Nives Cavrić, a well-traveled bubbly blogger promised to give us a piece that would show Croatia in a different light. Well, she succeeded at it and how! Join her as she takes us to a wonderful city in the heart of Croatia- the capital city Zagreb!
This article is now available as a tour on GPSmyCity app. Download Now!
Whenever there is a mention of places to see in Europe, people always choose popular ones like Paris, Rome, London, so on and forth. But if you are someone who likes to explore new places and likes to have different experiences – then Zagreb is the right choice for you. When you think about a trip to Croatia, a lot of people will tell you – yes the coast is where you should head! But this time, I will take you to Croatia which is a little bit different and show you why the capital town, Zagreb is not only worth a visit but a definite MUST. A typical fun day in Zagreb means a relaxed day by the lakes and some swim, beer and burgers by evening and club hopping by night!!
Some General bits about Zagreb
Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It is located in the northwest region of the country, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb is a city with rich history dating from the Roman times to the present day. The oldest settlement located in the vicinity of the city is the Roman Andautonia, in today's Ščitarjevo. The name "Zagreb" is mentioned for the first time in 1094 at the founding of the Zagreb diocese of Kaptol, and Zagreb became a free royal town in 1242, whereas the origin of the name still remains a mystery in spite of several theories. In 1851 Zagreb had its first mayor, Janko Kamauf, and in 1945 it was made the capital of Croatia when the demographic boom and the urban sprawl made the city what it is today. A spectacularly picturesque city, happening nightlife and a major gastronomical affair...Zagreb is all this and more!
What makes Zagreb awesome!
We are covering the best spots, eating places, parks and attractions that make Zagreb big on the travel bucket list. We bet you will start your plans for Zagreb right after!
1. Zrinjevac..... the kind of beach you would have never seen!
Zrinjevac (Triq Nikola Subić Zrinski) is the Zagreb square and a park with a plane tree alley. Green or Lenuci horseshoe made up of seven Zagreb downtown squares. Every year in summer time, there is an event called “More knjiga” which is hosted here. During this time Zrinjevac is transformed into a big beach. How? Well with a sea of books!! People come here to relax on loungers, sit and read books. You can drink cocktails and enjoy a grand feast that is on offer at the time. Young children can be seen drawing on notes and bags and the older ones on surfboards. All this with a little dash of music completes the celebratory ambiance. are English books available too and if you want to get your own thing to read, you are most welcome to do so. In winter time, it becomes Christmas market. This year, for the second year in a row, Zagreb had the honor of being the Best Christmas market in Europe. You have these cute little houses that are set up during Christmas that are full of lights, food, drinks and gifts. You can find something for everyone. During the whole year, you can attend concerts, markets with sweets and accessories. To sum it all Zrinjevac is fun all through the year!
How to reach
Trams: 6, 13
2. Botanical Garden....a touch of English, French and more!
For me, one of the best spots in Zagreb is Botanical Gardens. It is open all through the year for public and the entrance is free. You can visit it every Monday/Tuesday from 9am-2.30pm. And every Wednesday-Sunday from 9am-4pm. My recommendation is to visit it during the spring and winter time, it's absolutely stunning then.
The major part is occupied by the arboretum, developed in the style of the English landscape garden, where you can find woody plants (trees and shrubs) from various parts of the world. The flower parterre with decorative herbaceous plants (annuals and perennials) and roses in the western part of the Garden near the glass house, is constructed in the French style characterized by strict geometrical lines. Indigenous plant species (representatives of the flora of Croatia) are grown in groups planned according to plant geography (rock gardens). Tropical and subtropical plants and plants needed for research work are grown in the greenhouses (a total of 14). Marsh plants can be seen in the artificial lakes and pools on the parterre. In the systematic field in the southeast part of the Garden, plants meant for students and for university lectures are reared. For visitors, Botanical garden is a supremely scenic place with splendid views.
