Tag Archives: Zagreb

What to do in Zagreb and what to see in Zagreb.

Best of Zagreb Tips

Here’s my round up of all our travel tips on things to do in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, from our expert Neha.  It’s one of those cities that a lot of people pass through on their way to somewhere else but don’t stop to appreciate – I’m guilty of that too, having spent two or three hours there in the middle of the night while changing buses!  If you are planning a trip to Croatia, then take some time to explore Zagreb with the help of Neha’s insider tips.

Things to do Zagreb

Zagreb City Museum by neha

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Landmarks of Zagreb

The main cathedral of Zagreb, the The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary, is an impressive neo-gothic building with particularly tall spires, and you can use them to navigate your way around the town centre.

Things to do Zagreb
Zagreb’s cathedral by neha

The Croatian National Theatre is also well worth a look, and if you have any interest in opera, ballet or theatre, then check out what will be performed during your visit.

Zagreb’s Old Town is also full of intriguing architecture, including the Lotrščak Tower, which dates back to the 13th century. These days you can climb to the top of the tower for some good views over Zagreb. You should also take a look at the Stone Gate in Zagreb, the only surviving town gate from medieval times.

Things to do Zagreb
Zagreb’s stone gate by neha

You will also inevitably come across Illica, the main street of Zagreb. Look out for the cafes in between the numerous buildings; there is also plenty of convenient accommodation along this street and it’s a handy location to stay in.

Things to do Zagreb
Zagreb’s main street, Illica by neha

If you’re visiting in December, then the main city landmark becomes the Zagreb Christmas Markets, with a giant Christmas tree being erected on the main square and numerous stalls being set up to sell all kinds of Christmas fare.

Things to do Zagreb
Christmas Markets in Zagreb by neha

Museums and Galleries in Zagreb

One of the most visited museums in Zagreb is the Zagreb City Museum, housed in an old convent in the Old Town. Exhibits range from artefacts from the Iron Age through to modern models of the city of Zagreb.

Art lovers will get a lot out of this round-up of five Zagreb galleries, including the Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art and the Mestrovic Studio where famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic’s works can be found.

In the Old Town you can find the Croatian Museum of Naive Art; there were several famous Croatian artists in the naive style in the 1930s and they popularised this art form, making this museum full of the works of successful local artists.

Things to do Zagreb
Naive art by neha

Parks in Zagreb

The planners of Zagreb apparently realised the importance of parks. The largest green area in Zagreb is Maksimir Park. It includes a running track, several cafes, a new zoo and concerts during summer.

Closer to the centre, the Lenuci’s Horseshoe (or Lenucijeva Potkova) is a series of parks and squares running between the main station and the main square in the shape of a horseshoe.

Things to do Zagreb
Lenuci’s Horseshoe by neha

And finally, while not quite a park, the tree-lined Strossmayer Promenade is still very green and is also home to the Strossmarte street festival during the summer.

Zagreb Cafes

Neha recommendations for locations in which to sip a coffee include Tkalciceva in the city or slightly further afield at the artificial lakes of Jarun or the Sljeme peak (reachable by cable car).

Things to do Zagreb

Zagreb Cafe

Day Trips from Zagreb

If you want to escape winter in Zagreb, Neha recommends heading about two and a half hours away to Volosko, a small fishing village on the coast which has a reputation for warmer weather. It’s famous for its seafood restaurants so take your appetite with you!

Things to do Zagreb
Volosko by neha

One of the most obvious day trips from Zagreb is to head to the Plitvice Lakes. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and I can’t recommend it highly enough, except to say that rather than making a day trip from Zagreb to Plitvice, try to stay there for a couple of days instead.

Things to do Zagreb
Plitvice Lakes by Amanda Kendle

Neha also recommends several other day trips from Zagreb, including Samobor, Veliki Tabor and Trakoscan castles and Krapina.

Click here for the lowest prices on Zagreb hotels

Five Reasons to Visit Zagreb’s Maksimir Park

The Maksimir Park is the largest green space in the city of Zagreb. It is named after Bishop Maksimilijan Vrhovac, the man who was first responsible for establishing the park in 1794. At the time the park was set up it was on the outskirts of the city, today it is part of suburban Zagreb.

