Zagreb city guide: 滞在場所, eat and drink in Croatia’s capital

Zagreb city guide: 滞在場所, eat and drink in Croatia’s capital
Toytown pretty, leafy green and filled with quirky museums and bargain bars, Croatia’s pocket-sized capital is a delight to dig into. Lucie Grace delves into its highlights

Croatia’s creative, freewheeling capital is a serene place to be. A laid back, leafy city typically overlooked by tourists who make a beeline straight for the coast. Consequently it’s the largest metropolis in the country, but the most affordable and pleasant, full of strikingly beautiful architecture and plenty of opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, given the abundance of gardens, 公園, hills and lakes.

Most enjoyably, Zagreb harbours a palpable spirit of independence, eschewing big commercial chains and retailers in favour of a thriving café culture and boutique shopping scene, without an Amazon driver or Starbucks in sight.


Dive into the city’s unusual museums

With more museums per square mile than any other city in Europe, Zagreb is home to some incredible collections of art and artefacts from the modern to ethnographic, but it’s the quirkier venues that tend to turn heads. First port of call should be the wildly emotive Museum of Broken Relationships, which hosts stories and emblems donated by the public, gathered and lovingly presented by its curators. More humorous is the Museum of Hangovers, or go for tricks at the Museum of Illusions and treats at the Chocolate Museum. All are open seven days a week, bar the Chocolate Museum which is closed on Mondays.

Join a free walking tour

Learn how two Medieval towns combined to make one modern city, by joining the informative local guides from Free Spirit Tours Zagreb. It’s a great introduction to the city centre, covering both history and contemporary culture, as well as a handy opportunity to get your bearings. Look out for the orange umbrella and orange T-shirt of the guide, whose two-hour tour leaves daily at 11am, meeting at the horseman statue in the city’s main Ban Jelačić Square. While it’s a free tour, as with any of its kind across the world, a tip is appreciated.

Cafe or bar-hop by Lake Jarun

Step out of the city centre and cruise down to locals’ favourite urban oasis, the man-made Lake Jarun which runs parallel to the River Sava, in the south west of Zagreb. As well as being a sporting destination, with water-reliant rowing and sailing clubs found alongside tennis courts and baseball fields dotted around the shores, it’s also ringed by great bars and cafes. If you’re visiting in the summer months don’t forget your swimsuit as it’s a lovely clean spot to dive in, providing welcome respite from the often soaring temperatures in July and August. In Autumn or Winter, pack your trainers for a stroll in this scenic part of the city before enjoying sunset drinks or dinner in one of the lakeside restaurants, all of which are open to enjoy year round.

Zagreb is famous for its quirky museums


The undeniable jewel in Zagreb’s hospitality crown is the Art Deco marvel Amadria Park Hotel Capital. This high-end heritage hotel, presented in a renovated 1920’s bank, brims with period features and enjoyable quirks such as a wood panelled bankers office now being a bedroom. Rooms and suites here start from £127 a night.

あるいは, check in to the delightfully decadent Esplanade Hotel. A grand hotel in the traditional sense, the Esplanade offers glamour in luxurious rooms at the heart of Zagreb’s “lower town”. Double rooms can be booked in advance from £101 a night.

For a more intimate stay, just a short walk from the centre, try the stylish, family-run Casablanca Boutique B&B, the lavish terrace garden of which provides an atrium of tranquility matched with exceptional, personalised service and a universally praised breakfast. Private rooms from £60 a night.

And for those on a budget or travelling long-term, award-winning veteran hostel Mali Mrak is a home-from-home beloved by remote workers and backpackers for its community spirit and eco-conscious ethos – not to mention it’s mural laden interiors and exteriors. Dorm prices vary, while private twin or double rooms are available from £30 per night (with a minimum five-night stay through autumn/winter).

Zagreb’s many parks make it a green and nature-filled city to wander


There are bistros and cafés aplenty on Tkalčićeva Street, the city centre’s main address for al fresco dining. But if you’re looking to try something truly authentic in the way of Croatian cuisine head straight to Restoran Stari Fijaker – it’s a locals’ favourite for a reason. The stalwart joint is one of the last in the centre to serve traditional much loved dishes such as pašticada, braised beef in sweet & sour sauce.

