Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city, is one of those cities that oozes charisma and authenticity. While the focus of many cities around the world is on the number of tourist attractions on offer, one of Zagreb’s biggest draws is simply being in the city itself.
Zagreb has a calm confidence and this is immediately apparent as you walk the scenic streets. It’s a city that acknowledges it’s often painful past, whilst it continues to look to the future.
12 Things to See and Do in Zagreb
Without further ado, let’s discover some of the amazing things to see and do in the Croatian capital of Zagreb.
Visit Zagreb Cathedral
As is the case with many European cities, the Cathedral is Zagreb’s signature tourist attraction. Completed in the 13th century, it is the tallest building in Croatia and is completely free to visit. Regretfully, ongoing construction work, set back by an earthquake in March 2020, somewhat ruins the appearance. It is however, still a sight to behold.
Watch the Changing of the Guard
If you’re clever, you can time your visit to Zagreb Cathedral with the Changing of the Guard. At 12.30 every Sunday, a small military ceremony involving drummers, horses and soldiers in ceremonial battledress plays out right in front of the cathedral. This is actually a small part of a much larger 2-hour series of marches and ceremonies that plays out at sites across the city.
Head to the official website to see the full schedule and a map of all the sites involved.
Climb Lotrščak Tower
Zagreb’s old town is located in the Kaptol neighbourhood which sits on a rise in the north of the city centre. Most people start their wanderings of the old town by taking the funicular on Tomićeva ul. up the hill to the old town itself. Adjacent to the upper station is Lotrščak Tower, built in the 13th century as a guard tower and now open to visitors wanting a great view over the city.
Tip: Time your visit well and you’ll get to see the midday canon fired from the very top of the tower.
Gaze at St Mark’s Church
This monumental, medieval-style, Catholic church was constructed in the 13th century and, thanks to its iconic tiled roof, it has become somewhat of a symbol for the city. The church only opens at specific times for Mass, so check the website for times if you want to see inside.
Tip: The Changing of the Guard ceremony (mentioned above) takes place outside the church at midday on Saturdays and Sundays between late April & October.
Discover the Museum of Broken Relationships
As the name suggests, this museum is dedicated to failed relationships. All of the objects on display are leftover possessions from former lovers, donated to the museum by their partners. Each object is accompanied by a short description, some tinged with sadness, others with glee and all full of real human sentiment and emotion.
Visit the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art
Located inside the 18th-century Raffay Palace, the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art contains over 1,900 paintings, drawings and sculptures by mostly Croatian artists who each lacks the formal training or education of a professional artist (thus the gallery’s name). The gallery goes to prove that artistic talent is not reserved for those of a certain social class or privilege.
Admire the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral
The interior of this compact late 19th-century cathedral is gorgeous. Frescoes depicting icons adorn much of the walls and ceiling, all illuminated by impressive chandeliers. A relatively unknown spot with few tourists dropping in. Entry is free.
Wander Lenuci’s Horseshoe
Address: Trg Republike Hrvatske 15, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
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Lenuci’s Horseshoe (sometimes referred to as the ‘Green Horseshoe’) is a vast U-shaped network of leafy squares, parks and green spaces in central Zagreb. The entire continuous horseshoe is well worth walking, particularly if your visit coincides with an event taking place in one of the parks.
Each park offers something slightly different, so whether you’re exploring, exercising or relaxing, there’s something for everyone. Dotting the perimeter of the parks and squares are cafes, bistros, markets, shops, food stalls and grandiose buildings, making the entire route a fabulous way to get to know life in Zagreb.
The next two items on this list both form a part of the horseshoe. Start your walk at the Croatian National Theatre (address above) and you’ll hit each of the following places in turn.
Seek Tranquility at the Botanical Garden
Open from April to November, this botanical garden run by the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Science may be on the small side, but still offers a beautifully-kept tranquil slice of nature right in the heart of the city.
As well as a series of themed gardens, there’s a small glass house to explore. There’s also a small exhibition housed inside an attractive red pavilion.
Admission is free.
Get a taste of local life at King Tomislav Square
A large public square lined with trees, manicured greens, a huge statue of the namesake king in the centre and the grand purpose-built Art Pavilion on the northern edge. This is a great place to rest and people watch, particularly the southern end where a constant stream of trams arrive and depart outside the main railway station and a small flower market bustles with locals.
Enjoy modern art at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Just like many modern art galleries around the world, Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art isn’t much to look at from the outside. Its riches are of course inside, spread across 14,600 m2 of exhibition space. There are over 12,000 objects to look at, ranging from vast multimedia works to simple drawings. Start at the ground floor and work your way up, then take the slide to get all the way back down again.
