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24 Hours in Zagreb: The Ultimate One Day Itinerary in Croatia’s Capital

July 5, 2017
What to do in Zagreb in one day

Heading to the Croatian capital without a lot of time to spare? Here’s a complete guide to what to see in Zagreb in one day to help you make the most out of your trip.

Deciding what to see in Zagreb in one day can be a difficult task. While Croatia’s capital is relatively small, there’s so much to see and do that at first glance, it’s impossible to see it all in one day. That’s where you’re wrong. Travelling on a tight timescale doesn’t mean you can’t see the best of the city on a day trip. We’ve put together the ultimate one day Zagreb itinerary taking in the city’s highlights. Get your walking shoes on and get ready to discover this charming city.

Ban Jelačić Square

Ban Jelačić Square - one of the highlights of what to see in one day in Zagreb.

Ban Jelačić is Zagreb’s main square. Lined with imposing buildings of almost every conceivable architectural style, it’s the beating heart of the city. The square has been the city’s hub since the 17th century and while many things have changed over the years, it’s the perfect place to start your one-day tour of Zagreb.

The imposing statue of Ban (Governor) Jelačić, the square’s namesake stands tall at the centre of the square. On the other side of the square, the Mandušsevac Fountain, which provided drinking water to the city’s inhabitants until the end of the 19th century is well worth a look. It’s also rumoured that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you’ll be in for a run of good luck. Pretty much all of the streets in Zagreb lead to Ban Jelačić, so if you do manage to get lost, you can retrace your steps to the square to get your bearings.

Zagreb Cathedral

Zagreb Cathedral is one of the top spots in Zagreb and one of our picks of awesome things to do in Zagreb.

Climb the (gentle) gradient of Bakač on the right-hand side of Ban Jelačić up to the ornate towers of Zagreb Cathedral. The cathedral, whose full name is the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary has existed in one form or another since the end of the 13th century. It was modified and expanded over the years until a devastating earthquake in 1880 severely damaged the cathedral.

The cathedral was rebuilt in its present Neo-Gothic glory by Viennese architect Hermann Bollé after the earthquake. The towers were built using a soft form of limestone so have had to be heavily restored in recent years, One’s currently covered in scaffolding, but they’re no less imposing nonetheless. The patterns, carvings and statues of the cathedral’s impressive exterior give way to a number of treasures contained inside.

You can often catch traditional folk dancers performing on the square outside of the cathedral. See if you can spot them in our Discoveries Of goes to Zagreb vid.

 

Dolac Market

Dolac Market is one of the top things to do in Zagreb. Read our full guide.

Make your way round the corner to the bustling Dolac Market. This heaving square is the go-to shopping spot for many a local and is the perfect place to pick up fresh fruit, veg, cheese and maybe even an artisan honey or two. The fruit and vegetable market is located in the main square, with the fish market off to the side and the meat and dairy market in a spacious area underneath the square. Once you’ve had a walk around the market (and made a few irresistible purchases), make your way to one of the many cafes lining the market. Our favourite, Bistro Amphora, serves up a mean coffee. It also has a great vantage point over the market, making it the perfect people-watching spot.

Strossmayer Promenade & Funicular

The funicular in Zagreb is so cool. Read our guide to the best things to do in Croatia's capital city.

Strossmayer Promenade was the place to see and be seen when it was built in the 19th century. Even today, no trip to Zagreb (not even a day trip) would be complete without taking a turn down the tree-lined walk. After you’ve had your runway moment, jump onto the quaint funicular to take you up to the Lotrsčak Tower. The funicular is the shortest one in the world, taking less than a minute to complete the whole journey. Still, it saves you a 30-metre climb and offers great views during the brief trip.

Lotrsčak Tower

Not only does Lotrsčak Tower have amazing views over Zagreb but it's where the daily cannon is fired over the city from. Read our full Zagreb travel guide

Lotrsčak Tower was built in the 13th century as a defence tower to guard the city. While the views from the top are highly recommended, one of the tower’s main draws is the daily firing of the cannon at the top of the building. Every day since 1st January 1877 the tower’s custodian has fired the cannon over the city at noon.

