Zagreb skyline

Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city, is not a destination that is on a travellers “must see” list. Most people head to Croatia to spend time at the coast. It is understandable as the coastal cities are really beautiful. I discovered that the town is easy to get around and you can see the main sights of  Zagreb in one day without too much difficulty.

I read that the train journey from Split to Zagreb was spectacular, so naturally I had to see for myself and it more than lived up to my expectation.

Zagreb is totally underrated in my opinion and it seems like Lonely Planet agrees with me. It has the #1 spot on the Best places to visit in Europe in 2017 list

 

How to see Zagreb in one day

 

The trams are fast and efficient, but if you are close to the centre of town you can walk almost everywhere. The main tourist attractions are well signposted and you really can’t get lost. It is a great city to walk around. It is divided into two distinct sections, the medieval Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and the lower town.

 

The Main Square

 

A good place to start exploring is at the main square (Trg Bana Jelacica) in the lower town. The square has been around since the 17th century. The pretty pastel coloured buildings are mostly from the late 19th century. The oldest building, dates from the 18th century and  is at 1 Ban Jelačić Square.

The Mandušsevac Fountain on the square provided drinking water for the city until the end of the 19th century. Local legend has it that if you throw a coin it the fountain it will bring you good luck.

The  Observation Deck is just off the square. If you want a bird’s eye view of the city then you will certainly find it here. The entrance fee is 60 kuna or about 8 euros. The deck opens at 10.00 am and closes just before midnight. It is also a perfect place to watch the sunset, so you might like to save the visit until later.

 

 

Trg Bana Jelacica Zagreb
Zagreb Main Square

 

 

The Dolac Market

 

A short distance from the square is the Dolac, the open-air fruit and vegetable market. It is easy to find if you look for the red umbrellas. It is no secret that I love markets. I wandered around, buying a bit of this and that to snack on. What a choice! There were also some handmade wooden items for sale as well as a couple of stalls selling local handcrafts. If you were looking for a unique gift then this is a good place to buy it.

 

Dolac Market Zagreb
Dolac Market Zagreb

 

 

Zagreb Cathedral

 

Behind the market, on the hill, is the cathedral.  It has a neo – gothic façade and twin steeples designed by a Viennese architect. The steeples were being repaired when I was there, but it still was an impressive sight. On the northern wall the 10 commandments are inscribed in a local script that was developed in medieval times.  The cathedral was rebuilt in 1880 after an earthquake destroyed it.

 

 

Zagreb Cathedral
Zagreb Cathedral

 

 

The Stone Gate

 

As you leave the cathedral across Skalinska Street and Krvavi Most look for the signs directing you towards the Stone Gate. This is one of the oldest entrances into the city. Locals frequently light candles and pray for lost loved ones at the gate’s small chapel. The tradition started after a fire swept through the gate and burnt most of it to the ground, leaving only a painting of the Madonna and Baby Jesus

 

 

Tkalciceva Street

 

This street in only for pedestrians and I loved it! It was buzzing with cafes, microbreweries, restaurants and the odd upmarket shop. You will be spoilt for choice trying to decide what to eat. I wanted to try so many places, but I had to be realistic. This is also the heart of the city’s nightlife.

I stopped at a Caffe Destino. They had a wide selection of light snacks, which was exactly what I wanted.

As you stroll along the street keep a look out for a statue of a woman with an umbrella. It commemorates Marija Juric Zagorka, Croatia’s first female journalist and author. She is quite a contrast to the trendy people that surround her.

 

Caffe Destino Zagreb
Caffe Destino

 

St Marks Church

 

This 13thcentury church is one of Zagreb’s most iconic buildings. The beautiful coloured tiled roof dates from 1880. It has the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia on the left side, and the emblem of Zagreb on the right.

 

St Mark's church Zagreb Croatia
St Mark’s church Zagreb

 

Lotrščak Tower

 

Just around the corner from the church is the Lotrščak Tower. It was built in the 13th century for protection from the Turks. You can climb the stairs for a panoramic view over the city. If you are there at midday, be warned that there is a cannon fired. This has been the case since 1877 and the locals set their watches by it.

 

 

Strossmayer Promenade & Funicular

 

The Promenade was built in the 19th century. It is a great place to walk and take in the views of the city below from the tree-lined avenue.  Zagreb is filled with interesting statues scattered around. It is one of the things that I really like about city. Don’t miss the silver statue of a man sitting on a bench. It is the poet and author Antun Gustav Matos. According to legend  if you rub his nose you will meet the person of your dreams. I will leave it up you to test the theory!

