There’s no mistake Zagreb has always been a beautiful town, but in the last few years, it began to attract more and more visitors, as if it had been rediscovered. People from all over the world come to see the capital of Croatia, which is, architecturally, a typical Central European city. But the mentality of its people is what makes Zagreb such a lovely and inviting place to visit. They make it unique!
Why visit Zagreb?
Welcome to Zagreb, the charming capital of Croatia!
Zagreb is an old Central European city, located at the intersection of important roads between the Adriatic coast and Central Europe. When Croatians gained their independence in 1991, Zagreb became the capital, political and administrative center of the Republic of Croatia. With approximately 800.000 inhabitants, Zagreb is also the largest Croatian city.
For centuries Zagreb has developed as a city of culture, a powerful trading and economic center. It is also a center of science and knowledge, housing the largest Croatian university and many important institutions. Despite the rapid development, the town has retained its distinctive beauty and relaxed way of life.
Zagreb developed from two medieval settlements situated on two neighboring hills. The first written mention of Zagreb dates from 1094 and confirms the establishment of the diocese at Kaptol. The neighboring Gradec was proclaimed a free royal city in 1242. Both settlements were surrounded by fortified walls and towers, the remains of which have been preserved to this day. The two towns continued to develop separately until 1850 when they were united into Zagreb. Today, Kaptol and Gradec represent a historic core of the city, which has changed very little since the 13th century.
In the 19th century, after the unification, the city began to spread. The entire Lower Town area was constructed during this century. With beautiful palaces and green parks, it is forming what we call the Green Horseshoe.
The 20th century brought wealth and industry. It made the city grow and spread, for the first time, to the other side of the river Sava. The new area got the name Novi Zagreb (New Zagreb), where, as opposed to the city center, modern and brutalist architecture is dominant.
best Christmas market
Where is Zagreb?
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia. It lies in the central part of Croatia, a couple of hours from the coast, and the other European capitals – Ljubljana (2h), Belgrade (4h), Vienna (4h), Budapest (4h).
What to see in Zagreb
Ban Jelačić Square
Ban Jelačić Square is the central city’s square, situated in the heart of Zagreb. It is where Kaptol, Upper Town and Lower Town meet. Until the 17th century, it was an empty field beneath the walls of Gradec and Kaptol. At the time, it became a marketplace where inhabitants of the two settlements would meet and exchange goods. The first buildings were erected in the 17th and 18th centuries. But most buildings were constructed in the 19th century when the square was first named in honor of ban Jelačić.
Ban Josip Jelačić is one of the most prominent figures in Croatian history. He was a count, a general, and a ban (governor) of Croatia in the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But what earned him fame and glory among the Croatian people is the abolition of serfdom that he proclaimed, as well as his commitment to persuading greater Croatian autonomy in the Empire.
In 1947 the Yugoslav government changed the name of the square to Republic Square. In 1990, on the path to their independence, Croatians returned the name of ban Jelačić. Today, the statue of ban Jelačić stands proudly in the middle of the square, where all important events take place.
Ilica Street is one of the longest and busiest streets in Zagreb. The street is approximately 6km long, and it extends from the Ban Jelačić Square to the west. It retained its present shape at the end of the 18th century and has since been the main street of Zagreb.
Ilica is also the city’s main shopping street. Here you can find all kinds of shoes and clothes stores, the finest local products, food and beverage shops, and much more. From the world-famous brands (Zara, Mango, Calzedonia, Women’s Secret, Adidas, Nike, etc.), boutiques of the local designers, and luxury jewelry shops, to pastry shops and fast-food restaurants – Ilica has it all!
Tkalčićeva Street is the most attractive street in Zagreb. With many restaurants and cafes, as well as traditional local shops, it is one of the busiest and most vibrant streets in the city center. The street is as lively at night as it is during the day. Many locals and tourists fill the terraces of the bars, enjoying their time drinking beer or listening to live music.
The street also has a fascinating history. Before the 19th century, a stream was flowing at the site of today’s Tkalčićeva street, dividing the two settlements – Gradec and Kaptol. There were many bridges over the stream at the time, where residents of both settlements would meet for trade or other purposes. It was also a place of frequent conflicts between the citizens. One of the former bridges is now a street that connects Tkalčićeva and Radićeva streets. It got the name Krvavi most (Bloody Bridge) due to the bloodiest battle that took place here. Both sides suffered significant losses in the battle. The stream was covered with soil in the 19th century when the settlements were joined together. At the time, Tkalčićeva street became the red light district, since almost every house in the street was a brothel. Of course, that has changed since then!
