Our guide to the best things to do in Zagreb includes grand architecture from the Habsburg times. This northern, inland Croatian capital city often gets short shrift from many travellers compared to the enormous popularity of the country’s stunning coastline. But this relatively small city has eye-catching buildings, several bold and quirky museums, and other attractions, together with a café culture that’s almost unmatched elsewhere in Europe.

    While Zagreb is easily walkable, an extensive public transport network means getting around the city – and beyond – is painless. This includes a surprisingly high number of tram lines for such a small city. There are more than 100 bus routes, some of which run around the clock and even connect to neighbouring cities.

    What are the best things to do in Zagreb?

    1

    Cathedral of Zagreb

    Gothic beauty that’s visible from all over the city

    • History
    • Photo

    Zagreb Cathedral is the tallest and most spiritually important building in Croatia. As one of Zagreb’s most iconic and well-visited attractions, the cathedral is prized for its Gothic architecture, with impressive spires that can be spotted from afar almost no matter where you are in Zagreb.

    The structure dates back to the 11th century, but it was partially reconstructed after suffering damage in the Zagreb earthquake of 1880 – that’s when those famous spires were added on. The cathedral also houses the grave of Archbishop of Zagreb Kardinal Stepinac, in memory of his instrumental role in Croatia achieving independence.

    Location: Kaptol ul. 3110000, Zagreb, Croatia

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm.

    Phone: +385 1 481 47 27

    Map

    photo by Rangan Datta Wiki (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    2

    St. Mark’s Church

    For a must-have photo of its truly unique roof

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Old-town Gradec’s St. Mark’s Church is well worth a look around inside, but to fully appreciate it and for the best photos you need to approach from some distance. The church structure dates back to the 13th century, but the distinctive, brightly tiled roof was only added on in 1880.

    The church sports Croatia’s medieval coat of arms and the emblem of Zagreb, making it an iconic and memorable sight. The eponymous square on which it sits is also worth a wander, being home to a number of Zagreb’s other important and historical buildings such as the Croatian Parliament and the Old City Hall.

    Location: Trg Sv. Marka 5, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

    Phone: +385 1 485 16 11

    Map

    photo by Jorge Láscar (CC BY 2.0) modified

    3

    Museum of Broken Relationships

    A reflection on love turned sour

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships isn’t exactly the kind of museum you find in every city you visit. That’s exactly what makes it pique your interest. As the name implies, the museum is dedicated to portraying the stories of love affairs turned sour.

    It’s a crowdsourced project and there’s an additional venue in Los Angeles (as well as plenty of popup museums around the world), but the original here in Zagreb is housed in a beautiful upper town baroque palace, which is worth a visit. Expect humorous yet thought-provoking exhibitions that use personal objects left over from real-life failed relationships – and to explore why they go wrong.

    Location: Ćirilometodska ul. 2, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 9 pm (until 10.30 pm in the summer months)

    Phone: +385 1 485 10 21

    Map

    photo by Prosopee (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    4

    Zagreb Funicular

    Ride the oldest public transport in town

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    The Zagreb Funicular has the unusual honour of reigning as the shortest funicular in the world. Measuring just 66 metres in length, it links the Upper Town of old Zagreb to the Lower Town in a ride that takes less than 60 seconds to complete. You can look for the station on Tomićeva ul, a short detour of the bustling Ilica boulevard.

    Short though it may be this funicular holds a special place in the hearts of Zagreb locals. It's the oldest form of public transport in the city, with roots in the 1890s, no less. It also offers a lift up to the monument-rich heart of the city, where you'll be lost between medieval towers and royal promenades. 

    Location: Tomićeva ul. 7A, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

    Open: Daily from 6.30 am to 10 pm

    Map
    5

    Ban Josip Jelačić Square

    The beating heart of Zagreb

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Ban Josip Jelačić Square is the heart of Zagreb. This main urban square marks the meeting point between the modern Lower Town and the ancient Upper Town. You really can't miss it – the spot is within a 15-minute walk from the Zagreb Glavni Kolod Train Station.

