When visiting Croatia there is a good chance that you may be flying into or out of the capital city of Zagreb. If that is the case, spending one day in Zagreb is a great way to start off or end your trip to this beautiful country. From its squares and markets to its churches and towers, Zagreb has plenty to offer its visitors. This Zagreb itinerary will walk you through how to go about a visit and talk about some of the top things to do in the city.
1) Getting In & Around Zagreb
There are a couple main ways in which you may be arriving into Zagreb – by plane, bus, or train.
Plane – if flying in internationally, you will arrive at Franjo Tudman Airport Zagreb (ZAG). The airport is located about 15 km / 9 miles from the city center and can be reached by taxi, Uber, or bus
Bus – if you are coming in from a nearby European city or another city in Croatia, taking the bus is a popular option. The bus station is about 2 km / 1.2 miles southeast from the city center. Once you arrive by bus you can take a taxi or Uber to your hotel, or you can hop on the local tram.
Train – the last major option is getting in by train from a nearby European city. The train station is the closest out of the three options, as it is just 1 km / 0.6 miles south of the city. Depending on where you are staying, it may be possible to just walk on over to your hotel or you can just hop in a quick taxi/Uber ride.
Once you are in Zagreb, it will be pretty easy spending your time just walking the city from one attraction to the next. If your hotel isn’t nearby the center / you want to venture a bit further out to some other attractions, you will probably be able to leverage the network of trams that make their way all around the city.
2) Where to Stay in Zagreb
When visiting cities like Zagreb, I always try to either stay directly in the town center or at least an easy public transportation option away. Below are a couple options for different price points that are all located within a short distance of the city center.
3) Zagreb Attractions & Map
The rest of this guide will be going over 12 attractions all located within the city center. Since this is just going over one day in Zagreb, it is better in my opinion to just focus on downtown and not some of the attractions further outside the city center that you may come across.
One thing to note about the city center of Zagreb is that it can be broken up into two parts – the Upper Town (made up of the medieval villages of Kaptol and Gradec), and the Lower Town.
To get between the lower and upper towns, you can either make the walk up yourself, or you can take the shortest funicular ride in the world lasting just 64 seconds over the 66 meter track.
Below are the 12 attractions I would recommend visiting during your one day in Zagreb. I have split them out between the lower and upper towns so you can get a better understanding where everything is.
1. Lotrscak Tower
2. Strossmayer Promenade
3. St. Mark’s Church
4. Stone Gate
5. Museum of Broken Relationships
6. Jelacic Square
9. Gric Tunnel
10. Ilica Street
11. Tkalciceva Street
12. Zagreb 360
4) The Zagreb Funicular
If you are looking to visit the Upper and Lower towns of Zagreb then feel to take the Zagreb funicular between the two (pinned on the map above). While most people should have no trouble with the walk up, taking the funicular is really all part of the experience.
The funicular runs every 10 minutes from 6:30AM to 10:00PM and costs 5 kn ($0.75 USD). The track runs just 66 meters / 217 feet and takes all of 64 seconds to get up to the top.
5) One Day in Zagreb
Once you have arrived in Zagreb and are all settled in, it is time to make your way around its streets. I will start with the attractions in the Upper Town and then move on down to the Lower Town.
Hours: 9:00AM – 9:00PM (Monday to Friday) | 10:00AM – 9:00PM (Saturday & Sunday)
Cost: 20 kn ($3 USD) adult | 10 kn ($1.50 USD) child (up to 18)
One of the main structures that can be seen from all around the city is the Lotrscak Tower, situated right near the top of the funicular. The tower has origins back to the 13th century and was one of the main methods of defense to protect the town back in the day.
A very unique part of Lotrscak Tower is that every day at 12PM (noon), a cannon is fired from the one of the rooms of the tower. So, if you visit around that time, be sure to head on in for a unique experience.
On top of the history of the tower and the cannon shot, you will also be able to enjoy some of the best views of Zagreb from above.
