On my most recent trip to Croatia, I finally made it to the capital city: Zagreb. I only had one day to explore, but I did my best to make the most of my limited time! Zagreb is full of Austro-Hungarian architecture, al fresco cafes, and lots of squares and parks. If you have only one day in Zagreb and want to make the most, here are my recommendations!
The Cathedral (which is apparently always under construction) is mainly in the Baroque style today. It houses the tombs of important figures in Croatian history, including the grave of Aloysius Stepinac, the archbishop of Croatia during World War II. There is no admission fee to enter.
St. Mark’s Church is most well-known for its beautiful and striking tiled roof. The church was closed when I visited, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t an admission fee.
The Museum of Broken Relationships is one of the coolest museums I’ve ever visited! Containing significant items donated from around the world, it’s hilarious, heartwarming, and a bit sad, all mixed together. Don’t miss this on a trip to Zagreb! It’s well worth the admission of 40 kuna (~$6 USD).
There are lots of other museums in Zagreb, particularly art museums: the City Museum, Croatian Museum of Naïve Art, Museum Mimara, Art Pavilion, Mestrovic Atlier (the home of one of Croatia’s famous artists), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (outside the center). My advice would be to divide and conquer: pick only a few you really want to see, and make those your priority for the day.
There is a great view point over the city at Stone Gate, and right next to the Lotrscak Tower. If you want an even higher view, you can pay a small fee and climb up to the top of the tower to get a 360˚ panorama.
Dolac Market is fun to walk through—lots of hustle and bustle, and plenty of fresh fruit and veg to eat your way through.
The Botanical Gardens are worth a stroll if you have time and the weather’s nice—they’re located just west of the train station.
Zrinjevac Park and J. J. Strossmayera Park are also nice for relaxing, especially in spring when the flowers are in bloom. I didn’t make it there on this trip, but I’ve heard great things about Maksimir Park (northeast of the center).
Tkalciceva is the main street for bars, restaurants, and cafes in the city center (Upper Town).
If you have an extra day in Zagreb, I highly recommend going to Plitvice Lakes National Park for the day. It was the one thing I missed on this trip to Croatia (due to bus schedules) and it sounds amazing!
The Basics: Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, with a population of about 800,000. Croatia is a member of the EU but uses their own currency, the Croatian kuna (HRK). The official language is Croatian, which uses the Latin alphabet. Croatia is one of the most popular of the Balkan countries and has a very well-established tourist infrastructure.
Getting Around: There is an extensive tram system in Zagreb, as well as plenty of city buses. I never used public transportation and walked everywhere. There’s no need to take trams within the city center or Old Town—everything is close together. Biking is also very popular here! There are lots of designated bike paths throughout the city.
Where I Stayed: I stayed at Wallaby House Hostel for my 2-night stay in Zagreb. I traveled with my boyfriend, but I could tell that it would have been a great place to travel solo. There was a great atmosphere, and very helpful staff who made me feel at home. The bathrooms were okay, and there was excellent shower pressure. There was a large common room and a fully equipped kitchen. We stayed in a double bed private—the room was huge and we had a private balcony, but the bed was fairly uncomfortable (it was two single mattresses). The location was outside the center, but still really well located for the bus/train stations. Overall, I would stay here again in Zagreb if I was staying in a dorm (or traveling solo), but I might try to find somewhere else for a private.
My stay in Zagreb was short and sweet: it was a really nice city to explore, and I wish I had had a bit more time to relax. I would definitely recommend visiting for at least a day to check out the Croatian capital!
Have you ever been to Zagreb? Share your thoughts in the comments!