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One day in Zagreb Itinerary: What to do in Zagreb in one day

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Wondering what to do in Zagreb in a day? We got you covered. In this one day in Zagreb itinerary and guide, we will showcase the best spots and landmarks to easily explore and make the most of your time in the stunning capital city of Croatia.

Scenes from One day in Zagreb in a day
One day in Zagreb in a day

Zagreb brought back memories of Central/Eastern European cities. The city is like a hybrid version of Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. The buildings were reminiscent of Prague and Budapest and the cafe culture reminded us of Vienna.

As you walk through the old town, you will find that a river is absent, rather Zagreb is hilly – an upper and lower town – similar to Lisbon. 

However, Zagreb has a river – Sava river – which flows through many countries/cities similar to the Danube river.

One day in Zagreb Itinerary: What to do in Zagreb in one day

Zagreb post card
Zagreb in a day

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Zagreb city center or old town area is made up of the lower town, called the Donji Grad and upper town – Gornji Grad. 

The upper town – Gornji Grad – is where you will find some of the iconic landmarks of the city like the Zagreb Cathedral, Croatian Parliament, St Mark’s Church, Museums of Broken Relationship to name a few. 

Zagreb city signs
Zagreb City signs

The lower town is home to 6 squares of Lenuci Horseshoe and Botanical Gardens and many museums and galleries. King Tomislav Square (Trg Kralja Tomislava) with the Art Pavilion is located in the lower town and is a popular square to chill out and explore the famed Art Pavilion. The square is named after King Tomislav who was the first king of the Kingdom of Croatia.

Is one day in Zagreb enough? 

Zagreb is not a huge city. Most of the city’s main attractions are located in the historic old town or around it, which can be easily accessible on foot (if you stay in the city center area). 

Of course, if you have additional time on hand, you explore museums, shop, enjoy food or bike tours and more.

Tips on making the MOST of Zagreb in a day

For exploring Zagreb in one day, stick to the city center area. If staying overnight, accommodation in the old town area will make it easy for sightseeing, guided walks, and access to tons of cafes and restaurants. 

During one of our visits, we stayed at the Dolac One Apartments and it made it super easy to wander around the historic town center. 

It is located very close to many iconic landmarks and is perfect for both short and long term stays. Zagreb Cathedral, Dolac Market, and the Zagreb Central Square were just a few steps away from our accommodation.

The apartment building looks a bit dated, but the rooms are clean and came with an attached kitchenette, bathroom, and free wifi. 

Other popular hotels in the old town area include Esplanade Zagreb Hotel and Hotel Dubrovnik. Find more hotels in Zagreb

Guided Walking Tour of Upper and Lower Town with a funicular ride

To get acquainted with the city, we highly recommend a 2.50 walking tour of Zagreb in a short time. We booked this tour and highly recommend it, which also includes a funicular ride. 

Zagreb walking and Funicular tour
Zagreb walking and Funicular tour

This tour will also help you understand Croatian history and its role in the Balkans and in Europe. 

Pro-tip: Start your day by 08:30 to 09:00 am, to make the most of your one day in Zagreb. 

After a quick breakfast, begin sightseeing.

Explore the central square of Zagreb: Ban Josip Jelačić Square

Ban Josip Jelačić is the central square in Zagreb, build in the Austro-Hungarian style. The square is named after Count Josip Jelačić, a Croatian lieutenant field marshall. 

The square features the Manduševac fountain located in its eastern part, and it is on the south side of the Dolac market. (If you are staying at the Dolac One Apartments, it will be south of the building complex as well).

Ban Josip Jelačić Square Zagreb
Ban Josip Jelačić Square Zagreb

This square has been in existence since the 17th century, and it is also a stage for Zagreb Advent or Christmas celebrations. 

The City tram lines (ZET) pass in front of the square, making it a bustling center day and night. These tram lines were originally set up in the late 19th century for horsecars. 

Ban Josip Jelačić Square
Ban Josip Jelačić Square

The square has seen a lot. During the Yugoslav period, it was renamed the Republic Square. Today it is a meeting place for people, and it is a pedestrian free downtown zone, with quick access to tram lines.

