Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is a beautiful city that can be easily explored on foot or via public transportation. Almost everyone speaks English, and people are very hospitable, friendly, and eager to help out should you have questions or get lost. There are information centers spread throughout the city where you can pick up maps and brochures, or if you’re like me, duck in for some air conditioning.
This is a rough guide of how I spent my day exploring Zagreb.
Begin at the main train station.
From the train station, walk towards Ban Jelačić Square, the city center and Zagreb’s main square. On the way, make sure to take some time to admire the city layout, the architecture, and the buildings along the street. If you visit during the summer, especially during August, you will find the city quite empty and not crowded. This is because most people living in Zagreb are vacationing along the coast for a few weeks.
Reach Ban Jelacic Square.
Zagreb’s main square, named after the Croatian hero Josip Jelačić, has a statue of Jelačić in the center. The statue was first installed in the mid-1800s, removed in 1947 during Yugoslavia’s communist rule, and finally re-installed again in 1990. It is a car-free zone; however, most tram lines have a stop at the square, making it very convenient to get to.
Head towards the Zagreb Cathedral.
A 2-minute walk from the main square, the Zagreb Cathedral is a must-see as it is the tallest building in Croatia. Designed in the Gothic style, the architecture and stained glass windows are quite the sight to behold. One of the cathedral’s spires is currently undergoing restoration.
Visit Dolac Market.
As you walk past the fountain in front of Zagreb Cathedral, you will find Dolac Market. Vendors sell fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and sausages under red umbrellas from the morning until early afternoon. There are a few bars and cafes surrounding the market where you can stop in for a drink while hiding from the heat.
Take a stroll down Tkalciceva Street.
From Dolac Market, walk down the stairs heading towards the main square. At the bottom of the stairs, you will turn right onto Tkalčićeva Street. The street is lined with cafes, bars, boutique shops, pizzerias, and fancy restaurants. Even in the early afternoon, the bars and street are filled with people.
The architecture, though, was my favorite part about the street. The buildings are all painted different colors and are of different sizes and shapes, but somehow, they all manage to look cohesive. Some of the houses look brand new while others appear to be chipping away with age. But it’s the seeming disarray that gives Tkalčićeva Street its charm.
Admire the cityscape from one of the viewpoints.
After wandering Tkalčićeva and grabbing a drink or two, head back to the main square and follow the sign towards St. Mark’s Church. You will turn into a small alleyway, which will lead you up some steps. When you can, turn right and head up some more steps. You will find the first stunning view of Zagreb’s cityscape. You will then see a small vine-covered door on your right. Walk up those stairs and prepare to be wow’d. The view of the streets, the rooftops, and Zagreb Cathedral is simply breathtaking.
Visit St. Mark’s Church.
A few minutes’ walk from the view point, you will find St. Mark’s Church. My favorite part about the church is the tiled roof, where you can find the coat of arms of Zagreb. The square where the church is located is very beautiful as well. Selfie away!
Last stop at the Stone Gate.
The Stone Gate is right around the corner from St. Mark’s Church. The gate is the only remaining one out of four that used to connect the lower part of the city to the upper part back in the 1200s. You will find many people lighting candles here and praying for good health and happiness.
There are many other things to do in Zagreb aside from those listed above, everything from museums to parks, lakes, and shopping. I highly recommend visiting this wonderful city and staying for longer than one day if at all possible!