Even though Zagreb is the capital AND largest city of Croatia, most people skip right over it and head straight for the coastal cities like Dubrovnik and Split. And as much as I want to visit those places too, I was just looking for something a little closer and easier to get to from Budapest. (And I’ve never been to Croatia, so why not?)
The train is about 6 hours from Budapest, and it was actually my first time leaving the Schengen Area during my entire 8 months abroad, so I got to add another stamp to my passport. I only had about 24 hours to spend in Zagreb, but I think I managed to hit all the major sights.
The main square, Trg bana Jelačića, is a good starting point. Be sure to check out the Cathedral of Zagreb (free to enter) which is nearby.
Make your way to Upper Town (you can either walk there or take the world’s shortest funicular) where you’ll find the beautiful St Mark’s Church as well as the Lotrščak Tower.
You can climb up the Lotrščak Tower for a view of the town. It was very foggy while I was there but still quite beautiful. Be sure to time your visit because they fire a canon from the tower EVERYDAY at noon!
The Botanical Garden is also beautiful. Since it’s the middle of autumn, all the trees were STUNNING shades of yellows, oranges, and red.
I also went to 2 museums that I think are worth checking out. Both are small, so you can easily visit both even if you only have a day in the city.
The Museum of Illusions was wild. It’s a very interactive museum that really gets your brain thinking. A few of the exhibits require at least 2 people, but even if you’re traveling solo, you will still have fun.
The Museum of Broken Relationships is another popular museum that came highly recommended from everyone I talked to, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a museum dedicated to broken and failed relationships. Each story is presented with an item that represents the relationship. Some of the stories were sad, some happy, some funny, some interesting. While it sounds unusual, I really enjoyed the museum.
Grab a pancake dessert breakfast at this cafe.
Located in the main square. Perfect place to eat or grab a drink and people watch.
Vis a Vis
Gluten free ice cream and cake shop.
Delicious Latin American cuisine.
EXTRA: Try Teranino, a red wine liqueur made from Terrano wine from Croatia.
Zagreb just gave me a small taste of Croatia, but I already know I want to go back. Of course to check out the beautiful Dalmatian coast, but also to check out some of their incredible national parks (just google Plitvice Lakes National Park and you’ll be packing your bags too).
If you ever find yourself in Zagreb, try to block out a day to check it out. You’ll be glad you did!