Did you know that Croatia is more than the vibrant coastline that often is crowded with tourists from all over the world? That’s right, there is beauty in the continental part too, and thankfully, more people are discovering that.
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is a wonderful example of a Central European city that you absolutely shouldn’t miss.
Well, for you, we have prepared an itinerary that will take you around the absolute best of any Zagreb itinerary in only 2 days!
Day 1 of your Zagreb Itinerary – Walking Around The Heart Of Zagreb
For the first day of our 2 days in Zagreb itinerary, we will lead you through the heart of Zagreb. This is the historical center of Zagreb, which is full of life and exciting sights. It is undoubtedly a terrific starting point to meet Zagreb head-on!
Begin Your Day on Jelačić Square, the Heart of Zagreb
Many would argue that the central square is the heart of Zagreb, and they wouldn’t be far from wrong.
You will spot tons of people at every part of the day at this bustling square. It is basically the kick-off point for everything in Zagreb, from public transportation to social life. Also, it is situated between Kaptol and Upper Town, the two historical districts of Zagreb.
The square is famous for the huge sculpture of its namesake, Count Josip Jelačić. He is hailed as a Croatian national hero thanks to abolishing serfdom and convening the first elections for the Croatian Parliament. His statue stands high on this spot since 1866.
This square takes on a wholly different coat during Advent, where it transforms into a large Christmas market. Visiting it during winter is certainly magical, but it has got the bustling charm throughout the whole year too.
There are lots of cafes over here, so if you want to embrace one of the busiest parts of Zagreb, why not do it with a warm cup of coffee?
Taste the Local Produce at Dolac Market
This market is a block away from Jelačić Square, so you won’t have any difficulties getting there, that’s for sure! Dolac, as locals call it, was established in 1930, when the crumbled parts of the Old Town were restructured for an open market space locals love today!
Once you arrive at Dolac, you will instantly feel the hustle and bustle from the Jelačić Square follow you with each step. At the Dolac Market, you can find a wide range of local produce and vendors from all over Croatia. That includes tons of fruits and vegetables, cheese, and all kinds of fresh meat.
Dolac Market is the busiest during the morning. It would be a great idea to find some local produce over here for a self-made dinner in the evening! Also, it’s good to know that it’s completely free to visit this lively place that is open every day.
Visit the Gothic Zagreb Cathedral
You could already see its 108-meter tall spires from the Jelačić Square, and just around the corner from the Dolac Market, you will see the marvelous Gothic architectural piece in the form of the Zagreb Cathedral.
It was built in the 11th century but was severely damaged few times, most notably in the 1880 and 2020 earthquakes. Nevertheless, it still stands as tall as one of the most beautiful Gothic structures in this part of Europe.
The interior is just as impressive, with an amazing ceiling that is dreamlike in appearance. You can come inside and listen to the daily mass or enjoy the intricate interior.
Fun Fact: The huge chandeliers inside the Zagreb Cathedral are apparently gifts of patrons from Las Vegas!
Visit the Lotršćak Tower
Take a short stroll to the Upper Town entrance, the historical counterpart of the Kaptol part of Zagreb. Make sure to do so before noon! There, you will notice Lotrščak Tower, a fortified tower built in the 13th century as a defense mechanism against the Ottomans.
Why visit it at noon? Well, it’s a site of Grič Cannon, which was fired since 1st January of 1877 to mark the noon. The sound is quite deafening, but when you combine this tower and the sounds of cannons, you can truly get transported to that time, if only for a moment.
If you want to enter the tower, the entrance fee is 20 HRK (around 3 USD). There, you can get some souvenirs and check out the historical pieces inside a small gallery. On top of the tower, there is a viewpoint where you can see a fantastic panorama of Zagreb.
Wonder at the Unique Paintings in the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art
Just across the street, you can find the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art. Zagreb is home to numerous museums, and this is the opportunity to get acquainted with the unique Croatian naïve art. Basically, this is an art museum that showcases work from self-taught Croatian artists. These works include oil paintings, drawings, oil paintings on glass, sculptures, prints, and more.
