Are you planning a weekend of sightseeing in Zagreb? Look no further! Here is your guide to the top 17 attractions that you should make sure to see.
- 1 St. Mark’s Church, Square, and the Kravat Guards
- 2 Croatian National Theatre
- 3 Secret Tunnel Grić
- 4 Stone Gate (Kamenita Vrata)
- 5 Ban Jelačić Square & Dolac market
- 6 Zagreb Cathedral & Kaptol
- 7 Mirogoj Cemetery
- 8 Zagreb 360°
- 9 Museum of Broken Relationships
- 10 Museum of Illusions
- 11 Tkalčićeva Street
- 12 Zagreb Funicular
- 13 Lotrščak Tower
- 14 Strossmayer’s Promenade
- 15 Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square and Park (Zrinjevac)
- 16 Zagreb Main Train Station and Esplanade Hotel
- 17 King Tomislav Square and Park
St. Mark’s Church, Square, and the Kravat Guards
If you’re not a fan of churches, you’ll still want to check out the Church of St. Mark. Dating back to the 13th century, this gothic portal is the most valuable in Southern Central Europe. Plus, its roof is adorned with the Croatian emblem, making it a truly unique sight.
While you’re at St. Mark’s Square, you can also witness the ‘Kravat pukovnija’ guards in action. Every weekend, they perform a ceremony, checking their armies and parading through the city in replicas of the uniforms they wore during the 30-year war. It was during this time that the red scarf, which eventually became the tie we know today, was first introduced. So, don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to see the birthplace of the modern tie!
Croatian National Theatre
When visiting Zagreb, it is almost impossible to miss the stunning yellow building of the Croatian National Theatre (Hrvatsko Narodno Kazalište, or simply HNK). Established in 1860, the theatre moved into its current building in 1895, designed by Viennese architects and unveiled by Emperor Franz Joseph I. Today, the HNK is a hub of culture, featuring all the classics with a regularly changing schedule.
The HNK is also a popular meeting spot for locals. Just across the theatre you will find the café Hemmingway. This café is a favorite among actors and artists. So if you’re looking for a taste of the artistic flair of Zagreb, be sure to stop by for a drink and take in the atmosphere.
Secret Tunnel Grić
Tunnel Grić is a hidden gem located in the heart of Zagreb. It is a pedestrian tunnel with four entrances marked on the brown sightseeing signs across the city. The tunnel was only recently opened to the public, and it is an impressive experience to discover such a secret in the midst of a bustling city.
The official story is that the Yugoslavian government built Tunnel Grić during World War II as a bomb shelter. After the war, it fell into disuse and was not widely known about until it reopened as a tourist attraction in 2016. However, there is a legend among locals that the tunnel is much older and dates back to the mid-century.
Nowadays, Tunnel Grić hosts cultural events several times a year. Hopefully you are lucky enough to visit Zagreb during one of the tunnel expositions.
Stone Gate (Kamenita Vrata)
The Stone Gate is an ancient landmark in the city of Zagreb, dating back to the 13th century. It is one of the best-preserved relics of the old Zagreb town. Although much older, the Stone Gate acquired its current appearance in 1760. As you pass through the gate, you will notice a chapel with a painting of St. Mary of the Stone Gate (zaštitinica grada). This painting is said to have miraculously survived the great fire of 1731, with its frame reduced to ashes but the painting itself remaining unscathed. Many people, especially locals, can be seen praying and lighting candles in the chapel. Therefore, please be respectful and keep your voice down while crossing the Stone Gate.
An interesting fact about the Stone Gate is that next to the altar, the original mid-century shop entrance ‘pod boltom’ has been preserved.
Ban Jelačić Square & Dolac market
Ban Jelačić Square is the vibrant heart of Zagreb, located in the city centre. It is named after Josip Jelačić, a Croatian Ban (Governor) and national hero. The square is surrounded by many historical buildings, such as the Zagreb Cathedral, the Croatian National Theatre, and the Horse Statue, which is a popular gathering spot for tourists and locals alike.
The square is also home to a popular outdoor market, called Dolac. There you can find fresh produce, flowers, and souvenirs. If you’re hungry, there are many restaurants and cafes in the area that serve traditional Croatian cuisine.
Zagreb Cathedral & Kaptol
The Zagreb Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a Roman Catholic institution and the tallest building in Croatia. Located in Kaptol, the cathedral dates back to the 11th century and has undergone numerous renovations and additions over the centuries. Its twin spires, which stand at 108 meters, can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.
Inside the cathedral, you will find a mix of Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical architectural styles. It is also home to several works of art, including a painting of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus by the famous Croatian painter, Nikola Toscano.
Mirogoj Cemetery is not your typical tourist attraction, but it is definitely worth a visit. Located on the outskirts of Zagreb, this cemetery is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. It was designed by the Croatian architect Herman Bollé in the 19th century and features a stunning neoclassical arcade with Ionic columns.
