The Capital of Croatia, Zagreb, isn’t situated on the coastline like most popular Croatian destinations. At 400 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, Zagreb has become an important hub in Croatia. With its diverse historical museums, sporting and entertainment events, Zagreb is not to be missed on your Croatian travels.
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
Population of city: 790,000
Nearest airport: Zagreb Airport
Main train/bus station(s): Zagreb Glavni Kolodvor/Autobusni Kolodvor
Best time to visit? May – October
Budget level? £
Best for: Beach, shopping, Nightlife, art & culture, history/museums
Generally you’ll be travelling in from Budapest, so given the longish journey it’s worth sparing 2 nights if you can. Zagreb is a small city, so if you can only manage a night’s stay you’ll still be able to get a taste of the city.
Zagreb’s history starts in the Middle Ages with the diocese of Kaptol and the fortified settlement of Gradec. Today, they both form Zagreb’s upper town: Gornji Grad. When exploring the streets of the historic district, you’ll come across a variety of well preserved medieval buildings such as churches, palaces or government buildings.
St. Mark’s Church is one of Zagreb’s main landmarks. Its fame is due to its tiled roof colored in hues of red, white and blue. One side shows the medieval coat of arms of both Zagreb and the Triune Kingdom (Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia).
It may sound strange at first but this museum is definitely something you should see. Each object showcased, from stuffed toys to drawings or black and white photographs, comes with a story of its own. Unique, touching, sometimes even funny, those personal memories are part of an ever evolving collection.
As you explore the streets of Zagreb you might come across the sculpture Prizemljeno Sunce (The Grounded Sun). Covered in messages and graffiti, most people, including Zagreb inhabitants, ignore that it is in fact part of a bigger installation in the city. Created by Ivan Kožarić, it is a reduced model of our solar system. The system is at scale 1:680 000 000, making Earth as little as 1.9 cm!
Zagreb is well connected by rail to the rest of Central Europe, with regular connections to Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Slovenian cities. By rail or coach you can easily access the rest of Croatia including the coast, as well as other Balkan countries such as Bosnia and Serbia.