The museum is quite small, but with tons of different paintings that will keep you staring in awe for quite a while. You know how it is said, size doesn’t matter!
The entrance fee to this marvelous art museum is 25 HRK (about 4 USD).
Explore Failed Love at The Museum of Broken Relationships
As you enter the Upper Town from Lotršćak, you will instantly see the entrance to this unique museum. It is a bit of a sentimental museum, especially if you find yourself a romantic person!
As you enter the museum, you will see countless personal objects, with love stories connected to each of them. The founders of the museum actually collected these items around the world so that they could share the love stories tied to them.
This museum will most certainly get some emotions out of you and show you how much memories and feelings we can tie to some items.
The entrance fee to the Museum of Unique Relationships is 40 HRK (6 USD).
Marvel at the Gothic St. Mark’s Church
To top off your visit to the Upper Town, make sure to visit the fabulous St. Mark’s Church. You will instantly recognize it thanks to its colorful tiled roof, with medieval coats of arms and the emblem of Zagreb on it.
You can also get inside and check out some amazing sculptures by the world-renowned Ivan Mestrovic.
Relax with a Cup Of Coffee in Tkalčićeva
Pass through Kamenita Vrata, and soon you’ll stroll in one of the most vibey streets in Zagreb, popularly called Tkalča. This is a car-free street, so you can enjoy walking about and sitting in one of the numerous cafes for a sip of coffee!
Also, you will see incredible architecture here and lots of people walking around. It’s a good place to meet some locals and have a chat!
Pay a Visit to the Mind-blowing Museum of Illusions!
Ever wanted to become a giant in a manner of seconds? Or maybe get lost in a maze of illusions? Well, these are some things you can do in the unusual Museum of Illusions.
This is a small museum packed with many thrilling visual and tactile exhibits. The unique part of it is that the visitor itself becomes the exhibit. And so, you have exhibits like the anti-gravity room and the maze of mirrors, as well as 70 more displays.
This is also quite an educational museum, as the staff wants to teach you about how the human brain perceives certain things. It’s quite interesting, to be honest.
The entrance fee to the Museum of Illusions is 50 HRK (around 8 USD). If you are coming in as a family, the entrance fee is 120 HRK (about 18 USD).
Sample Amazing Craft Beer in Pivnica Medvedgrad
To finish up your walking tour of Zagreb’s Kaptol and Upper Town district, why not sample some of the best local beer? The best place to do it, while being relatively in the heart of Zagreb, is definitely the Pivnica Medvedgrad in Ilica – the longest street in Zagreb.
You will probably notice the wonderful outdoor terrace that is shrouded in the greenery in the middle of Zagreb. There is a wide range of beers here, from pilsner (Zlatni Medvjed) to dark beer (Grička Vještica) to pale ale (Fakin Ipa). If you are a beer lover, you will love this place! Also, there is lots of food to order here, but don’t you have some dinner materials from the Dolac Market?
Day 2 of Your Zagreb Itinerary – Bicycle Tour Around the Green Parts of Zagreb
The second day of our 2 days in Zagreb itinerary will be reserved for a cruise around the nature of Zagreb. Yes, it is the largest city in Croatia, but it is not 100% urban. You can find a natural retreat quite easily over here, and the second day is wholly reserved just for that!
Rent a Bicycle for an Amazing Cycle Tour Around Zagreb
While Zagreb certainly doesn’t have the finest infrastructure for bicycles, a cycle tour of Zagreb is still highly recommended. After all, you have walked around the small part of the city on the first day of our itinerary. It should be perfectly splendid if you saw the city from another perspective.
As our 2 days in Zagreb itinerary will take you on a partial ascent to the Medvednica Nature Park, we recommend you rent a high-quality bicycle fit for an uphill route.
An excellent bicycle rental place in Zagreb is called bike.com.hr. They have a wide selection of bikes for rental, from road bikes to hybrids to mountain bikes. Also, they offer free helmets when you rent their better bicycles!
The shop is located near the Museum of Illusions, in Kačićeva Street. It is located just at the beginning of our cycling route for today!