Zagreb Cathedral is one of the landmarks of the city. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Ever since the 11th century, it has been dominating the Kaptol square. The first cathedral was set on fire in the 13th century. The second one, on the other hand, was severely damaged in the earthquake in 1880. The appearance the cathedral has today is a result of the restoration after the earthquake. It was restored in the Neo-Gothic style by Hermann Bollé, a famous German-born architect who lived in Zagreb at the time. In the 16th century, the renaissance-style walls and towers were built to protect the cathedral. The walls are still present today, except for the front part of the fortification system. It was torn down during the 19th-century restoration, to ease the entrance to the church.
Today, the Cathedral of Zagreb is 77 meters long and 46 meters wide. With two towers that reach a height of 108 meters, it is the highest building in Croatia! The cathedral’s interior contains several “surprises”. There’s a clock that still shows the time of the 1880’s earthquake. There’s an organ, classified among the world’s top ten most excellent organs. Furthermore, there’s the grave of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac. The cathedral treasury, or beautiful baroque marble altars and statues.
The Cathedral is open to visitors every day from 10:00 to 17:00 (from 13:00 to 17:00 on Sundays). Visitors are also welcomed to attend the mass every day at 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, and 18:00.
The old settlement of Gradec is what we nowadays call the Upper Town. The Upper Town area has changed very little since the 13th century. Its shape and layout of the streets haven’t changed at all. However, the fortification system has been destroyed due to the development of the city and its growth. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Baroque reconstruction took place. Old wooden houses were demolished, while lavish palaces, monasteries, and churches took their place. Today, the Upper Town is a political center of the city and home to many museums and churches.
There used to be four gates to the fortified city of Gradec. The only preserved is the eastern one, known as Kamenita Vrata (Stone Gate). The Stone Gate not only connects Radićeva Street and the Upper Town but is also the city’s most beautiful shrine. The gate was built in the 13th century and has since become a major attraction.
The shrine in the passage was established in the 18th century. On the 31st of May 1731, a great fire destroyed Gradec, burning almost all the houses to the ground. At that time, a painting of the Virgin Mary was displayed in the passage. Miraculously, the picture remained intact and undamaged by the fire. Since then, the citizens of Zagreb adopted the Virgin Mary of the Stone Gate as their patron saint. The 31st of May has since been celebrated as Zagreb City Day.
St Mark’s Square
St Mark’s Square represents the heart of the Upper Town. The square is home to Zagreb’s most iconic church and to some of the most important state institutions.
The St Mark’s Church dominates the square in all its glory. The oldest part of the church dates from the 13th century, but the Neo-Gothic appearance is a result of the later renovation. The bell tower, however, was restored in a Neo-Baroque style. But what makes this church the most photographed church in Zagreb is its colorful tiled roof. The glazed roof tiles, installed in the 19th century, represent traditional Croatian colors – red, white, and blue. The same colors are present on the Croatian flag, too. The design also includes two coats of arms. The one on the left represents The Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia, while the one on the right represents the city of Zagreb.
Other notable buildings on the square include the Croatian Government (on the left), the Croatian Parliament (on the right), and the Constitutional Court (behind the church).
Once guarding the south entrance to Gradec, Lotrščak Tower is, together with the Stone Gate, the only remaining part of the medieval fortification system of the Upper Town. With its four floors, the tower reaches a height of 30 meters. There used to be a bell on the top which would ring every night before closing the gates. It also alarmed the citizens of a robbery or danger. Today, however, the tower houses a cannon that is fired every day at noon, from the top floor. The noise generated by the Grič cannon can be heard in all the Upper and Lower Town and ever further. Thanks to the cannon, Lotrščak Tower is one of the most recognizable symbols of Zagreb.
The Lower Town is the urban center of contemporary Zagreb. The first buildings began to appear as early as the 18th century. But the Lower Town as we know it was built in the 19th and first half of the 20th century. Even today, most of Lower Town architecture dates to this period.
The urban area of the Lower Town includes a series of green parks and beautiful historicist palaces. Historicism (or revivalism) is a style in architecture that draws inspiration from recreating historic styles or imitating the work of celebrated artisans. In layman’s terms, historicism copies previous architectural styles. In Lower Town, there are examples of Neoclassical, Neo-Romanesque, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Renaissance, and Neo-Baroque architecture.