Photo By ruscca

A Green Space – Maksimir Park is a much loved urban escape. It is a sprawling green complex with nooks and corners, lakes and walkways, benches and trails. The traffic sounds coming in from the park boundary are dulled by the thick tree cover and flowing water, ensuring peace and quiet. This Zagreb park is located right opposite a large football stadium, which hosts local and international football events as well as concerts. At such times the thousands of spectators also use the park as the perfect waiting area, both before and after the events.

A Running Track – Maksimir Park is very popular with joggers, runners and even cyclists as the park provides a safe, continuous, and picturesque track. People come in from all over the city to take advantage of this very setting. The park is well connected by the local tram service (take tram no.11 from the Main Square to the Park).

A Pleasant Coffee Break – Maksimir Park is a great coffee place. There are several cafes within the complex that serve good coffee and even better views. If cafes aren’t your thing, find the closest ice-cream vendor and head to an empty bench.

The Zoo – The Zoo is a more recent addition to the Park, and is very popular with young families. There are a number of large (lions, bears, cheetah, bison) and small animals, including endangered species. Of particular interest are the feeding sessions; the sea lion feeding time usually draws quite a crowd. Entry to the zoo is from within the park; tickets (30 Kuna) can be purchased at the zoo entrance.

Photo by Landii

Holiday Concerts – During the summer months (particularly Saturdays) and on bank holidays the park hosts small music concerts. These concerts are free and can be enjoyed by everyone. For more information about the park and the park’s events calendar for the park, head to the information centre located in the Gatekeeper’s cabin, close to the park entrance.

Best of Zagreb Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Zagreb in our Best of Zagreb collation post.

Click here for the lowest prices on Zagreb hotels

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

5 Art Stops in the Croatian capital of Zagreb

Zagreb is a small city. But for its size it has more than a fair share of museums and galleries such as the Zagreb City Museum. My travel tip is to go Zagreb art gallery hopping during the summer months. This European city empties out during this time; most of the town’s residents head to the coast, for beaches such as Zlatni Rat, leaving the many Zagreb attractions to be explored at leisure.

In today’s post I’m going to share five of my favourite Zagreb art stops.

The Mestrovic Studio – Ivan Mestrovic is one of the most famous Croatian sculptors. His work can be viewed at the Mestrovic Studio located in the Upper Town area of Zagreb. The studio is set up in the home where the artist lived from 1922-1942. Here you can browse through a collection of sculptures, drawings, as well as personal documents and photographs.

Naive Art

Museum of Naive Art – I’ve written about the Museum of Naive Art before (read more here). This continues to be my favourite art museum in the city. You’ll find over 1500 works of naive art here. These include works by Croatian masters as well as other international artist. If there is just one art stop you can make in the city, this is the one it should be.

The Art Pavilion – The Art Pavilion is one of the most spectacular (and recognizable) buildings in the city. It is also one of the oldest. Set up in 1898, the Art Pavilion exhibits collections by both Croatian and international artists. However the gallery doesn’t hold permanent exhibits, so be sure to check current exhibitions before visiting.

Photo by ruscca

Klovicevi Dvori Gallery – Here’s another gallery located in the Upper Town (close to the Museum of Naive Art). Klovicevi Dvori Gallery hosts exhibitions by national and international artists. Along with the exhibits you can also attend a number of associated events here; these included lectures, workshops and auctions.

Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art – Adding a touch of modernity to the proceedings is the Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art. Set up in a glass and steel structure, the museum is best known for its quirky and modernistic exhibitions and installations. It also conducts visual arts workshops for children and adults alike.

Best of Zagreb Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Zagreb in our Best of Zagreb collation post.

Click here for the lowest prices on Zagreb hotels

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

Zagreb City Museum

Zagreb is a museum rich city, and one of the most visited Zagreb attractions is the Zagreb City Museum. The museum was established way back in 1907 by the Brothers of the Croatian Dragon society, a local organisation that promoted local cultural heritage.

