Let’s go together to discover Zagreb
Things to do and see in the Croatian capital
Zagreb lies in the northwest of the country; it is a city with a rich history dating from Roman times to the present day and boasts a beautiful Austro-Hungarian architecture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Walking around the city centre is very easy, and you can visit all the most exciting spots by walk. It takes only a day without rushing, anyways there is a tram network that links all the areas of the city.
Zagreb is divided into Upper Town and Lower Town. In the Upper Town, you’ll find the Gothic Cathedral and the old Dolac market, the church of St. Mark, or the crowded Tkalčićeva street, whereas the Lower Town includes the main square, Ban Jelačić, shops, museums, and parks.
Our tour starts rounding the Upper Town, the medieval core of the city and, without a doubt, the most interesting and visited part. All the attractions are just a few minutes walk from each other, and you don’t need to take any transport.
1. Ban Josip Jelacic Square
It is the city’s central square, and it is dedicated to the governor from the middle of the 19th century, who abolished serfdom and convened the first elections for the Croatian Parliament. The oldest standing building, dating from the 18th century, is situated at 1 Ban Jelačić Square. In the middle of the square, you’ll notice a big statue of Ban Josip Jelačić on a horse installed on 19 October 1866 by Austrian authorities. On the south side of the square, you’ll notice a big glass building that homes the observation deck of the city, called Zagreb 360°. If you like, you can go to the rooftop to enjoy a 360° view of Zagreb.
2. Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Just 5 minutes walk from Jelacic square, the Cathedral is a monumental and impressive Gothic style building completed in 1217 and consecrated by King Andrew II of Hungary on his way to the 5th Crusade. The cathedral was destroyed in 1242 by the Tartars and rebuilt by bishop Timotej a few years later, integrating into it the remainders of the “pre-Tartaric.” It was severally damaged in the 1880 Zagreb earthquake and rebuilt in Neo-Gothic style, and today’s look of the Cathedral was finalised in the 1902 year.
3. Dolac market
It is the most visited and the best-known farmer’s market in Zagreb, well known for its combination of a traditional open market with stalls and a sheltered market below. It has been a significant trading place since 1930.
4. Tkalciceva street
Tkalciceva Street is known as the “bar street“, and it is one of the most dynamic, crowded and delightful places for an evening meal or a drink with its many restaurants, takeaways, and cafes. It starts at Jelacic square and extends for almost 700 meters. Walking here, you’ll notice the statue of Maria Zagorka, the first female journalist in Croatia and one of the most read in the country, whose novels talk about the mysterious adventures of Zagreb inhabitants throughout history. Close to the statue, there is the old sundial that shows the right time.
5. St. Mark’s Church
Dating from the 13th century is one of the oldest buildings of Zagreb and one of its symbols. The church is famous for its tiled roof built by the Viennese architect Friedrich Schmidt between 1876 and 1882, formed by white, red and light blue tiles that reproduce the coat of arms of Zagreb and the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia. The square around the Church also houses Banski Dvori, the seat of the Croatian government, Croatian Parliament and the Constitutional Court. You can visit the Church only during the Mass times (Mon- Fri at 6 pm, Sat. at 7.30 am and Sun. at 10.30 am and 6 pm).
6. The Stone Gate
The Stone Gate was a part of the defence system of Gradec (the old city), and it is the only city defensive gate that survived until the present day. Inside the gate, there is a small Chapel of Our Lady of the Stone Gate, the city’s patron. Legend says that in 1731, in the last fire that severely damaged the city, the only thing preserved was the image of Holy Mary with the child.
People believe that the painting possesses magical powers and regularly come to pray, light candles and leave flowers.
7. St. Catherine’s Church
It is a baroque style church that Jesuits built in the 17th century. The building beside the church was originally the monastery which today is home to Klovicevi Art Gallery. The church was hit by fire twice in 1645 and again in 1674, where the interior was burned down. Despite that, it was refurbished by Croatian nobles that, in return, they were allowed to display their family coat-of-arms or have the honour to be buried or entombed in the church.
Just a minute walk from the church, you’ll find the Museum of the Broken relationship, the most famous museum in Zagreb. It is dedicated to failed love relationships, and its exhibits include personal objects left over from former lovers, accompanied by brief descriptions.