The cemetery is also home to the graves of many notable Croatian figures, such as writers, artists, and politicians. It is a peaceful and serene place, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a moment of reflection.
Zagreb 360° is a panoramic viewing platform located on the 17th floor of the Zagreb Eye Tower. From here, you can enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city, including landmarks such as the Cathedral, the Croatian National Theatre, and the Stone Gate.
The viewing platform is fully enclosed and climate-controlled, making it a great attraction to visit all year round. There is also a café on site where you can relax and enjoy the view with a cup of coffee.
Museum of Broken Relationships
The Museum of Broken Relationships is a unique and thought-provoking museum located in the heart of Zagreb. It features a collection of personal items and stories donated by people from all over the world who have experienced a breakup. The museum aims to explore the theme of relationships and their endings through the lens of everyday objects.
Each item in the museum is accompanied by a brief description of the story behind it, making for a very emotional and immersive experience. The museum has gained worldwide recognition and has been hailed as a must-see attraction in Zagreb.
Museum of Illusions
The Museum of Illusions is a fun and interactive museum located in the city centre. It features over 70 exhibits that challenge your perception of reality and offer a unique experience for all ages.
Some of the highlights of the museum include the holographic room, the Ames room, and the vortex tunnel. You can also take some mind-bending photos to share on social media. The Museum of Illusions is a great activity for families, couples, or anyone looking for a bit of fun and entertainment.
Tkalčićeva Street is a popular pedestrian street located in the city centre. It is known for its vibrant nightlife, with many bars, restaurants, and clubs to choose from.
The street is also home to a number of historic buildings and it is a great place to grab a drink, listen to live music, or simply soak up the atmosphere of the city.
The Zagreb Funicular is a cable car that connects the Lower Town (Donji Grad) to the Upper Town (Gornji Grad). It is the shortest funicular in the world, with a length of only 66 meters, and takes just one minute to reach its destination.
The funicular is a popular tourist attraction and offers stunning views of the city. It is also a convenient way to get from one part of the city to the other.
When you take the funicular up to the Upper Town, you’ll find yourself standing right next to the Lotrščak Tower. This small, fortified structure dates back to the 13th century and was originally part of the Upper City’s wall, serving as a guard for the southern gate. In the 17th century, a fourth floor and windows were added to the tower, and a cannon was placed on top. Since 1877, the cannon has been fired every day at noon to signal the exact time to all bell-ringers in the city’s churches.
The Lotrščak Tower gets its complicated name from a Latin word meaning ‘thieves bell’. They were hung in the tower in 1646 to signal the closing of the town gates.
The Strossmayer Promenade, or simply ‘Stross’, is one of the most romantic spots in the city. Nestled in the Upper Town, it offers a picturesque stroll from one side of the district to the other, with breathtaking views of the Lower Town. The promenade is lined with majestic, old chestnut trees, adding to its romantic ambiance.
During the winter months, it plays a major role in the popular Zagreb Advent festivities, with its stunning decorations of lights, food and drink stands, and a stage with live music for those who feel like dancing. In the summer, the Stross is part of the ‘Lijeto u Zagreb’ event, where it is transformed into an artistic wonderland that will make you want to stay forever.
Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square and Park (Zrinjevac)
As you stroll from Ban Jelačić Square in the direction of downtown Zagreb, you will come across the Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square and Park. Locals affectionately refer to it as Zrinjevac. This park is one of the most popular public spaces in the city, hosting a variety of events throughout the year. During the summer months, visitors can enjoy the ‘More Knjiga’ event, which translates to ‘Sea of Books’, where they can relax in a deckchair and read books provided by the city. In the winter, Zrinjevac is a romantic spot for sipping hot wine and listening to music.
Zagreb Main Train Station and Esplanade Hotel
The Orient Express, the luxurious train that once connected Paris to Istanbul, is still a source of fascination today. When you’re near the Zagreb Main Train Station and the Esplanade Hotel, you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time. The train station, built in 1892, features beautiful sculptural works. The Esplanade Hotel on the contrary, constructed in 1925 to provide accommodation for Orient Express passengers, is a historic luxury hotel located right next to the station. Inside, you can get a sense of what it must have been like all those years ago. Today, the hotel is home to two of Croatia’s best restaurants, Le Bistro and Zinfandel’s, both featured in the Michelin Guide.
There’s an interesting legend surrounding the Esplanade Hotel: it’s said that the first Croatian striptease party was held there at a farewell celebration for an Italian count. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a fun story to tell!
King Tomislav Square and Park
Just a few meters away from Zrinjevac is the King Tomislav Square and Park. It is the first thing visitors see when arriving to Zagreb by train. As they exit the Main Train Station, they are greeted by a statue of the first Croatian King, Tomislav, on a horse. This square is also a popular destination for events, such as the Food and Burger Festival or the famous ice skating in winter.
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