Looking for a city break but wondering is Zagreb worth visiting?
Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb, is often overshadowed by the country’s beautiful islands, sandy beaches and famous coastline. So, is Zagreb worth visiting or not?
But this little-known gem has a lot to offer and should be on your list for your next city break.
In this blog post, I’ll look at all the different things about Zagreb to help you decide if it’s the right place for your next trip.
Zagreb is a mixing pot of different cultures because it has a unique mix of Central European and Mediterranean influences.
I personally really love Zagreb as I have visited the city multiple times! If you choose to explore its charm you’ll have an experience you’ll never forget.
Is Zagreb a good city break?
Yes it is! Zagreb is a great city break destination because it has a great mix of history, culture, food, and music.
The city has something for everyone, from its Austro-Hungarian buildings to its interesting museums, theaters and busy streets.
Also, it’s pretty small and easy to get around, so you can take your time seeing all of its sights.
Zagreb is a great place to go for a city break because the people there are friendly, open and the city is full of life!
What to see in Zagreb?
Here are some of Zagreb’s must-see sights that I would recommend:
- Ban Jelačić Square: this busy square is the center of the city and a great place to start exploring the streets and must-sees close by.
The square is surrounded by beautiful old buildings and has several famous statues and the Manduevac Fountain, which is a popular place for both locals and tourists to meet.
- Dolac Market: this is a lively open-air market where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, tasty local foods, and hand-made goods.
Dolac Market is just a few steps away from Ban Jelačić Square. It’s a great place to get a real feel for Zagreb’s daily life and immerse yourself in the local culture.
- Cathedral of the Assumption: this beautiful Gothic cathedral is one of Zagreb’s most famous sights and a must-see. It’s hard to miss.
The church is a beautiful piece of architecture that shows off the religious history of the city with its beautiful outside and impressive inside.
- Museum of Broken Relationships: is a unique and thought-provoking place where the remains of relationships that have ended are displayed.
By showing personal items and telling emotional stories about them, the museum gives a moving look at love, loss, and how people connect with each other. A nice alternative to the usual museums.
- St. Mark’s Church: this is a beautiful church in the historic Upper Town. It has a roof made of colorful tiles.
The medieval coat of arms of Zagreb and the sign of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia are both on the ornate front of the church. This makes it an important symbol of Croatian history.
In addition to these places to visit, Zagreb has many art galleries, parks, and hidden gems that are just ready to be found.
Is Zagreb a party town?
Even though Zagreb isn’t really known as a party town like some other European places, it still has a lot going on at night.
There’s something for everyone, from hip bars and clubs to old-fashioned taverns. Tkalieva Street and the streets around Ban Jelačić Square are popular places to go out at night.
You can go to the lively Medika culture center, which is in a former pharmaceutical factory but is now used for concerts, parties, and other events, for a more alternative experience.
If you like live music, don’t miss the famous Močvara Club, where bands from all over the world often play their gigs.
How many days in Zagreb is enough?
I suggest spending at least two or three days in Zagreb to see all of its sights and feel the city’s vibe.
This lets you see the most important things, take a nice stroll through the historic streets and enjoy the food and nightlife of the area.
Also, if you have a few extra days, you can leave the city center and visit some of Zagreb’s less-visited neighborhoods, parks, and scenic spots, like the Mirogoj Cemetery, Medvednica Nature Park, and the Jarun Lake leisure area.
I really enjoy visiting Jarun Lake in the summer. It’s a great option if you want to walk around the lake, swim, sunbath or play some sports. In the evening you can find entertainment in the many restaurants, bars or clubs.
Is Zagreb worth visiting: FAQs
The information below is related to visiting Zagreb and will give you some more great insights!
What is Zagreb best known for?
The city of Zagreb has a few characteristics that add up to making it a great place to visit.
- Austro-Hungarian architecture: The city has many beautiful buildings and squares that show its long past. The Croatian National Theater, the Art Pavilion, and the beautiful buildings on Ilica Street are all great examples.
- Museums: There are many interesting museums in Zagreb, such as the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Mimara Museum, and the Croatian Museum of Nave Art.
The city also holds the “Night of Museums” event every year, when museums stay open late and let people in for free.
- Cafés with tables outside: The city is known for its café culture, and both locals and visitors enjoy coffee and pastries at pavement cafés.
Bogovieva Street, which is only for pedestrians, and the charming Flower Square (Cvjetni Trg) are both popular places.
- Street fairs and events: the Christmas market is thought to be one of the best in all of Europe. The International Animated Film Festival, the INmusic Festival, and the Zagreb Film Festival are also very important events and take place all year long.
If you’re interested in knowing more about Croatia in general, check out my post about the 31 things that Croatia’s known for!
Where to stay in Zagreb?
You’ll find an abundance of great places to stay during your visit to Zagreb. However, here are my three recommendations in categories:
- Best Budget option: Swanky Mint Hostel
This has a great rating of 8.6/10 and is located in the Lower Town close to the city center.
- Best Mid-range option: City Center Main Square Apartments
This has an exceptional rating of 9.6/10 and is centrally located close to the main must-sees.
- Best Luxury option: The Main Square Dream Apartment
This has a superb rating of 9.6/10 and is only just a few steps away from the central main square.
What food is famous in Zagreb?
