Zagreb gets overshadowed by more popular Croatian destinations like Dubrovnik and Split, but it’s a very nice city in its own right. It has history, a very relaxed vibe, crazy nightlife, underrated food, and the prices are about half of what they are on the coast. Zagreb isn’t full of marquee attractions, but the city has plenty of interesting things to do. Most notably, an incredible walking tour about the Croatian War of Independence, which is enough of a reason alone to visit Zagreb.
How to Get There
Zagreb is 8 hours from Dubrovnik by bus, or you can take a flight. From Split, the bus ride is 5 hours. Bookaway is a great resource to compare the prices of buses and flights, and secure your seat in advance.
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Best Things to Do in Zagreb
Homeland War Walking Tour – If you have even the smallest interest in history, this is a must while in Zagreb. Honestly, this is the best walking tour I’ve ever done. It focuses on the Croatian War of Independence and what it was like to live in Zagreb during the bombing campaign. The guide grew up in Zagreb during the war and has access to a private war museum. You will also get the chance to visit the underground bomb shelters.
The cost is 225 HRK, and it was worth every penny. If you go on the regular free walking tour with Free Spirit Tours, you get a discount on this tour.
Museum Chocolate Zagreb – Zagreb is full of atypical museums and this was one of my favorite. The entrance is 65 HRK and the ticket is a box of chocolates to snack on throughout your visit. There is lots of chocolate to taste, and it’s a very fun experience overall.
Lotrščak Tower – Climb this 13th-century tower for sweeping views of the city. The tower’s cannon used to ring every day at noon, but it has since been suspended due to an earthquake. The entrance is 20 HRK.
St. Mark’s Church – A 13th-century medieval church with a beautiful tile facade.
Explore Lowertown – Lowertown Zagreb is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Europe. It has a very relaxed vibe and boasts colorful Habsburg architecture, 7 parks that form a U – Shape, King Tomislav Square, and many trendy bars & cafes.
Cathedral of Zagreb – An early 1900s Gothic church that as of May 2022 is closed to the public due to damage from an earthquake. However, it is still worth a visit to see the exterior.
Exotic Museums – Zagreb has many out-of-the-ordinary museums covering broken relationships, hangovers, torture, and more. If you are into atypical museums, Zagreb is the mecca.
Day trip to Plitvice Lakes – This is one of the biggest attractions in Croatia, but honestly, I was a bit disappointed. It’s very crowded and the walking path is narrow, so you will inevitably get stuck behind people walking slowly and taking pictures.
Although there is probably a better way to visit the lakes than the one I chose. I took an early morning bus from Split, left my bags at the free luggage storage near the park entrance, and took a bus to Zagreb at night. I didn’t arrive at the lakes until 10:30 AM and the crowds had arrived by then. It may be best to spend the night near the lakes and go first thing in the morning. Make sure to book tickets in advance.
Where to Eat
La Štruk – Štrukli is a traditional meal that is almost like a lasagna, but with cottage cheese, eggs, and sour cream. It doesn’t sound appealing but trust me it’s delicious. Take note that eating here isn’t a quick experience because there can be a wait for a table and it takes a long time to prepare the štrukli.
Heritage Croatian Street Food – A great choice for typical Croatian and Slovenian food along with craft beer. They offer Croatian-style tapas as well if you’d like to taste a variety of dishes.
Eggspress – This place is expensive by Zagreb standards, but I had the best eggs of my life here and the portions are quite large.
Plac Kitchen & Grill – Serves a wide array of traditional grilled meats at a cheap price.
Where to Stay
Hostel Mali Mrak Zagreb – A unique hostel known for its family environment and legendary owners. The atmosphere here is very social, but it’s not a party hostel. The downside is that it’s a 20-minute tram ride from the center.
How Long to Stay
2-3 days is enough time to spend in Zagreb and see all the best things the city has to offer.