Even though it’s the capital of the country, Zagreb is often missed by tourists in Croatia who mostly choose coastal destinations during the summertime. It’s true that Zagreb is nothing like Dubrovnik or Split, but it’s still a Central European city that really has much to offer. Whether it’s the mix of Austro-Hungarian and socialist architecture, many unique museums and galleries, beautiful parks and lots of restaurants and clubs to choose from – you will always have plenty of options. In the winter, it hosts one of the greatest Christmas markets in Europe, so it makes for a great winter destination, as well. This city shouldn’t be missed on any Central European trip, even if you only have one day to spend there!
What’s the best time to visit Zagreb?
There are a few seasons that make this city a really great place to visit. The first one is late spring, when the temperature gets around 20 degrees C and the numerous city parks make Zagreb look lush, fresh and green. It’s the time of the year when you can enjoy many outdoor activities or simply enjoy some coffee in the sun. The second season that’s kind of special is the Christmas time. Zagreb’s Christmas market, Advent, is getting bigger and more exciting each year, and it has already been named one of the best in Europe.
One Day in Zagreb Itinerary
Top things to do in Zagreb, Croatia
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Zagreb.
Start your day at Trg bana Josipa Jelacica
The main city square – Trg bana Josipa Jelacica – placed just below the Old City is the best place to start your one day in Zagreb. It’s very well connected by public transport to all other city areas, so it is easily reachable no matter where you’re staying.
Check out the Ban Josip Jelačić statue as well as the fountain. While on the square, you can climb up the Observation Deck ‘Zagreb Eye’ and enjoy the greatest panoramic view of the city and a cup of morning coffee.
Stroll through Ilica street and visit some of the many shops along it
Ilica street is actually one of the longest streets in Croatia and it doesn’t make sense to walk the whole street if you have only one day in Zagreb. Still, it’s a great place to do some shopping, have some breakfast or simply watch the city’s busy atmosphere. Oranž Bistro & wine bar is a great place to have some amazing healthy breakfast, but they also serve some delicious cakes if you want to sweeten your tooth.
Visit the Antiques and Flea Market on the Britanac Square
On weekends, this tiny square next to the Ilica street hosts the Antiques and Flea Market. The vendors are usually locals who sell both valuable antique items as well as some cheap vintage accessories, books, clothes or pottery. You can find some pretty unique stuff, but don’t forget to bargain!
Visit the Museum of Illusions
The exciting Museum of Illusions, just around the corner from Britanac Square, is a great place for both children and all those adults who enjoy any kind of illusion. There are several rooms around the museum that have some sort of spatial illusion that can easily trick your brain. It’s quite a fun museum to explore and one of very few that get even more exciting with the camera, so don’t forget to bring your phone.
Take the Funicular Railway to the Upper Town
Take the Funicular Railway from Tomićeva ulica all the way up to the Upper Town. It is the city’s oldest part covered in narrow streets with many famous sights and attractions. Just after you exit the funicular, you’ll be facing the Lotrscak Tower where every day at noon a cannon is fired to commemorate Zagreb’s victory over the Turks.
Museum of Broken Relationships
Another original museum, the Museum of Broken Relationships, displays the collection of different things that keep the memory of failed relationships and the stories behind those relationships. It’s touchy and funny at the same time and more exciting than most of the drama movies nowadays.
Visit the Dolac market and the Cathedral
Placed around the Upper town, the two great places to continue your day in Zagreb are the Cathedral and the Dolac market. Dolac is a great place to buy some fresh fruits, nice flowers and many Croatian products and souvenirs.
Take a lunch break at Tkalciceva street
The best place to relax, enjoy some drinks and delicious food is Tkalciceva street. There are numerous restaurants, bars and pubs to choose from. If you’re a beer lover who wants to have some basic meat or pizza dish, check out Mali Medo beerhouse. For a nice coffee and dessert place check out Kava Tava bar or the Cookie Factory. If you’re into some great Asian food street food– don’t miss Umami.
Have a taste of Mexico in Radiceva street
Parallel to Tkalciceva is Radiceva street, a quite nice pebble street with many shops and bars on its sides. One of the most memorable is Mio Corazon Tapas Bar and just across the street Corazon Mio Bar where they make the best Sangrias in the world – try the blueberry ginger hot sangria and you’ll never go for any other.
Relax at the Zrinjevac park
The lovely Zrinjevac park in the very center is a great place to relax from an exhausting day, especially during the warmer months when it becomes a perfect green oasis in the middle of the city. During the Christmas time it’s where the most iconic part of the Christmas market is held. The whole park gets covered in lights which create super romantic winter atmosphere.
It’s time for a night out
If you’re still into partying after this quite exhausting day, the good news is that in Zagreb there are lots of clubs to choose from. If you want to stick to the city center – visit Lemon Club. Katran also offers a great night out and 4 dance floors inside one club, and it’s not that far from the main square.
Where to stay in Zagreb?
Esplanade Zagreb Hotel
The Esplanade Zagreb Hotel is an exquisite 5 star hotel in the very city center. This lovely vintage hotel was built in 1925 in Art Deco style and was beautifully restored in 2004. The rooms are very classy and present a delicate combination of vintage and contemporary.
Hotel 9 is a luxury boutique hotel in Zagreb, perfect for both business travel and leisure. Great location and amazing interior make this hotel one of the best in Zagreb. The rooms feel luxurious and modern at the same time.
Livris Hotel is another modern hotel at a great location. Fine design, bright and modern rooms make it a perfect for all types of visitors. It offers a free parking.
Swanky Mint Hostel
The Swanky Mint is a hostel placed in a renovated textile-dye and dry cleaning factory that dates back to the late 19th century. Its unique appearance is a combination of industrial machinery, modern design and technology and eco-friendly sustainable environment.
Extra tips for visiting Zagreb
– Public transportation is pretty cheap and very efficient. However, Uber and Cammeo Taxi offer super cheap prices and it’s recommended to use them whenever you need fast and cheap transport.
– You should be prepared that the Euro is not accepted in Croatia, so you should exchange your money upon your arrival.
– Even though the tips in bars and restaurants are never included in the price, it is customary to tip at least 10%.
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