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
"Thank you for your assistance with our recent trip to Croatia. It was a terrific experience and one of our best trips to date. We particularly enjoyed the week sailing in the islands near Split and the coast of the south. Mostar was a bit of a tough place but worth the day. The hotel was certainly not a highlight but passable for a single night. We loved Perast. Slovenia was less enjoyable unfortunately. I would suggest that you caution people regarding the mandatory sticker required for all vehicles. It cost us 150 Euros as a fine as well as the 15 Euro fee. There are no signs nor clue of this when entering the country. The tags are available at bus stations and post offices apparently. Zagreb is also a good experience and a fine historic city to visit. Driving in Croatia is good although the towns are challenging as is parking. All in all a wonderful experience. We would visit again and perhaps rent a sailboat ourselves. We would be interested in Portugal as a future destination. We travel frequently so welcome suggestions. We have booked October and December already (Mexico) Turkey, Italy and Greece are near term destinations for us as well."
C McNabb, Canada, September 2013
"Walking along Dubrovnik walls & spectacular views Enjoying Plitvice waterfalls - spent hrs walking every path. Beware Hvar town is nightclub land - seeing the town is a must but think a stay at Starigrad town would have been better. Cost of walking Dubrovnik walls high but apparently needed for conservation but would think good revenue brought in by cruise ship guests. Great mixture of inland walking & coast. Had bad experience with trip to Mostar so cannot recommend that."
S Howles, UK, September 2013
"Hotel in Zadar was outstanding for service. Had to pay 440kuna parking charge in Trogir as no one told me the parking ticket needed verification. Not good! Although wonderful location in Hvar, we had to pay 200kuna on taxis because of parking location (my wife is unable to walk far). Otherwise a good holiday thanks for organising it."
P Chesterton, UK, September 2013
"We just returned from our Croatia Fly/Drive trip yesterday, and I wanted to waste no time in letting you know what a wonderful time Dave and I had. (I will also submit feedback to Responsible Vacations so they know what a great experience we had and a great job you did.) We were so impressed by how smoothly everything went - transfers were prompt, service and friendliness exceptional, and hotel choices were perfect in location, style, and overall comfort. You were so easy to work with from the start, and very flexible and responsive in meeting our needs and answering questions. We so much appreciate everything, and look forward to working with you on additional trips in the future. Thank you!!!"
E Snow, USA, July 2013
"All arrangements and hotels were excellent. Everything ran smoothly. However, for the benefit of future clients please note that Hotel Derossi in Trogir and Hotel Tuttorosso in Rovinj do not have car parking facilities and public car parks have to be used - this cost £18 for the two nights at Derossi and £30 approx in Rovinj! Also, finding some of the hotels was something of a challenge - even though we had a sat nav in use. Perhaps some more detailed driving directions would be advantageous. Hotel Villa Nova in Hvar is in the complex of old alleyways and a car cannot get near it. We had to do a lot of asking to find it. Anyway, these are just my thoughts, the whole holiday was terrific, and thank you very much for organising it."
J Vause, UK, May 2013
"Hotel Astoria in Zagreb - Good; Miric Inn in Plitvice - Good; Hotel Mediteran in Zadar - Excellent.... other hotels - Skradinski Buk, Krka - good location but awful room. Hotel Palace Derossi - very friendly, good location, difficult parking, breakfast not so good. Hotel Croatia, Hvar - fantastic location. Hotel Kriva Cuprije I - difficult parking, great hotel and really friendly staff. Hotel Lero - comfortable and food choice very good. Fantastic choice of locations to visit in Croatia, and well organised."
J Parker, UK, October 2014
"Really enjoyed the trip - advice on where to go was invaluable as we visited Kotor, Mostar and several other points recommended. In a week on holiday we didn't meet a grumpy, rude or unhelpful Croatian national. They should get the contract to train French waiters. Hotel was great and the staff were really, really friendly and helpful especially late one night when a bed collapsed! They were great at providing directions and general help. Major consideration was friendly, prompt and helpful responses to e-mails and questions. Already booked Morocco via Rediscover."
A Goodwin, UK, October 2014
"The visit to Plitvisc lakes and falls were absolutely spectacular. Driving on the open roads is simple and easy. Through the towns can a little more nerve raking. Having a couple of nights in each place helped keep the pace realistic. Be prepared for limited ability for laundry other than the hotel services. Having 3 nights in Trogir was a little more than needed and would have been better 3 nights based in or nearer to Split as this was where most sights were. Overall it was a very interesting experience and well worth it. Croatia is a beautiful country with plenty of natural sights. Being just before the tourist season had its benefits with things being less busy. Just a few times things were not yet open. Some wonderful memories, I would not hesitate to recommend it to a friend."
G Emblen, Australia, April, 2015
"A joy to stay in."
Paul C, UK, May, 2015
"Nice hotel very conveniently located with car park. Quiet & comfortable Good choice."
P Tilsley, UK, Oct 2015