There is a funicular that has been in operation from 1893 if you prefer not to walk back down the hill, but it a very short ride of about a minute back to the lower city.

 

Man on bench statue Zagreb Croatia
Man on bench statue Zagreb

 

 

Illica Street

 

If you need a bit of retail therapy then this is the place to go. It is quite a long street so unless you are on a mission for something specific a short walk is probably all you will want to do.

 

Dinner

 

This was a difficult decision. There is so much to choose from. After a bit of research I opted to go to  the Heritage Croatian Food venue for dinner. I love this concept. The aim is to promote small local producers and offers the best the country has available. It is a deli style venue serving a selection of tapas for want of a better description. One of the owners is Sime Susic  is the winner of  the Croatian version of Masterchef. This is evident in the style of food. It is creative and every bite offers a new taste treat. There is also a stunning range of produce that you can take home as a gift. I was not able to resist the truffle chocolate. If you are a foodie then look no further. This is the place to go!

 

Croatian Heritage food
Croatian Heritage food

 

Stay

 

I was on a mission to find something a bit different in the city. Although I don’t normally stay in hostels I tried the uber cool Hostel 63.  It was a few minutes walk from the main town. There were also private rooms with modern en suite bathrooms. I found it the perfect place for a short stay.

 

Hostel 63 reception area Zagreb Croatia
Hostel 63 reception area Zagreb

 

 

Zagreb is a charming city. It is a wonderful place to enjoy the sights at a leisurely pace. It has everything you could want and more yet it doesn’t feel frenetic. I think that it is on the brink of soon becoming one of the “hot spots” in Europe to visit. My advice is go visit now,even if you have just one day in Zagreb before it changes too much.

 

HERE S A REMINDER TO SAVE TO PINTEREST FOR LATER

 

Zagreb in one day
Ultimate 1 day guide to Zagreb

 

Zagreb in one day
Visit Zagreb in just 24 hours

Zagreb In One Day : The Sights In A Nutshell
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45 thoughts on “Zagreb In One Day : The Sights In A Nutshell

  1. Beautiful landmark buildings. Particularly the cathedral. You are inspiring me to make a trip to Zagreb soon. I like the peaceful surroundings there.

  2. I have to say that I haven’t been a fan of Zagreb so far. I don’t know, it was missing something for me. But, I’m open to trying it again. Maybe I need to spend a bit more time there to explore it more.

    1. I am not sure when you visited, but I guess it feels different each season. I was there in spring and it was just beautiful. I hope that you give the city another chance.

  3. I’m from Australia and love Croatia so much so I’ve now been numerous times and covered alot of this gem of a country. Zagreb is so underrated and in my opinion has some of the best day trip options in Europe. It’s 1.5 hours or less from 3 amazing regions.1.Rastoke(town on waterfalls) & the UNESCO Plitvice Lakes 2. Zagorje and the Neanderthal site of Krapinja 3. Trakoscan castle and the old Croatian Baroque town of Varazdin. In Zagreb people stick to the city centre but 3 other must sees in Urban Zagreb are the cemetery which is possibly Europe’s most beautiful, The town of Samobor and Maksimir Park. A great city to base yourself in for 4-5 days with a few day trips. Google all these to see for yourself

    1. Well said! I can see you really love the country. I agree with you, it has so much to offer. I spent 10 days in Croatia and barely scratched the surface. I would love to visit the lakes.You have given me some great ideas for my next visit. Thanks so much!

  4. I love Croatia but never got to the capital, so hope to come here one day very soon. I so want to check out the colourful cathedral 🙂

    1. So many people miss Zagreb. I do hope that you have a chance to visit. I am certain that you will have a fabulous time in the city.

  5. I am fond of your blog posts but this one truly stands out! Zagreb Cathedral
    looks majestic! I have wondered at many temples back in India be it the Sun temple in konark or the Western group of temples in Khajuraho but the Zagreb Cathedral looks amazingly unique!

    1. The temples in India are stunning! I love their architecture. There is an exotic element about them. Zagreb Cathedral is magnificent and well worth a visit if you have the opportunity.

