Zagreb is one of those cities that offers up both a little of the past and the present. The cultural and political centre of Croatia is a bustling place with quirky museums, cobblestone streets, and historic churches.
It’s also a vibrant city full of entertainment, dining, and shopping. There are plenty of things to do in Zagreb.
Basically, it’s a traveller’s paradise. Whether you want to spend the day ambling down side streets, relaxing at a café, or gazing at beautiful historic architecture, there’s something for everyone.
Need help deciding where to go? Get started with our guide to the best Zagreb attractions…
Table of Contents
- What to do in Zagreb: Top attractions & best places to visit
- Feel dwarfed at the massive Zagreb Cathedral
- Laugh and cry at the Museum of Broken Relationships
- Hear the cannon fire at Lotrscak Tower
- Visit the centre of the city at Bana Jelacica
- Shop the sprawling Dolac Market
- Watch the changing of the guard at St. Mark’s Church
- Walk through an air-raid shelter at Gric Tunnel
- Where to stay: The best hotels for sightseeing in Zagreb
What to do in Zagreb: Top attractions & best places to visit
Feel dwarfed at the massive Zagreb Cathedral
If you don’t know what to do in Zagreb, start with a trip to the famous Zagreb Cathedral. The cathedral was originally built in the early 1200s. Since then, it has been destroyed, rebuilt, and renovated numerous times over the centuries.
Despite the many updates, it’s still one of the most impressive sights that you’ll likely see in your lifetime. The large open square outside of the cathedral provides a clear view of the large, golden-yellow façade featuring detailed scrollwork around the entrance.
Stepping inside the cathedral, you’ll find many other treasures, including priceless statues and paintings. Whether you have one day in Zagreb or a week, it’s a must-see destination and an important part of the city’s history.
Laugh and cry at the Museum of Broken Relationships
Besides striking medieval architecture, Zagreb is known for its quirky museums, such as the Museum of Broken Relationships. As you may guess from the name, the museum includes artifacts related to failed relationships.
The items include everything from an axe in the wall to notes and paintings. The various objects are accompanied by stories, letting you know more about the relationship and the meaning behind the object.
One of the more interesting things to see in Zagreb, the Museum of Broken Relationships isn’t the only museum in the city.
Next door is the Museum of Naïve Art, which features artwork from untrained painters. Most of the artists are farmers from the region. A few minutes away from these two museums is the Museum of Torture. You can see a real guillotine and other cruel devices.
The city has more than just odd museums. There are also several historical museums and a modern art museum.
Hear the cannon fire at Lotrscak Tower
If you don’t know where to go in Zagreb, climb Lotrscak Tower and check out the city from above. The tower is at the top of the slope that marks the beginning of Upper Town.
From the tower, you can get a wide, sweeping view of the city. Before you get that view, you need to climb steep steps to reach the top.
The tower is mostly known for its great views and the traditional cannon-firing. Every day at noon, the cannon fires to signify the city’s victory over the Turks. At least, that is one theory. The cannon also marks midday, letting bell-ringers in the city’s churches know when to ring their bells.
Visit the centre of the city at Bana Jelacica
Zagreb sightseeing tours always start at Bana Jelacica, as it’s in the centre of the city. In fact, most of the main roads lead away from the square, which makes it easy to find your way if you get lost.
The square is one of the main gathering spots in the city. People tend to congregate here, providing plenty of chances for people-watching.
This area was first used as a public square over 400 years ago. The oldest building that is still standing was built in the 18th century. It’s now the most popular destination in Zagreb, due to its central location.
The square became a car-free zone in 1975, making it a pedestrian-friendly meeting space. It also underwent numerous renovations in the late 1980s, when it hosted the 1987 Summer Universiade. It’s now jam-packed by midday with tourists, locals, vendors, and street performers.
Shop the sprawling Dolac Market
The best places to visit in Zagreb are the places where you can buy food. This includes the Dolac Market, which is a sprawling market near the city’s centre.
The market has been the main trading spot in the city since 1926. Each day, farmers from the surrounding villages arrive to sell their fresh foods.
You can easily reach the market from Bana Jelacica. It’s less than a hundred meters away and built on a raised platform.
The market is one of the main Zagreb points of interest, as it also provides access to several other markets. Underneath Dolac Market, you’ll find a large meat & dairy market. Around the corner is the city’s fish market.
You are also surrounded by shops, restaurants, and cafes. Basically, you are presented with endless opportunities to drain your travel funds and fill your stomach.
Watch the changing of the guard at St. Mark’s Church
St. Mark’s Church is at the top of the list of Zagreb attractions. While the building is not as elegant as Zagreb Cathedral, it’s an important historical site.
The outside of the church features the medieval coat of arms of the country, along with the coat of arms of Slovenia and Dalmatia.
The church is only open to the public during mass. If you are lucky enough to arrive at noon, you may get to watch the changing of the guard. This occurs every Saturday and Sunday between April and October.
Walk through an air-raid shelter at Gric Tunnel
Gric Tunnel has an interesting history. It’s a former air-raid shelter built in 1943. It was built during World War II and then mostly abandoned until it was used to host a massive rave in 1993.
A few years ago, the tunnel was reopened to the public after thorough renovations. You can reach it from two different spots and use it to beat the heat when travelling around the city.
The tunnel stretches over 350 meters under the city, between Stjepan Radic Street and Mesnicka Street. There are six different exits, public toilets, and a lot of interesting graffiti.
Where to stay: The best hotels for sightseeing in Zagreb
For travellers, picking out where to stay in Zagreb isn’t such a huge ordeal. Many of the city’s top attractions lie in & around the city centre where you’ll find the bulk of the accommodations. If you want to stay close to all of the action, Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and Donji Grad (Lower Town) are the two best areas.
Start your accommodations search with a couple of these top hotels in Zagreb…
- Hotel Jadran: For travellers on a budget, there’s hardly a better central choice than this comfortable hotel. The Donji Grad location puts you close to many of the top places to go in Zagreb.
- Best Western Premier Hotel Astoria: Mid-range travellers will love this central hotel featuring clean & comfortable rooms just a short walk from the nucleus of the city centre.
- Esplanade Zagreb Hotel: Among the top luxury picks in the city, this 5-star hotel grasps the attention immediately with its historical façade and elegant rooms. Extra amenities like a spa, fitness centre, and two top-notch on-site restaurants add to the value.