The most remarkable result of the 19th-century urban planning in Zagreb is a patchwork of seven squares and parks. Placed one next to the other, they form a shape of a horseshoe. The area is locally known as Green Horseshoe. It features several historicist palaces housing museums, galleries, ministries, faculties, and other significant state institutions.
Beginning from the first one on the east side, we have Zrinjevac Park, Strossmayer Square, and Tomislav Square. The southern link is represented by the Main Railway Station and the green area of the Botanical Garden while the west side features Marulić, Mažuranić, and Republic Square.
Republic Square is the most beautiful one in Zagreb. In the middle of the square stands the magnificent Neo-Baroque building of the Croatian National Theater. Established more than 120 years ago, it is the leading, oldest, and largest theater in the country. It contains three permanent ensembles – opera, ballet, and theatre.
Other buildings on the square include the Rectorate of the University of Zagreb, Museum of Arts and Crafts, Music Academy, and Academy of Dramatic Arts. The Neo-Renaissance façade of the Museum of Arts and Crafts is said to be the most beautiful one in Zagreb.
Park Zrinjevac is the most central park in Zagreb. It is a favorite place for many tourists and citizens of Zagreb. Whether they enjoy their walk in the park, attend a concert, or search for a bench to sit on and relax in the shade. The park is bustling with life at any time of the year. It is one of the main spots during the Christmas market, a.k.a. Advent in Zagreb. In summer, the park turns into a “green beach” where people can lie on a deck chair and pretend they’re on a beach, and all this without leaving the capital.
Novi Zagreb (or New Zagreb), as its name indicates, is (or was) a new part of the city. Located south of the river Sava, Novi Zagreb was built only after World War II. There are several bridges over the river Sava that connect the north and south bank, which is Zagreb and Novi Zagreb. The most famous bridges are Jadranski most (Adriatic Bridge), Savski most (Sava Bridge), Željeznički most (Railway Bridge), Most slobode (Bridge of Freedom), and Most mladosti (Bridge of Youth).
The one that stands out is the Railway Bridge, one of the oldest bridges over the Sava river, built in 1939. It is also known as Green Bridge or Hendrix Bridge because of its distinguishing green construction and the “Hendrix” graffiti, which reappears after every refurbishing in the last few decades. Due to this, it has become one of the icons of the Croatian capital. Recently, the bridge was updated with colorful lights that light up every time a train pass.
Novi Zagreb is also home to the largest residential building in Croatia, and one of the largest in Europe. The building was built in 1974 and has since been popularly known as Mamutica (Mammoth). It contains 1.169 apartments that accommodate approximately 5.000 people.
Another notable site of Novi Zagreb is Zagreb’s Trade Fair, one of the largest fairs in this part of Europe. First established in 1909, the fair was moved to the site in 1956. It has since hosted many exhibitions, trade fairs, expos, and concerts in its pavilions. One of the most visited shows is Interliber, the annual book fair that is held here every September.
More recent sights of Novi Zagreb include the Museum of Contemporary Art and Arena Zagreb, the largest sports arena in Croatia.
Mirogoj is the largest and the most beautiful cemetery in Zagreb. Surrounded by landscaped greenery, it is also a lovely park. All those who decide to visit Mirogoj will be amazed at the very first step. The entrance to the cemetery is “guarded” by the monumental, 500-meter-long arcades. The Neo-Renaissance arcades, designed by Herman Bollé, are another beautiful example of historicist architecture in Zagreb. The cemetery, established in the 19th century, is also a place of religious tolerance, as citizens of all religions were buried here. The segregation of graves was and still is strictly forbidden. Therefore, many famous Croats, no matter their religion or background, are embedded here. The cemetery and its park offer a unique network of trails for all those who seek an escape from the city bustle.
Best time to visit Zagreb
Zagreb is a perfect destination to visit at any time of the year. Unlike most coastal cities that are bustling with life in summer and “shut down” during winter, Croatian capital will always welcome you with open arms.
Things to do in Zagreb
Zagreb is a European city with the highest number of museums and galleries per capita! Besides all the traditional art and history museums, Croatian capital has a significant amount of exciting and somewhat uncommon themed museums.
The one that stands out is a Museum of Broken Relationships, situated in the Upper Town. The museum was founded in 2010 by two Croatian artists whose love story has just come to an end. They didn’t know what to do with all the things they gathered over the years. So they came up with the idea of a museum dedicated to unsuccessful relationships. The exhibition contains personal objects that former lovers from all over the world have donated to the museum. Each object comes with a brief description, a story behind the object and the broken relationship it represents. It is a unique opportunity to visit such a museum, so don’t miss it, because it guarantees a lot of fun!
