The 22nd of July, at four o’clock in the morning, our family holidays started. This year, we decided to take a route around Croatia, and the first stop was going to be Zagreb. We took the plane so early in the morning and at 11 o’clock we were already at the apartment, ready to sightseeing.
We rented the apartment in Airbnb and we loved it. The building didn’t look very good, it was a bit old but once we were inside, it was all different. The flat was rebuild and it was all new, so comfortable and spacious, enough for 6 people (we were four). It was located so close to the city centre, only five minutes walking from the old town, so the location was perfect. We paid 73€ (+ 10€ from Airbnb service) for four people, one night. Not bad to be in the city centre!
DISCOUNT: Here you have 31€ discount for your first booking with Airbnb.
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, it’s also the biggest city in the country. Despite that, the city is still trying to recover from the recent war, so the most of the buildings are old. Furthermore, Zagreb is composed of two hills: Kaptol and Gradec (nowadays it’s called Gornij, the upper city).
The extension of Zagreb is 600km, but all the touristic places are located in the same area (the old town) and it’s possible to see everything in just one day. Besides this, the old town is located in a high area, so the views from there are really worth it.
We started the route on the west part, in one of the streets that go up to the old town. The Strossmayerovo šetalište street (Strossmartre) is now an Art Park, full of blue trees and other artistic demonstrations.
It was so hot that the stairs and the slopes became longer than they should be, but it was in the morning and we still had lot of energy.
We arrived to the first place that we wanted to visit in Zagreb, the Lotrscak Tower. This tower was built in the 13th century to protect the city’s south gate. Inside the tower you’ll find the Tourist Office and it’s also possible to go to the top and see the whole city.
Schedule: From Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 21:00. Sunday and Saturday from 10:00 to 22:00.
Price: For adults, 20kn (2.6€). Under 18 years old, 10kn (1.3kn).
Official website (in Croatian).
INTERESTING FACT: Every day, at midday (12:00) a cannon is fired from the top of the tower. It has been doing for a hundred years.
In front of the Tower there is a funicular railway that connects the upper city with the lower city. The funicular is still working and you can take it both to go up or down.
Schedule: It’s open every day from 6:30 in the morning to 22:00 in the evening. It goes up and down every 10 minutes, and it takes only 55 seconds.
Price: You’ll have to pay 4kn (0.5€) one way. You can buy the ticket over there.
INTERESTING FACT: The funicular is blue (as all the trams in Zagreb) because this colour is the colour of the city (not the red).
We didn’t take the funicular at that moment because we just went up on foot but we wanted to try it so we took it in the afternoon.
After waiting for the cannon to be fired, we went to the St. Mark’s Square, a large square where you can find: on the left side the Ban’s Court (Banski dvori), it’s the old city hall; on the right side the Croatian Parliament (Sabor), and just in the centre of the square, St. Mark’s Church. The peculiarity of this church and the thing that attracts your attention is the roof. On the roof you can see a beautiful mosaic full of colours that represents the shield of Zagreb and the shields of the kingdoms of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia.
INTERESTING FACT: Behind the church there is an official car park because of the Parliament and the Palace.
I found that both, St. Marko’s church and square, were great places to take lots of photos and make some videos. So, a long time later, we followed our route and we went down the Kamenita Street. At the end of the street we saw the Stone Gate (Kamenita vrata). This is the only gate (of the four that it used to be) left of the city walls.
To cross the Gate you have to go through a small tunnel which has become a shrine, with some benches to pray, a Virgin in an altar and a woman who sells candles.
We followed Radiceva Street (it was in under construction) and we reached the Ban Jelacic Square, the city’s heart.
INTERESTING FACT: We saw the first tie shop in Radiceva Street and there was a big, red and white tie on the door. The interesting thing is that ties were made in Croatia, they were the first country to use them. That’s why you should buy a tie as a souvenir. It’s said that the Croatian soldiers used to wear these ties and when the French soldiers saw them, they liked them and they copied the Croatians.
The Ben Jelacic Square, also called Trg (“The Square”), is called like that because of Josip Jelacic and it’s the centre of the city, where all the people from Zagreb meet.
When we arrived, there was a small, traditional market in the square, but we were trying to find the Dolac Square. It was on the left side, on the top of the stairs. It was full of red umbrellas and people selling fruits, vegetables and all kind of food. Under this outdoor market, there was another market, a permanent market where you can find everything you want (food).
TO KNOW: In the Ben Jelacic Square there is free Wi-fi.
We bought some cherries and plums and we realized that we started to be hungry, so we decided to go to find a restaurant. We went to the lively Tkalciceva Street, and we found a nice restaurant one minute walking from the Dolac Market. The street was so nice, full of restaurants, bars and people, we loved it. In this street you’ll also find the Museum of Torture, the Museum of Naive Art (there is a giant, painted egg at the entrance) and a giant “I love Zagreb”.
We had a very good and cheap lunch (25€ four people) and we thought it was great that everything was going to be that cheap, but after few days we realize that the southern you go, more expensive it is.
We were so tired and we’d arrived to Zagreb so early in the morning that we thought it would be a good idea to go back to the apartment and rest a bit (that means to do “siesta” as good Spanish people).
After the small break, we had enough energy to spend the day walking around. We went to Ilica Street, one of the main streets where all the big shops are. At the end of Ilica Street there is the Ben Jelacic Square, but we didn’t want to go there yet. On the contrary, we wanted to take the funicular which was on the left side of Ilica Street, in a small street. We took it and we arrived to the same place where we had been in the morning.
We saw many of the places that we had seen that morning and we found out that there was the 50th International Folklore Festival. Every July (it’s not always the same date) there is this International Festival, you can see more about it here.
Walking around, we finally arrived to Zagreb’s Cathedral that is placed in Kaptol neighbourhood. The Cathedral has two big, gothic towers, one of them is under construction and the other one is recently rebuilt. My brother and I couldn’t go inside because it’s prohibited to enter with shorts and no sleeves, you should be careful with the clothes you’re wearing if you want to go in.
Schedule: From Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00. Sunday and holiday from 13:00 to 17:00.
Price: It’s free
We went back to Ban Jelacic Square, we saw the folklore dances and we bought some souvenirs. After that we went to Tkalciceva Street again, but this time it was to drink a beer. The atmosphere was so good, there was many people and lots of terraces with music. I really recommend this street to relax and drink something in the afternoon. We went to Mixer Bar, and we paid 60kn (8€) for four beers, but all the bars there look so good and I guess the prices are the same.
We finished the route having dinner in the same Street. We had a good feeling about the city, we liked it. The touristic part of Zagreb is not so big but it’s so nice and we liked the old town very much, it’s a perfect area to see on foot. In spite of being the capital, Zagreb is not that touristic and that means that everything is cheaper than the rest of the country.
Other places we couldn’t go but are recommended.
- Mirogoj Cementery
- Pivnica Medvedgrad brewery
- 360º Tower
- Croatian National Theatre
For those who like museums:
– Naif Art Museum (Muzej Naivne Umjetnosti)
– Museum of Broken Relationships
– Museum of Torture
Bye bye Zagreb. Here we go, Plitvice lakes!
Keep reading the second day of our roadtrip: DAY 2: KARLOVAC – RASTOKE – PLITVICE LAKES
Here you can check the whole route: Croatia in one week – What you should know.