In this article we will tell you things to do in Zagreb in 2 days, the city of a million hearts.
Most people refer to Croatia as a country of excellent beaches, island paradises and fun parties, so the capital located far from the coast was a bit of an unknown for us. However, we find a clean, orderly city, with a lot of life in its historic center, both in the upper and lower parts.
🔝 Looking for more places to see in the country? Check out this article on things to do in Croatia in 7 or 10 days
We were there twice to tour the places to see in Zagreb, once in August 2014 as part of our trip around the country when we also toured Split and other cities. We returned in 2016 where we also took the opportunity to visit the Istrian peninsula.
Both visits have had their attraction, the first time because of the surprise we were surprised by the charm of the city, and the second because it coincided with the beginning of Advent, which is the four-week period before Christmas and when all the festivities begin.
In addition, Zagreb has the incentive of being chosen as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe by Europe Best Destinations.
Zagreb is the capital of the country and has almost one million inhabitants, therefore, one million hearts. The symbol of the city are gingerbread hearts that abound in souvenir stores and are the symbol of the city.
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Things to do in Zagreb in 2 days?
Zagreb is the conjunction of two former enemy towns: Kaptol and Gradec, which strategically left their differences behind to unite in the middle of the 19th century. Today, what there is to see in Zagreb is concentrated in the upper part or Gornji Grad and in the lower part or Donji Grad. The two old villages occupied the upper part, one in Kaptol and the other in Gradec, separated by the pedestrian street Tkalčićeva. This and more will be discussed below.
📷 Book your guided tour of Zagreb here to see the main attractions of the city with an expert guide.
1. Kaptol: the cathedral and ancient walls
Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
In the Kaptol area is where the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is located, dating from the 12th century A.D., whose two towers are visible from many points in the city. As it could not be otherwise, we had one of the towers under restoration (although it seems that it is always under restoration – this we were able to verify two and a half years later on the next visit), but we were able to appreciate the beauty of this monument on the outside and inside.
The Cathedral is surrounded by early 16th century Renaissance walls, which were built to safeguard the Cathedral and Kaptol from Turkish investment.
2. Things to do in Zagreb in 2 days, Dolac market.
We continued to the Dolac market, one of the must-see in Zagreb in two days, which is installed daily in a square very close to the Cathedral. It is a great environment where fruits, vegetables, fresh cheese, flowers and handicrafts are exchanged. As you will see in the photos, it is a very cheerful and colorful place, impossible not to stop by to enjoy the locals’ daily life.
3. Tkalčićeva Street
Tkalčićeva Street is a most picturesque pedestrian street, with plenty of bars and restaurants where you can have a good time. In the past, this street was a stream dividing the two old villages, Kaptol and Gradec.
As you walk along Tkalčićeva Street, you will find a small square and rest area with the statue of Marija Jurić Zagorka, who was a Croatian journalist and writer who fought for women’s equality.
4. Radićeva Street and the Stone Gate.
When Juan told me that we had to go up to the “high part” of Zagreb, and that we would do it walking, I was a little bit nervous, although it is not as high as I imagined it could be. Anyway, for those who can’t make physical effort, there is a funicular that will not let you miss anything there.
We walked up to Old Gradec along Radićeva Street, where we came across the equestrian statue of St. George, one of the few where he is depicted with the dead dragon (he is usually staged fighting it).
We cross the Stone Gate, which houses a chapel dedicated to the Mother of God. As an image of the Virgin was saved from a fire, it has become a place of pilgrimage for the most devout Croatians.
5. St. Mark’s Square, the church and the Parliament.
Beyond the Stone Gate we find the beautiful St. Mark’s Square. There stands out, among so many Croatian administrative and political buildings, the Church of St. Mark, one of the main places to see in Zagreb, with its brightly colored roof that has two coats of arms corresponding to the kingdom formed by Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia, and the city of Zagreb.
On one side of St. Mark’s Square stands out the Parliament, or Sabor, where since the 18th century major decisions have been made for the Croatians, such as the separation from the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I and then the departure from Yugoslavia in 1991.
6. The Museum of Broken Relations, Lotrščak tower and viewpoints.
At the end of Ćirilometodska Street, which starts from St. Mark’s Square, you can visit the Museum of Broken Relations. This is a very original museum, where you will find collections of objects of common people involved in love failures.
Today you can collaborate with it, so if you pass through Zagreb do not forget to bring an object related to that person who broke your heart so that your story becomes eternal in that sanctuary, maybe it will help you to close the circle. It is, at least, one of the at least strange things to do in Zagreb.
The Lotrščak tower was part of the Gradec fortress. It had a bell tower that rang at night to warn the inhabitants that the gates were closing and that they should return.
We then descended again, but not before passing by its viewpoints, one on the J.J. Strossmayer walkway and the other from a terrace on the right side of the Church of Santa Catalina de Alejandría, from where you can enjoy the views of the views of the city from the top.
7. Ban Josip Jelačić Square, a thing to do in Zagreb in 2 days.
The nerve center of Zagreb is its main square, Ban Josip Jelačić Square, where the monument to this beloved national hero is located. And no wonder given that Josip, at the beginning of the 19th century, abolished the feudal system, freed the peasants from vassalage and called the first elections of the Croatian parliament. The square must be included in the list of things to do in Zagreb.
In this square converge streetcars, cars, people; it is a place of passage of all inhabitants and tourists, or simply a meeting point, or a place to rest on the edge of the Manduševac fountain. Nowadays you have to throw a coin into it for good luck, although it seems that it used to be customary to drink its water in order to return to Zagreb (now it is not drinkable).
8. Lenuci’s Horseshoe”, the lower part of Zagreb
South of Ban Josip Jelačić Square is the lower part of Zagreb, where there is a large pedestrian area full of trendy stores, bars and restaurants.