Getting there: The museum is just outside the city centre to the south of the Sava River. Trams 6, 7 and 14 will get you there quickly. Opposite the museum is Avenue Mall, a large modern chopping centre filled with chain stores and a range of eateries.
Experience Croatia’s past at Mirogoj Cemetery
While this isn’t your typical tourist attraction, it is nevertheless one of Zagreb’s most popular. This vast, beautiful and serene cemetery is the resting place of several notable and influential Croatians, as well as the victims of recent regional and global conflicts.
Getting there: Mirogoj Cemetery is around 15 minutes outside the city centre by bus. You can catch bus 106 nearby to the cathedral in the city centre.
You might like: We have travel guides on other great less explored cities nearby to Zagreb.
Plan & Book your visit to Zagreb
In this section, we’ll go through how you can plan and book your visit to Zagreb.
Would you rather that someone else arranged your visit to Croatia for you? Head to TourRadar to browse through a selection of amazing pre-arranged tours*.
Getting to Zagreb by Air
Zagreb is served by Franjo Tuđman Airport (IATA: ZAG) which is around 10km (6mi) away from the city centre.
Mostly short and medium haul flights operate from the airport, serviced by a variety of low cost and full service airlines from all over the world.
Click the button below to search for the best fares for your flight to Zagreb from your local airport.Find cheap flights to Zagreb*
Getting from the Airport
The main methods for getting from the airport to Zagreb city centre is by taxi, bus and car.
Considering both cost and convenience, Uber is probably the best option for most people. You can hire a car from the arrivals hall, where there is free wifi should you need it.
Local bus company ZET runs bus 290 every 35 minutes from the airport to the city centre. While the cost is very low, the route meanders somewhat and the journey time is over an hour.
A few private bus companies run competing services that are more direct. Click the button below to search for options and to see fares.Find buses from Zagreb Airport to Zagreb*
Getting to Zagreb by Train
Zagreb is very well connected to nearby cities by train and fares are pretty reasonable. The quickest cross-border journey is from Ljubljana, Slovenia with a journey time of 2h 20m. If you’re travelling from Budapest, Hungary or Vienna, Austria, you should compare train fares with air fares, as journey times by train are within the realms of acceptability.Find train tickets to Zagreb*
Getting to Zagreb by Bus
If you’re keeping to a tight budget, you will want to check out the bus routes to Zagreb. Buses run from almost every neighbouring country and even further afield, all with very reasonable fares.Find bus tickets to Zagreb City Centre*
Getting to Zagreb by Road
Roads in Croatia are generally in very good condition. We drove a hire car into central Zagreb and found the process to be pretty easy, despite it being the first time we’d driven in a left-hand drive car (we drive on the wrong side of the road in the UK).
Getting Around Zagreb
Zagreb is a compact city, so if you can, we’d recommend exploring on foot. Occasionally, you’ll want to make use of the reliable bus and tram network.
Zagreb’s public transport is generally excellent, with modern buses and trams operating a reliable, comprehensive and inexpensive service. Single fare tickets can be purchased directly from the driver or from newsstands. You can get unlimited use of the public transport network with the purchase of a Zagreb Card.
Should you need to get somewhere quickly or the buses/trams are not convenient to you, Uber operates a good service all over the city and fares are really reasonable.
Hotels in Zagreb
Compared with other capital cities in Europe, hotel prices in Zagreb* are on the reasonable end of the scale. Your Croatian Kuna goes much further and gets you much more in the way of luxury.
Here are three highly-rated, city centre hotels that we’d consider staying in:
Click below to find more hotels in Zagreb and compare prices on Tripadvisor.
Home rentals in Zagreb
We stayed in a cute, modern, fully equipped annex during our stay in Zagreb*. While situated in the city centre, the neighbourhood felt suburban. We used Uber to pick us up and take us into the city centre (cheap and easy) and we also walked down the hill on occasion to the nearby tram stop.
The annex itself was clean, quiet and comfortable. On top of everything, the hosts we friendly, welcoming and helpful. For the price, we really couldn’t have asked for more.
We always encourage our readers to live like a local during their travels. Airbnb makes doing this super easy. Click below to explore all of the available options in Zagreb.Find places to stay in Zagreb*
We really hope you found this guide to Zagreb, Croatia useful. Should you have any questions, please drop them in the box below and we’ll endeavour to help you out.
You might like: We have travel guides on other great less explored cities nearby to Zagreb.