Pocket-sized and vibrant, Zagreb is the newest Eastern European hotspot and the perfect city break destination. Divided into Upper and Lower Towns, each with a distinct atmosphere, the Croatian capital offers an enticing mix of historic attractions, verdant gardens, quirky museums and oodles of authentic charm. Get the lowdown on the city’s highlights with our essential local guide to 48 hours in Zagreb!
Day one: morning
Spend the day soaking up the sights in the city’s historic Upper Town (Gornji Grad). Browse among the colourful stalls in the lively Dolac market, visit the magnificent Gothic cathedral (Croatia’s tallest building), and trundle up in the tiny funicular (perhaps the world’s shortest) to Gradec, one of the city’s original hill towns. The funicular stops at the foot of Lotrščak Tower, which can be climbed for panoramic views. If you’re vicinity at noon, watch out! Cannon blasts out at exactly midday in a ritual that has taken place for more than a century. Take a peek inside the Stone Gate nearby to visit a shrine dedicated to a supposedly miraculous painting of the Virgin Mary, said to be the only object to survive a devastating fire in 1731.
Day one: afternoon
After lunch, take your pick of the many fascinating museums in the Upper Town. The quirkiest – and one of the most popular – is the Museum of Broken Relationships, which is full of poignant mementoes to failed love. Get an overview of local history in the Zagreb City Museum, which is set in a 17th century convent and is full of fascinating, often interactive, exhibits. Or visit the charming museum of Croatian Museum of Naïve Art, which has a beautiful collection of folk art. In the evening, head for Tkalčićeva Street, one of the prettiest in the whole city, which is packed with delightful cafés, restaurants and bars.
Day two: morning
Take the bus for the 10-minute journey out to the Mirogoj cemetery. Spending a morning at the cemetery isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but this one is truly special and has become one of the city’s most visited sights. Beautifully set at the foot of Mount Medvednica, it’s filled with elegant 19th century buildings, porticoes and luxuriant greenery.
Day two: afternoon
Head back to the city centre to visit the museums and gardens of the Lower Town. For lunch, you could sit out on the terrace of Jelačić Square, Zagreb’s elegant main hub, or pick up some picnic supplies at the Dolac market and enjoy them in one of the parks. There are eight interlinking parks (locally known as the ‘Green Horseshoe’) in the Lower Town, with flower gardens, fountains and museums. The best of these are the Mimara Museum, which has a fine art collection that includes works by Van Dyck and Renoir, and the Museum of Arts and Crafts. Finish up the day in Zrinjevac, the best-loved of all the city’s parks, which is the focal point of festivals and special events all year round.