  • Location: Trg bana Josipa Jelačića; 10000 
  • Hours: 24/7 
  • Cost: Free to explore 

Visit the Zagreb Cathedral and admire the Holy Mary Column in front

Zagreb Cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia and it sits beautifully in the Upper town/Kaptol area. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral. 

Zagreb Cathedral
Zagreb Cathedral

It is designed in Gothic style, consisting of 2 tall spires. The cathedral was damaged in the 1880 Zagreb earthquake, and one of its spires was damaged again in the March 2020 earthquake. (We visited before the earthquake March 22, 2020.)

Right in front of the Zagreb Cathedral, is the stunning Holy Mary Column – Monument of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The column of Virgin Mary and Four Angels was designed by an Austrian sculptor – Anton Dominick Ritter von Fernkorn in the mid 19th century.

Zagreb Cathedral
Zagreb Cathedral

There is a fountain surrounding the column as well.

The entire square is very beautiful to look at, and stop on a sunny day for some shade by the cathedral or by the fountain. 

  • Location: 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Hours: 24/7 
  • Cost: Free to explore 

Wander, shop and eat at the Dolac Market – Mesnica NENO

Head to the marketplace with pretty red umbrellas, located near Zagreb Cathedral, shop or window shop local produce, souvenirs, lavender, and other flowers. There are tons of bakeries and restaurants nearby as well for food or break for lunch. 

Dolac Market brings an 80 year+ old open market tradition in life in Zagreb, where local businesses and farmers showcase their goodies, in a lively and colorful way!

  • Location: Dolac 9, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Hours: 07:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday to Saturday. Sunday closes at 1:00 pm 
  • Cost: Free to explore 

Take the Zagreb Funicular

From the Dolac Market, head south to the central square and continue walking the street until you find a funicular on your right (on Tomic Street/Illica Street). 

Zagreb Funicular and views from upper town. Strossmayer Promenade.
Zagreb Funicular and views from upper town. Strossmayer Promenade.

Zagreb funicular is the world’s shortest funicular ride of only 4 minutes (one way for 4 kunas). 

Zagreb funicular connects upper and lower towns. As soon as you come out of the funicular in the upper town, you will be welcomed by mesmerizing views, including access to the  Lotrscak Tower. 

The funicular is currently in use and is used as a medium of public transportation, operated by ZET. It connects the Ilica Street with Strossmayerovo šetalište (Strossmayer promenade). 

  • Location: 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Hours: 06:30 am to 10:00 pm daily, with a departure every 10 minutes  
  • Cost: 4 kunas one way (approx. .5 USD) 

Hear the Grič cannon from the Lotrščak Tower

Located in the upper town is the Lotrščak Tower, which will probably greet you first as you approach this historic part of the city.

Lotrščak Tower
Lotrščak Tower from lower town

It is a 13th-century fortress, which was used to signal the closing of gates in old town gates. Grič cannon is fired every day at noon from the tower – so hang tight if you are heading there around noon. 

  • Location: Tomićeva ul. 9, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Hours: 09:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday to Friday. Weekends 10:00 am to 07:00 pm  
  • Cost: 20 Kunas (approx. 3 USD) 

Admire city views from Strossmayer Promenade

When you leave the funicular, you will be at an amazing viewpoint of the Strossmayer Promenade for some mesmerizing views of the city of Zagreb. 

Views from Promenade Zagreb
Views from Promenade

You can continue your walk or hike after using the funicular. Or you can also walk all the way up for some amazing sights. 

  • Location: Strossmayerovo šetalište 16-99, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Hours: Open 24/7
  • Cost: Free to explore 

Visit the Museum of Broken Relationships

Situated very close to St Mark’s Church is the Museum of Broken Relationships. This museum is located inside a baroque palace and is super unique. 

Museum of Broken Relationships
Museum of Broken Relationships

It speaks volumes of broken love and relationships and displays stories, photos, and items donated from separated/failed couples. 

  • Location: Ćirilometodska ul. 2, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Hours: 09:00 am to 09:00 pm. Closed on weekends
  • Cost: 30 Kunas (approx. 5 USD)

Admire the beautiful St Mark’s Church

Located in Upper town is the stunning red and white checkbox tiled church of St Mark.

St Mark’s is a Catholic Parish church, built in late Gothic style (some Romanesque features) with the help of sculptors from Prague. The church was completed in the 13th century, and many alterations were made in the later years. 