If a meat-heavy bonanza isn’t your style, head straight to Zrno Bio Bistro for the best vegetarian and vegan options in town. The wide ranging, daily changing, organic and locally-sourced menu is a real treat, with a ‘garden burger’ that blows all veggie patties out of the water and soups so swooning you might just shed a tear.

For special occasions (or a real gastronomical deep-dive) be sure to check out Dubravkin Put, Zagreb’s top fine-dining choice, with plates so artistically presented that you’d almost be loath to chow down (ほとんど). Equally as delectable but notably more down to earth, Sopal is an exciting new bistro turning heads with a menu of small plates that add a contemporary twist on traditional dishes.

Finish the day off with a scoop or two from ice cream heaven, Slastičarnica Zagreb, the city’s number one spot for gelato and confectionery.

Zagreb’s Tkalčićeva Street buzzes each night after work


Zagreb has a strong café culture and thriving nightlife. A stroll along the aforementioned Tkalčićeva Street is the best way to pick out a great aperitif bar, though you’ll have to wander further afield for the really good stuff. The best caffeine in town can be found a few blocks away at QUAHWA Coffee Roastery & Coffee shop, open daily until 8pm (Sundays 6pm).

Botaničar is by far the most elegant outfit in the city; café by day and cocktail bar by night, the tasteful mid-century décor and art-adorned walls make it the perfect space to while away the hours, whatever the time. Equally chic in its own way is A’e Caffe bar; finding this hidden gem is half the fun, as are the rewards of a scenic roof terrace and incredibly decadent yet fairly priced cocktails.

Music heads will want to keep an eye on both Kulturni Centar Mesnička (KCM)a much-loved café, gallery and performance venue – そして Bacchus jazz bar, a vibey haunt serving craft beers in a tucked away terrace garden, with live jazz on Fridays. For a more, は, energising night out, に行く マスターズ, inarguably the hippest club in town, with a banging programme of local and visiting techno DJs.

Lovely architecture and quaint squares are even prettier around Christmas


One of Zagreb’s major charms is that it’s not packed with big, international stores. You can find some of the famous high street names if you seek them out, but they’re in the minority, as the city and indeed country holds independent retailers in such high regard. Take in the best boutiques on Dežmanova Street, such as long standing revered product designer 愛, アナ.

Just round the corner, Nama department store (NaMa being an acronym for Narodni Magazin or national store) on Ilica Street is a surviving outpost of the former Yugoslavian chain and a great place to browse for clothes, cosmetics and everyday items in a charming 19th century building.

There’s also a booming market culture; Tržnica Dolac is the famous farmer’s market you’ll find in the town centre every day until 1pm and is undoubtedly locals’ favourite for fresh fruit and veg with prices very similar to Croatian supermarket chain Konzum; no inflation here, just farmers. For the flea market lovers Hrelić Sunday market in Jakuševac is a sprawling maze of potential treasure, where bartering is acceptable until the traders depart at midday.


Gothic wonder Zagreb Cathedral gets most of the limelight, particularly since its Lazarus-esque restoration after the earthquake in 2020, but it’s the 13th-century wonder St. Mark’s Church, with its amazing Hapsburg-era primary coloured roof tiles that delights most. Both are currently only available to view from the outside.



Croatian Kuna.




10 – 15%.

How should I get around?

Zagreb is eminently walkable, but tram is the quickest and cheapest way to get around at KNR 2 per journey.

What’s the best view?

The panoramic footpath Strossmayerovo šetalište leads round into Katarnin trg, the churchyard square in Gradec old town, with stunning views of the cathedral.


ザ・ Advent Christmas market in Zagreb is one of the best in Europe. It’s open this year from 27th November.



You can get from London to Zagreb in around 20 hours by train. 取る Eurostar to Paris, then a double-decker TGV train onward to Munich. From here there’s an excellent Croatian sleeper train, Nightjet, on to Zagreb, or you can take an incredibly scenic daytime Railjet train through Austrian and Slovenian countryside to Zagreb, changing at Villach.


BA, ライアンエアー, easyJet and Croatia Airlines all fly direct to Zagreb from the UK.


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