    A theatre of classic and art deco buildings rings the plaza to the north and south. At its western end, the main Ilica boulevard offers the best shopping in the city. To the north is Dolac Market, a place to haggle for fresh summer flowers and farm-to-table foods. A series of local cafés under canopies offers ample people-watching opportunities.

    Location: Trg bana Josipa Jelačića, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

    Map
    6

    Lotrščak Tower

    The protector of the Upper Town

    • History
    • Photo

    The Lotrščak Tower once guarded the entrance of the Zagreb Upper Town, the oldest part of the medieval core of the city. Today, it rises at the top of the low hill above the Zagreb Funicular, just one in a line of venerable buildings that stand on the Strossmayer Promenade.        

    Perfectly square in construction with whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs, the building showcases classic 13th-century military design. It also houses a more modern cannon from the 1800s, which is still fired on the mark at midday. Walk past the Lotrščak Tower to enter the Upper Town proper, complete with interesting museums, prestigious churches, and historic palaces.

    Location: Strossmayerovo šetalište 9, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 9 am to 8 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +385 (0)1 4851 768

    Map
    7

    Mimara

    Great artist names on display

    • History
    • Photo

    The Mimara Museum – or the Art Collection of Ante and Wiltrud Topić Mimara, to give it its full moniker – is surely one of the most varied displays of artwork to be found in Zagreb. It's housed in a vast 19th-century palace in the heart of the Croatian capital.

    There's really no end to the famous names that adorn the walls of the permanent collection at the Mimara. Goya, Canaletto, Rubens, Delacroix, and others ensure that it's a real mixed bag of European masters. But there are also pre-historic relics of the bygone ages, along with niche works of modern art from the 1900s. The Mimara Museum is an easy 15-minute stroll from the main train station.

    Location: Rooseveltov trg 5, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

    Phone: +385 (0)1 4828 100

    Map
    8

    Bogovićeva Street

    Where to start the day with coffee and people-watching in Zagreb

    • Food
    • Budget

    Café culture is unmissable in Croatia, and especially in Zagreb – the sheer number of coffee shops on every corner will likely take you by surprise. Many are partly al fresco, extending onto the pavements outside, making them a very pleasant way to while away some time when the weather is decent enough.

    Local Croatians love little more than spending literally hours on end perched outside one of their cafés, sipping on a coffee, munching on some of the city’s fabulous cakes, and observing the lives of passers-by. Some of the best spots you can find here are the many cafés on Zagreb’s pedestrianised Bogovićeva Street.

    Location: Bogovićeva ulica, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

    Map

    photo by ana kunst (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    Jarun Lake

    A place to take a breather and watch the sunset

    • Photo

    Even in a city as relatively small, pleasant and hassle-free as Zagreb, from time to time it’s nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle and get back to being at one with nature. It’s easy enough to at least come close to that at Jarun Lake, within easy reach of Zagreb city centre, where this man-made lake is surrounded by green open spaces that are perfect for a breather.

    There are cycle lanes, areas for jogging and walking, and plenty of space for you to pitch up with a picnic – the surrounding neighbourhood is also a popular destination for night owls out clubbing into the wee hours. While many locals like to head to Jarun Lake for an early morning swim, it’s just as attractive in the late afternoon to watch the sun go down.

    Location: Jarun, 10110, Zagreb, Croatia

    Map

    photo by Jung won Chung (CC BY 2.0) modified

    10

    Dolac Market

    Fresh produce from Croatia’s surf and turf

    • Shoppers
    • Photo

    Dolac Market has been Zagreb’s main market for close to a century. The market is a bustling space where you’ll find vendors touting everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to meat and plenty of seafood.

    This is an especially colourful market, not least for the tinge of red that everything has from the umbrellas which shield vendors from the searing Croatian sun. Come as early as you can for the best choice, whether you’re purchasing or just perusing and photographing.

    Location: Dolac 9, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 3 pm (Sundays until 1 pm)

    Phone: +385 1 642 25 01

    Map

    photo by Rilegator (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    Chris Wotton | Contributing Writer

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