11 Must-See Attractions and Activities for First-Time Visitors To Zagreb Croatia

by | Croatia, Featured, Zagreb

Exploring Zagreb Croatia

Zagreb is situated in the heart of Central Europe. It is a city where history, culture, and a vibrant atmosphere blend seamlessly. As first-time visitors, you’re in for a treat! Join me on an adventure through Zagreb’s charming streets and discover 11 captivating experiences that will leave you in awe.


equestrian statue Zagreb

A Hidden Gem: Why Zagreb Shouldn't be Missed

It’s not uncommon to hear mixed reviews about popular travel destinations, but sometimes going against the advice can lead to unexpected discoveries. Zagreb, Croatia, is a prime example of a city that shouldn’t be skipped. Despite whispers suggesting otherwise, I can honestly say that I haven’t come across many places I wished I hadn’t visited.

Zagreb Rebuild After 2020 Earthquake

In 2020, Zagreb faced the unfortunate wrath of an earthquake, causing significant damage throughout the city. However, rather than deter visitors, witnessing the ongoing reconstruction and renovation efforts offers a unique perspective on the city’s resilience and determination to bounce back.

Though many landmark buildings may be closed for interior visits, they are still worth admiring from the outside. One of the remarkable aspects of Zagreb is its highly walkable old town, and this is partly thanks to the efficient tram system that crisscrosses the city.

Convenience is key! | Zagreb's Transport Options

Zagreb offers a range of transport options to suit every traveller’s needs. Whether you prefer public transportation, taxis, ride-sharing services, cycling, or walking, you’ll find an option that fits your preferences. Like most cities, there is the option of a Hop on Hop off bus.

Ban Jelačić Square serves as a major transportation hub in Zagreb, with various tram lines, buses, and taxis passing through the area. It makes it a convenient starting point when exploring the city. Tram tickets can be easily purchased from newsstands, tobacco shops, and kiosks. Simply ask for the cheapest ticket, and the knowledgeable staff will assist you. If you arrive at the Zagreb bus terminal, located around 20 minutes away from the old town, you’ll find a tram stop nearby.

For those arriving by air, Croatian Airlines operates an airport shuttle from the bus terminal for a reasonable fee of €8 (one way). However, if you’re travelling with a companion, opting for an Uber ride to and from the airport at €16 (one way) can offer both cost savings and convenience.

Make the most of your time in Zagreb by exploring its beautiful surroundings and vibrant cityscape using the transportation options mentioned in this guide.

Zagreb Tourist Office

When it comes to gathering city information and assistance, the tourist information centre and the main tram station are conveniently located at Ban Jelacic Square, known as the Main Square in Zagreb. Feel free to drop by and ask any questions you may have to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to Zagreb. Don’t let the naysayers discourage you.

Museum Sign in Zagreb

GetYour Guide | Zagerb Croatia

1. Ban Jelacic Square:

Start your journey at Ban Jelacic Square, the lively heart of Zagreb. The Square is a bustling pedestrian zone that is closed to vehicular traffic. This allows locals and tourists to freely explore the square and enjoy its vibrant atmosphere.

In the centre is a large equestrian statue of Ban Josip Jelacic, a Croatian hero, prominent military leader and ban (viceroy) of Croatia during the mid-19th century. He played a significant role in the national history of Croatia.

Surrounding Ban Jelačić Square, you’ll find an array of shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs or enjoy a meal while taking in the lively atmosphere. Ban Jelačić Square has traditionally been a popular meeting point for both locals and tourists. The square’s central location and easy accessibility make it an ideal spot to gather before taking a walking tour of the city or embarking on day trips such as Plitvice Lakes and National Park.

2. Zagreb Cathedral:

A short walk from Ban Jelacic Square, find yourself standing in front of Zagreb Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece. The Zagreb Cathedral is officially known as the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is the tallest building in Croatia. Marvel at the impressive spires and intricate details of this Gothic gem. Step inside and immerse yourself in the serenity of the sacred space. Visitors also have the opportunity to climb to the top of the cathedral’s south tower, which provides panoramic views of Zagreb. It offers a unique vantage point to admire the city’s skyline and surrounding areas.

The cathedral is situated in the Kaptol neighbourhood, which is known for its narrow streets, old buildings, and historical sites. It is worth exploring the area around the cathedral, as it offers a glimpse into Zagreb’s rich history, war and culture.

3. Dolac Market:

Dolac Market has a rich history dating back to the 1930s when it was established. It has served as the primary farmer’s market in Zagreb ever since, offering a wide variety of premium-quality, locally sourced produce including flowers, and other local goods.