Some well-known meals and treats you must try in Zagreb are:
- Strukli is a classic Croatian pastry that is often served with sour cream and is made with cheese. This dish has many options. It can be boiled or baked, and it can be either sweet or savory.
- Cevapi is a famous Balkan dish made of sausages made of ground meat that have been grilled and are usually served with flatbread, onions, and a red pepper sauce called ajvar. I personally like to eat it with kaymak!
- Sarma is a hearty dish made of ground meat and rice covered in pickled cabbage leaves. For extra flavor, smoked meat is often added to the cooking process. During the winter, this comfort food is especially famous.
- Graevina is a white wine made in the nearby area of Slavonia. It is light and refreshing. This wine goes well with a wide range of foods, from seafood to grilled meats, which makes it a popular choice in places in Zagreb.
Is it easy to get around Zagreb?
Trams, buses and trains are all part of Zagreb’s good public transportation system. Most of the city’s sights are close enough to walk to, especially in the centre.
The tram system is the best and most popular way to get around because it runs often and tickets are cheap. You’ll see a lot of blue trams going around the city (old and new).
A single tram ticket lets you ride within a 30-minute window, but you can also get daily and multiple-day passes if you plan to use public transport a lot.
Is Zagreb a walkable city?
Yes! Zagreb is an easy place to get around on foot. Many of its best sites are close enough to each other that you can walk to them.
This is especially true in the historic Upper and Lower Towns. The city is easy to walk around because the streets are wide enough for people to walk on, the spaces are pedestrian-friendly, and there are many parks.
For a nice stroll, try the tree-lined Strossmayer Promenade, which has great views of the city below, or visit Maksimir Park, the oldest public park in the city, which is a green oasis.
Is Zagreb an expensive city?
Zagreb is not as expensive as some other European cities. Prices for housing, food, and travel are usually lower than in cities like Paris or Amsterdam.
This makes Zagreb a good choice if you’re on a budget and want to visit a European city without spending a lot of money.
Keep in mind that prices can change depending on where you are. Tourist spots and high-end places tend to charge more.
Still, there are lots of cheap choices all over the city, especially if you leave the main tourist areas and look for Zagreb’s hidden gems.
Is it better to stay in Lower Town or Upper Town Zagreb?
Lower Town and Upper Town each have their own benefits and charms:
- Lower Town is the part of the city that is newer and has more hotels, bars, shops, and attractions. If you stay in Lower Town, Ban Jelačić Square, the main transportation hub, and lively nightlife places are all close by.
Some of Zagreb’s most beautiful parks, like Zrinjevac and Tomislav Square, are in Lower Town. These parks are a nice break from the busy city.
- Upper Town is the historic heart of Zagreb, with its cobblestone streets, medieval houses, and cultural landmarks.
Staying in Upper Town is more authentic and beautiful, and it’s easy to get to St. Mark’s Church, the Lotrščak Tower, and other important places.
As you walk through the narrow streets and charming alleyways, you’ll find lots of hidden courtyards, art galleries, and cozy cafes that add to the charm of the area.
In the end, you should choose between Lower Town and Upper Town based on your own tastes and trip goals.
Where to avoid in Zagreb?
Even though Zagreb is usually safe and friendly, there are some places you might want to avoid, especially at night:
- Kvaternik Square: even though it’s not a very dangerous place, there have been reports of pickpocketing and other small crimes there. Stay on busy streets and in well-lit areas, and don’t wander around alone in places you don’t know.
- Industrial zones: these places aren’t good for tourists in general and can feel dangerous, especially at night. Even though these places are usually on the outskirts of the city and far from the most popular tourist spots, you should still be careful if you find yourself there.
Just like in any other place, you should always be careful and use common sense. Be aware of your surroundings, keep your things safe, and don’t put expensive things out in the open.
Which month is best for Zagreb?
Between May and September, when the weather is warm and sunny, is the best time to visit Zagreb.
During these months, the city is full of outdoor events, open-air cafes, and street fairs, which make it a lively place to be.
But if you like cooler weather and fewer people, April and October can also be good times to visit.
During the winter, Zagreb can also be charming, with its festive Advent market and the chance of snow on the city’s old buildings.
How far is Zagreb city center from the airport?
Zagreb Airport is about 17 kilometres southeast of the city center. It’s called the Franjo Tuđman Airport.
There are several ways to get there, including cabs, shuttle buses, and public buses.
Depending on traffic, the trip can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes.
The airport shuttle bus is the easiest way to get between the airport and the city center. It runs frequently and stops near the main bus station and Ban Jelačić Square.
The Wrap-Up: Is Zagreb worth visiting?
So, is Zagreb worth visiting?
Yes, I would totally recommend visiting Zagreb. The city has a long past, beautiful buildings, a lively culture, and delicious food.
The city offers a unique and enjoyable experience for all types of travelers. Zagreb has something for everyone, whether you want a relaxed city break, an exciting nightlife scene, or a trip through time.
The city has a warm and friendly vibe that will make you feel right at home.
So pack your bags and get ready to explore this charming Croatian city! You’ll soon realise that Zagreb is not only worth going to, but also a place you’ll want to go back to again and again.
You’ll find some useful tips for traveling to Croatia here.
And if you want to know more about the main cities in the Balkans in general, check out my post about capital cities in the Balkans!
Your restless voyager,