Things to do Zagreb

The museum is situated in a 17th century convent, the Convent of the Sisters of St. Clares in Zagreb´s old town. The building itself is quirky – given that it was a cloistered order, the building was without any windows and instead the windows were painted on. These painted windows and the elaborate museum sign board start the tour off on a good note.

The heavy doors open into a lovely courtyard and leads into the museum. After you purchase the 20 Kuna entrance ticket, you can explore the different wings of the museums chronicling the city’s archaeological, architectural, religious, social and cultural history.

Arranged according to timeline, the first set of exhibits are excavations from the Iron Age discovered from the current museum site during a phase of restoration and renovation in the late 90s. You can also walk past bits of the old city fortification, carefully preserved under the modern museum building.

Further along you’ll find religious artwork and articles; models of Zagreb city and its districts and landmarks; prominent cultural events and personalities; social and cultural movements and changes, just to name a few.

The only problem with visiting the museum without a guide is that apart from the main information boards by each set of exhibits, the smaller signs and boards are available only in Croatian. This leaves a lot to guesswork, and you can’t help but feel that you are missing out on some of the mysteries and stories to be uncovered here.

I’d also recommend a visit to the Croatian Museum of Naive Art, one of my favourite Zagreb museums.

Best of Zagreb Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Zagreb in our Best of Zagreb collation post.

Click here for the lowest prices on Zagreb hotels

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

Discovering Illica – Zagreb’s Main Street

Every city has that one street that owns the spotlight; in Zagreb,, that street is Illica.

Illica stretches from the Trg Ban Jelecica, Zagreb’s main square and furls forward, creating a vibrant, high energy corridor. The street is lined with ornate old buildings (some in perfect condition, others with peeling paint) that house boutiques, stores, cafes, offices and hotels and apartments.

The street isn’t large, but it balances trams, new and old, along with cars and bikes and pedestrians with ease. Its sides are lined by stores and boutiques – you can find everything from high fashion to groceries, and shop windows are stocked with the lasted trends, with a ‘popust’ or ‘discount’ banner always tacked on. Even if you aren’t one to shop, the bright windows ensure an interesting walk.

You might be able to resist the shopping, but not the bakeries and pastry shops that pop up at intervals; the warm aroma of fresh baked goods waft and tempt with ease along this street. Here, you’ll find one of Zagreb’s most favoured stops, Slasticarnica Vincek, a pastry shop. At times the line waiting to get in can stretch along the pavement, but once in, try the KremÅ¡nita (a vanilla custard pastry) with a cup of coffee and the effort will seem well worth it.  Coffee stops are an integral part of Zagreb’s culture.

The monotony of buildings is broken by compact, cafe dominated squares. These cafes are usually the place to share coffee and cigarettes and meet for drinks later in the day. My Europe travel tip is that very few Zagreb cafes provide eating options – Daily Fresh opposite the main square is one such exception with a good breakfast menu. Otherwise you have the bakeries and sandwich shops.

The squares are also where most of the city’s street celebrations take place. It is the preferred venue for high profile events – from election battles, film shoots, promotional events, Croatian Idol performers to street carnivals and festivities, they all begin here.

I lived in an apartment close to Illica when I first moved to Zagreb, and as enjoyable as it was, sitting at the balcony with a coffee, watching the city play out the day, it wasn’t easy to get any sleep as sounds of late night revelries floated around. I moved to a quieter street, but I make my way Illica practically every day; sit at a cafe and watch the city play out the day.

Considering the street’s location and proximity to the city’s main sights, Illica is the preferred accommodation option for tourists due to ease of Zagreb sightseeing from the central location.

Best of Zagreb Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Zagreb in our Best of Zagreb collation post.

Click here for the lowest prices on Zagreb hotels

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

Coffee in Zagreb

Coffee is a national passion and favoured pastime in Croatia. Hours and hours are spent over a cup, and it’s not surprising that the traditional coffee culture continues to evade the ‘to-go coffee’ trend. If you’re in Zagreb here are some tips for great Zagreb cafe locales to consider:

Zagreb Centre – This is the heart of the city, and it runs on caffeine. From Zagreb’s Main Square, the Dolac Market roof, to the surrounding Flower Square, there are more cafes here than days in the month. The cafes are always busy, even on weekdays, but come Saturday and it’s pretty hard to find a free spot.

