Zagreb has been growing in popularity as a travel destination in recent years due to its rich culture and history, beautiful architecture, and tasty food scene. And being the capital city of Croatia, it’s also a great base for exploring the rest of the country. The best part about visiting Zagreb is that most of the attractions are all within walking distance from each other in the city center. So you can easily pack a lot into a short visit. And to help you plan your trip, here is a list of the 20 top attractions and things to do in Zagreb.
1. Wander around Gornji Grad
Gornji Grad is the best place to start exploring Zagreb as it is home to some of the city’s most important sights. The best way to get acquainted with Gornji Grad is simply to wander around and explore all the nooks and crannies.
As you meander through the streets, you will come across some charming squares, such as Jelacic Square, which is the city’s main square, and St. Mark’s Square, which is home to the beautiful St. Mark’s Church (more on that later). Other notable sights in Gornji Grad include the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Croatian National Theatre, the Museum of Broken Relationships, and Dolac Market.
From here, amble your way down to Tkalciceva Street, which is brimming with charming cafés and buzzing bars. You will also find some lovely parks such as King Tomislav Square, which is a great place to relax on a sunny day.
Overall, Gornji Grad is one of the most famous places in Zagreb, and a visit here is a must. Remember that this area is best explored on foot so you can fully appreciate all it has to offer.
2. Tour St. Mark’s Cathedral
The stunning St. Mark’s Cathedral is one of the top tourist attractions in Zagreb and should definitely be on your list of places to visit. As the largest church in Croatia, this magnificent building is an incredible feat of architecture that dates back to the 13th century.
While the exterior of St. Mark’s Cathedral is breathtaking, the interior is just as captivating with its beautiful stained-glass windows, impressive organ, and incredible frescoes coating the walls and ceilings. Make sure to also look out for the Zagreb coat of arms, which is emblazoned on the floor in front of the main altar.
3. Shop at Dolac Market
Featuring prominently in most Zagreb travel itineraries, Dolac Market is the city’s largest and best-known market and is a great place to stock up on fresh produce or souvenirs.
Although it originally only sold meat and cheese, today, the market has evolved and sells a whole host of items, ranging from fruit and vegetables to flowers and clothes.
Situated in Gornji Grad (Upper Town), the market is just a stone’s throw away from some of the top Zagreb’s tourist attractions, such as St. Mark’s Church, the Cathedral, and Zrinjevac Park. As such, it makes for a great place to take a break from all the Zagreb sightseeing and refuel with some delicious snacks or lunch.
The best time to visit the market is in the morning when it is at its liveliest. However, even if you do drop by later in the day, it is still worth checking out as it is always bustling with activity.
4. Discover Mirogoj Cemetery
Although it might not sound like the most exciting thing to do in Zagreb, a visit to Mirogoj Cemetery is actually a lovely experience and one of the best things to do in Zagreb.
As one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe, Mirogoj Cemetery is a spectacular sight, especially due to the stunning arcades that adorn it. Designed by Herman Bolle, the cemetery was opened in 1876 and is full of magnificent monuments, many of which represent some of the best Croatian sculptors.
The cemetery is best known for its beautiful arcades made from white stone. These arcades provide shelter from the rain and sun and are a beautiful place to wander around, even if you are not particularly interested in cemeteries.
On any given day, you’ll find locals coming to pay their respects, while others use the cemetery as a place to take a peaceful break from the hustle and bustle of city life. Regardless of why you visit, Mirogoj Cemetery is one of the top Zagreb tourist attractions and a must-visit for anyone in the city.
5. Admire the Zagreb Cathedral
Arguably the most important church in Croatia, Zagreb Cathedral is an awe-inspiring building and one of the most famous places in Zagreb. The largest and most important church in Croatia, this Roman Catholic cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and is the seat of the Archbishop of Zagreb.
With a long and varied history, parts of the cathedral date as far back as the 11th century, though most of what you can see today is from the 19th century.
The most striking feature of Zagreb Cathedral is undoubtedly its twin spires, which at 108 meters tall, make it the tallest building in Croatia. While the exterior of Zagreb Cathedral is stunning, it is the interior that really makes it so special and a must-visit during your time in the city.
From the beautiful frescoes that adorn the walls to the stunning stained glass windows and the magnificent altar, there is much to see and admire inside. Even if you are not religious, Zagreb Cathedral is worth a visit for its sheer beauty and importance to Croatian history and culture.
6. Relax at Jarun Lake
Just a short distance from the city center, Jarun Lake is the perfect place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The lake is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike and is especially busy during the summer months when people come to sunbathe, swim, and paddleboard.