We recommend you rent a mountain bike, as they are the best for the uphill routes and off-road routes. You will experience both of these today. For daily rentals of higher-quality bicycles, expect to invest from 100 HRK to 150 HRK. If you want to see their other rental options and prices, check out this page.
Before you set out on this cycling adventure, make sure to stock up on some provisions. We recommend taking some water with you, bananas, and some protein sources to keep your energy levels at suitable levels for the uphill sections.
Now, you are ready to hit the road to our first station, Medvedgrad Fortress!
Cycle Through the Elite Part of Zagreb to Medvednica
Now that you have rented your desirable bicycle prepare for a lovely daily tour of Zagreb!
The first part of our tour will take you through Pantovčak, a 4 km long street that will be the site of your first steep uphill section as well as some rewarding downhills. This part of Zagreb feels like Beverly Hills!
As you are slowly ascending to Medvednica, you will see numerous elite houses that share a lot with American visual style. Also, when you decide to stop and take a short break in this section, turn around and gaze at Zagreb beneath you.
Fun Fact: Pantovčak is home to the President of Croatia!
At the end of Pantovčak, you will come to a roundabout where you will turn left. You will see signs that point to Medvedgrad, so you can just follow them. Also, Google Maps calculates the ultimate route to Medvedgrad, so you can also use it if in doubt!
There will be fewer houses on the higher slopes of Medvednica. Once you reach the Medvednica sign, prepare for an exhausting uphill! Here, the ambiance will transfer to the dense, quiet forest, with sounds of fast streams, wind hitting against the trees, and birds chirping in the trees towering above you.
It is an incredibly relaxing route. Even if you need to push your bike over here, the tranquil vibes will quickly overcome your spirit.
Soon, you will gaze at the walls and spires of Medvedgrad, located on the hill above you, closer than ever. After an exhausting uphill, there will be a few downhill sections to let you relax a bit. You will finally be at the foot of Medvedgrad.
Discover the Medieval Fort Medvedgrad with an Amazing Viewpoint
Before getting to this fortress itself, you will have to walk a cobblestone path that leads up to its gates. It feels like you are transported hundreds of years ago when this fortress was inhabited by pillagers, who set out to pillage the villages nearby.
Once you come to the gates, you will discover the majesty of this burg. Actually, this is the best representative piece of burg architecture in all of Croatia. It features double walls with a small palace, a chapel, and a few towers. Medvedgrad started with the renovation process in the 1970s, and the renovators have done a fantastic job in reconstructing this 800-year old burg.
The burg was built in the 13th century by the bishop Philip as a defense mechanism against the Tartar invasion. It has changed over 100 owners during this time, with the last owners being the counts Kulmer. They moved out of the fort after a devastating earthquake that hit these parts in 1590. During this period, Medvedgrad was regarded as a haunted burg, with a famous legend of the Black Queen – who was thought to be a witch and an alchemist interested in the occult. Even some vampire variations of the legend are tied to this enigmatic Black Queen.
The entrance through the gates of Medvedgrad is now regulated by tour operators, with ticket prices being 15 HRK (2,34 USD) for an individual.
Note: Medvedgrad’s gates, as of this writing, are closed because of some renovations taking place. Still, there are some alternate entrances above the walls, if you feel adventurous and acrobatic enough!
Inside the walls of Medvedgrad are superbly renovated remnants of a 13th-century burg that feels like a time machine. Under the southern ramparts, you can find the Altar of the Homeland – a monument for the victims of the bloody Homeland War.
Also, this is a site of a fantastic viewpoint that overlooks the slightly smoggy Zagreb. You can see Zagreb’s skyline, the Sava river splitting the New Zagreb from the rest of the city, and the busy city life on the palm of your hands. There are also lots of tables and benches over here, which makes for a nice picnic spot.
Visit the Queen’s Well and the Viewpoint Above it
Now, it is time to retrace the cobblestone path you took up to the Medvedgrad gates and continue ahead on the road to the Queen’s Well (the road is really named like this!). After a short uphill, you will get to the Queen’s Well, another location tied to the Black Queen’s legend.
