A visit to Zagreb in Croatia should definitely be on your travel itinerary. Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and also the largest city in the country. In our Zagreb travel guide, you’ll learn about the important places and museums to visit during your stay in Zagreb.
In Zagreb, there are plenty of possibilities to spend your time. You can take a walking tour through the historic center, visit one of the many museums, take a stroll in one of the parks, go to the bar street…
Zagreb has over 1 million inhabitants. About a quarter of all people in Croatia live in Zagreb. The city is divided into 17 districts (divisions), of which the Upper Town (Gornji Grad – Medveščak) and the lower town (Donji Grad). In those 2 districts, you’ll find the majority of the important places to visit.
Before planning your visit to Croatia, also check out our Croatia travel guide for a full overview of all places to visit in Croatia.
Visit Zagreb Upper Town (Gornji Grad)
The upper town of Zagreb is located on the hillside of the city. In Gornji Grad, you’ll find most of the famous historic buildings. On Saint Mark’s square, you’ll find St. Mark’s Church (Crkva sv. Marka), the Croatian Parliament (Hrvatski sabor), and the Croatian Government building (Vlada Republike Hrvatske).
Another highlight of the upper town is the bar street, Tkalčićeva. The street Tkalčićeva is not accessible by car and is full of terraces next to the street. In the same street, you’ll also find restaurants and this is a popular location for some Zagreb nightlife.
St. Mark’s Church
St. Mark’s Church is one of the oldest buildings in Zagreb. The church was built in the 13th century in Romanesque architecture style. But it was rebuilt later (after 1350) into a Gothic church. The church used to be the church of the old city of Zagreb.
On the roof, you’ll see two coats of arms. The right coat of arms is the one of the city of Zagreb: a castle with 3 towers and the moon and a star. On the left, you’ll see the coat of arms of the old kingdom: Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia (a united kingdom between Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia).
Visit Zagreb Lower Town (Donji Grad)
The Zagreb Lower Town, or Donji Grad, is another one of the 17 districts of Croatia. Donji Grad is located south of Upper Town. Croatians call this part of the city the Center. It’s located in the middle of Zagreb. In this part of the city, you’ll find a lot of shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Next to the Upper Town, most other historic buildings are in the Lower Town. Many of the buildings in Donji Grad are from the 19th century. One of those buildings is the Lotrščak Tower (Kula Lotrščak). From Lotrščak Tower they shoot a cannon every day at noon.
According to one legend, the canon is shot at noon every day to commemorate a particular day in the 15th century. The canon was shot that day and hit a rooster in the Turks’ encampment just across the Sava river. Because of this, the Turks decided to not invade Zagreb! Now we heard another reason that is not as magical as the legend. Many people believe that the only reason to shoot the cannon at noon is to let the bell-ringers now when it’s 12 o’clock sharp. That way everyone knew the exact time.
The tower is also a museum you can visit. The museum has old pictures and explains the history of Zagreb, but you’ll also be able to view the city from the top of the tower.
Zagreb Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Cathedral. The Cathedral of Zagreb has spiky towers (spires) that are 108 meters high. This makes Zagreb Cathedral the tallest building in Croatia. Unfortunately during an earthquake in early 2020, one of the spikes fell off and the other spike was removed as a safety precaution.
Green Horseshoe (Lenuci Horseshoe)
The Green Horseshoe of Zagreb is a series of parks in the center of the city in the shape of a U. The concept of the Green Horseshoe was conceived by Milan Lenuci, that’s why it’s also called the Lenice Horseshoe.
7 squares and parks create this area of green in the middle of the city. The Green Horseshoe exists out of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, the Botanical Garden (Botanički Vrt PMF-a), King Tomislav Square, Park Zrinjevac…
King Tomislav Square
King Tomislav was the first king of Croatia. It’s the largest square in the city of Zagreb. On the square, you’ll find a statue of King Tomislav on a horse and the Zagreb Art Pavilion (Umjetnički paviljon u Zagrebu).
Zagreb Botanical Garden (Botanički Vrt PMF-a)
The Zagreb Botanical Garden (Botanički Vrt PMF-a) is part of the Green Horseshoe of Zagreb. The garden is created by a professor at the University of Zagreb. Botanički Vrt PMF-a is part of the Faculty of Science.
In the Botanical garden, there are over 10000 plant species in an area of 5 hectares. Entry to the botanical garden is free.
Travel Guide on Museums in Zagreb
Museum of Broken Relationships Zagreb
The Museum of Broken Relationships is an unordinary museum. No famous paintings or anything, it’s a museum filled with donations of real people. They used to travel around the world and have a pop-up museum, but now the Museum of Broken Relationships has a permanent location on Kulmur palace (Upper Town) in Zagreb.
The museum exhibits were donated by people whose relationships went badly. After ending their relationship they sent an item, to remind them of the relationship, to the museum along with their story. In this museum, you’ll learn some of those stories.
The museum is open every day until late in the evening (9 PM). Tickets are 40 kn (around €5.50, $6.50) for an adult. You can find the full details on their website.
We did enjoy this museum. All of the exhibits come with an interesting story to read. My wife likes to read and enjoyed the stories a lot. Personally, I got a bit tired towards the end of the museum of all the reading work. It’s a very original museum and it’s certainly unique in its kind. So I’d still recommend it.
Stiletto Shoe in Museum of Broken Relationships
An example of such a story is the story of the stiletto shoe you see in the picture above. The story you can find below.
