What to do in Awesome Zagreb!!15 March, 2016
For one, it was nice to be back in a place that had a bigger city vibe again. There is just a buzz about Zagreb.
However, the main reason I liked it were all the different little areas that we saw despite the fact that we only spent two days here and did not venture far from the centre. It felt like we kept discovering new pockets, each nicer than the last. There are far too many spots that I wanted to sit, have a beer and people watch!
Here’s everything we learned during our trip, including the best things to do in Zagreb, our experience visiting Zagreb with kids, our accommodation, how to get to Zagreb and how much it cost.
Top 12 things to do in Zagreb
Central Zagreb is basically split into two as far as tourists are concerned – the Upper Town (the oldest part) and the Lower Town. Both are worth exploring.
Everything is close together so its easy to explore on foot. There are plenty of trams around in the Lower Town, but we had no reason to use them. Here is our list of what to do in Zagreb!
Trg Josipa Jelacica
Trg Josipa Jelacica
The heart of Zagreb’s Lower Town, we found this square to be a centre of action which much happening within and around it. Just off this square we found something we didn’t expect during our visit – Zagreb’s Vintage Festival with old school songs, a dance floor and lots of paper records hanging around!
It’s a good place for people watching and taking it all in. It’s also quite scenic with its coloured buildings.
Walking up to the funicular with Lotrscak Tower in the background
The best way to get to the Upper Town is on the funicular railway which was constructed in 1888.
It’s just a short ride, but it’s especially enjoyable if you are travelling with kids. There are some nice views and it’s cheap at only 4 kunas. Our kids were free.
The view down to the Lower Town from Lotrscak Tower
One of my favourite Zagreb attractions is this medieval tower at the top of the funicular. You can climb it for some good views over Zagreb.
It is not as high as many of the towers I have climbed recently in Europe so it wasn’t too painful to get to the top. The best part was that I had it all to myself.
There are also some information displays in this tower as well as a cannon that is let off every day at noon – so you may not want to be around here at this time as it is supposed to be very loud!
It costs 20 kunas to climb the tower.
Museum of Broken Relationships
Museum of Broken Relationships
If you are looking for Zagreb tourist attractions which are truly unique, you will hit the jackpot with the Museum of Broken Relationships. This has to be one of the most fascinating museums in the world!
At the Museum of Broken Relationships just round the corner from the tower, I found mementos and tales from many relationships from all around the world. There are cards and photos to a caterpillar with half the legs broken off and a wedding dress.
The tales are engrossing. There is even a book where you can add your own story of loss. This was one attraction where there were quite a lot of other people and I don’t think I have ever seen people so fascinated by a museum!
An example exhibit
It is not just romantic relationships either. It is also about other broken relationships. One item which I will not forget was a suicide note from a mum to her kids
The museum is small but with a fair bit to read. If you like reading personal tales, you will enjoy this. I did feel melancholy for awhile after visiting though.
Entry is 25 kunas.
St Marks Church
St Marks Church
A must see in Zagreb is definitely St Marks Church. This church in the centre of the Upper Town must be a contender for the most beautiful roof in the world! We were not able to enter while we were there, but the outside is meant to be the highlight anyway.
We wanted to learn more about Zagreb and this was the perfect place to do it! The City Museum was one of our favourite things to see in Zagreb.
There’s exhibits about Zagreb through the ages including some interesting ones about the beginnings of Zagreb and how archaeologists have pieced together the early history and how they find artifacts from different ages. Miss 5 was quite fascinated as well.
There are lots of items which kept the kids interested including a big exhibit on Zagreb Zoo with lots of animal pictures and some fun puzzle activities.
There are summaries in English in each room. I felt like this museum gave us a great introduction to Zagreb. My only complaint is that I wish there had been more in English and more information about more recent times.
Entry was 50 kunas in total for our family. This also allows us entry for the next 6 months!
This gate to the Upper Town is surprisingly awesome with a shrine inside. Unfortunately, we were not able to see the outside on our visit as it was covered up, but it is worth a walk through.
If you like yummy and colourful places to see in Zagreb then Dolac Market is the place to come. It is definitely worth a wander even if you don’t need to buy anything.
This food market is brightly coloured and a great place to people watch. The main section is on an elevated square and we had a great lunch sitting around the outside which was a good move.
There’s fruit and vegetables, seafood, meat, cheese stands and flower stalls, as well as some souvenir sellers.
Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Another great free thing to do in Zagreb is to visit the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This 1899 cathedral is visible from a fair distance around thanks to high twin spires. It felt like it was calling us so off we went.
There is a dress code – you need to have shoulders covered and at least long shorts.
Full disclosure: We did not actually visit this attraction. Well not inside. We did try, however!
Zagreb’s botanical gardens ages all the way back to 1890, however it shuts at 2:30pm on Mondays and Tuesdays. We, unfortunately, arrived after this time. We walked around the outside and it did seem nice and a great place to take a time out from Zagreb.
