As the capital of Croatia, Zagreb is the largest city in the region and quickly becoming a hotspot for travellers seeking a combination of old-world charm and modern attractions.
Getting around the city is a lot easier compared to choosing where to stay in Zagreb.
It’s a pedestrian-friendly region with a little bit of everything. Upper Town is full of 18th-century Austro-Hungarian architecture and historic sites, while Lower Town contains the main square where you’ll always find crowds of people.
The streets are lined with busy outdoor cafes, a variety of shops, and friendly locals that are always ready to help give you directions. For those who enjoy hitting the bars and clubs, you’ll also love the vibrant Zagreb nightlife scene.
First, you need to decide where to lay your head at night.
Need help finding accommodations? Get started on your search with this guide to the best areas to stay in Zagreb.
Where to stay in Zagreb, Croatia: A complete guide to the best neighbourhoods & areas for travellers
The history of Zagreb goes back over 1000 years, yet much of the city was built up over the past 100 years. There is a mixture of old and new in each of the surrounding neighbourhoods.
The family-friendly Upper Town and neighbouring Kaptol offer relaxed atmospheres and great opportunities to learn more about the rich history of Zagreb. The oldest part of town is still home to Croatia’s most important cultural landmarks.
Lower Town, or Donji Grad, has become the centre of modern Zagreb. If you’re in search of the city’s nightlife, shopping, and restaurants, you’ll want to stay around this neighbourhood. You’ll still be able to easily trek from your hotel to any of the top Zagreb attractions.
A little further from the centre, Maksimir offers a more modern landscape. You’ll get to visit the largest shopping mall in the region and spend the night in the best hotels in Zagreb.
Some of the best places to stay in Zagreb for travellers include:
- Gornji Grad
- Donji Grad
✔ Best area to stay for history buffs and families
Centred around many of the cultural institutions in the city, Gornji Grad is the older part of town. Also called Upper Town, this is the best spot for discovering the historic sites and the perfect family destination.
Upper Town is the first area that people recommend for sightseeing. Walking the streets of this charming neighbourhood sends you back in time to medieval Zagreb. Every block contains old buildings featuring ancient architecture.
If you’re into odd attractions, Gornji Grad has you covered. Explore the Museum of Broken Relationships and the Museum of Torture between visits to historic sites.
The touristy area also caters to travellers, including families. Indulge yourself with treats, snacks, and filling local cuisine at the many restaurants and cafes.
When you finish exploring the area, you’re still just a few blocks from the neighbouring districts. Ride the funicular down to Lower Town and stretch your legs walking the hilly streets of Kaptol.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Gornji Grad
The small Gornji Grad area doesn’t offer a lot of options for accommodations. Most of the hotels skirt the outer edges of the neighbourhood, placing you close to the central public square and other attractions.
Here are the best hotels & places to stay in the Gornji Grad area:
- Hotel Jagerhorn: The centrally located hotel is the closest you can get to the centre of old town and the famous Ban Jelacic Square. The top-rated location is also one of the quickest to fill up during busy tourist seasons, so book early.
- Hotel Dubrovnik: This high-end modern hotel is on the main square and features newly renovated rooms and facilities. Stay in luxurious accommodations, and sleep across the street from historic architecture.
- Hotel Park 45: Located on one of the main streets that cut through the centre of old town, this mid-range hotel is within walking distance of Cvjetni Square. It’s also a short trip from the Archaeological Museum Zagreb, for those interested in the history of the region.
- Hotel Capital: The art nouveau architecture adds a touch of class to this reasonably priced hotel. While this hotel is a little to the east of the centre, it’s still just a four-minute walk to Ban Jelacic Square.
✔ Best area to stay to explore the rest of the city
Zagreb is the biggest city in Croatia, yet it’s very easy to get around on foot, especially when you stay in the heart of the city.
If you want to explore everything that Zagreb has to offer, Donji Grad places you right in the centre. You’ll have no problem reaching landmarks and hotspots in any part of the city. Of course, you’ll still find plenty to keep you busy on the streets of Lower Town.
The narrow squares are popular meeting points for locals and starting points for tourists who want to get their bearings straight. You’ll also find gorgeous parks and public spaces where you can take a load off and relax or waste a few hours watching people go by.
When people talk about Zagreb, they often mention the coffee-drinking culture. After spending a few hours exploring the streets of Donji Grad, you’ll see why. The area contains more cafes compared to the other neighbourhoods, and they all strive to produce the best coffee in town.
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Donji Grad
Donji Grad, or Lower Town, is at the bottom of the hills where the original city was built. It features a mixture of older and modern buildings, including the largest selection of hotels in Zagreb.
Here are the best hotels & places to stay in Donji Grad:
- Esplanade Zagreb Hotel: Located near the Botanical Gardens and Ledeni Park, this top-rated hotel offers modern amenities to help you feel more at home. You’ll also get a taste of the local culture at the hotel restaurant. The house specialties include a selection of traditional Croatian cuisine.
- Premier Hotel Astoria: Part of the Best Western chain, this comfortable mid-range hotel is in the heart of Lower Town. Before exploring the city, enjoy a fresh cup of coffee from the hotel café and a nightcap at the end of the day.
- Palace Hotel Zagreb: The traditional façade of this classic-looking building hides a luxurious interior with modern furnishings. You get a great view of one of the largest parks in the city and can stretch your legs during a short five-minute walk to Ban Jelacic Square.
