One day in Zagreb: A Travel Guide for the best day
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You should spend at least one day in Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia in your Croatia itinerary. After I had one full day in Croatia during our 8 day trip there I’m convinced that Zagreb is a city that shouldn’t be missed.
Zagreb, the largest city in Croatia, there’s plenty to do, see and eat! Let’s dive in on the details of a one-day Zagreb itinerary and how you can visit Zagreb in 1 day!
Zagreb, Croatia is located in the northwestern part of the country more inland than some of the popular coastal cities many people flock to in the summer months. The center of the capital city, is separated into two distinct areas: Upper Town and Lower Town.
Walking through Zagreb, you’ll notice the beautiful Gothic and neo-renaissance styles of architecture. It slightly reminded me of Amsterdam. I was surprised by the gorgeous structures throughout the city, but architecture in Europe no matter where you are is usually stunning. (Just my opinion anyway!)
Let’s get into some of the main things to do when you have 24 hours or 1 day in Zagreb, Croatia.
Things to do: Zagreb one day itinerary
Zagreb walking tour
A great way to get your bearings of a new city as well as hear more about recent events and history is by going on a walking tour. There are many different walking tours that are offered in Zagreb. It’s a great way to explore the top sights!
Trg bana Josipa Jelačića Square
This is where Lowertown and Upper Town meet. The central main square of the city of Zagreb. It is a gorgeous square located in the city center flanked by many restaurants and stores it is a commercial hub of the city.
You will recognize it by the large bronze equestrian statue in the center of the square that is after the namesake of the square, Croatian war hero Josip Jelacic.
The formal name of this square is Trg bana Josipa Jelacica Square but it is otherwise referred to as Ban Jelacic or Jelacic Square.
This is located on Tomiceva Street and is open from 6:30 AM until 10 PM. You must have cash for this fare, they do not take credit! The funicular goes up to the Lotrscak Tower which is noted below. (You can see the tower in the picture below.)
Tunel Grič – Radićeva
Tunnel Gric is a pedestrian tunnel located in the center of Zagreb. It dates back to World War II and was built in 1943 serving as a means of transportation as well as a bomb shelter. It is 350 meters (just under 1,200 feet) long and about 5 and a half meters (~18 feet) wide. The tunnel connects Mesnička and Stjepan Radić Streets.
At the top of the Zagreb Funicular is the Lotrscak Tower that houses the Gric cannon. Every day at noon, the cannon at the top of the tower shoots off. If you’re planning to be there for that, its best to arrive early. There are many walking tours and tour groups that time their days around this occasion.
Oldest Remaining Well
The oldest remaining well in Zagreb is located at Demetrova 11. Or in Croatian street is Ulica. So it’s Ulica Demetrova 11. In this part of Zagreb (Upper Town), there are many residences with historic courtyards.
This street is mysteriously the only dead-end street located in Upper Town. Villa Pongratz is located on this quiet street. There are urban legends that this villa is haunted.
St. Mark’s Church & St. Marks Square
One of the most recognizable structures in Zagreb is St. Mark’s Church & St. Mark’s Square located in Upper Town. It is one of the oldest architectural structures in Zagreb, Croatia dating back to the 13th century. It’s most recognizable by the colorful tiled roof. (It is near the next item on your one day itinerary of Stone Gate.)
You can enter Upper Town through the historic stone gate. This is close to St. Marks’s church and square where you can walk through the Stone Gate where the shrine to the Virgin Mary is.
You can access from Jelačić Square by heading north through Radićeva Street. Or, you could ride the funicular and then as you’re leaving Upper Town pass through the stone gate.
This street is flanked with many restaurants and bars. It is a very vibrant street in Zagreb. At the beginning of the street, there is an old sundial. This area is one of the top locations in Zagreb for locals to meet up and have a coffee or a beer together.
This street holds a lot of history as well. At one time it was a stream separating the two oldest Zagreb settlements. Then from 1899 to 1941, almost every house on the street was a brothel. Because of the location of the street in the center of the city, the windows were required to be opaque and there were red lanterns on the exterior. Zagreb was the first ever European city to have a proper red-light district.
