Top 10 things to do in Zagreb
Enjoy a Zagreb guided city tour and feel the city. Zagreb has many surprises: great historical and cultural sites, numerous museums, many events, a wide range of restaurants, great shopping possibilities, diverse excursion offers and above all, friendly people. You can reach most of the attractions on foot as they are located in the pedestrian zone. And the most important thing Zagreb is less than a two hours flight away from all major European airports.
The Zagreb Cathedral of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the most monumental sacral building in Gothic styles in the Southeast Europe. Can’t be missed – practically it can be seen from all over the city. Last reconstruction in the Neo-Gothic style was led by Hermann Bolle. Well worth visiting is the inside of the cathedral with works of famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović and inscriptions in a Slavic script Glagoljica.
Museum of Broken Relationship located in the historic Upper Town is the must stop place in Zagreb together with the brand new Museum of illusions in Ilica Street. Both museums are very innovative and bring the new dimension in Zagreb. Also both museums are small, but very interesting as the names suggest and you may see souvenirs that remain after a relationship ends or experience the impossible!
Not to big – you can see Croatian Museum of Naïve Art in under an hour – but unique and appealing collection of Croatian Naïve Art painters like Ivan Generalić, Ivan Lacković Croata and Ivan Rabuzin. The museum is set up on the first floor of the 18th-century palace in Upper Town. Also there is shop where you can buy prints.
Take bus Nr. 106 and 10 minute ride from the Zagreb Cathedral and visit Zagreb’s cemetery Mirogoj. This peaceful place, one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe, is idyll spot for a nice walk. It was designed in the 19th century by architect Hermann Bolle, who led the reconstruction of the Cathedral also.
Zagreb has a lots of green parks and forests. The most popular park for Zagreb citizens is glorious Zrinjevac. It is the part of the Lenuci’s horseshoe (Lenuci was an architect on the project), a complex of seven squares and parks in the city centre. If you are in Zagreb during a Christmas time don’t miss a great entertainment program on Zrinjevac. It is also worth seeing the wonderful Botanical Garden.
Enjoy inspirational Croatian cuisine and visit some Zagreb restaurants where you can taste traditional continental and Mediterranean cuisine. Lamb or veal, potatoes cooked under peka (a domed baking lid), Štrukli (a pastry made of dough and cottage cheese, can be made baked or boiled), mushroom soup in bread… those are only our suggestions.
Go hiking in Nature Park Medvednica and enjoy the nature and fresh air! Medvednica Mountain and its slopes are integral part of the town. Many locals are there on weekends and trails get busy. In several mountain houses you can have simple but delicious traditional meal like beans, strudel, and cottage cheese (eaten with cream) from Zagorje or barbecue.
Buy a necktie because Croats invented the modern necktie, although not actually patented it, but they spread it across Europe in the 17th century during the Thirty Year’s War. Soldiers worn the scarves around their necks and due to the slight difference between the Croatian word for Croats, Hrvati, and the French word, Croates, the garment gained the name “cravat” (“cravate” in French).
Have a coffee on the Flower Square. This place is very popular and here many locals enjoy coffee and pastries in their free time (although you will see a lot of locals in the working time). It is the place where you can buy flowers on flower stands. Or simply enjoy the Zagreb atmosphere.
Top 5 experiences in Zagreb
Zagreb citizens adore their markets. Did you know that there are 28 farmers markets in Zagreb spread through the city? The first Zagreb’s market was opened in 1850 and it was located in front of the Cathedral and then moved on the Ban Jelačić Square in the late 19th century. Here you can buy fresh local products, seasonal fruits, fresh fish, fresh cottage cheese and cream and vegetables. Dolac market is spread on two levels. The upper level features open-air green market and stands equipped with local souvenirs. On the upper level is the entrance to the fish market where there are small bars and restaurants where you can try fresh fish (local call their small dish gablec). The ground level has much butcheries, bakeries and a dairy section. Other popular market is Britanski trg (called Britanac) or British Square – Sunday mornings are here quite busy because of the antique fair where you can find old books, chinaware, antiques… Locals like very much farmers’ markets on Trešnjevački Square, Kvaternikov Square and Utrina in a residential neighbourhood located in Novi Zagreb.
DON’T MISS THE FUNICULAR RIDE
The Zagreb Funicular connects Ilica, the longest street in Zagreb, with Upper Town. Its 66-meter track make it one of the shortest funiculars in the world! The funicular was built in 1890 and operated only 3 years after which steam engines were substituted with electric engines. The funicular needs only 55 seconds to cross the distance (one goes up, another down at the same time), but saves some energies for the walking you will need once in the upper part of Zagreb. Don’t expect Disneyland ride… just enjoy! In front of Lotrščak tower there is a great viewpoint to overlook lower town and to make nice panoramic photos. Only few minutes from the Upper Station you can see several museums, St. Marks Church, Government buildings and Kamenita vrata.
CROATIAN NATIONAL THEATRE
The national home of ballet, opera and drama is located in Marshal Tito Square. The theatre was opened in 1895 by the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph I. Could you imagine that this theatre was built after only a year of construction works and only 200 workers began the constructions? On weekends it is possible to have a theatre tour led by actors and you can visit underground tunnel which connects the main building with buildings where rehearsals are done. Foreign dancers, choreographers and pedagogues were constant guests of the Croatian National Theatre and artists have performed and won recognition on all large world stages like Ruža Pospiš Baldani, Ljiljana Mornar Talajić, Ana Roje and many others. The tickets for the theatre are very reasonable and if you have time, especially in winter time enjoy the famous ballet The Nutcracker or some classics like operas La Boheme or La Traviata. Tickets can be bought through the web shop.
LICITAR HEART and ŠESTINE UMBRELLA
What is a Licitar? Licitar is a colourful and decorated heart-shaped biscuit made of honey dough, painted in red and decorated with colourful icing, little mirror and often a little message. Its recipe is a secret. The licitar tradition started in the 16th century and at that time those cookies were made monasteries, lately gingerbread craft spread through the continental part of Croatia. Today is very popular decorating Christmas trees with Licitar, which also can be in shape of pony, bird, mushroom, horseshoe… But the true story is that heart-shaped licitars were traditional gifts from boys to girls, symbolising an expression of their affection. Since 2010. licitars are added onto the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Culture Heritage. Currently this list contains nine Croatian entries.
And Šestine umbrella? The tradition dates back to the mid of 18th century and started in part of town called Šestine. It is the most recognizable souvenir of Zagreb. The unique umbrella is characterized by the red canopy with multicolour stripes on the edges. You can buy the premium handmade umbrella in specialized craft shops in Zagreb.
Tkalčićeva is the most popular street in Zagreb which has cafes stretching for a long way along its length. It is pronounced “Tkalchycheva” and locals have tradition of drinking coffee and watching other people. There is a great variety of brewpubs (called Pivnica), cafes and restaurants and a lots of activity. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it is almost full of people, especially during the weekend. It is a perfect spot to hang out with friends or to meet someone new. Recommended!