Zagreb Attractions: Top 17 Things Do In Zagreb
Given that Croatia is perhaps most famous for the coastline, the landlocked capital of Zagreb tends to go unrecognized by visitors. We felt it was time to shine a light on Zagreb and the beautiful sights such as the Broken Relationship Museum and the Glyphotheque. Take a look at our list of the top 17 things to do in Zagreb and learn more about a city packed with history and culture. Let these Zagreb Attractions inspire you to get you packing your bags for Zagreb now!
List of the Best Zagreb Attractions:
The Britanski Trg – or British Square – also known as the Britanc has been a popular spot in the city for years. Some people consider it to be the most “Zagreb” place you can find, packed full of stories and memories of growing up in the fine city. The square has never been quite finished as far as the design goes, but this only serves to make it more authentic.
The Britanc is home to one of the longest-running open-air markets around. This lively and popular market has been going for nearly a century now and it’s a great destination for a drink in the evening. Take a look at the nearby galleries to learn more about the regional art scene. The square offers a genuine look at Zagreb and so it’s not to be missed.
This is the place to be to get lost in a world of art. It takes a few hours to get through the entirety of the Glyphotheque museum and there’s a good chance you’ll end up somewhat disoriented. The museum itself also serves as an excellent example of the industrial architecture of Zagreb.
The building was once a tannery back in the 19th century and has been home to several casts and sculptures in recent decades. It now houses around 13,000 items. Take a look at all the casts sourced from around the world for just 1,5 EUR.
The Poet Sculpture
The poet sculpture is a sculpture of the Croatian poet Antun Gustav Matos watching over Zagreb from his bench. It’s probably the most popular piece of street art in Zagreb. He can be found on the public benches along the Strossmayer walkway. Just be warned that this sculpture by Ivan Kozaric is known to scare some kids.
Everyone that visits Zagreb needs to take a picture of themselves with the poet. There are several sculptures dedicated to Croatian writers as well, which showcases the rich literary heritage in the country. These sculptures represent the closest one can get to how influential these artisans were.
The famous house of Kallina is an example of Zagreb’s architectural prowess. This three-story residential palace stands out through its ceramic decoration around the building. The Kallina house was commissioned by an owner of a ceramic tiles factory. He turned his own house into the ultimate promotional piece for the company.
The building is designed by the famous architect Vjekoslav Bastl and it serves as an extraordinary example of the local art-nouveau architecture. The building is covered in incredible colored tiles, complete with the occasional secessionist floral motif. What started out as perhaps the ultimate advertisement for tiles has become an incredible sight.
St. Mark’s Square
The square served as the center for Medieval Zagreb and is now the center of the Croatian government and parliament. St Mark’s Square is cute and picturesque, with many agreeing that it is beautiful and packed full of history. The square has borne witness to many changes, including the square itself being abandoned somewhat by city life.
St Mark’s Square is home to one of the most recognizable sights of Zagreb in St Mark’s Church. If you’re going to Zagreb then you should take a look at it. It has somehow retained its charm despite being one of the most commonly listed things in travel guides. That’s a rare sight by itself. It’s not often tourists don’t remove the charm of a place.
The Well of Life
The Well of Life was completed by a 22-year-old Ivan Mestrovic; one of the greatest Croatian sculptors in history. The city of Zagreb acquired the piece over a century ago, which adorns the open space in front of the National Theater building.
There are many sculptors dotting the streets of Zagreb, but it’s impossible to overlook the Well of Life. Your attention is grabbed instantly by the expressive figures as you attempt to understand and comprehend the incredible ability of Mestrovic. The Well of Life is a masterpiece in the truest sense of the word. Every art lover owes it to themselves to see it.
Dugave Street Art Museum
The Dugave Street Art Museum was a project designed to bring the street art of Dugrave, a commonly overlooked neighborhood. The museum was quickly embraced by everyone in the area. Zagreb contains four street art museums. This one brought art to the district of Dugrave and made it the center of attention for culture. It also serves as a great excuse to cross the Sava river and experience the Novi Zagreb area. Zagreb is one of those cities that is split in two by a river, so don’t forget to visit both sides of the city.
Brestovac – the Forgotten Sanatorium
The existence of the Brestovac sanatorium for tuberculosis treatment is something of an urban legend in the city. While it’s easy enough to reach the place by car, there are many locals who don’t even know where it is. This makes any visit to the place an adventure in itself.