The Dolac market is located close to the Zagreb cathedral. Most of the items in the market include fresh fruits and vegetables that are sold by locals to locals. Once most of the inventory starts to sell out later in the afternoon the market winds down. If you want to visit the market in full swing, it’s best to go earlier in the morning.
A quick Uber ride or short tram journey from the city center, the Mirogoj Cemetery is a beautiful tree-lined cemetery with gorgeous memorials. Filled with sculptures and arcades it’s absolutely stunning. Free to visit, don’t let the short transit deter you. It’s a great stop to include in your one-day Zagreb itinerary.
Zagreb has many different museums throughout the city and is commonly referred to as the city of museums. If you only have one day, you may not have the time, however, if you’re spending two or more days in Zagreb you definitely will have to check out a museum. Add one of these museums into your 2 day Zagreb itinerary!
Some museums in Zagreb include the Museum of broken relationships, the Zagreb city museum, the Archaeological Museum and so many more!
Getting around Zagreb
You might be wondering how to get around Zagreb. Zagreb is really easy to get around. You can easily walk to many of the things you will want to see. However, Uber is available in Zagreb as well. When getting into the Zagreb airport, there were many taxis waiting but we ordered an Uber to our hotel. There is also a tram system that is available in the city. (One of the tram lines goes right by the main square.)
Where to eat in Zagreb
Zagreb has many different cuisines available. During our one day in Zagreb, we ate an early lunch at one of the Medvedgrad brew pubs to fuel our adventures.
Then later in the evening, we ate at a Croatian restaurant Didov San which specializes in homemade Croatian cuisine. On the patio, we sat where the tables were made out of antique sewing machines adding to its charm.
Beer in Zagreb
Opatovina Street in Zagreb is known as the beer bar street. Several of the pubs on this street cater to craft beer selections. Tolkeins House was recently permanently closed per the locals we talked to. However, we were able to visit Kvazar and Craft Room. Craft Room stated it opened at 2 PM but it didn’t appear to actually open until later.
Medvedgrad is one of the oldest craft breweries (or in Croatian pivovara) in Croatia as it was established in 1994. There are several brewpubs that serve beer and food in Zagreb. The one I visited was located on Tkalciceva Street (Pub Mali Medo). Sitting outside it was a great location to have a brew, some food, and people-watch.
Zagreb Day Trips
If you have more than one day of basing yourself in Zagreb, spend one day exploring Zagreb then take a day trip from Zagreb. You can easily dedicate one day trip from Zagreb if you’re basing yourself there for 2 or more days.
There are several places you can visit as a day trip while basing yourself out of Zagreb. The most popular of them is the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Other ideas for day trips from Zagreb, Croatia include the Istria area of the country known for coastal towns dotted along the peninsula. There are many wineries here as well, making it a great place to spend some time and tour some local wineries.
You are even in close proximity to Slovenia. From Zagreb, you can take a day trip to the popular areas in Slovenia of Ljubljana and Lake Bled, Slovenia.
Where to stay in Zagreb
Zagreb is very walkable. But, having an accommodation either close to most of the attractions you’re planning on visiting or a tram stop is the best strategy in deciding where to stay. We stayed at the Canopy by Hilton Zagreb City Center. It was a great location with a small Studenac grocery store across the street, bikes available from the hotel, and an onsite bar and restaurant. The room was larger than most standard European rooms so it was really comfortable.
One of the most iconic hotels in Zagreb is the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel. An older hotel with a lot of charm. With gorgeous marble details, including expansive bathrooms if you truly want to relax after exploring Zagreb, it’s a great option.
For more hotels in Zagreb, I use booking.com to make most of my reservations. Check out some of the places to stay in Zagreb below!
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):
Is one day in Zagreb enough?
One day in Zagreb is enough. In one day you will have the time to see many of the main sights and even experience Croatian cuisine and local beer. If you wish to visit one or more museums, you will need more than one day in the capital city of Zagreb, Croatia.
Is Zagreb safe at night?
Yes, Zagreb in general is a very safe city. At night, you will want to remain more vigilant. But, you likely will not encounter any issues in safety even walking about the city later at night. The city is illuminated by many historic gas lamps that date back to 1863.
How many days in Zagreb is enough?
One full day in Zagreb is enough to see all of the major sights of the city. If you want to linger a bit longer and soak in some history in a museum 2-3 days would be a good amount of time to spend in the capital city of Zagreb.