This part of the legend talks of a devastating drought that forced the people of Zagreb to climb up to Medvedgrad and demand water from the Queen. She didn’t listen to their demands, which prompted the people to curse the city and throw the Queen in the woods, where many bears lurked about. This spot is hence named the Queen’s Well because of this legend.
It is a lovely little spot with a pond dominating the forested area. Here was a restaurant before, but now it is closed, slowly getting reclaimed back by nature.
If you want to eat, visit the Lugareva kućica along the road to the Queen’s Well Viewpoint. There is a big selection of local meals, including the local specialty – porcini mushrooms with eggs.
Once you are full, cycle a bit further uphill to the viewpoint. This viewpoint is even more jaw-dropping than the one from Medvedgrad. Now, you can see Medvedgrad overlooking Zagreb from the lone hill. It is truly a pastoral sight that you should definitely take in before the descent back to the streets of Zagreb!
Descend Back to Zagreb and Pay a Visit to Mirogoj
Make sure to aim your descent via the road to Queen’s Well. It is entirely concrete, and it will serve as a fast descent back to Zagreb. Also, you will ride across the route that is seemingly cut into the rocks of Medvednica themselves, with numerous ravines that can only hint at what is down there with sounds of fast streams dominating the ambiance.
Once you have completed your descent, it is a 20-minute cycling route to Mirogoj, the most beautiful cemetery in Zagreb, and even in the whole of Europe. It’s more like a museum than a cemetery, as it hints with its long, massive walls, topped with green domes. Enter the graveyard itself, and you will feel more tranquil than morbid, with beautiful arches, overgrown passages, and numerous beautifully designed mausoleums waiting for you to discover.
Mirogoj is often dubbed as the Croatian Pantheon as it is a burial site of many important Croatian figures – including the first president, Franjo Tuđman. The cemetery itself flows with tranquil vibes, as it can also be regarded as a large park with outdoor museum features included.
There is no entrance fee to Mirogoj. Take a stroll along with this intricately designed marvel, and prepare for a beautiful afternoon in the largest park in Zagreb next!
Visit Park Maksimir, One of the Most Beautiful Parks in Europe
If you want a relaxing afternoon in Zagreb, few spots in Zagreb come to the vibes that Park Maksimir offers. It’s a short descent from Mirogoj, where you will enter one of the oldest European public parks (it was established in 1794 by Maksimilijan Vrhovac).
When you come to one of its entrances, you will immediately feel the extent of this place. It is a vast park, being 316 hectares big, with extensive oak woods and five lakes that further contribute to the tranquil atmosphere.
First of all, you might be interested in the Maksimir Zoo, which is one of the three zoos in Croatia. You can see a wide range of animals here up close, from snow leopards and red pandas to various monkey and snake species. If you want the numbers, you can find over 275 species, with 2,225 animals living here in the zoo.
The Maksimir Zoo works every day from 9 AM to 5 PM. You can buy the Maksimir Zoo tickets over here!
After you check out the zoo, make sure to cruise around the park itself. It has numerous trekking and cycling routes that will take you around all the lakes. The Third Lake even has small boats for rent if you want to see it from another perspective.
Also, the park is full of animals, with 104 bird species leading the pack. You can also see turtles chilling out at the lakes!
We certainly recommend you embrace the meditative vibes of the Park Maksimir and reflect on the lovely 2 days you spent in Zagreb.
Conclusion of Your Zagreb Itinerary
Zagreb is the largest city in Croatia and is absolutely packed with things to do and experience for everyone.
While 2 days in Zagreb may not be the most enough to experience all the intricacies of it, you can spice it up with a bit of nature and history to leave quite a few sweet memories embalmed in your mind.
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David is a Croatian IT student and a photography intermediate. He is addicted to exploring and adventure, and always up for a new experience. He enjoys spending time in nature and meeting new people from different cultures. He also runs a travel blog about traveling in Vietnam, which you can read at Vietnam Chronicles.