Another great place to visit with kids or friends is a Museum of Illusions. The museum offers a fun experience that engages all your senses. It provides not only a lot of fun but also great photos you can publish later. Children will also love Backo Mini Express, a museum of model railway. With more than 1,050 meters of tracks and different models of trains, it is one of the largest museums of this kind in Europe.
The recently opened Chocolate Museum is a must for every chocolate enthusiast. Croatian School Museum and Zagreb 80’s Museum offer an exciting approach to history. And the Museum of Hangovers and Museum of Torture speak for themselves.
A must for all science enthusiasts is a Nikola Tesla Technical Museum. Visitors can visit the replica of Nikola Tesla’s laboratory, a mine, and a planetarium. Sports buffs are welcome to visit Dražen Petrović Memorial Museum, dedicated to Croatian greatest basketball player.
For those who prefer classical art and a more traditional approach to history, we recommend visiting Mimara, State Archives, Archeological Museum, Zagreb City Museum, or Museum of Contemporary Art.
Park Maksimir is the “lungs” of Zagreb. It is the first public park in Southeastern Europe, but also one of the first in the world. The park was opened to the public in 1794, offering recreation and relaxation. The park, landscaped in the English style, stretches across 316 hectares. It includes five lakes and numerous tracks and trails through dense forest. Among the other attractions, Maksimir houses a zoo, football stadium, and various cafes and restaurants. Zagreb Zoo, opened in 1925, is the oldest zoo in this part of Europe. Surrounded by a beautiful park and forest, it is a great place to spend an extra day in Zagreb, especially if you are traveling with children.
The Jarun Lake, with its park and sports area, offers an escape from noise and crowd. The area includes walking trails, cycling and inline skating trails, and recreational zone with exercise equipment. The park also provides a place for barbecue and picnic, as well as many lakeside restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs. During summer, an island in the lake hosts one of the best festivals in the region – INmusic festival. The annually held festival offers three days of best world music!
Mount Medvednica and its mountaintop Sljeme, just north of Zagreb, are an ideal destination for an active holiday. Sljeme has always been a much-loved picnic area for the citizens of Zagreb. There is also a ski slope on Sljeme, which is one of the locations for Ski World Cup races – Snow Queen Trophy.
Sljeme is easily accessible by public bus from the city center. Once there, it’s a short walk to the top. It is a perfect way to spend a day in nature and see Zagreb from another angle.
Zagreb city center is full of cool gift shops, art and craft shops, designer boutiques, street fashion brands, and many other places that you can visit to fill in the gaps between all the sightseeing. From traditional souvenirs to designer artifacts, everyone will find something to their liking on the streets of Zagreb.
Typical souvenirs include the gingerbread heart (a token of love in a shape of a red glazed heart), a tie (which is Croatian “invention”), Šestine’s umbrella (a red striped umbrella, used as part of traditional clothing), or paprenjak biscuit (traditional biscuit that has peppery flavor).
For those who prefer to buy clothes, there are several shops in Ilica Street. Bigger shopping centers are located outside the city center but are easily accessible by any kind of public transportation. One of the most famous centers in Zagreb is Arena Centar, located next to the sports arena in Novi Zagreb.
Advent in Zagreb
If you decide to visit Zagreb for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, you won’t be sorry! Although visiting Croatia in summer has its perks, Zagreb has made its name by being reselected a few years in a row as the best Christmas market in Europe (as voted by visitors!).
During the last month of the year, Zagreb turns into a winter fairytale. With a large ice rink and a lot of Christmas lights, Advent in Zagreb has become a traditional event held at several locations in the city center. The Advent offers a rich cultural and entertainment program. Not to mention all the excellent food that visitors can try. From traditional winter specialties, such as sausages with sauerkraut, to gourmet burgers and international cuisine.
Located in the central part of Croatia, Zagreb has a mild continental climate. That means hot summers and cold winters with snow. The average summer temperature is around 30 degrees. In winter, on the other hand, it usually falls below zero.
How to get to Zagreb
Zagreb is accessible by plane, train, bus, or car. Due to its location, it is easily reachable from many other European capitals, such as Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, and Ljubljana.
