The capital of Croatia, which was listed as Lonely Planet’s No.1 European destination to visit in 2017, is becoming more and more popular with visitors every year. And while many people head to the coast of Croatia to visit Split or Dubrovnik, Zagreb (which is in the northwest of the country) too has much to offer: it is a vibrant city rich of history and culture, with a thriving food and drink scene, and also an exciting nightlife. Moreover, now it is easier than ever to reach Zagreb from numerous European (and other) destinations.
By Plane: The capital of Croatia is well connected to other major Croatian and European cities: in fact, the Zagreb airport is the biggest airport in Croatia. The airport is located 17 km southeast of the city center, reaching town takes about about 30 minutes with the frequent operating airport bus or 25 minutes with Taxi.
By Train: You can travel to Zagreb by train from numerous cities in Europe, such as Munich, Graz, and many others. The railway station in Zagreb is located 1 km walk from the main square, it can be easily reach with tram from most parts of Zagreb.
By Bus: You can easily reach Zagreb by bus from other European cities because, as a capital, it is very well connected. There are direct bus lines to Zagreb from Ljubljana, Vienna, Berlin and Trieste, to name but a few.The main bus station in Zagreb is located at Avenija Marina Držića 4; the exact location on the map can be found here. To get to the city center from the main bus station, you can take the tram nr. 6 which connects the main bus station and Ban Jelacic Square.
Trams and buses:Public transport in Zagreb is mostly operated by ZET company (Zagreb electric tram) which manages the tram and bus network, as well as the cable car and funicular. There are 134 day bus lines and 4 night lines. While trams are the most popular means of transport in the centre of Zagreb, buses cover better the suburban parts of the city. You can find all the information like e.g prices for public transport in Zagreb here.
Taxi: If you need a taxi, we recommend Taxi Cammeo, which is the most affordable option in town. The starting price is 6,00 HRK (a little less than one euro), and each following kilometer will cost you an additional 6,00 HRK. You can call them on the phone: +385 (1) 1212, or order a taxi via their application.
Bike: Zagreb is a bike-friendly city, which means that there are many options available when it comes to renting a bike. There is a bike-sharing network called Nextbike: you can simply download the app on your phone and use it to rent a bike and return it when you don’t need it anymore. The activation fee is 79 HRK, and it can be used as a credit for bike rentals. Make sure to return the bike on time, because if you do not return it after 24 hours of use you will be charged an additional fee of 750 HRK.
If you are staying in Zagreb only for a brief period of time, here are some recommendations for the things that you definitely should not miss:
Ban Jelačić Square
Located in the historic city core, Ban Jelačić Square is one of the most iconic images of Zagreb. The square got its name after Croatian ban (governor) Josip Jelačić, who was once the commander of all Habsburg troops in Croatia. Today, the square is the centre of Croatia’s pedestrian zone and a common meeting point for many locals, which makes it the centre of social life in Zagreb.
Zagreb’s Upper Town combines numerous narrow streets between two hills, Kaptol and Gradec. There are many attractions to see there, such as St Marks Square (where Croatian Parliament resides), the Stone Gate (which once had a defensive role, while today it serves as a place where you can light a candle and pray for whatever is troubling you at the moment), the Dolac market where you can buy fresh produce, and also the Museum of Broken Relationships, which is a reminder of the aftermath of love gone south. Also, make sure not to miss the magnificent Lotrscak Tower or the gallery Klovicevi dvori (named after a famous Croatian artist Juraj Julije Klović) Besides the mentioned landmarks, the Upper Town also offer a good variety of coffee shops where you can rest after a long day of sightseeing.
Also placed in the Upper Town, the Cathedral is truly a remarkable sight. Named one of the top Instagram sights, this Gothic sacral building is is the tallest building in Croatia, being 108 meters high. It is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The original cathedral was destroyed in the great fire in 13th century, and also by the earthquake in the 19th century, after which it was completely rebuilt. While you are there, make sure not to miss the marble altars and the tomb of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac made by Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović.
A habitat for various animal and plant species, Maksimir is the oldest park in Croatia. The landscape reminds of English gardens, and the best way to experience it is to take a leisurely walk among its alleys and pavilions. You can reach the park by trams 11 and 12 from Ban Jelačić Square. If you are travelling with children, it would be a good idea to take them to the Zoo, which is located in the southern part of the park. The children would most likely enjoy the fact that the zoo offers daily feeding times for otters, seals and sea lions. Near the park, you can also see the stadium of Zagreb’s football club, Dinamo.