Tkalciceva – Along this stone paved, narrow street, cafes line up to serve eager coffee drinkers. Its popularity isn’t surprising as it offers the perfect set up – colourful baroque architecture, ringing church bells in the background, and beautiful people constantly streaming by; this is Zagreb over coffee.

Old Town – How about coffee with a dose of history? That’s what you get around Zagreb’s historic core. Surrounded by ancient landmarks – churches, fortified towers, museums and galleries, you can share your coffee with some of the city’s favourite myths and legends.

Sljeme – Sljeme is the highest peak on Zagreb’s Mount Medvednica. It offers a number of activities like hiking trails and ski slopes as wells as restaurants and cafes. You can reach the peak by cable car (if it’s in service), hiking, cycling or driving up. Once you’re up there, treat yourself to a hot cup of coffee in the forest, a great escape from the city.

Jarun – Jarun is Zagreb’s answer to the coast and a popular sports and recreation centre. With its two artificial lakes and a pebbled beach, Jarun is the place for water sports, rollerblading, running, and all things sporty. In addition, on warm days you’ll spot local sunbathing and catching up over coffee along the edge of the lakes.

Park Maksimir – Maksimir is Zagreb’s largest green space. An 18th century sanctuary for plants and wildlife, Maksimir makes for a fantastic coffee break. Set amidst oak and pine trees with five lakes in between, this is the place to open your favourite paperback and enjoy it over a hot cup of coffee, as a rag tag army of squirrels run around.

Best of Zagreb Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Zagreb in our Best of Zagreb collation post.

Click here for the lowest prices on Zagreb hotels

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

Zagreb’s Christmas Market

Zagreb’s Christmas market is much like the city itself, compact and cosy. And despite the plummeting temperatures and the piles of slush and ice on the pavements, the market adds a bit of warmth to the setting.

The countdown to Christmas begins on Advent Sunday. The streets are lined with Christmas lights (chandeliers, hearts and snowflakes are the local favourites) and decoration. Store fronts get a festive makeover. On the Main Square, Trg Ban Jelačić, the big Christmas tree is placed and lit, and a giant festive wreath is draped around the fountain there.

Fountain

As Christmas approaches, make-shift stalls and tents are set up on and around the main square. Here you’ll find everything from colourful clay angels, local handicrafts to Christmas decorations and greeting cards; from food items like sausages and coffee to traditional Christmas specialities. Chances are you won’t walk away empty handed.

X-mas Stall

A number of cultural events also take place on the square during this time, from choir groups and workshops to Santa himself. Kids are in for an added treat as the electric blue toy train, dressed up in Christmas colours, makes frequent rounds (the train leaves every half hour from the Main Square); a great activity for parents and kids to bond over in the city.

Toy Train

The market offers the perfect opportunity to finish Christmas shopping, catch up with friends over food and drink, or simply take a festive stroll.

More European Christmas Markets

Discover another 24 Christmas Markets in Europe in our collation post.

Best of Zagreb Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Zagreb in our Best of Zagreb collation post.

Click here for the lowest prices on Zagreb hotels

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

Volosko, a Croatian Fishing Village

Winter has come to Zagreb. The days are short, dark and cold and make for limited options, which is why I took off this weekend to the small fishing village of Volosko on the Opatija Riviera (approximately two and a half hours by road from Zagreb). This region is known for the good weather it enjoys all year round – at 8C it was fairly comfortable, but more importantly, the sun was beaming down.

Volosko is within walking distance from the town of Opatija; you can either set up camp there or stay in Volosko itself. There are a number of hotels and apartments in the area, though it is best to book ahead – places may be full during summer and may shut down for renovations during winter.

Volosko

Explore the quiet village – walk around the crowded-together stone homes along narrow stone streets. There’s barely enough space to stretch out your hands, and yet an endless number of cars stand parked on either side!

