In-depth guide to Croatia's capital city
Vibrant Zagreb is not only Croatia’s capital and largest city, but also the country’s cultural, economic, and political hub.
The capital is a classic Central European city, with its Austro-Hungarian, Viennese, and Slavic influences clear to see. This is best witnessed in the glorious Upper Town – the historic center of the city – a wonderful mix of cobblestone streets, red-tiled roofs, medieval churches, airy piazzas, and vintage mansion houses. Zagreb’s Lower Town – now considered the modern center of the city – makes a fine contrast, with a commercial zeal laced through its modern architecture and vibrant shopping streets.
Despite a population of around 800,000 – more than 4 times that of a Split, Croatia’s next largest city – it has a charming small-town feel. You’ll never feel over-hurried, and with a plethora of peaceful parks, quaint cafes, and fascinating museums and galleries to dive into, there’s always somewhere to pause and reflect.
As Croatia’s major international transport hub, the city will most likely come as the first or last stop in your trip. It’s a great place to get a feel for Croatian food and culture before diving into your bespoke tour or small ship cruise.
Suggested Zagreb Itineraries
Zagreb to Dubrovnik Cruise-Tour
ZAGREB - PLITVICE LAKES - SPLIT - TROGIR – HVAR – VIS – KORČULA – MLJET – SLANO – DUBROVNIK10 NightsFrom $2,695 PPExperience the charms of Zagreb, followed by the spectacular Plitvice Lakes National Park and medieval Split. Explore the beautiful wonders of the Southern Dalmatian coast on our Deluxe Split to Dubrovnik cruise and enjoy a truly unforgettable experience. Relax on board a new and luxurious ship with balconies. Enjoy visiting the impressive UNESCO listed cities of Split, Korcula and Dubrovnik along with jet-set Hvar and the charming towns of Trogir and Vis. With gourmet oyster and wine tasting experiences this is not a cruise to miss!
Zagreb - Plitvice Lakes - Split - Hvar – Dubrovnik10 NightsFrom $2,995 PPDiscover the absolute best Croatia has to offer with stunning islands, beautiful waterfalls, magnificent cities and delicious food and wine.
Highlights of Croatia
Zagreb - Rovinj - Plitvice Lakes - Split - Hvar - Dubrovnik12 NightsFrom $3,150 PPThe ultimate Croatian journey including the rolling hills of the Istrian peninsula which is a wine and foodie mecca not to be missed!
Best of Croatia & Montenegro
Zagreb - Opatija - Plitvice Lakes- Split – Hvar - Dubrovnik - Kotor12 NightsFrom $3,595 PPThe perfect way to explore two Baltic countries. Experience the capital city of Zagreb, the Tuscan-like Istria Peninsula with its medieval hilltop villages. Explore Plitvice Lakes National Park, take a walk back through time in Split’s 4th-century palace, discover sunny Hvar and the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik, before venturing east to stunning Montenegro.
Highlights of Zagreb
Enjoy the capital’s many museums and galleries
As the center of Croatian history and culture, Zagreb is packed to the gills with fantastic museums and galleries. All put together, they feature a staggering 3.6 million exhibits, and you’ll interesting attractions on almost every corner. Our favorites are the Museum of Contemporary Art, Archeological Museum, and the very unique Museum of Broken Relationships. With a burgeoning arts scene and packed cultural calendar, there’s never been a better time for culture vultures and history enthusiasts to visit.
Take in the historic Upper Town
Zagreb is a city of two halves: the historic, romantic Upper Town, and the more modern, commercial lower town. Known locally as Gornji Grad, the Upper Town is the heart of the city, dating back to the 11th century, with its charming cobblestone streets, mansion houses, and red-tiled roofs. It’s a combination of two ancient settlements – Gradec and Kaptol – which are wonderful to explore on foot, taking in the fine architecture and air of old-time Croatia.
Shopping expeditions along Ilica Street
At nearly 6km long, Ilica street is the commercial heart of Zagreb. It’s the longest, busiest, and most popular shopping street in the capital, with both international and local brands well represented, and a host of charming boutiques. With endless bustling cafes and terrace restaurants to dive in and out of too, this is a great locale for dining and drinking as well as shopping your heart out. A tram line runs the length of the street, making it easily accessible from all corners of the city.
Sample ‘strukli’ - a specialty of Zagreb
It’s always best to eat like a local wherever you travel to, and Zagreb is no exception. The cuisine of Zagreb is typically Balkan: hearty, with plenty of dairy, meat, and vegetables. The city’s most famous dish – beloved by locals and tourists alike – is strukli, a pastry made with fluffy dough and crammed full of delicious fillings. The classic serving is sour cream and cottage cheese, but a wide variety of both sweet and savory options are available. Speak to our experts for their favorite strukli spots!
Observe local life in King Tomislav Square
Situated at the bottom of the Lower Town, facing Zagreb’s central railway station, King Tomislav Square is considered the absolute epicenter of the city. The wide park boasts fountains, quiet seating spots, and fountains, and is flanked on all sides by beautiful heritage buildings. It’s a popular meet-up spot for citizens across the capital, so if you’ve some time to spare it’s a great place to grab a coffee or ice cream and simply sit back and take in bustling local life.
When to visit Zagreb
Zagreb’s attractions are cosmopolitan. With less concern for beach or hiking weather, it’s a year-round destination: the capital’s excellent museums, galleries, walking streets, parks, cafes, and restaurants are equally fine at any time of year.
As with the rest of Croatia, the best weather for travel is from March through to October. This avoids the cold, damp weather of the winter months, with temperatures ranging from 50-60F / 10-15C in April and October, peaking at 75-90F / 20-35C in July and August.
In our opinion, the best time to visit is the months of June and September. During this time, you’ll get near-guaranteed warm and dry weather, but avoid the scorching heat and peak season rates of mid-summer.
Best restaurants in Zagreb
Lanterna na Dolcu
Opatovina 31, 10000 Zagreb; 00385 1 4819 009
Mediterranean, Croatia, Eastern European, Vegetarian-friendly
The authentic Zagreb feel of Lanterna begins with the ingredients, all of which are sourced daily from the city’s iconic Dolac Market. All the vendors are from the immediate local area. The theme continues in the kitchen where dishes are inspired by a cookbook written in 1865 which the proprietors found in the Zagreb City Museum.
Otto & Frank
Tkalciceva 20, 10000 Zagreb
Cafe, Mediterranean, European, Vegetarian-friendly
Proudly serving comforting brunch, burgers, and salads with a Croatian slant. Try their famous carrot cake or a creatively crafted cocktail. An informal setting with a compact menu that packs a punch, plus a great list of local craft beers and wines.
Tkalciceva ulica 39, 10000 Zagreb
Italian, Mediterranean, Croatian, Vegetarian-friendly
With a prime position overlooking Tkalciceva Steet, the cozy interior, choice of Mediterranean and Croatian dishes, and fantastic wine list, make this a favorite with Zagreb locals. Try a delicious risotto with thyme, pear, and sheep’s cheese from Pag Island.
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