How to get to Zagreb from Split
If you decide to drive from Split to Zagreb, you will need approximately 3 hours to get there. First, follow the signs for Zagreb/Rijeka/Sinj to get to the road D8. On a roundabout, take the second exit to get to D1. Continue on D1 and get on the motorway A1 at Dugopolje, direction Zagreb/Šibenik. Continue on A1/E71 to Zagreb. Take the exit at Lučko and merge left to go straight through the interchange. Continue straight on Jadranska avenija, following the instructions for Zagreb Center.
How to get to Zagreb from Ljubljana
When arriving from Ljubljana, you will need approximately 2 hours to reach Zagreb. It could take longer in summer, depending on the situation at the border. To get out of the city center, follow the signs for motorway and Novo Mesto. Get on A2 motorway and follow the road until you reach the border (Obrežje/Bregana). Continue on A3 motorway and follow the instructions on the way to reach the Exit 3 Zagreb-Zapad. Next, continue on Jadranska avenija.
How to get to Zagreb from Belgrade
It will take approximately 4,5 hours to reach Zagreb from Belgrade, depending on the wait at the border. First, get on the interchange “Mostar” and choose the exit for E70/E75. Continue straight on E70/A3 until you reach the border Batrovci. Next, continue on A3. Keep right toward Budapest/Varaždin/Zagreb Istok and continue straight all the way to Slavonska avenija. Then follow the instructions on the road to reach the city center.
Zagreb’s Franjo Tuđman Airport is located close to the city center, approximately 15 minutes by car. All the information about the available flights, as well as prices, is available on the link.
How to get around in Zagreb
Public transport in the center of Zagreb is mostly operated by electric trams, while buses run on the broader city area. Most trams stop at Main Railway Station and Ban Jelačić Square. Buses for Novi Zagreb, Maksimir, Jarun Lake, and Mirogoj cemetery leave from the platform behind the Main Railway Station. The detailed schedule is available here.
You can buy a ticket at kiosks or in the vehicle. The price of the ticket depends on the fare you choose – 4kn/30min, 7kn/60min, or 10kn/90min. The daily ticket will cost you 30 kunas. When buying the ticket from the driver, it will cost you 15 kunas. By entering a tram or bus, every passenger is obligated to validate a purchased ticket. Machines for validating paper tickets are installed at the first door of the vehicle.
Another way of getting around the town is by taxi or Uber. Bike rental is also possible, and it’s a great way to explore the city if you prefer an active approach. If, however, you are out of your strength from all the sightseeing, consider taking a funicular that connects Upper and Lower Town. The ticket can be bought on-site, and the ride lasts not more than a minute.
If you are planning on staying in Zagreb for a more extended period, consider buying Zagreb Card. The card includes free city transportation and many discounts. More information is available on the link.
Where to stay in Zagreb
Hotel Esplanade ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Hotel Esplanade is the most famous and luxurious hotel in Zagreb, operating for almost 100 years. The hotel was opened in 1925 for the Orient Express passengers. The hotel has welcomed many distinguished guests during the years. Orson Welles, Elisabeth Taylor, Maria Callas, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, David Beckham, U2, Paolo Coelho, Cristiano Ronaldo, and many more have stayed here. The service in this 5-star hotel is highly personalized and has everything you may need for a perfect stay.
Hotel Palace ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Hotel Palace is another historical centrally-located hotel. The hotel was established in 1907 as the first official hotel in Zagreb. Located next to the Zrinjevac Park, in Lower Town area, this hotel has a perfect location for guests who arrive without a car and want to explore Zagreb on foot. It’s only a 5-minute walk from the main square and the Upper Town. Palace Hotel also offers all kinds of services and amenities that will make your stay even more enjoyable.
Hotel Park 45 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Hotel Park 45 is a newly opened hotel, situated in Ilica Street, only 5 minutes on foot from the main city square. It is a modern hotel that offers a comfortable stay, along with the top-notch service. The 4-star hotel also has parking where you can leave your vehicle if arriving by car, for an additional cost. Guests can choose from a suite, double, or twin room (superior, comfort, or standard). All the rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with a TV, Wi-Fi, a minibar, a hairdryer, and a safe.
Hotel Central ⭐⭐⭐
Hotel Central is a 3-star hotel, located in the very heart of Zagreb opposite the Main Railway Station. Due to its location, it is a perfect starting point for visitors who plan to explore Zagreb, as well as those who are only staying a night. It’s only a 10-minute walk from the main square and Upper Town. Also, all the buses and many trams make a stop at the Main Railway Station, which makes getting around Zagreb even more comfortable.
