Planning Your Trip to Zagreb
If you’re planning to include Zagreb in a larger Croatia vacation, it makes sense to start your trip in southern Croatia and finish in Zagreb (or the other way around). Most of the popular places for visitors are located along the coast. These include cities like Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar, along with the Croatian islands and Istria. The country’s major airports are located in Zagreb and Dubrovnik, making these cities good start and end points. This 14-day itinerary will give you a taste of Croatia from south to north, beginning in Dubrovnik and ending in the capital.
Another popular way to see Zagreb is as part of a broader tour of the western Balkans. Itineraries for this kind of trip commonly include neighboring countries like Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia, or Montenegro. A wide-ranging trip can be a great way to get a taste of the region’s culture, food, mountains, and beaches.
Croatia has a complex history, having been occupied by various empires over the years. This article on the Top Regions in Croatia will help you better understand the different areas of this fascinating country. For more information, check out our Croatia FAQ.
Zagreb in 24 Hours
If you’re visiting Zagreb as part of a larger itinerary, like this one, you may only have a day or so to spend in the city. While one day is a short amount of time, Zagreb is highly walkable, making seeing the highlights easy and enjoyable.
Start your day by wandering around the picturesque Upper Town, taking time to explore the Cathedral of Zagreb and St. Mark’s Church. Most of the Upper Town’s current buildings date to the 17th and 18th centuries, giving the neighborhood a charming historic atmosphere. For lunch, you can stop to enjoy some Croatian dishes made with local products; keep an eye out for Pag cheese and fresh, homemade gnocchi.
In the evening, visit some of the Upper Town’s many museums. Zagreb is home to numerous exhibition spaces and small art galleries that offer a fascinating window into Croatian culture. Don’t hesitate to have a look at the Museum of Broken Relationships or the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art, both visitor favorites.
Zagreb in 2 Days
With an additional day to spare, you’ll be able to go beyond the Upper Town and see some of Zagreb’s newer areas as well.
On your second day, you can head down to the Lower Town to check out some more museums, like the Archaeological Museum of Zagreb or the Modern Gallery. Then, have a wander through the city’s parks; Zrinjevac Park and Josipa Jurja Strossmayera Park, in the center of the Lower Town, are often home to concerts and food stalls. If you’re visiting from April to October, you could also have a look at the atmospheric Botanical Gardens, where you’ll find a variety of local flowers and plants.
Alternatively, use your second day for a day trip to somewhere in the Zagreb region; Trakošćan Castle and the charming town of Varaždin are popular options. You can learn more about them in this itinerary.
Zagreb in 3 Days
A third day in Zagreb will allow you to get off the beaten path, and explore some of the attractions further afield.
Beyond the museums and churches of downtown, there are still more architectural highlights to check out. A surprising one is Mirogoj Cemetery, a short bus ride or 45-minute hike from the Upper Town. Built in the late 19th century, the cemetery is home to ornate buildings, as well as the graves of many famous Croatians. Notable interments include artists, writers, politicians, and religious leaders from Croatia’s various faith communities.
If you aren’t into cemeteries or you’re traveling with children, an alternative option is to head up to Maksimir Park, where you’ll find the Zagreb Zoo. Located a 20-minute drive or bus ride from downtown Zagreb, this historic wooded park is filled with picturesque lakes and paths, perfect for walking and biking.
Zagreb in 4-5 Days
With four or more days, you’ll be able to explore Zagreb at your leisure, take a day trip or two, and soak in the local lifestyle. The city’s museums alone are enough to keep you occupied for quite a while, especially if you’re interested in Balkan art and sculpture. The Meštrović Atelier and Glyptotheque, among many others, have a lot to offer.
The Balkans are home to a lively café culture, and Zagreb is no exception. Many of the city’s residents enjoy spending time sitting at outdoor cafés, chatting with friends or watching sports. Public squares are lined with tables shaded by awnings and wide umbrellas, offering the perfect space to while away an afternoon over a coffee, juice, or beer.
If you’d prefer a more active trip, you’ll be pleased to know that Zagreb offers some excellent hiking. The city is built at the foot of a mountain called Mount Medvednica. You can reach the top of the mountain by car or public bus, if you just want to see it—there is a fortress near the top known as Medvedgrad which offers scenic views. Otherwise, drive 15 minutes north of the city center or take the tram towards Dolje to access one of the hiking trails. From there, the hike up the mountain takes 2-3 hours.