The roof tiles represent the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia on the left side, and the emblem of Zagreb on the right. This was added in 1880. 

This church is super iconic to the city and the country itself and should be included on your visit to Zagreb. 

  • Location: Trg Sv. Marka 5, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Hours: Open during mass hours only
  • Cost: Free to explore from outside

Walkthrough the Stone Gate

The Stone Gate is the eastern gate to medieval Gradec Town. The gate has a painting of the Virgin and Child, which is considered to possess miraculous powers, as it was the only edifice that was not destroyed in a fire in the 18th century. 

Stone Gate
Stone Gate

It was originally built in the 13th century. 

As you walk through the gate, feel blessed and pray for happiness, love and good luck at this auspicious site. 

When we visited the Stone Gate, flickering candlelight, portraits of Mary and prayers and notes on the walls, just made it so special and tranquil. 

  • Location: Kamenita ulica, 1000 Zagreb 
  • Hours: 24/7 
  • Cost: Free 

Eat lunch at Tkalciceva Street

Tkalčićeva street is a pretty street that you will find as you walk through the Stone Gate. Filled with outdoor cafes and restaurants, this is great to relax and break for lunch or snacks.

Late lunch at Tkalciceva Street
Eat lunch at Tkalciceva Street

After a warm belly (we also stopped for souvenir shopping), stroll the pretty street and admire one of the few female statues in Zagreb. This statue on Tkalciceva Street commemorates Marija Juric Zagorka, the country’s first female professional journalist and a very popular Croatian writer.

She fought against discrimination and for women’s rights. As a writer, her works presented love stories with historical elements. 

Head to Zagreb 360° – Zagreb’s observation deck

Located only 5-7 minutes from Tkalciceva Street is Zagreb’s observation deck, called Zagreb 360 or Zagreb Eye. The observation deck is located on the 16th floor of a skyscraper. 

Head there for some sunset views, and enjoy with a glass of beer or bubbly! 

  • Location: Ilica 1A, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Hours: Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
  • Cost: 60 Kunas (approx. 9 USD)

Relax and shop at the Ilica street

Zagreb Tram
Zagreb Tram

Ilica Street is one of the longest streets in Zagreb. It’s 6 kilometers long and runs from Ban Jelačić Square westwards through the half of Zagreb.

It is a perfect spot for retail shoppers and for those who love the hustle-bustle of city life. The street is filled with shopping outlets, restaurants, and bars. 

End the day at the central square of Zagreb – Ban Josip Jelačić Square 

It is nice to circle back to where you started – Ban Jelacic Square. The central or the main square looks amazing at night too, to chill out, or just a stroll.

Zagreb central square at night
Zagreb central square at night

If you have to commute back to your hotel, you can take trams from Ban Josip Jelačić Square. Or if you are staying at the Dolac Apartments or Hotel Dubrovnik, you can just walk back!

Additional ideas for one day Zagreb itinerary 

Here are some additional ideas for spending one day in Zagreb. Feel free to swap them for anything else in the above itinerary. We stayed for 3-4 days in Zagreb and hence were able to cover more ground. 

Museum of the City of Zagreb (in the old town area whilst exploring St Mark’s Church): 

Head to the Museum of the City of Zagreb to learn about the cultural, artistic, economic and political history of Zagreb from prehistoric times to the modern period.

The King Tomislav Square (Trg Kralja Tomislava) with the Art Pavilion (2+ hours daytime hours):

King Tomislav Square (Trg Kralja Tomislava) with the Art Pavilion is located in the lower town. This area is perfect for an evening stroll, capturing night time photos or browsing through marketplaces. King Tomislav was the first king of the Kingdom of Croatia. 

King Tomislav Square at night
King Tomislav Square

The Croatian National Theatre is located 5 minutes away from Tomislav Square. It is a theatre house showcasing opera and ballet recitals in Zagreb.

Mirogoj Cemetery (morning or evening – allot 1-2 hours):

The Mirogoj Cemetery is a cemetery park, located an easy tram ride from the city center. (15 min tram ride from Kaptol/Upper town to Mirogoj Cemetery). 

The cemetery was built in the late 19th century and is filled with Gothic structures and sculptures. The cemetery is a resting place for people from all backgrounds and is a tranquil place for the living, surrounded by greenery and artwork.

