Top things to do in Zagreb
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia along with being the largest city in the country. The beautiful and often overlooked city is a great place to visit. Whilst it is a city that most people just pass through in an instant without realizing how lovely and exciting it could be.
One of the more interesting things would be how Zagreb is made out of two hilltop communities that live side by side. Whilst their relationship wasn’t always friendly, Gradec and Kaptol. It matured over the years and became part of the largest city in Croatia.
A great location to walk through if you are someone that can enjoy history. Populated by artisans and tradesman in the past is a lovely quaint old district for morning walks and afternoon ones. The stone cobbled pathways becoming pedestrianised in recent years so no need to worry about vehicles all too much.
Probably the most famous thing about Zagreb. The Jelačić square is a modern gathering spot, having solely trams leading up to it from all around Zagreb. Road traffic is prohibited on the square, apart from trams which serve as the main transportation device across the city. You’ll experience the bustling streets of Zagreb on this square, surrounded by various cafes and shops that are beaming with life.
The square was named after Count Josip Jelačić who was a 19th century rules that was widely considered an expert military strategist. The statue was erected at around 1800 year, but during the communism times it was removes only to be reinstated in 1990.
St. Mark's Church
Some people will surely recognize this church by it’s red and white checkered roof. St. Mark’s Church is a parish church of old Zagreb, located in, you guessed it, St. Mark’s Square. A Romanesque windows found in its south facade is one of the best evidenced that the church must have been build in the early 13th century; the semicircular ground plan of St. Mary’s chapel having been also built at the time.
Museums of Zagreb
If you are a fan of history you can’t miss out on visiting some museums. Zagreb is a large town so it’s only natural it has a couple of great museums to offer it’s visitors. Some prime examples being:
- Technical museum – An utopia for tech geeks and children, showcasing the evolution or various modes of transports from trains to airplanes. The museum showcases satellites along with showing off some of the inventions and feats of the father of electricity, Nikola Tesla.
- Tortureum – What a lovely name, isn’t it. This gruesome museum showcases the various tools and equipment used for torture and execution throughout the years; otherwise a great place to bring your mother in law to 🙂
- Museum of Illusions – Get lost in the maze of mirrors. Watch yourself shrink and grow as you pass next to the distorting mirrors. Anyone that enjoys silly illusions and brain teases along with being a great and otherwise fun museum to visit with children.
- The museum of broken relationships – Breakups and failed relationships could be a rather tough and depressing time for anyone going through it. But some people have made the best out of it by showcasing the memorable objects and things that was so significant in the breakup. Otherwise the museum is rather fun and lighthearted all things considered 🙂
- Museum of chocolate – Whilst not the largest museum in Zagreb it is quite packed with interesting tidbits of information. The museum offering a box of various chocolates for you to taste as you explore it. But be careful as some of the chocolate are really bitter, enough to make you make a face after you taste it. The museum also offers unlimited amount of chocolate to enjoy during your visit, as well as offering a chance to buy various chocolates at the end of the museum to take back home as a kind of souvenir.
Go out partying in clubs
If we’re being honest, probably not the best person to ask about club recommendations apart from one. Zagreb is littered with various nightlife bars and clubs, it’s not difficult to just follow the music and end up getting into one. Some prime examples of clubs being Opera, Gallery, Hangar (the only one I’ve personally been in, loved it).
Visit the cat cafe in Zagreb
If you find the idea of petting a cute kitten whilst enjoying some coffee or a drink enticing. The positive and rather calming ambient of the Cafe making its visitors along with its little furry residents feel like at home. A great place to visit for any animal/cat lover that also enjoys a warm drink at hand. 🙂
Winter festivities in Zagreb
Whilst Zagreb is a great city to visit it truly shined with a white glow during Winter. The sound of carols and the smell of “fritule” and sausages fill the main markets, signaling the start of the Christmas spirit. Many towns put up small little “houses” where vendors sell homemade products but Zagreb is the best place to experience and anticipate Christmas and the New Year.
As you walk around the city’s premises you’ll notice various attractions in different locations. The Zrinjevac park being a rather pleasant place where visitors can enjoy a nice waltz whilst listening to choirs singing, but on the other hand you have Tomislav Square which attracts people for it’s giant ice ring for ice-skating.