8. Zagreb Funicular
With only 66 meters long railroad is the shortest funicular in the world for public transport. The funicular was built in 1890 and has been in operation since April 23, 1893. Initially, it had steam engines, which were substituted with electrical motors in 1934. Today, the funicular rides on electric power and connects the Upper and Lower part of the city of Zagreb and is a protected monument of culture
9. Strossmayer street
Strossmayer street is a charming promenade, with no doubt one of the best spots for panoramic views of Zagreb rooftops and landscape. Walking towards the left side, you’ll get a panoramic terrace from where you can spot the Gothic cathedral. Here the railing is plenty of D-locks left by youth to “lock” their love.
10. Lotrscak Tower
It is a 13th-century tower built to guard the southern gate of Gradec. It houses the Grič Cannon that every day at noon, for more than 100 years, goes off to mark the middle of the day and in remembrance of an event from Zagreb’s history. According to legend, the Gric cannon fired a shot at noon on the Turkish camp located across the Sava River and smothered a cock that the Turkish cook was carrying to the Pasha. After that, Turks were scared off by that well-aimed cannon shot, and they fled away.
11. Lower town
The walking tour rounding the Lower town is less exciting, but anyway it is worth a visit. Lenuci’s horseshoe is a complex of seven squares and parks in a U shaped system designed by engineer Milan Lenuci in the late 19th century in lower Zagreb.
Zrinski Square forms the west wings of Lenuci’s horseshoe with its beautiful Zrinjevac Park and the old building of the Supreme Court and the Archaeological Museum, Jusipa Strossmayer square with its park and the Arts and Sciences Academy, King Tomislav Square with the vast Ledeni park and the Art pavilion building.
The east wing of the Lenuci’s horseshoe is formed by the Republic of Croatia Square, the first in a line of three squares and home of the Croatian National Theatre, old buildings like the Croatian School Museum, the museum of arts and crafts, the Academy of Dramatic Art, the University of Zagreb Faculty of Law, the Miroslav Krleža Lexicographical Institute and last but not least the new restored Zagreb Academy of Music. The other 2 square is Mazuranica square and Marulić square with the Croatian State Archives building.
If you have time, look at Mirogoj central Zagreb cemetery (take bus 106 on the right side of the cathedral), located on the mountain Medvednica and considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe (Mirogoj is also a beautiful park and art gallery open). Another exciting tour is to look for the mural art and graffiti scattered around the city. The best thing is to book a guided walking or biking tour; otherwise, look for a map with their location.
Need to know about Zagreb
|1. When to go
Zagreb can be visited all year round, but the best seasons are fall, spring and early summer. If you want to explore the lush Croatian National Parks, the best period is from April to September, whereas the summer is the best moment to enjoy the coast, the islands and their clear sea.
2. How to get there
Zagreb International Airpot is 15 km south of the city centre and is mostly served by major European companies. The cheapest way is to take the local Bus 290 that runs every 40 minutes from the airport to Kvaternikov square (16 stops – 1-hour ride). Here you can catch the Tram and get to Ban Josip Jelacic Square in a few minutes. You can also catch the Airport bus connecting the Pleso Airport with the central bus station (30-minute ride – ticket fee 30 Kuna). Here you’ll find the Tram stop toward the city centre (nr. 6 or 8). Alternatively, you can take a taxi (around 150 Kuna – 20 euro) or book a private or shared transfer (approximately 35 euro up to 3 people) to your accommodation. For a private transfer, you can also check the web platforms such as Viator and GetYourGuide, which offer excellent deals. If you plan to move around the country, you can rent a car. Click here to see the fares of a rental car in Croatia.
3. Where to sleep
Zagreb offers a wide range of accommodation from cheap hostel beds to 5 stars hotels. The best place where to sleep in the city centre, around the Upper town or the Lower town that allows you to visit all the attractions by walk. I slept at Indigo Centar, a 10-minute walk from Ban Jelacic Square. Anyway, if you find it more suitable for you, not that close to the city centre, remember to check the means of transport.
4. Where to eat
In the surrounding of Ban Josip Jelacic Square, you’ll find excellent restaurants; otherwise, we suggest going to Tkalciceva street, where you’ll find restaurants, bars, and cafes. We ate at Stari Fijaker restaurant and Agava restaurant.
Check on Tripadvisor and look for the best restaurants.
5. Moving around
All the city tours can be quickly done by walk. Anyway, you can also use the Tram. Download the device app ”Moovit” to set your position and find the mean of transport to reach your destination. Check also the useful Hop-On Hop-Off Bus.
6. Zagreb packages tour
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