There are several stories about how this curious tradition first started – our favourite is that it was a gift to the city given on the basis that it was fired every day to make sure that it never rusted and Zagreb, ever true to its word, has kept the promise ever since. If you do manage to time your visit for the firing of the cannon, a word of warning. It’s incredibly loud so make sure that you cover your ears.

Museum of Broken Relationships

The Museum of Broken Relationships is a must see if you are visiting Zagreb. Read our full travel guide.

The Museum of Broken Relationships is one of Zagreb’s most popular museums and it’s definitely its weirdest (in a good way). As the name suggests, the Museum is dedicated to the pieces left behind after the breakup of a human relationship. People around the world have donated items from their broken relationships. Whether they’re from long-lost exes, estranged parents or broken friendships, each item has its own story to tell.

Exhibits span from (unsurprising) love letters to less expected items – axes, suicide notes and BDSM gear to name a few. Reading the accompanying explanations is sometimes amusing, sometimes out-and-out hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking, but never boring.

The Croatian Museum of Naïve Art

A peek at the Croatian Museum of Naive Art from across the road. Read the full Zagreb guide.

A sneak peek at the Croatian Museum of Naive Art.

The Croatian Museum of Naïve Art is another tiny museum (a short hop from the Museum of Broken Relationships) that packs a big punch. The museum showcases the work of the so-called “Naïve artists” – a group of untrained artists whose work form one of the most revolutionary art traditions of the 20th century. The artists were often retired farmers, whose distinctive works portray their everyday surroundings in surreal forms. The ever-changing display features works by (mainly) Croatian Naïve masters, including Rabuzin and Generalić.

St Mark’s Church

St Mark's Church should be at the top of your list of what to see in one day in Zagreb. Here's why.

The brightly-coloured tiled roof of St Mark’s Church stands as a beacon in the middle of St Mark’s Square. Zagreb’s old market square was transformed into one of the city’s political and religious hubs. At the centre of it all is the 13th-century church with an eye-catching patterned roof. The roof features the dual coats of arms of Zagreb, and the old kingdom of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia and was added to the building at the end of the 19th century. Inside, the church contains a number of works by Croatia’s much-beloved sculptor Ivan Meštrović and painter Jozo Klajaković.

The Stone Gate

The Stone Gate is the last man standing of four gates that used to guard the entrance to the old medieval centre of Zagreb. It’s also the setting for another of Zagreb’s long-standing traditions. Locals frequently light candles and pray for lost loved ones at the gate’s small chapel. The tradition is said to have started after a large fire swept through the gate and burnt almost the whole structure, leaving only a painting of the Madonna and Baby Jesus.

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Zagreb is one of Croatia's hottest travel destinations. Check out our guide to 13 awesome things to do in the city - covering food, nightlife, architecture, art and more. Includes a free map. Read more.

Walk through the Grič Tunnels

Grič Tunnels in Zagreb were only reopened last year but should be at the top of your list when visiting. Read more.

The Grič Tunnels have a curious past. Built throughout the 20th century under the old Grič settlement that now forms a large part of Zagreb’s Upper Town, they were closed for decades. The tunnels were then reopened and used as a shelter during the Homeland War in the 1990s during which time they also played host to one of the biggest underground raves in Europe. Thousands of people crammed into the tunnels, with more trying to catch a slice of the action outside. They were reopened to the public last year after a bit of a revamp and makeover. These days, a walk through the Grič Tunnels is a much more laid-back affair. Take the passage from Radičeva and pop out at the Art Park (this should be down the second tunnel branching off to the left). Take a few moments to admire the cool street art that gives the park its name before continuing on down the hill to Ilica.

Church of the Holy Transfiguration

 

The Church of the Holy Transfiguration is set a short distance from the other attractions on the walk but we think it should definitely be on a the list of things to see in Zagreb if you only have one day. The Serbian Orthodox church (one of the few in the city) boats an opulent interior packed with beautiful paintings, frescoes and altarpieces that are unlike any others in the city.