Technical Museum (Tehnicki Muzej)
Little boy heaven (ok, we liked it too!) at Zagreb’s Technical Museum
I love it when I happen to stumble upon a mention of an attraction by accident, still really know nothing about it, turn up and find something awesome. That’s what happened at Zagreb’s Tehnicki Muzej (or technical museum in English).
I saw a photo of this museum which looked like the above and I thought that the kids might like it. I worried that they may not as it didn’t look hands on. I worried for nothing. All four of us loved it!
An easy walk from downtown Zagreb, this museum is fantastic. I have never visited an indoor museum which is so packed full of old forms of transportation. We saw cars, planes, train, tram, helicopter and some very very cool old fire engines. This was only our highlights, there is a lot more!
Exploring the coal mine
In addition to the old forms of transportation and the fire fighting rooms, there are also many old engines, transformers and a million other things to do with electricity. We were surprised to learn that there is even an artificial coal mine. We arrived just in time for the tour which was in English and Croatian. We learned a fair bit about coal mines and we all enjoyed walking around the artificial one.
Next was a demonstration and presentation about electricity and the work of the famous scientist, Nikola Tesla, who was born in a town which is now part of Croatia. It looked quite cool – I just wish it could have been in English.
All in all, we had a fabulous visit here. It was so great to visit a tourist attraction in Zagreb that really inspired Mr 3 again as well. He has been such hard work to please lately.
This museum is definitely not just for families either. Most people there were adults. Everything is well signed with a lot of information in both English and Croatian.
We paid 20 Kuna each per adult. Kids under 7 are free. More information here.
Walk, walk, walk
My favourite thing to do in Zagreb was simply to walk around and soak it all in. Don’t just walk between Zagreb’s tourist attractions but walk off in different directions and see where you end up, especially within the Upper Town area.
When you get tired of walking, sit down, have a beer or wine and watch the world go by.
Zagreb for kids
Playground in Zagreb
Zagreb is a great place to visit with kids. There are many grassy plazas around and we saw many small playgrounds. There are some things to do in Zagreb with kids including a zoo which we did not get to.
Our kids also enjoyed the attractions above, although I did not take them to the Museum of Broken Relationships which would have been boring for them. They especially enjoyed the Technical Museum, the funicular, the City Museum and the cathedral.
Zagreb is pram friendly and there is a nice amount of people around if travelling with kids – enough to give it a good vibe but not so many that it is difficult to walk around or so that active kids are a problem.
The kids’ room at our great, central Airbnb apartment
We had another great (and excellent value) stay in an Airbnb apartment in Zagreb.
We rented a two bedroom apartment a few minutes walk from Trg Josipa Jelacica and the main Lower Town area in Zagreb. It was perfect for us being fully equipped with a washing machine and great wifi.
Getting to Zagreb from Ljubljana
Our GoOpti basically private transfer from Ljubljana to Zagreb
After our easy transfer from Venice to Ljubljana on GoOpti, we took another shuttle on to Zagreb. As I mentioned last time, basically you can pay for a private transfer or a shared one. If you want a shared one, the more flexible you can be with your pick up time, the cheaper it is.
We gave a 3 hour window and received an email and sms the morning before with our exact departure time which was in the middle of our time frame.
We arrived at our pick up point 5 minutes early, the mini bus was one minute later. We were the first ones on and only one other person was picked up. Before we knew it we were in Zagreb. Very easy!
The border between Slovenia and Croatia was also easy. The immigration people hopped into the mini bus. The Slovenians stamped it without even looking. The Croatians had the briefest of looks.
We left Zagreb in a hire car that we have for the rest of our time exploring this fabulous country.
We spent 109 Euros a day here on average. It was over our usual budget (as we expected) as we only stayed for two nights which made our accommodation more expensive.
Enjoying the funicular
Croatia has been a bucket list destination for me since I was a university student. I saw the Dalmatian Coast on a travel show back in Australia and from that moment, I knew I needed to go there.
Since the coastal areas were my focus when I was planning this trip, I originally wanted to go straight from Venice along the coast of Slovenia and Croatia and skip Zagreb. Fortunately, I spoke to my friend (and Croatian expert), SJ, from Chasing the Donkey who told me I had to visit Zagreb. I am so glad she did!
We found Zagreb quite a gem. A nice, walkable city with some interesting attractions and a lovely central area that just seemed to keep unfolding before our eyes. We had a great time walking and exploring Zagreb. One of the best parts was that we did not need to share it with many other tourists. There seemed to be barely any around when we visited in early September.
We spent two days here which was enough for what we wanted to do – you could visit everything listed here in a solid day. However, I recommend spending longer if you can. It’s a nice place to just hang out.
Don’t make the same mistake that what we nearly did and skip straight to the coast. Zagreb is worth exploring too!
What are your best Zagreb tips?
This article first appeared on http://www.wheressharon.com/europe-with-kids/what-to-do-in-zagreb/, a travel publication by Sharon.