There are also a number of bars and restaurants located around the lake, which makes it the perfect place to relax with a drink or two in hand. If you’re feeling active, there are also a number of cycling and walking trails that wind their way around the lake, which are perfect for exploring on a sunny day.
And being one of the famous attractions in Zagreb, you will surely want to capture some photos of this lovely lake. I suggest you do so from the walking/cycling path that runs around it as you will get some amazing views from there.
7. Explore Maksimir Park
A visit to Maksimir Park is one of the best things to do in Zagreb if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. As the oldest public park in Croatia, Maksimir Park is a peaceful oasis where you can relax and forget about your troubles for a while.
The park is huge, spanning over 45 acres, and is filled with beautiful gardens, romantic walking trails, and a zoo. You can easily spend a couple of hours here, or even the whole day, if you pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in the park.
8. See the Sights from Zagreb 360 degrees
Affording some of the best views in the city, Zagreb 360 is a must-visit for anyone interested in getting a bird’s eye view of the Croatian capital. Situated on the top floor of the Zagreb skyscraper in Ban Jelacic Square, the viewing platform offers visitors unrivaled panoramic views of the cityscape.
As well as being a great place to take some photos and soak up the incredible views, Zagreb 360 is also home to a bar and restaurant, making it the perfect place to enjoy a bite to eat or a drink while taking in the scenery.
9. Feel Artsy at the Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the top attractions in Zagreb for those who appreciate the arts. Housed in a modern building that was purpose-built for the museum in 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art is one of Croatia’s most important cultural institutions.
The museum has a large and varied collection of art, including over 12,000 works by Croatian and international artists. There are also temporary exhibitions held at the museum throughout the year, which means there is always something new and exciting to see.
Even if you are not particularly interested in the art on display, the Museum of Contemporary Art is still worth visiting for the building itself, which is an absolute architectural masterpiece.
10. Visit the Museum of Broken Relationships
I know what you’re thinking, a museum about breakups? Surely that can’t be interesting. Well, perhaps surprisingly, a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships is one of the best things to do in Zagreb and has even been voted one of the best small museums in Europe.
Founded in 2010, the museum is the brainchild of two Croatian artists, Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic, who were inspired by their own breakup to create a space where the public could share their stories of love and loss.
Since then, the museum has gone from strength to strength, collecting objects and mementos from people all over the world, with items donated from as far afield as Japan, Australia, and the United States.
What makes the museum so special is that each item on display comes with a short story about the relationship behind it, making for a fascinating and moving experience. And with over 4,000 items in its collection, the Museum of Broken Relationships is a must-see when visiting Zagreb.
11. Tour the Zagreb City Museum
The Zagreb City Museum is one of the best places to learn about the history and culture of the city. This excellent museum is located in the heart of the city and is housed in a beautiful building that dates back to the 19th century.
The museum traces the history of Zagreb all the way back to Roman times. The museum tells the story of Zagreb through archeological finds, art, maps, documents, and other historical artifacts. In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
The Zagreb City Museum is an excellent place to learn about the city and its rich history. And being among the best museums in Croatia, it’s definitely one of the must-see attractions in Zagreb.
12. Visit the Archeological and Ethnographic Museums
The Archeological and Ethnographic Museums are two of the oldest museums in Croatia and offer a fascinating insight into the country’s past.
The Archeological Museum is particularly interesting as it has five different sections, each of which covers a different period in Croatian history. Highlights of the museum include the Egyptian Mummies, a section of the Great Migrations, and the Greek Vases.
The Ethnographic Museum is also well worth a visit as it offers a glimpse into Croatia’s traditional way of life. Exhibits in the museum include traditional costumes, weapons, furniture, jewelry, and musical instruments.
Two of these museums are among the most popular Zagreb tourist attractions as they offer a great way to learn about the history and culture of Croatia. So don’t miss out, and make sure to add them to your list of famous places to visit in Zagreb.
13. Smell the Flowers at Zagreb Botanical Garden
A visit to the Zagreb Botanical Garden is a must for anyone who loves nature and wants to spend some time outdoors. After all, a tour here is not only one of the best things to do in Zagreb, but it is also one of the largest in all of Croatia.
The garden is home to over 10,000 different plant species from all over the world, and it is a delight to stroll around and take in all the different colors and smells. There are also plenty of benches dotted around the garden, so you can sit back and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. And if you’re visiting in the springtime, then you’ll be able to see the garden in all its glory as the flowers are in full bloom.
