Zagreb is Croatia's capital city. It lies inland, which means that unlike other capital cities in the region, it is outranked by coastal cities such as Dubrovnik in its popularity with travelers. However, Zagreb should not be overlooked as a travel destination; its lively urban energy is reflected in all aspects of its culture and can be easily accessed by visitors.
Though a fully modern city, Zagreb does have historic areas of interest that are integral to the life of the inhabitants. A handful of sights are listed below, but Zagreb has many more important attractions!
- Ban Jelačić Square: Ban Jelačić Square, or Trg bana Jelačića, is Zagreb's main square. Here, not only will you see the giant statue to its namesake, but you'll be able to visit a souvenir market, take in an open-air show, or find restaurants and shops to tempt you with their offerings. New Year's Eve in Zagreb is a huge event that takes place on this square every year.
- Dolac Market: Dolac market has been thriving since the first half of the 20th century. Mainly a fresh produce market, it attracts a steady stream of locals. However, if you're looking for a souvenir, you'll find them here, too. Lace, embroidered cloths, traditional shoes, and more can be purchased at this market. Be sure to visit the various levels of the market; it's larger than it looks on initial inspection!
- Kaptol: Kaptol is a part of Zagreb's Upper Town and gained importance in the Middle Ages, when churches and fortifications were built there. Evidence of this time period remains, though most of the structures there show the style of the 17th century.
- Stone Gate in Kaptol: The stone gate that was once a part of the fortifications around Kaptol contains a special shrine. Both visitors and the devout gather there to light a candle in front of the painting of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, which legend says escaped a fire that consumed the prior wooden gate to the Upper Town area.
- St. Mark's Church: When you turn the corner from the Stone Gate shrine and enter onto the square, you're sure to let out a gasp. St. Mark's church is an iconic Zagreb emblem with its colorful tiled roof that shows the coat of arms of the city and another one representing Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia.
When you're touring the city, don't forget about Zagreb's museums, which cover aspects of Croatian life and local and international art.
Restaurants in Zagreb
Zagreb's restaurant scene ranges from fast-food vendors to upscale establishments. When you're in Zagreb, be sure to taste traditional Croatian cuisine, which is flavorful and hearty. The slow-food movement is popular in this country, which means you have the opportunity to enjoy a long pre-dinner drink while your entree is carefully prepared by chefs who present diners with food that never sees the inside of a microwave or the underside of a heat lamp.
Try Kerempuh, just above Dolac Market, for well-cooked traditional meals and pleasant service.
Hotels in Zagreb
Zagreb's hotel scene provides anything from hostels to upscale, smack-in-center establishments. If your main focus in Zagreb is the sights, try to get a room close to the main square; there's plenty to do, eat, and buy there, too.
Getting to Zagreb
International and domestic flights to Zagreb arrive at the Zagreb Airport.
Zagreb is pretty well connected to other capital cities in Europe by both train and bus. It's also possible to visit other Croatian cities by bus or train.
Getting Around Zagreb
Most sights in Zagreb can be easily accessed on foot, but if you require public transportation, consider the city's tram service. Tram tickets can be purchased at news kiosks and must be validated for each ride.