Zagreb, Croatia – Destination Overview
Zagreb, the lively Croatian capital is home to 800,000 people. The city has a great deal of charm and character with typical central European cobbled streets and small cafes on every corner. A mix of history from different cultures and decades mingle in the streets of Upper and Lower Town.
Croatian Visa Requirements
A number of countries, as well as Schengen visa holders, are Croatian visa exempted. The visa exempt status is valid for a stay of under 90 days in any 180 day period. This means traveling to Croatia is easier and more convenient than ever before! For countries requiring a visa visit the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs website to learn more about visa requirements before visiting Croatia.
Best time to visit Zagreb
Due to its oceanic to continental climate visiting Zagreb is most enjoyable during the warmer months. Any time between May and September will give you warm to hot temperatures, allowing you to enjoy the many outdoor sitting areas or to relax by the lake.
If you like the European winter atmosphere, however, it is a perfect time to see snow, watch fireworks during the new year, and enjoy your evenings over some nice wine. Stopping off for a glass of wine is a great way to socialize with the locals and to warm up in the winter months. If you are a fan of snow sports, Zagreb is one of the few capitals to host a ski world cup – in the winter you can watch the action live, or on a screen on the main square.
Zagreb: City tips
Zagreb International airport is located 17 km from the city, but you can also fly into Ljubljana, Venice, Trieste, Klagenfurt or Graz airports, which are just a few hour drive from Zagreb.
Flying into a nearby city is a great option if you plan to rent a car. Long haul flights tend to be cheaper when you fly to common destinations (such as Venice) so this strategy may actually save you money. This will also help in avoiding an additional transfer!
The official language is Croatian, but in the city, most people speak English as well. Phrases in the local language are always appreciated and you can learn some Croation phrases here.
Getting around is easiest by tram, but buses and trains are plentiful as well. Unfortunately, the government’s tram website is only in Croatian as of yet. However, you might be able to understand some timetables with the help of Google Translate or by asking a local.
Things To Do In Zagreb
1. Ban Jelačić Square
The main square in the city, a common meeting place, especially under the clock on the square. It is a pedestrian zone, so there will be no cars zipping around. However, Ban Jelačić Square is a still convenient for travelers. Here you can catch a tram to nearly anywhere in the city since this is where most of the trams stop. It is surrounded by architecture from different decades and styles.
2. Zagreb Eye
At 182m above sea level, Zagreb Eye offers visitors a birds-eye view of the city (as the name might suggest). At roughly $10 the price is pretty standard as far as observation towers go. The great thing about Zagreb Eye is the bar located on the top floor. The admission ticket is good for the whole day so you are able to head back in the evening and grab a cocktail while you unwind after a long day of sightseeing. Check Zagreb Eye details and pricing here.
3. Mirogoj Cemetery
Architecturally intriguing, the Mirogoj Cemetary is a resting place for people of all religious groups. This cemetery is considered one of the most important landmarks in Zagreb. I normally wouldn’t direct visitors to a burial ground, but this one is certainly awe inspiring.
4. Museum of Broken Relationships
Another unique attraction in Zagreb is the Museum of Broken Relationships. The museum displays mementos and stories from failed relationships. The exhibits were submitted by jilted lovers, as well as some parents who are separated from their children. Be warned the exhibits can be heartbreaking at times. Still, it is worth a visit as it is quite different from other museums you may visit. Some exhibits are available for view online and will give you an idea of the theme before you visit.
5. Zagreb funicular
At a paltry 66m the Zagreb funicular is the shortest in the world! It is surely worth a ride from the Lower to Upper Town. It is quite interesting – especially if you have never seen one before!
What to eat in Zagreb
The Dolac market is a fun place to indulge in fresh fruits and veggies, but you can also find local cheese and sour cream which is quite a delicacy!
Konoba is the name for a type of traditional inn in Croatia. You cannot go wrong by choosing to eat in one of those if Croatian food is what you are looking for. But, to be honest, you should be eating Croation food if you’re in Croatia!
There is also a good selection of pizza places in Zagreb as well since Croatians have developed a great appreciation for pizza. This is mainly thanks to Croatia’s close proximity to Italy.
Getting A Hotel In Zagreb
Hotels in Zagreb are significantly more expensive than you will find outside the capital. Expect to pay $30+ for a room in an apartment, or $50+ for a hotel. Check out the search box below for a full list of available rooms and hotels.
Best Zagreb tours
Old Town Walking Tour
There are many guides available to assist you on a walking tour. However, I believe a self-guided walking tour is a simple and rewarding way to experience the city.
Start in Ban Jelačić square and take a walk around the Lower Town, where all the museums are. Walk uphill to Kaptol and you will find the Dolac Market. Take a stroll under the red umbrellas, soaking in the colors of the fruits and veggies. Passing by the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary start a stroll along the colorful street Tkalciceva, full of quirky cafes and bars. At the end of it is St. Mark’s Place, where you will find the church with a vibrantly colored rooftop and the parliament building. After that, you can take the shortest funicular in the world to descend back to Lower Town.
Relaxation By The Lake
If you feel like relaxing on the beach, but you do not have the time to go to the Adriatic Sea, take the tram or cycle to Jarun Lake by Sava River. This artificial lake will get you in a summer mood with its beaches, water activities, and jogging paths.
Medvednica is a nature park that caters to snow and ski lovers in the winter and hikers and cyclists in the summer. If you don’t quite feel like ascending on foot or by bike, you can choose to take the cable car to the top.
Medvednica provides amazing views of the city from above and also gives great photo opportunities. On the southern slope, you can visit the medieval fortress, built to protect the city after it had been devastated by the Tatars. Another sight to see is the Homeland Monument, a monument dedicated to Croatian heroes.
What to bring to Zagreb
Zagreb has oceanic to continental weather, so expect cold and rainy or snowy winters and hot and dry summers, so pack clothes accordingly.
In the winter warm clothes are a necessity! Be sure to pack a warm jacket or two to protect against the chilly wind in Zagreb.
In the summer be sure to bring a swimsuit as you don’t want to miss out on the chance to swim at the beach or lake. A beach towel is also recommended unless you plan to purchase one locally.
Also, if you visit the beach it’s best to bring a pair of rubber water shoes with you. The beaches in Croatia tend to be a bit rocky so packing rubber shoes are a good way to prevent injury.
An electric converter is also a necessity! Assuming your devices are not continental Europe friendly. Hotels may have adapters available at a small charge. However, if you are a frequent traveler like me it might be wise to invest in a universal travel adapter – it pays for itself in the long run.
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