Farmers from nearby villages and towns gather here each day, selling their fresh fruits, vegetables, honey, cheese, and other homemade products. This bustling market is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the flavours and aromas of Croatian cuisine.

Apart from food, Dolac Market also offers a variety of traditional Croatian souvenirs and crafts. You can find unique handmade items such as ceramics, textiles, and wooden crafts that make for great gifts or mementos.

4. Tkalciceva Street:

Tkalciceva Street, situated in the Upper Town (Gornji Grad) of Zagreb, is widely recognised for its charming cobblestone streets and rich historical ambience. The street derives its name from the renowned Croatian poet of the 17th century, Ivan Gundulic Tkalcic.

As you stroll or cycle along Tkalciceva Street, you’ll be met with a picturesque pedestrian zone brimming with inviting cafes, restaurants, and shops. One of the street’s distinguishing features is the array of vibrant umbrellas suspended overhead, creating a captivating and unique setting.

Take in the bohemian atmosphere, immerse yourself in the area’s historical significance, and treat yourself to a delectable meal or refreshing drink. Tkalciceva Street serves as an essential cultural hub, hosting various art exhibitions, live music performances, and festivals throughout the year.

5. Museum of Broken Relationships:

The Museum of Broken Relationships is a truly fascinating and one-of-a-kind museum that delves into the complex terrain of lost love and broken relationships. It serves as a platform for individuals to heal, reflect, and share their personal experiences through the medium of donated items.

Within the walls of this thought-provoking museum, visitors can explore a remarkable collection of relics, each with its own unique story and emotional significance. The donated items act as tangible reminders of past romantic relationships, representing the universal human experience of love, loss, and heartbreak.

By exploring the Museum of Broken Relationships, visitors embark on a journey of self-reflection, empathy, and personal growth. It serves as a reminder that love and loss are inherent parts of the human experience and that sharing these experiences can contribute to healing and understanding on a larger scale.

Another museum not to miss is the Museum of Illusions

6. Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and Gric Cannon:

Climb the historic funicular or take a leisurely bike ride to Upper Town, the oldest part of Zagreb. Explore the cobblestone streets, visit St. Mark’s Church with its iconic tiled roof, and enjoy panoramic views from Lotrscak Tower.

The firing of a cannon in Zagreb takes place daily at noon in Upper Town. The tradition of firing the cannon dates back to the 19th century when it was used as a time-signalling device for the city’s residents. Today, it serves as a popular attraction for both locals and tourists.

The cannon, known as the Gric cannon, is located in Lotrščak Tower, which stands proudly atop the hill in Upper Town. At precisely 12 o’clock noon, the cannon is fired, creating a loud boom that can be heard throughout the city. This tradition serves as a reminder of the city’s rich history and provides a unique experience for visitors.

Watching the cannon firing is a popular activity for tourists, as it offers a sense of excitement and a chance to witness a historic tradition being carried out. Many gather in St. Mark’s Square or other vantage points in Upper Town to witness the event.

7. Croatian Museum of Naive Art: Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of indigenous art at the Croatian Museum of Naive Art. Admire a collection of works by self-taught artists, characterised by their vibrant colours, charming simplicity, and unique perspectives.

One of the famous Croatian artists whose work can be found here is Ivan Generalić. Ivan Generalić (1914-1992) was a self-taught painter and one of the leading figures of the Croatian naive art movement. Born in the village of Hlebine, Generalić started painting at a young age and his talent was quickly recognised by art critics. His paintings often depicted scenes from rural life, folklore, and mythology with vivid colours and expressive brushwork. Generalić’s artistic style is characterized by a childlike simplicity and a distinct feeling of naivety, which gave the movement its name. Some of his most famous paintings include “The Creation of the World,” “Harvesters,” and “The Wedding.”

8. Mirogoj Cemetery: Take a moment of quiet reflection at Mirogoj Cemetery, a serene and stunning final resting place. Be sure to visit the resting place of Zagreb’s first President “Franjo Tuđman.” He was the first President of Croatia after its independence in 1991. He played a significant role in establishing Croatia as a sovereign state. Explore the beautiful arcades, intricate sculptures, and manicured gardens, and appreciate the peaceful ambience of this architectural gem.

9. Zagreb Eye Observation Deck: Head to the Zagreb Eye Observation Deck for breathtaking views of the city. Located on the 16th floor of a skyscraper, this panoramic viewpoint offers a stunning vantage point to admire Zagreb’s skyline, especially during sunset.

Since its opening in June 2013, the Zagreb Eye Observation Deck quickly gained popularity among both tourists and locals, becoming a must-visit spot in the city. It offers a different perspective on Zagreb’s urban landscape, making it an excellent vantage point for photographs and sightseeing.