There is a roofed passage that connects Ilica Street with the Plaza de las Flores and is known by the name of Oktogon, due to the glazed dome at its intersection. Along this passage, a beautiful gallery has been formed with some businesses, including a “necktie” shop.
The tie was born in Croatia during a war in the 17th century, when Croatian soldiers began to wear a long scarf around their necks that distinguished them. It was a detail that pleased King Louis XIV of France who made it fashionable.
Walking south of the Oktogon we find the more cultural Zagreb. Its most important theaters, museums and gardens are located in several of the squares on the way to the train station. All of them together form a green horseshoe or “U” in the center of Zagreb, which arise from the urban planning of the city and is called the Lenuci Horseshoe.
One of the squares is that of Marshal Tito, which is where the Croatian National Theater is located, inaugurated at the end of the 19th century, with a baroque style and a bright yellow color.
Right in front of the entrance gate to the train station is the square of King Tomislav, who welcomes you with his equestrian statue. In the background, you can see the Art Pavilion, which dates from the end of the 19th century.
9. Things to do in Zagreb in 2 days, the Circuit of the Solar System.
Thanks to Jasenka from the Zagreb Tourist Office, we learned about the mobile app: “Zagreb be there“. It has several routes to tour Zagreb in a fun way and, if you like the gymkhana or treasure hunt, you will love it (in addition to winning a gift or a discount on an entrance ticket).
With Juan we did one of the routes proposed by the app: the Circuit of the Solar System, in which you have to search for a round spheres symbolizing the planets around the sun, where they are arranged in astronomical and arithmetic proportions with respect to the sun throughout the city.
“The Sun on Earth” or “the Grounded Sun” is very easy to see, but the rest of the planets are not. They are the size of a wart and are located on the walls. Here is a sample of what you may find, we need Jasenka’s help.
10. The Grič tunnel
The Grič (or Gradec) tunnel is not well known to tourists and, again, had it not been for Jasenka we would not have known about it. It is a subway pedestrian passageway built during World War II as an air raid shelter for the inhabitants of Zagreb.
After the war, the tunnel fell into disuse except to serve as a roof for beggars, until 1990 when it was remodeled for rave parties. Due to security issues, these parties can no longer be held, but they can be visited free of charge. Later on, the Museum of the Senses will be installed there, following the desire to create unique museums. It is one of the must-sees in Zagreb.
📷 Book the tour to tour Croatia’s war remnants.
Practical information for travel to Zagreb
Things to do in Zagreb in 2 days?
The main places to see in Zagreb can be done perfectly well in 1 full day, but we recommend to dedicate at least 2 days to enjoy more of its atmosphere.
◆ Kaptol: the Cathedral and the ancient walls.
◆ Dolac Market
◆ Tkalčićeva pedestrian street.
◆ Radićeva Street: the statue of St. George and the Stone Gate.
◆ Gradec: St. Mark’s Square, the Parliament, the Museum of Broken Relations, the Lotrščak Tower and viewpoints.
◆ Ban Josip Jelačić Square.
◆ The Lenuci horseshoe and the squares in the lower part of Zagreb.
◆ The Grič Tunnel
◆ Solar System Circuit
If you are a fan of Christmas markets, be sure to visit Zagreb during Advent, not for nothing Zagreb has won for the 2nd time in a row the award for the best Advent in Europe.
📷 Book the tour to Trakoscan Castle and Varazdin here.
Where to stay in Zagreb
If you stay in the city center, the main attractions to see in Zagreb are within walking distance. Another option is to stay near the bus station, not far from the center. We recommend three options for hotels in Zagreb:
- Centar HostelWe stayed here, it has an excellent location and from the window of the room you could see the cathedral. It is a hostel with small, clean, double rooms with shared bathrooms. Ideal for low budget.
- Art Hotel LikeArt Hotel Zagreb: modern and stylish rooms just meters away from the Zagreb Cathedral. It has a terrace and a bar to enjoy a homemade dessert or a drink.
- Palace Hotel ZagrebThe Palace Hotel Zagreb: close to the center and the bus station, it is a former art nouveau palace renovated inside. Its common areas maintain the original style of the building, which makes it very picturesque.
🏨 Do you want to look for other options? Find here the best best hotels in Zagreb.
How to get to Zagreb
There are not so many direct flights within Europe to Zagreb, especially outside the summer season. To get from Madrid to Zagreb we had to make a stopover in Brussels. On the other hand, if you are traveling to Dubrovnik the direct flight options are more.
✈️ Search here for cheap flights to Zagreb.
📷 Do you want to take your mind off everything? Book a transfer from Zagreb airport to the city center or your hotel.
As for trains, there are direct trains connecting Zagreb with Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia or Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. However, the train network within Croatia is very limited.
🚊 Buy your Interrail and Eurail pass! This pass is a train ticket with which you can travel on almost all trains in Europe. With it you have access to 40 rail and ferry companies in 33 countries. Absolute freedom to discover Europe at your own rhythm. See our Interrail and Eurail Guide here.
- Buy Interrail Pass here (for those with residence in Europe)
- Buy Eurail Pass here (for those NOT residing in Europe)
How to get from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes
There are buses that connect the Plitvice Lakes with Zagreb, they are not very frequent, there is usually one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We took the bus back to Zagreb which leaves at 16:15 and drops you off at the bus station in Zagreb.
📷 A better option is to hire a day tour from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes, to tour this natural wonder.
Also, many travelers rent a car to travel around the country. This will allow you to reach Zagreb and the Plitvice Lakes on your own.
🔝 Check out this article with all the information to visit the Plitvice Lakes.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
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- Train Tickets with OMIO
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- Ferry tickets with OMIO
- Asia tickets with 12Go
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