How to reach
Trams: 2, 4, 9
3. Maksimir...the forest Park
Maksimir is a city district of Zagreb in which there is a forest park of the same name, and Maksimir Stadium (known for performances of Football Club Dinamo). You can walk through the park and forest. This place is home to 'Zoo Zagreb' too and the location adds a flavor of wilderness to it. Here, you can volunteer to help, celebrate birthdays, feed animals and also adopt an animal. If all the walking and exploring makes you hungry, you can head to a restaurant called Maksimir, with a large terrace surrounding it. It is a choice venue for wedding revelry too! Head here, if in luck you might witness a wedding affair right here!
How to reach
Trams: 4, 5, 7, 11, 12
4. Gradec.......walking the ancient corridors in modern times
Gradec or Grič is the old part of the city. In 1242, Bela IVissued a Golden Bull declaring it a "free royal city“ on the hill of Gradec of Zagreb". From 1,242th-1,266th the city was fortified by walls and towers and the entire place has hardly undergone any change since then. In this part of the city, you can find old fashioned City gates that you get to see only in movies or books. There are three big and three small doors. Larger door (Stone, New and Mesnička) open into a large square tower and served as the main entrance to the city. Smaller gates are simpler and were meant for pedestrians only. Before closing the door, the tower bell of the city hall- bell Lotrščak would ring warning to those outside the walls to immediately return to their homes. Of all the gates only the Stone gate is preserved to this day. In this part of the city, there are some museums and galleries that a traveler can visit. Walking along the streets of the city is a surreal experience in itself and transports you to the world that existed long before our times!
How to reach
Trams: 1, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17 + walk 2min + funicular
5. Museums…. beyond Art and Culture
If you like to dig the history and culture of a place through museums then Zagreb will make you really happy! Some of the more popular are MSU, Muzej Iluzija, Muzej prekinutih veza and Bako Express (train museum). MSU- Museum of Modern Art is the most popular and has lots of events, exhibitions, promotions, projections, concerts, lectures, educational tours and discussions throughout the year. Muzej Iluzija is the museum of Illusion and it is one hell of an experience with exhibits that trick your mind and senses. You can also play some of the trickiest games here. Simply put- it is Kickass!!
For MSU, the entrance fee is 30 Kunas for adults, 15 Kunas for students and Kids go for free. There are group discounts and you have to pay 10 – 20 Kunas depending on the group size. You also have an option of enjoying the museum absolutely free! All you have to do is go on first Wednesday of the month when entrance is free for everyone! And if Wednesday is not possible then just check their pages, some have free Monday or Sundays sometimes.
How to reach
Trams: 6, 7, 14
Buses: 109, 166, 219, 220, 221, 268, 310, 311, 313
6. Sljeme……..Ski slopes and stunning views
Sljeme is the top of Medvednica Mountain overlooking Zagreb and is located at 1,033 meters above sea level. There is also a Ski slope in Sljeme, which is one of the locations that host the Ski World Cup (Snow Queen). This place offers quite a few activities and options. If you want to perk up your usual boring business meetings then head to Sljeme. Yes! You can have congresses, seminars and even weddings at this spectacular location. If you want to really soak in the views and wonders of Sljeme, then stay at Hotel Tomislavov Dom overnight or more. You can also enjoy some delicacies of Croatian cuisine here.
How to reach
The adventure seekers have an option of trekking the entire way up. For others:
Trams: 8, 14, 15, 33
7. Jarun…..the fresh water beachside!
Jarun is a Zagreb neighborhood that is home to the picturesque lake of the same name. Jarun also serves as a sports and recreation center and is popular for swimming and basketball events along with concerts. During the summer time you can swim in the lake and spend the whole day lazing in the sun, or relax in one of the bars. Jarun makes up for absence of a typical beach in Zagreb and for me, fresh water swim is any day preferred over a salt water!
How to reach
Trams: 5, 17, 32
8. Bundek…..another lake and more fun!
Bundek is another fun and happening place in Zagreb. It is home to a stunning lake surrounded by a beautiful park. A lot of events are hosted on the lakeside and in the park. The most notable are the firework festival that dazzles Zagreb’s night sky, Bundek fest that witnesses awesome concerts and a flora event where a sea of flower literally drowns you! Even without the concerts and events, Bundek is a place to chill as it is a popular sports and recreation center with bars.
