Best Things to See and Do in Zagreb, Croatia
The city of Zagreb Croatia is nestled between Mount Medvednica and the Sava River. It is a quite an extensive city, but almost every attraction of note is within a mile and a half of Trg Bana Jelacica, the city’s main square commonly known as Trg Jelacica.
The area north of the Jelacic Square includes Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and its Gradec and Kaptol neighborhoods, which are perhaps Zagreb’s most picturesque areas and a truly romantic part of Zagreb.
Zagreb is flat and a great place to walk around or if you prefer cycling. Zagreb, compared with other European capitals is pretty small but also one of the cities with large number of parks and forests within the city limits. Everything starts from here!
This large paved piazza has been Zagreb’s main square, just in the middle between Upper and Lower town. Pedestrian-only (with the exception of trams) it’s a vivacious public meeting place delimited by several elegant pastel-colored Secessionist facades and open-air cafes.
In the middle stands, a bronze equestrian statue of its namesake, Ban Jelacic (Croatian viceroy under Austrian-Hungarian period ).
Zagreb Attractions in Upper Town
I will take you by the hand to show you how to start sightseeing from Jelacic Square to the top sights of Upper town . This tour takes place entirely walking as Zagreb is made for walking. Nearly everything you’ll do is a 30-minute trek from this square.
My proposals of Zagreb upper town sightseeing routes can be applied according to your needs. If you are in Zagreb for the first time, than before you start exploring Zagreb attractions, you should visit the following information center:
The Zagreb Croatia tourist Information Center at Trg Bana Jelacica 11 is open 8:30 AM to 8 PM from Monday to Friday, 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM on Saturday and from 10:00 AM to 02:00 PM on Sunday and holidays. The information center also provides maps, directions, and brochures, and offers a selection of books about Zagreb.
Strossmayer Promenade and Lotrscak Tower
Your first goal will be the Strossmajerovo Šetalište (Strossmayer Promenade) and Lotrscak tower, a romantic footpath offering the best views over Zagreb. Both sights are Zagreb attractions with a great views of Zagreb!
To reach this popular promenade, from Ban Jelacic square, go west toward Gajeva ulica (street) and after two hundred meters, turn right onto Tomiceva Street.
Entering to Tomiceva street you can keep on walking up or to take the most amusing way to reach it is by funicular. Close to the funicular station stands the 13th-century Kula Lotrscak (Lotrscak Tower), from where the city cannon is fired daily at noon.
On a clear day it’s well worth the few Kuna to climb to the top of the tower and catch the views of the city. You can see pretty far and get a good look at the beautiful roof of St. Mark’s church.
Of course you should try to be there around noon for the canon shots. But make sure you are either on the ground looking up or that you have gotten there with plenty of time to climb up and see the canon. You don’t want to miss the fun by being mid-climb when the shot is fired!
St.Mark Church and Zagreb City Museum
From this point, only a few minutes, you will reach the Zagreb attractions trademark, St.Mark’s church well known for its multicolored coats of arms on the roof. They represent Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia. Probably you will notice them if you climb the Lotrscak (Lotrscak Tower).
The homonyms square that was Zagreb’s main square until the 19th century, hosts today the neoclassical Sabor (parliament) and the baroque Banski Dvori (Ban’s Court Palace).
If you want to know more about Zagreb history, only few minutes from St.Mark church, there is the City Museum (Muzej grada Zagreba ). It’s the great place to get to know the history of the city. Take my advice and spend an hour before exploring the city.
The City Museum tells the history of the city. Don’t miss to visit the room-sized models of town, starting in 1094, when the Hungarian King Ladislaus I founded the diocese of Zagreb. Museum is open every day except on Monday.
Zagreb attractions – Cathedral and Kamenita Vrata
Starting always from Ban Jelacic square, you can change your city sightseeing, but this time, head east towards Jurisiceva ulica (street). Stay on the left and turn left to Tome Bakaca street.
When you get to the crossing between Bakaca street and Kaptol street, turn to the right and you’ll face Zagreb Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church, the tallest building in Croatia.
The cathedral is 77 meters long 77 and 46 meters wide. It has two bell towers. The north tower is 104 meters high and the south is measuring 105 meters. The cathedral interior surface is 1617 m2 and can accommodate more than 5000 people.
At the place of today’s Cathedral there was a church from 12th century, but today’s new Gothic facade with twin bells was erected after the 1880 earthquake.
The entrance to the cathedral is free from 10:00 AM to 17:00 PM on working days and on Sundays and holidays from 13:00 PM to 17:00 PM.
On the way back, following Kaptol street you’ll reach one of Zagreb attractions, that has a particular importance from the spiritual point among the local people. If you’re walking around Upper town in Zagreb, there’s no chance you will miss this place.
Kamentita Vrata (Stone Gate), may look like a simple passage, but if you stop there for a moment you’ll understand this is not only a passage but a kind of a chapel where people take a moment to light a candle and say their prayers.
Stone gate (Kamenita vrata) is the only remaining gate out of four that once connected Lower town to a part of Upper town known as Gradec.
Unfortunately all wooden elements in the gate were destroyed by a fire in 1731 apart from one painting of holy Mary and baby Jesus. The people worship this picture even today because they believe this was a miracle.
Even if you aren’t religious, stop for the moment, buy a candle (2.5 Kuna), make a wish, say a silent prayer, or just enjoy the atmosphere of the place.
Dolac – open air market
If you have enough of culture it’s probably time for some shopping in Zagreb. One of the top Zagreb attractions is the open air market Dolac. There are many similar markets around Zagreb but this one is the biggest, most popular and the best supplied fresh food market.
It’s located just on the way between Zagreb Cathedral and Stone Gate, this biggest Zagreb’s belly market. Although nowadays nobody needs to go to the market anymore because supermarkets have prevailed also in Zagreb but people still shop at the Dolac market.