of Zagreb’s social life- you’ll spot locals meeting their friends here before a night out. The buildings around here are painted pastel and the famous horse statue is also located here.
- Kula Lotrscak lookout tower- Every day at noon, a cannon is shot from the fourth floor to signal mid-day. The sound can be heard throughout the Zagreb Old Town.
4. Old Town, 5. Horse statue in Jelačić Square, 6. Museum area,
- The Gradec Plateau- This is a great viewpoint to photograph the Cathedral of Zagreb and surrounding buildings.
- Tkalciceva Street- This street is filled with delicious restaurants, cafes and bars. It was a bustling area and the buildings were quaint and beautiful to roam around as well.
- Nokturno Restaurant- I ate here for dinner and had the most delicious dinner! There is a huge menu to choose from. I ordered the grilled pork loin in truffle sauce with grilled vegetables and mashed potato. The address is: Skalinska ul. 4, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia.
- Day trip to Plitviče Lakes: I had the most wonderful day visiting Plitviče Lakes. I will post a separate guide soon- make sure you check back.
7. Gradec area, 8. Another church, 9. Tkalciceva Street,
I stayed in an AirBnb on Rubetićeva ulica. This was an amazing location, about a ten minute walk to Jelačić Square. You walk down a set of stairs and at the bottom is a row of delicious cafes and restaurants to pick from. Any accommodation around this area would be perfect as you are so close to the main square, but it was an incredibly quiet location and I think if you stayed in the heart of the town it could get quite loud at night.
10. Church, 11. View from Upper Town,
The best time to visit Croatia:
I visited Croatia in July and it was very hot. July and August are the peak travel times as that is summer school holidays for Europeans and Americans, and it is Australia and New Zealand’s winter so they’re looking to escape the cold.
I would suggest visiting in April-May or September-October in the shoulder seasons as the weather will be much more pleasant going in to or out of summer, prices will be slightly cheaper and there will be less tourists!
12. Cathedral of Zagreb, 13. Meal at Nokturno