Where to eat in Zagreb
Croatian cuisine is a blend of various influences – Mediterranean, Austro-Hungarian, and even Turkish. Due to the historical influences, each region has its own distinct culinary tradition. Zagreb, located in the central part of Croatia, is mostly influenced by Austro-Hungarian cuisine and has many similarities with central European countries. Traditional dishes include meat dishes with potatoes or rice, minced meat dishes, mushroom dishes, sausages with cabbage, vegetable and meat stews, freshwater fish, etc.
If you are interested in trying some of the best food typical for this region, we suggest visiting Dolac Market, a favorite place for many citizens of Zagreb. In its offer, you will find fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, dry fruit, all kind of salads from the winter store, jams, honey, fresh fish and meat, cheese and other dairy products, and much more. One of the symbols of Zagreb cuisine is cottage cheese with cream, so don’t miss a chance to try it. It’s a great dinner alternative.
Another iconic dish is štrukli (pastry filled with cottage cheese and sour cream), which is prepared either boiled in water or baked in the oven. There is a restaurant in Zagreb serving only štrukli, called La Štruk. The restaurant offers traditional štrukli, as well as štrukli with blueberries, hot pepper, or truffles.
Pivovara Medvedgrad offers all the traditional delicacies accompanied by the finest local beer. With four pubs in the city center that are always full, Pivovara Medvedgrad guarantees a tasty dish and a nice pint of beer.
If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss Zagreb’s popular pastry shops. There’s Vincek, a famous local pastry shop operating on several locations around Zagreb. Vincek has a more traditional approach to baking and serves traditional Croatian desserts. If you prefer a more modern approach, go with Amelie, a lovely little place located near the cathedral. If you wish to take some sweets home with you, visit Kraš in Ilica street, the Croatian most beloved chocolatier and candy shop.
What to visit near Zagreb
If you have an extra day to spare, consider visiting Karlovac, a charming town located only 40 km south of Zagreb. Karlovac is the city of parks and rivers. It has four rivers flowing through it, which gets very handy during the summer months when you can go swimming or even rafting. Furthermore, you can enjoy your walk through the central part of the town, the so-called star, built in the 16th century as a Renaissance fortress. Among the other attractions, Karlovac is home to Aquatika (freshwater aquarium) and Homeland War Museum. And the good thing is that Karlovac lies on your way to Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Inevitable in any itinerary, Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most famous national park in Croatia. Listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park is a place of unique natural beauty. On 300 square kilometers of a protected area, there are 16 lakes. The lakes are interconnected as if they were a ladder – they are cascading one into the other over many beautiful waterfalls. The highest waterfall is nearly 80 meters high, and it astonishes the visitors from all over the world. With all the possible routes and other facilities it offers, this national park is a great way to spend a day in nature.
Thirty kilometers west of Zagreb lies the picturesque town of Samobor – an ideal option for a half-day trip. Samobor is one of the best-preserved historic cities in continental Croatia. It is famous for kremšnita, a delicious vanilla cream cake. The town attracts many visitors all year round, but particularly in February during carnival, which is here called Fašnik. The citizens of Samobor and their guests gather on the main square, parading in costumes and eating kremšnita cake. The spectacle also includes live music and other performances.
Hrvatsko zagorje is a region north from Zagreb. The region owns the name “zagorje” to its geographical position. Zagorje lies behind the Mount Medvednica and translates as “behind the hills”. It is a green hilly area full of medieval castles and rich in thermal water. Except for all the spa resorts that offer relaxation and fun, there are also several museums you can visit. For example, Krapina Neanderthal Museum and Europe’s largest Paleolithic site. Or the village of Kumrovec, famous for being the birthplace of Josip Broz Tito. The village, nowadays, represents an open-air ethnographic museum that shows what life was like in the region many years ago.
Varaždin is known as a Baroque town, thanks to the beautifully preserved historical center. The Old Town of Varaždin houses a castle (turned into a museum). Several other mansions remind visitors of the times when this lovely town served as the capital of Croatia. The most popular event held in Varaždin is Špancirfest – an annually-held outdoor festival that fills the Varaždin Old Town with live music, markets, street performances, and many visitors. When in Varaždin, consider visiting the Trakošćan Castle, as well. Trakošćan, dating back to the 13th century, is the most beautiful Croatian castle. Located on top of a hill, with a romantic park and lake beneath it, the castle will offer you a dash of the aristocracy.