The ruin brings in many adventure seekers, photo enthusiasts, ghost hunters, urban explorers, and hikers. If you fall into any of those categories or are interested in joining them, then this is one sight that you have to see for yourself.
Cinema Kino Europa
The Cinema Kino Europa is the oldest cinema in Zagreb that still runs. It’s become a major hangout for hipsters in recent years as a nightclub and café bar were added to it. There’s a wide range of drinks on offer, including the strong “Rakiia”.
The cinema is almost a hundred years old now, which is something rare to see. The bar is always lively too and it offers a great chance to sample some of the local rakiia wines and brandies. There’s nothing like a good drink with friends, and after a few rakiias you’ll be making friends with everyone in the bar.
Museum of Broken Relationships
As the name suggests, this museum showcases memories of broken relationships, including emotional descriptions. The concept is simple but perfect. Zagreb residents are fond of the museum because it’s a private project and they are proud of the success it has achieved.
You won’t find anything like this museum anywhere else in the world. You’re bound to get some goosebumps from the museum as you relate to all of the stories that, as different as they are, represent something we’ve all experienced for ourselves.
Locals enjoy spending their free time exploring the pathways of the late 18th century Maksmir Park. This is a great place for enjoying recreational activities like cycling and jogging. During spring and summer, there are many events happening across the park.
Maksimir is a great way to add something to your day in Zagreb. The park offers a perfect combination of architecture and nature. If you’re a fan of nature then you’ll be excited to know that the five lakes and centennial oak forests of Maksimir are an ideal location for birdwatching.
The serene oasis of the botanical gardens in the city center offers a great way to step away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The 120-year-old trees have seen the city develop over time. Sitting yourself down on one of the benches and reading through your favorite book is a great way to de-stress and unwind.
Not only is the garden a botanical research center, but it’s also an incredible example of architecture thanks to the asymmetrical landscapes and geometrical flower beds. It’s an open-air museum of plans including the Mediterranean, tropical, and even carnivorous plants. The best thing about the botanical gardens though is that it’s completely free!
It’s a local tradition in Zagreb to purchase fresh food in an open air market. Dolac is a central market that attracts people from across the whole city, especially on weekends, to get their groceries and fresh produce.
The Dolac Market is one of the most attractive Zagreb sights because it offers a unique chance to meet locals at every level of society, to sample the freshest seasonal products in Zagreb, and purchase hand-made souvenirs at negotiable prices.
Giant Whale Mural
The giant whale mural breathed life into an abandoned building that was never accepted by Zagreb residents. That the city authorities authorized this giant mural in the city center has made everyone happy though. It’s the kind of city that everyone would love to live in.
The Giant Whale Mural was done by French artist Etien, known for anamorphosis artworks. There are some great street artists in Zagreb, but this mural is one of the most popular ones around.
Kersimirac serves as the last example of protected park architecture in Zagreb. It’s home to stunning pathways, a fountain representing water cycles, and the first public children’s playground in Croatia. The locals love Kresimirac because the treetops whisper memories of the city.
As is the case with many of the best sights in Zagreb, this one is close to the city center while being away from regular tourist paths. It’s surprising that even the locals don’ seem to enjoy the park as much as they should. The park is named after a Croatian king, but it once held the names of Soviet leaders, Stalin and Lenin.
Old Water Well
The courtyard behind the entrance to Demetrova Street No 11 is home to the only water well left in the upper town. There used to be one water well per 20 houses. This is the only one that has been preserved and renewed and it looks great as a result. It’s kept hidden behind a closed gateway though, so it’s always revealing to enter the quiet courtyard.
We don’t understand how something so lovely is never found on tourist maps. If you go to the well you’ll likely find yourself on your own. This by itself feels great though when you consider you’re in one of the most tourist-heavy areas of a European capital.
Zagreb’s Christmas Markets
And lastly, perhaps the Best Zagreb Attraction is its very own Christmas Market. Zagreb is known to have the best Christmas Market in Europe. The entire city of Zagreb transforms into the Ultimate Christmas Bazaar filled with lights and events during Christmas season.
There are many things to see and do in Zagreb, each more enjoyable than the last. This list of the best Zagreb attractions is just the tip of the iceberg. There are the other tourist destinations tucked away in the quiet areas. No matter what you’re interested in seeing and doing, you’ll find something that matches your needs in the beautiful city of Zagreb. So take a look around the city and see what you can discover for yourself!