Just north of Zagreb, there is a mountain Medvednica, whose highest peak is called Sljeme. The name literary translates to “bear mountain”. What makes this mountain particularly interesting is the winter sports center, where the World cup alpine ski race in Croatia is being held. Previously called the “Golden Bear”, the race changed its name in 2006 in the honor of Janica Kostelić, a four-time Olympic gold winner from Zagreb. Today, Medvednica has the status of “nature park”, is a home to many animal and plant species, and some of the trees that grow there are over a thousand years old. All in all, if you enjoy nature and hiking, you should definitely explore Medvednica.
You can also explore some other points of interest near Zagreb, such as Plitvice Lakes or Trakošćan castle. You can find more information regarding the day trips from Zagreb here.
If you are staying in Zagreb just one day, here you can see our suggestions on how to spend 24 hours in Zagreb.
Zagreb nightlife is likely the best nightlife in the whole country. It offers a large variety of bars with live music, which are often transformed into clubs once the sun goes down. Zagreb has a place for everyone, regardless if you are looking for a cozy place to chill and have a glas of wine, or you wish to dance the night away. One of the best places to go is certainly Tvornica kulture (“The Culture Factory”), where you can listen to live rock and pop performances. Besides the main hall, there is also a smaller one (called Mali pogon), which works as a café during the day.
If your taste in music is more on the alternative side, we recommend visiting Močvara (“The Swamp”), where young people gather to enjoy some underground fun. In addition to live music, Močvara also hosts theatre performances and art exhibitions.
If you are looking for a popular party place, you should definitely visit Aquarius, the one club which is open all year round. It also has a summer special: during the warmer months, Aquarius opens its beach bar at Zrće at Novalja.
If you are looking for a classy, but also cosy place to have some of the best cocktails in town, Swanky Monkey Garden is the place for you, and you don’t even have to leave the city center, because it is located in Ilica, Zagreb’s main street. You can also drink your morning brew here, and enjoy a cup of coffee with various flavours.
And finally, if you still cannot decide where to go first, we recommend going to the pub crawl because that might be the easiest way to make sure you will have an fun and exciting night. The meeting point is Maraschino bar, which is close to the city centre.
Zagreb has much to offer to those who prefer a more active vacation. If you wish to fill your days with adventure and adrenaline, there are many options for you to choose from. Despite being a continental town, it sure offer a lot of opportunities for fun experiences in water: you can go rafting, kayaking, and canoeing on rivers Kupa and Mreznica. Even if you are a beginner, it is a very safe trip because the local guide will make sure to accompany you at all times and keep you entertained even if you don’t want to jump or go through the falls in the kayaks. It is intended for visitors of all ages and levels of experience, all of which are sure to have fun as well as enjoy a somewhat different view of Croatia’s landscape.
If you do not want to leave the city, we highly recommend hiking on Medvednica, all the way to Sljeme hilltop, which is a favourite pastime of both locals and tourists. The reward awaits you at the top, where you can have an astonishing view of the whole city. There are also numerous other hiking and running trails in Zagreb, or not so far from the city.
For those who prefer exploring the city on bike, there are many bike rentals available. You can also go to a cycling tour of the city, where you can visit all the main sights and attractions accompanied by the local guide.
If you are interested in climbing, you can choose whether you wish to go rock climbing or you prefer to do it indoors. Fothia is the place to go for indoor climbing: it offers a safe space to practice bouldering or climbing under a careful eye of the supervisors. Even some professional sportsmen come to train here, but do not let that discourage you: the colour – coded trails allow the beginners to have fun within their own limits. The hall is located outside of the city center, near the football center Šalata.
If all of the above is not as exciting to you, perhaps paragliding will satisfy your adrenaline cravings. It is one of those experiences that you will never be able to forget. There are several options you can choose from. One flight lasts from 20 to 60 minutes, averaging around 40 minutes. Once you have let go of your fear, you will be able to enjoy a wonderful view you would never get to experience otherwise.
