Zagreb is the vibrant capital of Croatia, and is an absolute charmer. Most people head to the country’s most talked about locations of Split, Dubrovnik, or the Plitvace National Parks, which I did go to on this visit. On my future visits to Croatia, I plan to explore more of the country, but I wanted to visit the capital on my first go around. Plus, there is something special about visiting a bustling capital of a European country.
There were two reasons that I chose Zagreb as the city I wanted to visit in Croatia. One: on this specific trip, I was solo traveling to thirteen countries, and hitting all of their capitals. Two: the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvace National Park, can easily done as a day trip. You can take a 2.5 hour bus from the central bus station in Zagreb, that will take you to the park.
Depending on how much time you have and what you want to experience, a few days is perfect- a couple of days in Zagreb, with an additional day trip to Plitvace. If you only have a day in Zagreb, I have compiled a fun list of things to see and do. Additionally, I linked my food blog to this post, as well as to a marvelous restaurant, a Michelin Bib Gourmand Awarded dining experience, Bistro Agava.
Ban Jelačić Square
This vibrant central city square in Zagreb dates back to 1641. It began as the central marketplace, and over time several buildings and roads were built around it. The oldest building in the square is located at 1 Ban Jelačić Square, and dates back to the the 18th century.
The square was renamed to its current name in 1848, and a dominating statue of Ban Josip Jelačić on a horse was installed in the center of the square. There are various places to eat, drink and shop; Ban Jelačić Square is one of the city’s most popular locations.
The Gothic/ Gothic Revival cathedral of Zagreb is the second tallest building in Croatia. It is also considered the most monumental Gothic style structure southeast of the Alps. Zagreb Cathedral was first constructed during the mid 13th century, but was reconstructed and added to, from 1880 to 1906.
The tall and intricate spires are known to be one of Zagreb’s landmarks, and are visible from most parts of the city. Inside the cathedral, the treasury holds liturgical books that were collected during different historical periods, liturgical vestments, and a variety of metal vessels. The most significant objects of the treasury are a medieval St. Ladislaus cloak, and an ivory Plenarium.
If you personally know me or follow my blog, then you know that I have an over the top passion with a city’s old town. Upper Town is Zagreb’s oldest neighborhood with a labyrinth of sweet cobble stone streets, and charming buildings. There are numerous restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, and attractions in this neighborhood. Upper Town is one of the city’s most favorite locations.
If you have additional time and want to explore more of Upper Town, here is a list of popular suggestions:
- Zagreb Cathedral of Assumption
- Parliament Building
- Saint Mark’s Church
- Dolac Market
- Stone Gate
- Tkalclceva street
- Museum of Broken Relationships
- Lotrscak Tower
- Strossmayer Promenade
Zagreb is not short of a delicious dining experience. There is a great variety of restaurants, cafes, and pubs throughout the city streets that will surely meet everyone’s palate. Zagreb offers inexpensive casual dining, local and international favorites, pizza, sandwiches, and up to fine dining experiences.
While I was in Zagreb, I decided to wander Upper Town and find a restaurant that just felt right. There were so many places to choose from, and it was quite overwhelming, but I used my instincts to find one that was right for me. I found it, the restaurant was Bistro Agava, and I had a magnificent dining experience. My restaurant radar was right on cue.
Zagreb’s Unique Neighborhoods
A walk through the charming and unique neighborhoods of Zagreb is a an excellent way to visit this city. Zagreb has two parts, the Lower and Upper Towns, which comprise of different neighborhoods. Each part is a reflection of the city’s recent urban revival, as well as the historical development through the centuries.
Sometimes while exploring a city, one cannot help but walk through different neighborhoods. With that said, it really is quite important to be in the present, and just notice life around you. In Zagreb, you can come across little squares surrounded by charming architecture, creative wall murals, unique shopping, and fun restaurants.
Bistro Agava – A Michelin Bib Gourmand Awarded Restaurant
As I was walking through Old Town and taking in the charm of Zagreb’s old world feel, I glanced to the left and saw Bistro Agave. It was a handsome looking restaurant with white linen tables, inviting tiered seating, and it was calling my name. This is where I decided on being for the next couple hours in Zagreb, drinking local wines, and dining on Modern Mediterranean cuisine.
The dining experience at Bistro Agava was very memorable, especially the cuisine and the wine pairing. I dined on delicious dishes such as rosemary herbed focaccia, foie gras, pasta with truffles, and a chocolate almond tart. Best of all, my sommelier paired it all with local Croatian wines!
For my review and restaurant information- Bistro Agava | A Michelin Bib Gourmand Awarded Restaurant in Zagreb, Croatia
What I ate in Croatia
Dining and drinking are a couple of my top priorities when traveling, whether locally or internationally. I am a firm believer that you can learn a lot about a culture through its food. I have written over a thousands restaurant reviews, recommendations, and food blogs over the years, and I continue to do so.
While in Croatia and the Balkans, I ate at a variety of cafes and restaurants, everything form local takeaway to fine dining. If you are interested in exploring what this region’s cuisine is about, I have linked my food journal which includes Croatia – What I ate in THE BALKANS – Part 1 – A Food Journal
Day Trip to Plitvace National Park
If you have a day to spare while in Zagreb, I strongly suggest a side trip to Plitvace National Park. There are organized day trips that will take you from the city, but if you are more adventurous then you can easily do it on your own.
Describing Plitvice Lake National Park can only be described as, “You should go!” It makes for a long day experience, which made the experience for me. I am not one for going to a natural wonder, and take a couple of photos to show that I was there. Plitvice Lakes is not one of those locations to show off ‘look at me and go’ snapshots. It is a place to walk with the water, to listen to the water, and to breathe the energy around you.
For more information and my blog, please visit – Plitvice Lakes National Park – A UNESCO World Heritage Site | Exploring Croatia
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