10. Jarun Lake: Escape the bustling city and unwind at Jarun Lake, a purpose-built recreational paradise located just a few kilometres from the city centre. The lake was created by damming the Sava River, resulting in an expansive body of water covering an area of about 2.2 square kilometres.

The area surrounding the lake was developed to include numerous facilities and amenities for outdoor activities and sports. It boasts several beaches, walking and cycling paths, and numerous sports fields such as tennis courts, basketball courts, and soccer fields.

Additionally, Jarun Lake attracts visitors with its vibrant social scene. The lake’s shores are lined with bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. During the summer months, Jarun Lake becomes a lively spot for socialising, water activities, and entertainment events.

11. Zagreb’s Street Art Scene: Discover Zagreb’s vibrant street art scene while wandering through its neighbourhoods. Street art can be found in various neighbourhoods throughout Zagreb, but some areas are particularly known for their vibrant displays.

The neighbourhood of Martićeva Street, in particular, has become a hotspot for street art, with many walls and buildings adorned with colourful murals. Additionally, areas like Lopasiceva Street, Kvatrić, and Savica also feature notable street artworks. Local street artists are making their mark on the scene.

Artists such as Lunar, OKO, CHEZ, and Modul explore different styles and create striking works that have gained recognition both locally and internationally. These artists often collaborate on large-scale projects and have greatly contributed to the city’s street art landscape.

From colourful murals to thought-provoking graffiti, the city’s walls tell stories of local artists and their creative expressions.

The Grič cannon

10 Useful Tips To Renting A Car in Croatia

If you choose to rent a car from Discover Cars, you can be confident in their reliable and efficient service. With a wide selection of vehicles to choose from, including local and international car rental companies, Discover Cars offers competitive prices and flexible booking options.

Their user-friendly website and excellent customer support ensure a seamless rental experience. Whether you’re exploring Croatia’s stunning coastline or venturing into its charming towns and countryside, renting a car from Discover Cars provides the freedom and convenience to explore this beautiful country at your own pace.

1. Plan in advance:

It’s always a good idea to book your car rental in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. This ensures that you get the best rates and availability.

2. Compare prices:

Check different car rental options and compare their prices. Websites like DiscoverCars.com can help you with this. Consider factors like the type of car, rental duration, and any additional fees or insurance coverage included.

3. Choose the right car: 

Consider the size of your group and the type of terrain you’ll be driving on. If you’re travelling with a larger group or planning to explore Croatia’s nature parks or rural areas, it might be more comfortable to rent a larger car or an SUV with extra luggage space.

4. Read the terms and conditions:

Before finalising your booking, make sure to thoroughly read the terms and conditions provided by the car rental company. Pay attention to factors like fuel policy, mileage limitations, and any additional fees or penalties.

5. Check for hidden costs:

While comparing prices, be aware of any hidden costs. Some car rental companies may charge additional fees for things like additional drivers, late returns, or crossing borders. It’s important to understand these charges upfront.

6. Have the necessary documents:

When picking up your rental car, make sure to have a valid driver’s license, a credit card in the primary driver’s name for security deposit purposes, and any additional documents requested by the rental company.

7. Inspect the car:

Before driving off, thoroughly inspect the car for any existing damages. Take photos or videos of any scratches or dents and inform the rental company of these damages. This will help prevent any disputes about damages you didn’t cause. Taking a photo of the registration plate can be helpful if you need to report any issues or if there are multiple similar-looking cars in parking and rental lots.

8. Be aware of traffic rules:

Familiarise yourself with the traffic rules in Croatia before hitting the road. This includes speed limits, parking regulations, and any other specific local driving laws.

9. Save emergency contact numbers:

Make sure to have the contact information for the car rental company and emergency services programmed into your phone in case you encounter any issues during your rental period.

10. Return the car on time and with a full tank:

To avoid any extra charges, return the car on time and with a full tank of fuel. Some rental companies may charge a premium for refuelling the car on your behalf.

I hope these 10 tips help you have a smooth and enjoyable car rental experience in Croatia!

3 Different Options for Places to Stay in Zagreb, Catering to Different Budgets

 1. Luxury: Esplanade Zagreb Hotel

Located in the heart of Zagreb, this iconic five-star hotel offers a luxurious and elegant experience.

It boasts spacious rooms, fine dining options, a fitness centre, a spa, and excellent customer service.

The hotel exudes historical charm and is known for hosting celebrities and dignitaries visiting Zagreb.