The cemetery was designed by the same architect who designed the Zagreb Cathedral, and by paying a visit you can also admire the artwork of various prominent sculptors in Croatia who designed gravestones. 

The Art Park (1 – 2 hours):

Once abandoned, Park Ribnjak is now a bohemian paradise with lush greenery, children’s play areas, lounge bars, and great photography spots. 

The Park is open 24/7 and is a beautiful oasis for an evening stroll or afternoon picnic. 

Important tips for Zagreb in a day

We hope you enjoyed our one day in Zagreb itinerary suggestions, here are some essential tips to prepare for your trip to the city and Croatia in general. 

Zagreb Cathedral at night
Zagreb Cathedral at night

Getting to the city center from the Franjo Tuđman Zagreb Airport

Franjo Tuđman Zagreb Airport to the city center is 17 kilometers (10.6 miles) and takes about 25 minutes to arrive (longer with public transportation)

  • Public transport: It takes 1 to 1.50 hours to reach Zagreb city center from the airport. Zagreb Airport bus – ZET 290 – costs about 30-35 kunas (about 5 USD), one way. 
  • Private taxi: The faster option is taking a private taxi to your accommodation/city center. It costs 150-200 kunas (about 22 to 28 USD) one way. 

By road: Zagreb is well connected by road from many Balkan cities like Ljuliana, Belgrade, Split, etc. 

Dolac Markets Zagreb Croatia itinerary
Dolac Markets Zagreb Croatia itinerary

Where to stay in Zagreb for one day? 

For hotels in Zagreb, we highly recommend staying near the center. Our recommendations

  • Esplanade Hotel: An upscale and posh hotel, situated a few minutes away from the city’s iconic landmarks, the Esplanade Hotel is a treat for luxury travelers. Hotel rooms are clean, with 4 upscale restaurants on-site, and quick access to Jelačić Square and farmers market (lower town). Check out more reviews/prices here
  • Hotel Dubrovnik: Another upscale hotel located just minutes away from the Ban Jelačić Square. It is located very close to the Zagreb Cathedral as well as the Dolac market, Mimara Museum, and tram lines. Hotel interiors are stunning with chic designs, and many rooms come with furnished terraces. Check out more reviews and prices here
  • International Hotel: Only a few steps away from the heart of the city center is the International Hotel – a mid-range, business style accommodation with many amenities on-site. Very clean hotel rooms with helpful staff. The hotel offers free wifi, has a bar and sauna on site. Check out more hotel reviews here
  • Dolac One Apartments: Located in the heart of the city centre and close to many iconic landmarks, the DolacOne Apartment is perfect for both short and long term stays. Rooms are clean, with an attached kitchenette, bathroom, and free wifi. There is a 24-hour restaurant in the building as well. This is an apartment-style hotel (and can be booked via hotels website). Check out hotel prices here

Popular Day trips from Zagreb:

After exploring Zagreb, you can head out to explore more of Croatia or the Balkan peninsula. Zagreb serves as a good entry point for entire Balkans if you are traveling internationally.

  • Plitvice Lakes National Park is a popular day trip option from Zagreb. It is known for its terraced lakes, stunning waterfalls, and canyons.  Check out this day tour from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke
  • Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia is about 2 hours away from Zagreb, and you can explore the city along with Lake Bled on a road trip. 

Croatia Travel Visa: 

No visa required for EU, Canada, or US passport holders.

For other passport holders requiring a Schengen visa, you must have a multiple entry Schengen visas to enter into Croatia. Here is a detailed guide to applying for Schengen Visa.

Note: Croatia, although part of the European Union, is not a part of the Schengen Zone (yet). So multiple entry visa is required for entry. 

Planning your trip to Europe – If this is your first-ever trip to Europe, consider reading our Europe 101 guide.

Croatia Currency: 

The official currency is Croatian Kuna, and you can exchange them at the airport, or at the city center area. Many agencies provide currency conversion without commission. 

1 USD = 7.10 HRK/Croatian Kuna 

Travel Insurance – We highly recommend insuring your Croatia trip. Get travel insurance for Croatia here.

Additional travel tips for Croatia, Balkans & Europe 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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