The Bloody Bridge

Overlooking the Bloody Bridge in Zagreb

Heading back to the Upper Town, make your way to the Bloody Bridge. While it’s neither bloody, or even a bridge anymore, the spot is famous for the numerous skirmishes that took place when it was the meeting point for the two medieval settlements of Grič and Kaptol. The Bloody Bridge was also the setting for Zagreb’s first telephone exchange in 1887, a mere 11 years after the telephone was patented in the USA.

Tkalčićeva

Tkalčićeva, Zagreb should be at the top of your list of things to do in Croatia's capital. Here's why.

The last stop on the one day tour of Zagreb is Tkalčićeva, a pleasant street lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. The street meanders along the path of an old creek, which was paved over in the 19th century before becoming the epicentre of the city’s red light district. Tkalčićeva has transformed itself into one of Zagreb’s nightlife hubs. Sit on one of the outdoor terraces, rest your weary feet and reflect on the day.

Much as it can be fun exploring a city on your own, sometimes hiring a guide can really bring it to life. If you’re looking for a guide to tour Zagreb with, Martin at Hello Zagreb is wonderful and a total font of knowledge when it comes to the city.

Map of What to See in One Day in Zagreb

 

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Zagreb is Croatia's city of cool. Check out our guide to the best things to do in Zagreb covering food, architecture, art, nightlife and more. Comes with a map too. Read more.

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19 Comments

  • Reply dmehtaTheELT July 6, 2017 at 2:09 am

    Thanks for sharing this amamzing Zagreb one day itinerary with us!

  • Reply The Curious Creature July 6, 2017 at 3:37 am

    This sounds like a perfect 24 hrs! Great photos!!

  • Reply cassie July 6, 2017 at 3:56 am

    Packed full of info and lots of great ideas! Thanks!

  • Reply sonikatravels July 6, 2017 at 4:53 am

    Wow. Your photography is epic. Didn’t know Croatia is so beautiful. Keep it up…

  • Reply Jamie Joyner July 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    The architecture would be wonderful to photograph. I love the map you include. The Museum of Broken Relationships sounds intriguing!

  • Reply Colby July 7, 2017 at 1:35 am

    I LOVED Zagreb! I was there during Christmas while it was absolutely freezing. I’d love to visit during the warmer months. You were spot on with the things to see here! Some of these I didn’t get a chance to do, but would love to, like walk through the Gric Tunnel.

    • Reply Julianna Barnaby July 13, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks Colby! I would really love to go back in the winter – we can do a swap!

  • Reply Eat Well Explore Often July 7, 2017 at 2:15 am

    OOOH, love this quick itinerary! Its jam packed! Would love to check out Zagreb one day!

    • Reply Julianna Barnaby July 12, 2017 at 7:52 am

      It’s so much fun – theres a lot more to see but I thought that I’d keep it so there’s a little bit of wiggle room at least! It’s a great place to go!

  • Reply The Family Voyage July 7, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Great round up! We actually went to Zagreb just last month. It’s such a charming city and great for strolling. Since we were there for a short time and had been so active throughout the rest of the country, we took it easy and just soaked up the city’s ambiance without diving into tourism much. Exception: with two small kids in tow, the funicular was a must!

    • Reply Julianna Barnaby July 12, 2017 at 7:53 am

      That’s exactly the right word for it – charming. I was really pleasantly surprised by how wonderful it was. The funicular is so fun (though short)!

  • Reply Alyssa J July 7, 2017 at 6:46 am

    I miss Zagreb! There was a place nearby the cathedral that serves amazing pasta (although I can’t recall what’s the name of the restaurant). We too went to the museum of broken relationship, and found it to be good! Thought it will be those tacky museums but it’s really not. Croatia’s an awesome country 🙂

    • Reply Julianna Barnaby July 12, 2017 at 7:54 am

      Ooh, I didn’t find the pasta place – will have to hunt it out on my next trip. Thought the Museum of Broken Relationships was so good.

  • Reply Kavey at Kavey Eats July 9, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Looks like such a great city to visit. Thanks for the guide!

    • Reply Julianna Barnaby July 12, 2017 at 7:55 am

      thanks – it is such a cool city. Definitely recommend!

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