  6. I’ve always heard good things about Zagreb, it’s definitely on my list of places to go however after reading through this post I may have to make that trip a lot sooner haha. From your pictures it reminds me of Prague a little.

  7. I’ve actually been to Zagreg quite a few times and I can relate with you when you said that Tkalciceva Street is lovely. I remember passing by a few different cafes and being a coffee lover I enjoyed it a lot. The last time I was there I ate a lovely steak from the restaurant to the right of Cafe Pascucci…. it was amazing!

    1. Lucky you! The street just epitomises cafe society for me. Sadly when you live on the other side of the world it is not so easy to visit, although I wish it was …….

  8. You got me with the architecture and the cheese… I didn’t make it to Zagreb when I was in Croatia but something tells me I will need to go back!

    1. Isn’t that always the case? I have the same problem. I leave somewhere then see what I have missed and want to go back!

  9. Zagreb is definitely a gorgeous city! And you are so right, I feel like it is very underrated because everyone just goes straight to the beach in Croatia. haha Which is kind of understandable too. I am from Hungary and my mom used to work in Zagreb. But it was during the Croatia war of Independence so it definitely wasn’t a time to just look around and enjoy the scenery. I would love to go back and see it now! Great pictures and fantastic information, thank you!

    1. Thank you! It must have been a really difficult time for your mom. I can’t even begin to imagine what is was like then. It is such a beautiful city it really is worth a visit. I hope you have a chance to visit one day.

  10. I am impressed by how much things a traveler can do in a day in Zagreb! And not just any activity but interesting activities! This is indeed an ultimate guide!

  11. This is wonderful! I started thinking about going to Croatia, and first thought Dubrovnik. While I’m sure it’s beautiful, I think something a little less ‘top of everyone’s bucket list’ is more my style. The market would be a must-stop for me. And I love train rides, so I just jotted down ‘Train: Split to Zagreb’ in my travel notes. Must look that up!

    1. Dubrovnik is great for a day, but it is packed with tourists from the cruise liners. Split & Zagreb are far more laid back and I enjoyed these cities far more than Dubrovnik.

  12. I have never heard of Zagreb until now, and it looks like an interesting town to visit. That cathedral looks out of this world. The architectural design is fantastic. It’s amazing how much you can see in just a day.

    1. I love the architecture as well. You can really pack a lot of things in because Zagreb has a small centre that you can easily walk around. It makes such a difference when you are sightseeing.

    1. Game of Thrones has made a huge difference to tourism in Croatia, however there is a great deal of beauty still left to explore and enjoy.

  13. Amazing country that combines old and modern art. Old deco art and struxture and modern furniture in the cafes and resto. I would love to see and visit Croatia soon

  14. Well, sometimes the underrated places offer the unexpected and the best. I do also love exploring towns and cities and seeing that cathedral with its gothic architecture is really stunning (even it’s ongoing repair). I will definitely try Zagreb if I will visit Croatia 🙂

  15. I just put up a post on Zagreb last week, so all this is fresh in my mind still. This was such a wonderful town. We spend 3 days here so had a lot of detailed exploration of the old towns, both Upper and Lower areas. Did you go to Miragoj cemetery?

    1. Sadly I did not get to the cemetery as I ran out of time. I believe that it is beautiful. Well, that gives me an excuse to go back…..

  16. Looks very beautiful! You’re right, all the posts on croatia ive read are mostly about split. I especially love going to places that arent popular hehe it’s like discovering hidden treasure hehe

    1. Me too! That’s why I had to go to Zagreb. It is really difficult today to find non touristy places to visit.It is great to be able to get an authentic feeling of the city.

  17. I agree with you on Zagreb on not being a popular destination among many travellers. But recently a lot of people include this in their Croatia itinerary. The old town is a hidden gem and has a charm of it’s own.

    1. I ma pleased that it is getting more recognition. It is a good stop to add into an itinerary for Croatia.

  18. Oh wow I cannot imagine why people who travel to Croatia would miss this one out! My favourite part was how you described The Main Square and the Cathedral because I love that kind of gothic architecture. Did you know the original meaning of such monuments was to mean barbaric and outlandish because of the Vikings and the Goths? Now, it signifies culture and beauty!
    Oh well, travel onwards and beyond then!

    1. I love architecture in general. No, I did not know the origin of the word thanks so much for sharing it! It is not something that I will ever forget now 🙂

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