Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, situated in the continental part of the country. It is the largest city in Croatia and provides many options for people of varied interests.
Whether you are interested in art, cafe culture, old architecture, or the outdoors – Zagreb has a treat for you! Well, it’s tough to indulge in all shades of Zagreb in 1 day, so we have prepared an optimal Zagreb itinerary for you to fully maximize your time!
Without further ado, let’s kick it off with some valuable information about visiting Zagreb!
Is One Day in Zagreb Enough?
Zagreb is not a huge city, but it is absolutely packed with things to do! If you enjoy exploring museums, Zagreb will be a true delight for you.
It is packed with museums, from numerous art museums to unique treats like the Museum of Broken Relationships, for example. If you want to visit most of them, you certainly won’t be able to make it in one day.
Nevertheless, if you are planning to experience Zagreb in just one day, you can see and experience interesting things in the city’s historic old part. Also, this part is accessible on foot if you are starting from the city center!
Still, Zagreb is a city of different flavors, with many other experiences, such as numerous outdoor activities. If find yourself wishing you had a bit more time for Zagreb, make sure to also check out our 2 days in Zagreb itinerary and see if you can switch up your Croatia itinerary to have more time for this lovely European capital.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Zagreb?
As Zagreb is the busiest city of Croatia and happens to be a continental city, it doesn’t depend so much on the high season, like the coastal cities. That means that you can visit it all year-round. Still, Zagreb takes on a different cloak during each season.
In late spring, the temperatures start being pleasant (around 20 degrees Celsius), and the numerous parks in Zagreb start blossoming, which is a spectacular sight! Zagreb in spring has a unique, laid-back vibe, with lots of outdoor activities available. Of course, don’t forget to sip a coffee in one of the many lively cafes in Zagreb.
During the summer months, the potential for more outdoor activities opens up, albeit the heat from Zagreb’s concrete will be much more pronounced. Still, it is an ideal time to check out those numerous museums or enjoy the lush green parks in their full glory!
September is a great time to visit Zagreb if you are up for a walking tour. Zagreb gets a brand-new romantic vibe, which is further pronounced with leaves changing their colors.
Of course, make sure to not miss Zagreb on your radar during Christmas time! At that time, a Christmas market is in its full bloom, with Zagreb taking on a totally different vibe. Actually, this Christmas market is regularly named as one of the best Advent markets in Europe!
TIP: Planning a winter visit? We have a guide to Zagreb in winter as well as a Zagreb Advent (Christmas Market) guide.
How to Get to and Around Zagreb?
As Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, it is understandable that there will be quite a few ways to get to it. Getting around Zagreb is relatively easy due to its bus and tram network. If you are staying for just one day, walking it off is a great idea too!
Daytime bus lines in Zagreb are available online, as well as the ticket prices for trams.
If you are coming to Zagreb, you can get there by plane, bus, train, or car.
Airport Transfer to Zagreb
If you get to Zagreb by plane, you will arrive at Franjo Tudman Airport, located 15 km away from the city center. You can reach the city center with a taxi, Uber or bus service. The bus ride costs between 30 and 35 HRK (about 5 to 6 USD), goes from the airport and arrives at Zagreb bus station in 45 minutes.
Here is the timetable for airport transfers to Zagreb!
If you want to take an Uber or taxi, it will cost you more, but the transfer will take you at least 25 minutes.
Getting To Zagreb By Bus
This is a popular option for overland travelers, as the Zagreb bus station is located just 2 km away from the city center. It’s practically within walking distance, but you can also take a quick taxi or Uber ride.
Getting To Zagreb By Train
It’s yet another popular option to get to Zagreb, as the central train station is located at the beginning of the ‘Lenucci Horseshoe’, just distanced 1 km south of the city center. We highly advise you to take a stroll from here to the center.
Getting To Zagreb By Car
Croatian highways are in excellent condition and connect most of the country. One thing to note is that they have no vignette system like most of Central Europe. Instead, Croatia utilizes an old-school toll system. Basically, you will get charged based on the number of kilometers you have driven.
You can pay highway tolls with euro, Croatian kunas, and your credit card. Keep in mind that the highways get very crowded during summer, and the toll is more expensive.
Here is Our 1 Day in Zagreb Itinerary!
If you want to experience the most of Zagreb’s magic, we recommend that you start your 1-day adventure from King Tomislav Square. From there, you will slowly work your way towards the historic old town district, that is full of lovely surprises. You certainly don’t want to spend one day in Zagreb in a grey suburban neighborhood, don’t you?
Let’s begin with a morning stroll!
Pass Through King Tomislav Square
Just as you get out of the intricately designed central train station, you will see the statue of King Tomislav, with tons of people, little stalls, and trams passing around. Yes, you are thrown right in the middle of the daily buzz of Zagreb!
Here is a lovely square with a fountain and the beautiful yellow Art Pavilion (a top Zagreb Instagram spot) where lots of people love to chill around! Inside the Art Pavilion, you can see gallery showcases of many Croatian artists. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can still marvel at the intricate architecture of the pavilion itself!
Note: Sadly, the Art Pavilion is closed due to the 2020 earthquake damage. The opening time is still not known as of now.
During the Advent period, this square takes on a new coat and becomes a skating rink. It’s certainly a nice experience to try if you are here during the winter. Whether you know ice skating or not, it’s an absolutely fun experience.
Chill a While in Zrinjevac
As you pass along the Strossmayer Park, you will come along the amazingly tranquil Park Zrinjevac. It is another part of the green Lenucci Horseshoe and one of the local favorites, as it’s a green retreat from the daily buzz of city life.