Things to enjoy in Zagreb
Exploring the biggest city in Croatia could be a tiring exploit so what better way to relax than by grabbing a bite to eat. Zagreb is a town with a diverse cultural influence, various foods arriving here from the surrounding countries making it a home of Central European cuisine. Your taste buds will be thankful once you bite into a sweet or savoury meal, Štrukli, Grinajg, Apple Štrudels decorate the cuisine here in Zagreb; so don’t miss your chance to taste em.
In order to wash down the taste of that bountiful meal why not have a glass of Wine or maybe even a craft beer. Zagreb has a long tradition of brewing an assortment of quality beers that you just can’t miss out on trying. But if beers or wine doesn’t suit you you can always visit one of several hundred cafe shops that are littered across Zagreb.
If you happen to be visiting Zagreb with a significant other or have one waiting at home, getting her a Gingerbread heart would be a perfect present to give. The heart being a symbol of love and friendship that even made it into being under UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list. But for those of you that want to look professional and strive for originality why not pick out a Croatian tie, since the tie originated from Croatia in the first place.
You should also consider getting a “Zagreb card” which includes free public transport, free entry to some must see attractions along with providing a discount price in many restaurants, shops, museums and other places of interest.
Where to eat?
After going to the main city to visit family I have discovered a couple of things. The restaurant and fast food in other towns is nothing compared to the bustling main city, several delicious franchises being littered around Zagreb. Some most notable ones being:
Submarine – If you fancy a good burger, you are in for a treat as this is by far the best place I have ever ate a burger at. The modern yellow pipework design of the place borders on a “cartoony” design almost. Vibrant colours filling the cozy interior is sure to bring a smile to your face. But as for what you can get, Submarine has several burger variations for you to choose from, all from local suppliers with fresh ingredients; including the hand cut fries that are absolutely delightful.
Bistro & Pizzeria Public – During my short time in Zagreb I have been fortunate enough to try the pizza here, and I must say, it’s really good. For those that want to taste true Italian style pizza with fresh homegrown ingredients you won’t be disappointed by visiting. The modern comfortable design of the place bringing a sense of luxury as you dine on true delicious Pizza.
Nokturno – Last but not least and my favourite of all the places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit is Nokturno. Located in a quaint little side street on a slope with plenty of outdoor booths to enjoy your meal in. Nokturno has garnered respect and love of mostly everyone that has had a chance to dine at their location. Anything from pizzas, meat dishes and lazzagnas. Nokturno is a staple of delicious Zagreb food that is bound to make you want to return to the restaurant.
Zagreb's animal ZOO
If you are a fan of animals you will surely appreciate knowing that Zagreb has it’s very own ZOO. What started out as a small establishment with only three foxes and two owls has become one of the largest ZOO‘s in Croatia. With aprox. 275 species of animals in the establishment the Zagreb ZOO offers it’s visitors a unique perspective of it’s inhabitants. The ZOO was built in 1925. by Milo Pl. Filipović and is the oldest ZOO in Southeast Europe. It is a must see spot to visit if you are spending time in Zagreb, the Zoo offering a chance to see a wide variety of animals and seeing the caretakers feeding the animals at certain times.
Go out there and explore
Whilst Zagreb is a big town and it would take a long while to list all of the places and things you can do, see, experience in this capital of a city. You won’t get a taste of the country if you only explore one city, luckily Zagreb offers several great connections.
- Plitvice Lakes – Most likely the first choice by many. The Plitvice National Park is one of the most beautiful and oldest parks in Croatia, being under UNESCO protection. There’s barely anything as relaxing or tranquil as the Plitvice Lakes, after all, it isn’t the most popular National park for no reason.
- Ljubljana – Slovenia is rather close to Zagreb and easily reachable. Offering several things for anyone to visit, Lake Bled and Postojna Cave. Whilst it is possible to visit all three in the same day, we recommend you stick to two at max. 🙂
- Skiing – If you happen to come to Zagreb during Winter you will surely enjoy knowing that there’s several ski resorts close by. A fun trip for anyone that’s a fan of snow and watching their family/friends try to keep their balance 🙂
Whilst there is plenty of things to do in Zagreb there is also several utterly magnificent things to see and experience all around Croatia. But if you are starting your vacation don’t skip this beautiful city before you head on over to the coast. Zagreb is a hidden gem that’s often overlooked, but when you do stop to admire. The gem truly shines.