Zagreb is Croatia's dynamic and bustling capital, often referred to as a "pocket-sized Vienna", and an ideal short break destination or as the starting location for many of our recommended fly drive holidays. The city of Zagreb is located between the lower slopes of the Medvendica Mountain and the banks of the Sava river; the city centre is small enough to be covered on foot and is packed full of places of historical interest plus many museums. Zagreb is one of the best examples of a mediaeval city and retains its sense of history coupled with the buzz of a modern city (now boasting superb street entertainment, dance festivals, contemporary theatre and music) with a wide range of shops, stylish restaurants and cafes located throughout the pleasant squares and alleyways.
Zagreb is divided into two distinct areas; the mediaeval upper town which houses the Cathedral, St. Mark's Square, the Presidential Palace and Croatian parliament; the lower town, dating from the late 19th century, is a planned area of wide boulevards, open squares and parks with an impressive array of public buildings and museums. Visitors may have a sense of deja-vu while strolling down the cobblestone streets of Zagreb’s medieval Upper Town or sipping an espresso on the patio of a turn-of-the-century hotel. For years, movie-makers have been using the city’s classic Austro-Hungarian architecture as a stand-in for capitals like Vienna or Budapest. It is Zagreb you will have seen in many mini-series, including “The Winds of War” and in feature films.
The Upper Town’s picturesque Stone gate, the site of a popular religious shrine, and its towers and fortifications are major tourist attractions. Its churches and chapels, especially its twin-spired neo-Gothic cathedral, the lovely Church of St. Mark and the lavishly baroque Church of St. Catherine are also popular with visitors. In addition to the National Theatre, featuring opera, drama and ballet, Zagreb boasts numerous museums and art galleries, including the Klovicevi dvori in the Upper Town, a major arts and crafts museum, the Mimamra Museum, which houses an extensive and eclectic private collection, and Zagreb University, one of the region’s oldest. Visitors can experience avant-garde theatre and dance at the Zagreb Youth Theatre or attend classical and jazz concerts at the Lisinski Hall.
Croats love their food and Zagreb has many fine restaurants. Try strukle, which is a puff pastry with cottage cheese and purica with mlinci which is turkey with specially prepared pastry, washed down with a cool, crisp Croatian wine, followed by a stroll through Zrinjevac park, with its old trees, fountain and busts of Croatian cultural figures. The area around Zagreb is worth exploring too, nearby are a number of barouque towns, Croatia's most revered mediaeval fortress and Mount Medvednica.
Where to stay
In a few words: "Central, full of history" The palace hotel is located in the very heart of the city of Zagreb on the beautiful Strossmayer Square.
In a few words: "Central, friendly, good price" Located in a quiet area of central Zagreb. Dating from 1932, the recently refurbished Astoria, offers excellents levels of service and accommodation.
In a few words: "Great value, good connections" Hotel Villa Tina is situated above the beautiful Maksimir park. It is an oasis of a comfortable retreat connected to the city centre by excellent public ...
In a few words: "Grand, deluxe, central". Opened in 1925, the Esplanade Hotel is situated very close to the main railway station and just minutes from key attractions. Now fully refurbished with 21st century ...
Things to do
"If I did it again I would spend 2 days in Zagreb because of the many museums and churches and for a chance of taking a guided visit. Guides in Croatia seem very well informed and passionate about their country. Church and museum opening times are very limited so it is hard to visit them, check out the market (morning only) and visit and enjoy the city all in one day."
M Prunier, Canada, September, 2019
"We stayed in 7 different locations and the time spent in each was very well judged. The best hotel we stayed in was the Villa Nora in Hvar. The staff could not have been more helpful and welcoming, the breakfast was wonderful and the hotel room fantastic. Zagreb - The murals are worth looking out for, the kids really enjoyed finding them. The Museum of Broken Relationships is a must and we loved the Croatian Museum of Native Art. Dolac Market is a good place to buy snacks for the car, don't miss the underground part. Mirogoj is worth the bus trip and very peaceful. Plitvice - Fantastic, so beautiful lots of different routes, Zadar - If you want to drive into town in the evening you really need to be parked by 5 pm after this time it becomes a bit of a bun fight, there are cars everywhere. It seemed a bit of a shame to end the holiday at the Hotel Perla, which is very basic and noisy. Dubrovnik is fantastic and the bus ride from the hotel is quick and easy, but, on reflection we would have paid more for the last 2 nights to round off the experience."
B Harris, UK, July, 2019
"Your excellent service was much appreciated and we have already recommended you to our friends.THANK YOU!"
L Picard, Oct 2018
"Generally a nice hotel. Our room was a bit small and the bathroom a bit tired but adequate for what we wanted. Breakfast was excellent. If we went to Zagreb again we would probably choose an hotel nearer the main square. We were lucky with the weather so walked everywhere. The length of stay was just right for us to see what we wanted. A very interesting city and glad we went there first."
C Sillett, UK, October 2017
"The lovely Hotel Astoria was a short walk from the tourist sites. "
A James, Sept 2016
"Our stay at the Hotel Zagreb in Dubrovnik was truly excellent. The old mansion converted to a hotel, surrounded by sweet smelling camellia trees, set back from the tourist pedestrian walkway was a quiet space in an otherwise touristy area. The old city of Dubrovnik was just one, easy bus ride away. The staff was friendly and helpful."
A James, Sept 2016
"The Zagreb was delightful and the lady on reception was really helpful and friendly. The garden was quiet and relaxing."
L Coomber, UK, Sept 2016
"Just wanted to say thank you very much for arranging a fantastic holiday for us to Croatia. We had an amazing time - everything went to plan - all transfers etc went very smoothly.We really appreciate all the hard work you put into the arrangements and have already recommended you to many of of our friends. We met some lovely people, saw some beautiful places and did some fantastic activities.We are saving up for next year now!"
M Miles, UK, August 2016
"We are back home and suffering from post holiday withdrawal, we have thousands of photos to sort through and just as many wonderful memories. I thought while it is all still fresh that I would drop you a line to say thanks. The whole trip was amazing and everything worked without a single hitch. The hotels that you booked for us were spot on and the car hire etc all worked perfectly. Really the holiday could not have been easier so a massive thank you for all your advice and organising. The highlights were the national parks. Apart from Plitvice, we also visited Krka and Paklenica and could have spent longer at all of them. Split, Trogir and Dubrovnic were amazing but busy, I also loved the smaller villages that were less crowded.The Sail /Bike trip that we added in was an amazing way to see some of the Islands and it fitted perfectly into your itinerary. A final big thanks to you - it was so easy to arrange this trip, you were always prompt with your responses, answered all my questions and took all the stress out of planning this holiday. A pleasure to do business with. "
S Gemmel, Oman, July 2016
"Only issue we had was that the island ferry timetable had changed from the one provided (to Mljet). Fortunately the time was one hour later and not one hour earlier! All other arrangements were perfect. We spent our last morning at the town of Ston and would like to recommend it - an amazing place!"
M Eeuwens, UK, June 2016