2. Mid-price: Hotel Jägerhorn

Situated in the city centre, Hotel Jägerhorn is Zagreb’s oldest standing hotel, providing a blend of modern comfort and historic charm.

The rooms are tastefully decorated, featuring contemporary amenities, and the staff offers friendly and attentive service.

This boutique hotel provides great value for money, and its central location allows for easy exploration of Zagreb’s main attractions.

3. Budget: HI Hostel Zagreb

For travellers on a tighter budget, HI Hostel Zagreb offers affordable accommodation without compromising on quality. This property has an excellent location score of 9.1.

Situated in the real heart of Zagreb, this cosy hostel provides dormitory-style rooms and private rooms, catering to different traveller preferences. Free private parking is available onsite.

The hostel has a friendly atmosphere, communal kitchen facilities, and helpful staff who can provide tips on local attractions and activities.


Where To Eat in Zagreb | Best Coffee

Byblos Restoran on Teslina 4

I’m excited to share with you some great dining experiences we had during our time in Zagreb. After two weeks of indulging in Croatian cuisine, we decided to explore different flavours, and it led us to Byblos Restoran on Teslina 4. This Lebanese restaurant served up excellent authentic dishes that truly satisfied our taste buds. We highly recommend trying out their Lebanese beer, although we suggest skipping the wine for the best experience.

Restoran Boban on Gajeva 9

Another fantastic dining option we discovered was Restoran Boban on Gajeva 9. Despite its upmarket ambience, this restaurant didn’t come with a hefty price tag. The spacious and modern interior made for a pleasant dining experience. The staff were attentive and provided impeccable service. We particularly enjoyed prawn risotto with truffle, which was absolutely delicious, priced at €22. My Casarecce pasta with crispy bacon and vegetables was equally delightful and at the affordable price of €11.70. Don’t forget to complement your meal with their excellent Croatian wine selection, available by the glass from €7.

Local Recommendations

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local dining scene, head to the popular dining precinct on Ulrica Ivana Tkalcica. The streets here are lined with an array of restaurants, bars, and shops, creating a vibrant atmosphere where locals gather to chat, drink, and enjoy delicious meals.

For recommendations straight from the locals, we suggest checking out the following dining establishments:

  1. La Struk Restaurant: This is the place to indulge in a traditional Croatian dish called strukli, a dough filled with cheese that is made to perfection. They offer various versions, including truffle and blueberry-filled.
  2. Heritage: If you’re in the mood for some street food, you can’t go wrong at Heritage. They serve up some of the best Croatian street food, including hot dogs, burgers, and tacos.
  3. Kitchen & Grill PLAC Restaurant: Meat lovers should not miss this spot. They specialise in grilled meat dishes, and we highly recommend trying their cevapi, which is grilled minced meat served with bread. Don’t forget to ask for Kajmak, a special creamy cheese that pairs perfectly with the flavours.
  4. OAZA Joyful Kitchen: For our vegan friends, OAZA Joyful Kitchen is a must-visit. This restaurant offers a wide range of delicious vegan dishes, ensuring you don’t have to compromise on taste while sticking to your dietary preferences.

And let’s not forget about the incredible Dolac Market. Located near Ulica Ivana Tkalcica, this market is a haven for food enthusiasts. Here, you’ll find everything from fresh and local fruits, vegetables, and dairy products to homemade bread, pasta, and cheese. The market also has a section dedicated to local handicrafts, clothes, shoes, and household items. Make sure to explore this market for a true culinary and cultural experience in Zagreb.

Best Coffee Zagreb

Lastly, coffee lovers will be pleased to know that Zagreb boasts a great coffee culture. One place we particularly enjoyed was Quahwa on Nikole Tesle Street. They serve excellent coffee that’s sure to please any coffee aficionado.

More on Croatia Destinations

If you are eager to explore Croatia and all its incredible destinations, I invite you to delve deeper into this beautiful country by reading some other Croatia travel blogs. These blogs can provide you with a wealth of information, personal experiences, and insider tips that can enhance your travel planning or inspire your wanderlust.

From majestic coastal towns like Dubrovnik and Split to captivating national parks such as Plitvice Lakes and Krka, Croatia offers a diverse range of experiences waiting to be discovered. So, whether you are seeking breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, or mouthwatering cuisine, exploring other Croatia travel blogs can be an excellent way to gather insights, discover hidden gems, and ignite your desire to embark on an unforgettable Croatian adventure. Happy reading and safe travels!

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About The Progressive Traveller

I am the Progressive Traveller. I've been travelling the world extensively since 2002. My website is full of travel stories, tips, recommendations, resources, offers for you to use and enjoy. Follow my journey on social media and travel the world with me. Happy days.


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