It’s dominated by the music pavilion in the middle that comes alive in spectacular, classic fashion in the Advent period. Also, there are three fountains around here, each with its own exciting story. You can also find a meteorological column that shows the current temperature and air humidity in Zagreb.
After you chill a bit in Zrinjevac, the main square is just a minute away!
Embrace the Daily Buzz at Ban Jelacic Square
You have made it to the Ban Jelacic Square, which is Zagreb’s main square dedicated to the national legend whose statue you can see in the middle of the daily buzz. It’s certainly a striking spot, with colorful buildings and a tram line with an occasional tram buzzing through, making it quite a lively place.
Many people gather around the imposing Josip Jelacic statue and the Mandusevac fountain near it. During the Advent period, the square turns into a Christman fairytale!
Well, all main roads in Zagreb lead to this square, so it is a great jump-off point for other locations in our 1 day in Zagreb itinerary!
Check the Panoramic View at Zagreb 360 Viewpoint
Just on the edge of Ban Jelacic Square, you can find a seemingly ordinary office building. Well, you can come to its top floor, which is located 182 meters above sea level. There, you can find a 360-degree bar with an amazing panoramic view over Zagreb! It’s certainly a dashing location that can show you the sheer scope of this lovely city.
You can buy the day ticket for 60 HRK (or 9 USD), which allows you to come here both during the daytime and evening. Make sure to visit this spot during the evening for a stunning night view over Zagreb!
Gasp in Awe at the Gothic Zagreb Cathedral
This Neo-Gothic style church that was built in the 12th century is located in the historic Kaptol district. Right from the get-go, you will notice its lovely exterior, with its spires making this the tallest building in Croatia.
The interior is no less dashing, with lots of statues and intricate columns for your eyes to feast on. Surprisingly, this church has withstood wars and devastating earthquakes (the most recent one was in March 2020) but still stands tall.
The square around the cathedral is quite lively, with local vendors and traditional folk dance shows around. Embrace the vibes here before moving on to the Upper Town!
Pass Through the Stone Gate to the Upper Town
This gate was built in the 14th century, along with three other gates that served as fortifications of the medieval Zagreb. Today, this gate is the only one standing, serving as one of the gateways between Lower and Upper Town.
As you come inside, you will notice that this place is a shrine to the Virgin Mary, as there is a small chapel with lots of candles inside and Madonna paintings. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary due to a supposed miracle. The story behind goes that in 1773, there was a fire that destroyed every wooden part of the Gate, with only the painting of Madonna with Child surviving the incident.
Well, after a brief stop, head on further to the heart of the Upper Town, the St. Mark’s Square.
Check Out St. Mark’s Church
Now that you are in the heart of the Upper Town, you can see the St. Mark’s Church dominating the square. Before, this was a market square, but now, it is a political and religious hub, with the Parliament building close.
The church itself is a hallmark of medieval architecture and was built in the 13th century. Its unique attraction is the patterned roof that contains two coats of arms – of Zagreb and old Croatian kingdoms.
If you manage to get inside the church during the daytime mass, you will notice lots of surreal and sometimes erotic sculpture work of renowned Croat sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. It’s kinda surprising that this piece of art is inside an actual church!
Explore Heartbreak at The Museum of Broken Relationships
Just a minute walk away from St. Mark’s Square is a quirky and original Museum of Broken Relationships.
The museum is composed of donated items that represent broken relationships, with love, family, and friendship being the main themes. Each item is accompanied by a story that varies from silly and heartfelt to uncomfortable and tearjerking. You certainly won’t be bored during your exploration of the museum.
There are items such as clothing and jewelry pieces to silly items like pizza boxes. But, once you learn about the context of these items, the hour that you spend over here will blaze swiftly!
The entrance fee to this museum is 40 HRK (or 6,25 USD), and it is absolutely worth it!
Take an Evening Walk Along the Strossmayer Promenade
As the evening slowly drops by, so does our 1 day in Zagreb itinerary slowly crawl to its end. To return to the Lower Town, take a walk along the lovely and peaceful Strossmayer Promenade that bursts with romantic vibes. Along the walk, you will pass along local stalls and gaze at the skyline of Zagreb that takes on a different coat during the evening.
During the Advent period, this promenade gets even more lovely! When you are ready, descend through Zakmardi Steps that will take you to Radic Street.
Enjoy the Night Vibes in Tkalciceva Street
Just a short walk from Radic Street is Tkalciceva, one of the most famous streets in Zagreb. During the evening, it gets even more lively. The street is lined with numerous bars, restaurants, cafes, and nightlife options.
There is a lot of diversity here, from tapas bars, Asian restaurants, bakeries, Mexican restaurants, and local restaurants. If you want to try the different spices of Zagreb, this is the right place.
Well, as you are staying in Zagreb just for one day, why wouldn’t you try out some of the local delicacies?
First in the line would be a local bakery called La Štruk. There, you can try the local especially, the Štrukli – a local cake that’s absolutely delicious. Anyone who went to elementary school in Croatia will remember the old Medimurje song “Babice su štrukle pekli” – an ode to this local delicacy.
Once you are done with Štrukli, visit the Mali Medo brewery, where you can sample some excellent local beer and local food to keep your belly full for the day ahead!
Well, that would be all for our 1 day in Zagreb itinerary! We sincerely hope that you will enjoy your stay in Zagreb and that this one day you spend here will be filled with at least one memorable experience. Make sure to visit more of Croatia, as it is full of hidden gems if you just stray off the beaten path!
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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.