14. Croatian Museum of Naive Art
Founded in 1952, the Croatian Museum of Naive Art is one of Zagreb’s most impressive and intriguing museums. The museum houses the works of naive Croatian artists from the 20th and 21st centuries, with over 1,900 different pieces on display.
The concept of naive art might be new to some, but it is best defined as art created by people who lack formal training in the field. Despite the lack of training, the naive artists represented in this museum have still managed to produce some stunning pieces that are incredibly moving and beautiful.
Walking around the museum is a real delight, and you’ll find yourself marveling at the creativity and imagination on display. And with so many wonderful pieces to see, you’ll agree that it deserves its place among your list of Zagreb attractions to visit.
15. Walk through the Gric Tunnel
The Gric Tunnel is a fascinating attraction in Zagreb that offers visitors the chance to learn more about the city’s history. The tunnel was built during World War II as an air-raid shelter, and it is one of the largest tunnels of its kind in Europe.
Today, the Gric Tunnel is open to the public and is a great place to visit. The tunnel is around 350 meters long and has been turned into a kind of underground museum. There are a number of different exhibits to see in the tunnel, which details the history of Zagreb during World War II as well as the construction of the tunnel itself.
16. Catch a Show at the Croatian National Theater
Founded in 1894, the Croatian National Theater is one of Zagreb’s most iconic buildings and has been a mainstay of Croatian culture for centuries. Located in the center of Upper Town, the Croatian National Theater is impossible to miss, and catching a show here should be high on your list of the top things to do in Zagreb.
The theater is home to the Croatian National Opera and the Croatian National Ballet, and there are performances held here throughout the year. If you happen to be in Zagreb when a performance is taking place, you should try getting tickets as it makes for a very special evening.
Even if you are not able to catch a show, the Croatian National Theater is still worth visiting for a look around the stunning building. Make sure to take a peek inside the magnificent auditorium, which is truly breathtaking.
17. Tour the historic Stone Gate
Another of Zagreb’s top attractions is the Stone Gate, a historic gate that was once part of the city’s fortifications. The gate dates back to the 13th century and is one of the best-preserved medieval structures in Zagreb.
Nowadays, the Stone Gate is a popular tourist spot, and many people come to take photos of the impressive structure. The gate is also home to a small chapel, which was built to commemorate the painting of the Virgin Mary that survived a fire that destroyed the rest of the gate in 1731.
Although the gate no longer serves its original purpose, it is still an important part of Zagreb’s history and is well worth a visit.
18. Visit the Art Pavilion and the Mestrovic Gallery
The Art Pavilion is one of the most beautiful buildings in Zagreb and is definitely worth a visit. Designed by Viennese architects Hellmer and Fellmer, the Art Pavilion was built in 1896 and is one of the city’s best examples of Art Nouveau architecture. The building is today used as an exhibition space and contains the important work of Ivan Mestrovic, one of Croatia’s most famous sculptors.
If you want to see more of Mestrovic’s work, you can also visit the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery, which is housed in his 17th-century home. The gallery is housed in a beautiful Renaissance-style building and contains over 300 works by Mestrovic, including sculptures, drawings, and prints.
19. Enjoy the Culinary Scene
Zagreb is fast becoming one of the best foodie destinations in Europe, and there are a number of great restaurants to enjoy while you are in the city. For traditional Croatian cuisine, be sure to stop by Konoba Didov San, which serves up some of the best dishes in the city. If you are looking for something a little bit different, check out Bistro Apetit, which offers a quirky dining experience.
If you’re looking for something a bit more casual, then Zagreb also has some excellent street food. Be sure to try the Cevapi, which are grilled meat skewers that are served with flatbread and a variety of dipping sauces.
All these options and more make Zagreb one of the best places to enjoy a meal. So be sure to include the city’s culinary scene on your list of things to do in Zagreb.
20. Ride one of the Shortest Funiculars in the World
Zagreb is home to one of the shortest funicular railways in the world. This Funicular links the Upper and Lower Town in just 64 seconds and has been transporting passengers since 1890. The Funicular is located on Tomic Street in the Lower Town and runs every day from 7 am until 10 pm. A single journey costs just 4 kunas (around $0.50), and it is the best way to get from the Lower Town to the Upper Town, especially if you are short on time.
The Funicular is one of Zagreb’s most popular tourist attractions and is well worth riding, even if it is just for the experience.
You can’t deny that Zagreb is a city with a lot to offer tourists. And with this list of 20 best things to do in Zagreb, you’re sure to have more than enough to keep you busy during your stay. So start planning your trip and get ready to experience all that this wonderful city has to offer.