Right outside the tower, you will find the Strossmayer Promenade that makes its way along the top of the Upper Town. It is nice little path to follow with some local vendors selling all kinds of goods.
St. Mark’s Church
Hours: 9:00AM – 12:00PM (weekdays); entrance may be restricted at any time
Not too far away you will find the 13th century St Mark’s Church, one of the most well known buildings in Europe. The church is famous for its intricate tiled roof with the coat of arms of both Croatia and Zagreb designed into it.
Around the corner from the St Mark’s Church you will find the Stone Gate. Although it may just seem like a gate from the outside, once you enter through the gate, you will see it is much more than just that.
Inside the gate is a painting of the Virgin and Child, which happens to be the only aspect of the gate that did not burn down in an 18th century fire. People now visit the gate and painting to pray and light candles.
Museum of Broken Relationships
Hours: 9:00AM – 10:30PM (Jun-Sep) | 9:00AM – 1:30PM & 2:30PM – 9:00PM (Oct-May)
Cost: 40 kn / $6 USD
A bit of a different attraction to visit in the Upper Town is the Museum of Broken Relationships. This museum has less so to do with any of the medieval history of Zagreb. It is a museum filled with personal items donated by people all over the world who have been in failed relationships.
Each item has a different story and you can spend some time going through the various rooms reading about some of these objects.
Once all done with the Upper Town you can head down to the Lower Town to explore some more highlights of Zagreb. First on the list is Jelacic Square.
Jelacic Square is the main square of Zagreb and is named after Josip Jelacic, a lieutenant and ban (title of nobility) of Croatia in the 1800’s. The pedestrian square offers the chance to roam freely with outdoor seating, architecture, a statue and a fountain throughout the area.
Hours: 7:00AM – 3:00PM (Monday-Saturday) | 7:00AM – 1:00PM (Sunday)
Just on the other side of the square you will find Dolac Market. This indoor/outdoor market is packed with all types of fruits, vegetables, meats, and a whole variety of fresh produce.
Hours: 10:00AM – 5:00PM (Monday to Saturday) | 1:00PM – 5:00PM (Sunday)
The Zagreb Cathedral or Cathedral of the Assumption is another important piece of architecture in Zagreb. Not only is it a historic and recognized symbol of the city but it also happens to be the tallest building in all of Croatia!
The Gric Tunnel
Hours: 9:00AM – 9:00PM (Sunday – Saturday)
Underneath the upper town of Zagreb are a network of tunnels that run underground. One of those is the Gric Tunnel that was built during World War II. The main purpose of the tunnel was to act as a bomb shelter during the Croatian War of Independence.
You can enter/exit the tunnel from two points – one located at Radiceva 19 and the other at Mesnicka 19. If you are around the square/cathedral/market area, head through the 350 meter / 1,150 foot tunnel from the Radiceva entrance and exit from the other side.
Ilica Street & Tkalciceva Street
At one point or another you are sure to walk down two of Zagreb’s most popular streets – Ilica & Tkalciceva. Restaurants and shops line the streets and are great places to have some lunch or dinner as you explore the rest of Zagreb.
The two streets are perpendicular to each other with Ilica going west/east past the Jelacic Square and Tkalciceva heading north from the square.
Hours: 10:00AM – 12:00AM | 365 days a year
Cost: 60 kn ($9 USD) Adult | 30 kn ($4.50 USD) Child (up to 150 cm / 5 feet) | Free for Children (up to 3)
One of my favorite spots in Croatia is the Zagreb 360 observation deck. From up above you can get some of the best 360 degree views of Zagreb. The deck sits all the way up on the top of the 16 floor building, making it the perfect spot to sit back and enjoy your surroundings while having a drink or two.
I would actually recommend heading to Zagreb 360 for sunset, when you can see the city brighten up as the sun goes down over Zagreb.
I hope you are now better prepared for your one day in Zagreb, Croatia. If you have any more questions about the city feel free to add them in below. Also don’t forget to check out the other Croatia itineraries and guides up on the site
Have fun out there and safe travels!