- Sheraton Zagreb Hotel: These reasonably priced rooms are a little further from the middle of the city. You’ll need to spend more time walking to visit the landmarks, but you can save yourself a few dollars on your accommodations.
- Hotel Le Premier: If you want to split your time between sightseeing and shopping, this hotel is the perfect base camp. The trendy area around the hotel is home to several commercial districts, shopping malls, cinemas, and art galleries. When you’re ready to hit the attractions, you can just follow the main road to the city centre.
✔ Best area to stay to experience the culture of Zagreb
Kaptol is right next to Upper Town, north of Lower Town, and home to a couple of the most significant landmarks. If you want to immerse yourself in the culture of Zagreb, you’ll find this neighbourhood is the perfect option.
Depending on the hotel you choose, you could be footsteps away from Zagreb Cathedral and Dolec open-air market. The top two tourist attractions in the city are always crowded, but it is worth standing shoulder to shoulder with other travellers.
Dolec Open Air Market is a great example of local flavours. At the market, you can treat your senses with an assortment of fresh produce, meats, and cheeses.
If the market doesn’t satisfy your stomach, walk over to Opatovina. The busy street is lined with restaurants offering an assortment of original dishes.
Like Upper Town, Kaptol also contains numerous historic buildings, offering a slice of history to add to your cultural experience.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Kaptol
The Kaptol area doesn’t offer too many hotel options, as most of the accommodations are apartments. The following options are mostly located around the southern boundaries of the neighbourhood, near Upper Town and the eastern edges of the city centre.
Here are the best hotels & places to stay in Kaptol:
- Hotel Academia: This is the one hotel in the immediate Kaptol area, ensuring that you don’t need to walk too far to the various landmarks. It’s also one of the best-rated hotels in the city, thanks to the great food and friendly staff.
- Hotel Jadran: If you want clean sheets and good prices, the staff at this hotel can help. You also get quick access to Ban Jelacic Square and other sites, along with a filling breakfast buffet to help you start your day right.
- Art Hotel Like: Across from the previous hotel, you’ll find this charming spot. The hotel tries to look like a modern chic establishment. The result is a little eccentric, but it offers a great view of the city from the hotel room balconies. While most of the attractions are within walking distance, the hotel shuttle can take you to the nearest train station.
- Hotel AS: Located about a mile from the centre, this boutique-style hotel is the furthest from the main Zagreb destinations. The four-star hotel is also one of the most affordable options. As it’s further away from the top tourist traps, you may enjoy a little more peace and quiet.
✔ Best area to stay for shopping & fine dining
Maksimir is often overlooked by travellers who want to stay closer to the important Zagreb attractions, such as the cathedral or the city’s historic buildings. While it’s further away from these sites, it provides a more modern feel.
Much of this neighbourhood was built in recent years, including the large shopping mall, department stores, and luxury restaurants located throughout the district. Spending your trip browsing through stores and filling your belly on fine dining is just the start.
The largest park in the area and the city’s football stadium are also in the neighbourhood. If you’re visiting during the right season, you may catch a game of European football. Cheer on with the locals as the highly-ranked national team, known as Vatreni (“The Blazers”) or Kockasti (“The Chequered Ones”), defends its home turf.
Maksimir is further away from the centre, but not too far. Many of the hotels are on major thoroughfares, making it easy to hop on a train and visit any other part of the city.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Maksimir
The best-rated hotels in Maksimir are near the border of the neighbourhood and Lower Town, making it easier to reach the centre of the city. There are also a couple of options closer to the shopping malls and sports complex, but they don’t quite have the same stellar ratings.
Here are the best hotels & places to stay in Maksimir:
- Garden Hotel: With a coffee bar, a-la-carte restaurant, and modern rooms, this upscale hotel will make you forget that you’re surrounded by ancient architecture. The Wellness and Spa centres also help you forget about the outside world.
- The Westin Zagreb: A modern mid-range hotel, this location mostly caters to business travellers and families looking for the best deals. While it’s not anything special, it does offer a convenient location. You can cross the street in the historic Lower Town or head west to reach the shopping malls.
- Panorama Zagreb Hotel: You may not get a better value. The low-priced rooms include comfortable beds and clean sheets. For the shopaholics, the hotel is also in the heart of the commercial areas of Maksimir. For those seeking the typical tourist destinations, the hotel is about a 20-minute walk from the centre of Zagreb.
- Hotel Laguna Zagreb: Located near the Sports Complex, you may struggle to walk from the hotel to the middle of Zagreb. Luckily, there are shuttles and buses that can get you there in minutes. The hotel itself also offers a taste of Zagreb, thanks to the in-house restaurant serving a wide selection of traditional Croatian dishes.
Summary: The best places to stay in Zagreb
Still not sure of where to stay? Here’s a quick last-minute list of some of the top hotels in Zagreb…
- Looking for a central hotel on a budget? Book yourself a room at the budget-friendly Hotel Jadran in Donji Grad for quick access to all of the top attractions in the city centre.
- Got a little more to spend on a mid-range hotel? The comfortable Best Western Premier Hotel Astoria is among the top places to stay in its price-range, offering spacious rooms about a 5-minute walk from the centre of town.
- Craving the ultimate in Zagreb luxury? You won’t regret grabbing a room at the 5-star Esplanade Zagreb Hotel, featuring palatial rooms and a host of modern amenities like a fitness centre and spa to make your stay in the Croatian capital nothing short of perfect.