What do to in Zagreb in 2 days?
In two days, be sure to spend time in the Trg bana Josipa Jelačića Square, ride the funicular, see the cannon shot at noon in the Lotrscak tower, walk through the Stone Gate, visit St. Mark’s church, Walk down Tkalciceva Street, check out some craft beers on Opotovina street and spend some time in one of Zagreb’s museums.
Is Zagreb dangerous?
No, Zagreb isn’t a dangerous city. There is very little crime here especially violent crime. Overall Zagreb and most of the country of Croatia is a very safe place to visit. Be sure to exercise caution by securing your valuables as a precautionary measure. But overall, it’s a very safe place to visit.
Is Zagreb safe?
Zagreb (and the rest of Croatia) is very safe. The crime rate is really low. In comparison to other cities within Europe, Zagreb is a generally safe city where violent crime is extremely rare. Zagreb is revered as a family-oriented city with families living here and most tourists who visit are interested in Croatian history and culture.
Is Zagreb expensive?
Compared to the rest of Croatia, Zagreb was more reasonably priced in eating out at restaurants, buying food and snacks at the grocery store, and just general pricing. Croatia is a cheaper European destination compared to some countries and cities such as London or Paris. The highest prices you will encounter in Croatia will be in Dubrovnik.
Is it worth visiting Zagreb, Croatia?
Yes! The capital city of Zagreb isn’t always the first location in Croatia most travelers include on their itineraries but it definitely deserves at least one if not two days during your time exploring Croatia. Zagreb is a great city that you could either start or end your Croatia travels in.
What should one do for fun in Zagreb?
There are so many fun things to do in Zagreb! With the number of museums, spending some time in a museum that interests you is always a great way to spend a day. Aside from museums Zagreb has many historic sites, local cuisine, and great local craft beer breweries to grab a pint.
Which city should one start exploring in Croatia: Dubrovnik or Zagreb?
Either Zagreb or Dubrovnik makes the most sense as either your first or last stop in Croatia. During our Croatia itinerary, we started in Zagreb then eventually made our way down to Dubrovnik as our final stop and went home from there. You could also do it in reverse order as Dubrovnik first and Zagreb last.
What is Zagreb Croatia known for?
Museums. This city has a high concentration of interesting museums to visit with over 30! Not only that but the capital city of Croatia has a very diverse economy as well as a high standard of living making it a really attractive place for Croatians and tourists alike.
Is there Uber in Zagreb?
Yes! There is Uber in Zagreb. Using Uber throughout the capital city of Zagreb is a convenient way to get around. From the airport to your hotel or even if you’re visiting an attraction that is a further walk than you prefer. Have your app ready and up to date in order to use Uber in Zagreb, Croatia.
Is Zagreb a beautiful city?
Zagreb is a beautiful city with historic landmarks as well as modern amenities. The architecture is a blend of old and new with classic European squares and markets as well as more modern buildings. It has so much to do from historic churches to local Croatian cuisine, and even craft beer!
Do you need a car in Zagreb?
No, you don’t necessarily need a car while you’re in Zagreb proper. Depending on where you stay most things are a walkable distance with a few exceptions. The attractions that are exceptions that you can easily get a very affordable quick Uber ride. We rented a car on the day we left Zagreb and headed to Plitvice Lakes.
For more Croatia travel inspiration, visit my 8 day Croatia itinerary!
Zagreb itinerary 2 days
If you’re not a fast traveler and you don’t like packing a lot in, expand your time in Zagreb to 2 days where you can linger in a museum or take a day trip from Zagreb.
If you decide to take a day trip to Plitvice Lakes, after leaving Zagreb you could go from Zagreb to Split. Or, you can also go from Zagreb, to Plitvice Lakes and then onto Zadar before making your way to Split.
Zagreb in one day Conclusion
Even if you only have one day to spend in Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb it’s definitely a stop that shouldn’t be missed! From all of the historic sites, museums and great places to eat and drink Zagreb deserves at least one day (if not two) at the beginning of your Croatia travels or the tail end.
I hope this helped to plan and inspire your travels to Croatia! Spending one perfect day in Zagreb is well worth it. This was our first stop during over a week of travels in Croatia so I have a lot more to share!