1966, six weeks, and 1998, a few hours
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
It was 1959, I was ten, T. was eleven. We were very much in love. When I told my mother we had gone skinny dipping in the canal, I got my ears boxed and was sent to spend the rest of the school holidays with an aunt. When I was fifteen, we had more wonderful times together until he moved to Germany with his parents. Our goodbye came with many tears and promises. We would write every week and never marry anyone else.
It was 1998 and I had just stopped working in prostitution. I wanted to write a book about S&M and was going to work for a dominatrix for a few weeks. On the second day, the dominatrix allowed me to belittle and whip a client. First I made him lick my stilettos. Because he wasn’t submissive enough and had the nerve to address me with ‘mistress’ (instead of ‘high mistress’), I wanted to whip him harder. And that was when I recognised him, ‘T., is that you?’ He was startled and stood up.
At once we were back in 1966. He told me he had the desire to be submissive because his father had often beaten him as a child. T. was now in his second marriage, and he wanted to make it work. It was better we never saw each other again. After a few hours we said our goodbyes, and he asked, ‘Can I keep one of your stilettos as a memento?’ When he walked out the door, it felt like my stiletto-less foot was no longer mine.
Museum of Illusions (Muzej iluzija)
In the Museum of Illusions (Muzej iluzija) you’ll have the opportunity to discover a lot of optical illusions. There are a lot of fun exhibits to take a photo together. For example, there is a room shaped in a way so you can take a picture together and it looks like one of you is very small. There is another room where it looks like your head is on a plate…
Next to the optical illusions, there are also a few puzzles you can try to solve. See if you can solve some of the wooden puzzles or if you know the answer to some of the optical illusions in the playroom. There is also a gift shop where you can buy some puzzles.
The museum is open every day from 9 AM to 10 PM. Tickets for adults are 50 kn (€6.60 / $8.10). Find out more about the museum on their website.
We found this a fun museum to visit. It gives you interesting insights into optical illusions. Of course, everyone already knows some of them from the internet. But many of them were things we didn’t see before. And it gives you the opportunity to take some cool pictures 🙂.
Our Two Day Travel Itinerary of Zagreb
We did visit Zagreb in 2017. We spent about 2 days visiting Zagreb. During those two days, we visited all the places discussed in our Zagreb travel guide.
In total we had one evening in Zagreb, then a full day, and then a third day until somewhere early afternoon. So it wasn’t exactly two days, but you can easily move our first evening to the evening of your second day, to make it a two-day visit. But we share our itinerary as it happened during our visit, to stay as accurate as possible 🙂.
First Evening in Zagreb
During our visit to Croatia in 2017, we arrived in Zagreb the evening, after our visit to Petrova Gora. We checked into our hotel and then took the tram from there to the city center to grab some food and see some things.
First, we went for a real culinary delight at the famous Zagreb restaurant: McDonald’s 😉. After we visited the “local restaurant” we went to the Museum of Broken Relationships. After that, we went for drinks at a bar in the Lower Town.
Free Spirit Guided Walking Tour Zagreb
The next day we went on a free walking tour through Zagreb. A colleague of mine recommended Free Spirit Tours. So we decided to follow his advice and registered online for the tour.
We used the Free Spirit Walking tour. The tour takes about 2 hours and will guide you through the Upper Town and Lower Town of Zagreb. The idea of Free Spirit is that they offer free guided tours and that, at the end of your tour, you tip your tour guide according to the value the tour had for you. Apparently though, laws on free tours are complex in Croatia, so the official price of the tour is 1 kn (€0.13 / $0.16).
If you’re interested, you can find more information on the Free Spirit website. We don’t get a commission on that, so in our neutral opinion: we liked the tour a lot because you learn a lot about the city and you see the top places.
Afternoon Visit in Zagreb
After our guided tour through Zagreb, we visited the Zagreb Cathedral. After that, we got something to eat and continued our visit to Zagreb. We walked through the Green Horseshoe of Zagreb. We did not enter any of these places, we only visited the parks and squares and the Botanical Garden.
At the end of the walk along the Green Horseshoe, it started raining. So we took the tram and drove as close as we could to the Museum of Illusions. We then visited the Museum of Illusions and hoped the rain would be over when we finished our visit. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. We went for some food again and then went back to our hotel.
Maksimir Park in Zagreb
The next day, and the last day of our road trip through Croatia, we visited Maksimir Park. Maksimir Park is located in the east of the city of Zagreb. It’s a park where a lot of families come for walking around the forests and lakes. Along the trails, there are some sights, such as a Swiss House, an obelisk, and a few statues. There are playgrounds for kids and there are a few taverns to go for a coffee or a drink.
In the park, you can also find the Zagreb Zoo (Zoološki vrt Grada Zagreba). We didn’t visit the zoo as we were short on time and needed to catch our flight, but the reviews of the zoo are really good.
Finding a parking spot near the zoo or park can be tricky. We parked at Parking Maksimir (here). It’s a paid parking lot, but there were parking spots available. There are a few other parking lots near the park that you could try. If you don’t need your car, you can also take the tram, but we needed our car to continue to the airport.
Zagreb Travel Guide – City Map
Interested to visit Zagreb yourself? We did place the highlights of our Zagreb travel guide on a map. You can use this map for your own visit.
Save our Zagreb Travel Guide
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