At the heart of Volosko is the small pier, Mandrac. A number of fishing boats are docked here. In the summer, you’ll spot bigger, flashier vessels along with sailing enthusiasts and beach bums lounging on the pebbled beaches. You’ll also see a number of tourists (all year round) on the walkway along the water; this promenade stretches up to Opatija and extends all the way down to the Riviera.

But the one thing to do here is eat! The village has a strong fishing tradition and it makes for some of the best seafood restaurants in the country – from small, traditional fares (follow the Ribarnica signs) to high-end culinary experiences (Plavi Podrum, Le Mandrac and Amfora, all of which are on the water).

Sea bass and blitva

Find one that fits the bill and Indulge in grilled fish (usually served with Swiss chard, known locally as blitva), oysters, squid, scallops and shrimps, and local white wine; in my book, this is the perfect way to get rid of the winter blues.

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

Day Trips from Zagreb

If you are visiting Zagreb and have a day or two to spare, take the opportunity to explore some of the stops beyond the city limits.

Samobor

Samobor is the perfect escape for those who want to get away from the hustle of Zagreb. A thirty minute drive from the city, Samobor is a 13th century town known around the country for its pastries (the rudorska greblica, a special cheese cake, and the Samoborske kremsnite, a custard cake with flaky pastry) and its annual carnival held in January- February. At the heart of the town is the main square, Trg Kralja Tomislava. Multiple cafes fill up the square and are especially busy on weekends. Also worth a visit are the ruins of the Samobor Castle.

Veliki Tabor & Trakoscan Castles

If you like castles, the Veliki Tabor and Trakoscan castles make for a great day trip from Zagreb. Both double up as museums and chronicle the aristocratic, military and ethnographic history of the region.

Veliki Tabor is a 12th century fortification 57 km from Zagreb. Its exhibits include medieval weapons, tools, paintings, pottery, etc. [Note: the fortress is undergoing renovations, so it is best to check on status before a visit]. Similarly, Trakoscan is a 13th century fortification. Along with the castle exhibits, the large castle grounds and cafes will keep you busy for the day.

 

Trakoscan

Trakoscan

Krapina

Krapina is located about 55 km from Zagreb. While the town in itself is very charming, full of cultural and religious highlights, it is mainly known for its archeological park. In 1899 archeologists discovered the remains of a Neanderthal community in the caves around the region. The excavations and discoveries are today exhibited at the local museum. This is a great stop for kids.

Plitvice & Rastoke

The Plitvice Lakes National Park (Plitvicka Jezera) ranks amongst the best sights in Croatia. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lakes are a collection of sixteen interlocking lakes across three mountain ranges; the park offers a number of hiking trails past waterfalls, cascades, caves and crags. On your way back from the national park, stop at the mill village of Rastoke for a coffee break. With cafes sitting on top of cascades and along the gushing stream, this is the perfect way to end the day.

 

Plitvice

Plitvice

Best of Zagreb Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Zagreb in our Best of Zagreb collation post.

Click here for the lowest prices on Zagreb hotels

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.

Strossmayer Promenade, Zagreb

Zagreb allows for a number of escape routes within the city limits. One such example is the Strossmayer Promenade. A green terraced walkway that connects Zagreb’s upper town with the city centre.

Strossmayer Promenade

It runs along the edge of the old town, lined with towering chestnut trees and dotted with benches. Furthermore, at regular intervals you’ll find stairways allowing access to every nook and corners of this green space. Artists, students, joggers and lovers all share space under the antique ornate lamps that light up the promenade after sun down.

During the warmer months Strossmayer Promenade makes for the perfect hideaway from the scorching sun. If the benches are free, grab a spot and don’t let go! If you get thirsty, don’t worry, there are a number of cafes in the vicinity.

The summer (between the months of June and July) also sees the promenade double up as a venue for a local street festival know as Strossmarte; a time when free flowing music and wine along with a steady stream of artists and performers take over.

In the autumn things are quieter and more romantic. The promenade wears a fiery red carpet of falling leaves. Grab a bag of roasted chestnuts from a vendor on your way here and spend some quiet time catching the best views of Zagreb.

Best of Zagreb Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Zagreb in our Best of Zagreb collation post.

Click here for the lowest prices on Zagreb hotels

More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia

We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.