How to reach
Tram: 6 + walk 14min
Buses: 220, 221, 268
9. Papa's American Bar….Beer & Burgers, a match made in heaven!
If you are looking for place to eat burgers and drink beer or sip into some cocktails, then Papa's American Bar is the place you must head to. In summer time, you can sit on terrace and enjoy one of the best burgers in city. After that you can go to cinema near the bar, or taste the night life of Zagreb at club Hollywood! Because when you in Zagreb, fun should not stop!
How to reach
Trams: 6, 17
Buses: 102, 105
10. Kava Tava….for the love of Pancakes!
Are you that freak who is always on the lookout for pancakes? Zagreb is going to floor you with Kava Tava then!
Kava Tava’s founder and CEO, Dored Najjar embarked on an international expedition to search for the perfect addition to the Croatian quick service restaurant industry. When he was on the streets of New York, he saw restaurants serving American pancakes, as an alternative to French's conventional crepes. He took this chic yet simple concept, combined with over twenty years of hotel and restaurant experience and created Kava Tava. The first Kava Tava opened in Zagreb at British Square, in 2007. Pancakes were an instant hit and so was this chain which opened a franchise later at Tkalčićeva Street in downtown Zagreb, in 2009. They decided to add sandwiches and toasts and generous breakfasts to complete meal selection.
Transport & Moving Around Zagreb
Visitors have quite a number of options to choose from when it comes to exploring Zagreb. Let me give you the details of all of them!
Bus & Tram & Funicular
If you use bus, tram or funicular during the day it will cost you 10 Kunas and during the night it is 15 Kunas. The thing to remember is that you can use the ticket only for one way of traveling and for 90 minutes only. A daily ticket costs 30 Kunas, 3 days is 70 Kunas, 7 days is 150 Kunas, 15 days is 200 Kunas and 30 days 400 Kunas. You can also choose month or one year ticket at a higher price. For funicular, the ticket is 4 kuna's.
If you choose cabs to explore Zagreb then be careful because when cabbies realize that you are a visitor or a traveler, they drive you around the city using longer route so they can charge you more. So flat tariff starts at 8,80 Kunas plus 6 Kunas per kilometer traveled.
Zagreb is really well connected with other cities around the country. You can also go to some other countries like Slovenia, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia by train.
Renting a Car
You can also rent a car in Zagreb for days together. For 3 days it will cost you around 700 Kunas.
Airport to City
From airport (Pleso), you have a few choices on how to go to the city. One of them is by sharing a taxi. About 35€ is charged for a for 1-3 persons and for a group of 8 people 50€. If you go by bus, a one-way ticket is 35 Kunas and drive takes 30 minutes.
Where to stay?
Here are our top picks of hotels that cover budget to luxury !
Zagreb has lots of options to suit every budget. To look at all the options, simply type Zagreb in the nice little search box on the right. For a more comprehensive choice, you can head straight to our Hotel Search page
Following are the handpicked tours for you in Zagreb.
So we hope you loved to see this other facet of Croatia that is not about beaches and coasts but still possesses that vibrant Croatian vibe. Before you book your tickets, accommodation and pack the suitcase, here is a small intro of the lady who gave us this guest post- Nives Cavrić!
I’m a blogger, an explorer, a dreamer, wanderer and coffee lover.
I have been traveling since I was a child, but it was only from 2013 that I stepped out of my comfort zone. In all these years I have been to 11 countries including Slovenia, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Bosnia and Czech Republic. During my student phase, I was living three months in Malta doing an internship, living with locals and traveling around the island. It is an experience I will always cherish.
My goal is to travel the world and HELP you start with traveling and exploring the world. For any advice feel free to contact me.
Contact name: Nives Cavrić
So this was Zagreb for you, tell us if you have been to this exciting city! And if this city reminds of another, we would love to hear that story as well. If you need more info on Zagreb then contact us or our brilliant expert on Zagreb- Nives Cavrić! If you want us to cover any specific destinations, tell us and we will be happy to get practical reliable and accurate information about it! If you are a travel agent or company, a resort, hotel or any kind of accommodation, get featured with us!