If you wish to bring home a fancy souvenir, you can stroll down Ilica and Tkalčićeva Streets, because they offer a great variety of clothes signed by Croatian (and world) designers. If you prefer shopping centres, the Kaptol Centre and Centar Cvjetni are both within walking distance from the main square. Importanne Galleria is also in the very centre of the city, offering a large selection of well-known brands of clothing and accessories. Avenue Mall, Arena Centre, City Centre One West, City Centre One East and Garden Mall are all a bit further away from the center of the city. There is also King Cross Jankomir, which is about half an hour drive from the city centre. King Cross is actually the first modern shopping center in this area which was opened in 2002.
If you only wish to know where you can do your grocery shopping, it would be best to go to Interspar, Lidl or Kaufland, which offer the best value for money. Alternatively, you can go to one of the several Konzum stores; they offer somewhat at less variety than Interspar or Kaufland, however, there are closer to the city center and therefore can be more convenient. If you wish to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, you can go to Dolac Market. You can also find some reasonably priced souvenirs there.
If you find yourself getting hungry after a long day of sightseeing, Zagreb offers a large variety of restaurants for any taste buds. Lately, more and more restaurants are being checked by the Michelin guide inspectors, which is the ultimate proof that culinary experiences in Zagreb are getting better each day. Here are some of our favourites:
Located in the very centre of the city, Apetit combines Middle – European and Mediterranean cuisine, using the best of both worlds. It is a perfect place to relax and meet with your friends before a night out, or even your business partners.
Zinfandel’s got its name after the grape variety of Zinfandel, which was transferred from Dalmatia to the USA at the beginning of the 19th century. Today, the wine made of these grapes is still very popular. It is, in fact, the trademark of the restaurant, and you can see the actual plant growing in the restaurant’s terrace. Zinfandel’s combines the local and international cuisine.
If you are looking for a cozy restaurant with intimate atmosphere that also offers top quality local ingredients, Mano is the place to go. It is located in the historic Gliptoteka building, only a ten-minute walk from the main square. Originally a leather factory, the restaurant still has some of the original features such as exposed wooden panels, and brick walls. The menu changes twice a year, depending on the season.
Boban is an italian restaurant owned by the Croatian football star Zvonimir Boban. This restaurant really knows how to prepare their carbs: their pasta is made manually and they also bake their own bread. It is also conveniently located in the centre of the city.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a quick snack, we reccomend grabbing a burger at Rocket Burger Cafe. Besides the delicious burgers, they also offer a great selection of beer.
Hospital: The ambulance is located 3,5 km from Ban Jelači square, and the number to call in case of emergency is: 194.
Dentist: There are three places to go if you require an emergency dental intervention. If you are in the city center, the nearest emergency dentist is located at Runjaninova 4, which is 1,5 km from Ban Jelačič square. The other two places to go to in case of a dental emergency are Av. G. Šuška 6 and Av. V. Holjevca 22, which are both almost 6 km away form the city centre.
Pharmacy / 24 hour pharmacy: Here are some 24-hour pharmacies open every day from Monday to Sunday, including holidays:
– Ban Jelačić Square 3
– Ilica 301
– Grižanska 4, Dubrava
– Ozaljska 1
Police (Numbers to call, police stations): The police station is located about 1.5 km from the main bus terminal in Zagreb. The number to call in case of emergency is 192.
When you arrive in Zagreb, there are plenty of exchange offices to change your money in, some of them right next to the bus terminal. Besides exchange offices, you can also change your currency in banks and in post offices. However, they are not open 24/7 so later in the day look for an ATM. Also, if you withdraw cash directly from an ATM it is likely that you will receive the best deal in terms of exchange rates.
It is also important to always select that you wish to be charged in Kuna, which is the local currency. If you choose your own currency when withdrawing money, the higher exchange rate will be applied.
If you are travelling by car, you should know that there are three parking zones in the center of the city: Zone 1 (6 hrk/h, max 2h, 100 hrk/day), Zone 2 (3 hrk/h, max 3h, 60 hrk/day), and Zone 3 (1.5 hrk/h, no max waiting time, 20 hrk/day). If you fail to pay for parking your car, you will get a fine attached to your windshield. The fine prices are actually day tickets, depending on the Zone where you have parked your car. There are also quite a few indoor garages in the city center. Please be aware that if you leave your car unattended and parked at the wrong place, there is a big chance that your car will get towed away. You can find more information regarding the parking in Zagreb here.
You can find all the places mentioned in the guide in the map below. The map can be filtered by unselecting the sections you do not need: