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A classic itinerary in Zagreb … and something new

Zagreb was the second stop in our Croatia by Car trip.  We arrived here in the afternoon despite leaving Belgrade early and driving only on the highway, because we lost almost two hours at the customs between Serbia and Croatia.

We enjoyed a lot our two days stay in Zagreb and it was enough to get the vibe of it because it’s not a big city. But there are many things you will love about it: it is an affordable medium sized capital, clean, animated day and night, with many options to stop for drinks or to eat without breaking the piggy bank. The narrow streets with short colored buildings in the old town, or the wide squares and boulevards and neatly displayed imposing buildings in the modern town – can all be explored at a slow pace by foot.

We walked the whole central area and here is how we organized our stay:

  • Lower Town – the modern town has the wide boulevards, the parks and baroque and art-nouveau buildings. Start your tour from the Central Train station (Glavni kolodvor) and in straight line follow the Green Horseshoe (Lenuci) – a system of squares and parks in U shape – and take a look at or even visit the Art Pavilion, the Library of Croatian Academy of Arts, the Academy of Sciences and Art and the National theater buildings. You then arrive at Ban Josip Jelačić, their most important square that marks the end of the Lower Town.
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Main train station

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Art Pavilion

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Ban Josip Jelacic square
  • Upper Town – the old town starts from the main square upwards and you don’t want to miss the Zagreb Catholic Cathedral in Gothic style, remaining even today the tallest building in the city, the Church of St. Mark’s with the code of arms on its roof, the Dolac market of fruit and vegetables.
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Catholic Cathedral
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St. Mark’s Church

The Lotrščak Tower used to be an observation point and also housed a bell that rang every evening announcing that the city gates were closing for the night. We have returned here and climbed to the top when the sun was setting and the whole city lights were on. However, I really hope they have solved the illumination issues inside the tower, because the narrow staircase and the rooms were in complete darkness.

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Lotrscak Tower

The Stone Gate is one of the few remaining gates from the deference wall of the city.

Notable is also the Tkalčićeva Street, lined by small buildings in vivid colors and by many restaurants and cafes.

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The Stone Gate
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Tkalciceva Street, very early in the morning

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The Grič Tunnel, that passes under the old town, was opened to the public as tourist attraction in July 2016, originally built during WWII as a bomb shelter. When we visited there weren’t really a lot of things to be seen inside, but they had started the premises to transform it into a museum.

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The WWII tunnel, opened daily to tourist visits from 09:00 to 21:00
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St. Marks Church (view from the Lotrscak Tower) & The Zagreb Orthodox Cathedral by night

Accommodation: because we traveled by car, we stayed at a rented Airbnb studio apartment located near the highway. Zagreb is not big, the bus stop was close taking us in less than 15 minutes to the main train station where the city center begins. For 30$/night it was a good stay, with a free parking place. However if you’re not with the car, I would recommend also checking the central area because you can find good deals right there.

To eat: if you are into burgers, we recommend you this  place, located in the old town. I remember it took a while for our order to arrive, so if you are starving…well, just know that you’ll have to starve for a little more.

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For a short escape from Zagreb we highly recommend Varazdin, less that an hour away by car, that we have visited in the last afternoon here.

Don’t forget to come back to check the other places we have visited!

Happy Travels!

August-September 2016
Photos taken with: Samsung Galaxy S7 & Sony DSC-RX100M3

10 thoughts on “A classic itinerary in Zagreb … and something new

    1. Hello, glad to hear that. Zagreb is really nice and not over-killing because it’s not that big. Varazdin near Zagreb is also a lovely short visit, I recommend it every time I get the occasion because we loved it so much. Will you also get to the seaside in Croatia?

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      1. We are thinking of doing the seaside areas of Croatia in a couple of years and the inner areas when it’s cooler in September. I will look up Varazdin – how far from Zagreb is it? We have three days so we were planning two days in Zagreb and one elsewhere, so thank you for the idea!

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  1. Hi again:) Varazdin is less than an hour drive from Zagreb. We left and came back in the last afternoon in Zagreb, so it’s a quick visit but I’m sure you can make it a one day visit if you take it slow, and visit the castle and the museums they have.. We did not enter to any of these because we only had a few hours left until sunset and we chose to wander the streets and get to know the place a little bit.
    Here is the article I wrote about it and our experience there. It’s a romanian-english post, hope it will not be hard to follow.

    https://egodiary.com/2017/03/06/varazdin-orasul-de-langa-zagreb-varazdin-a-city-near-zagreb/

    In my opinion, and for what it offered, it was a really beautiful discovery.

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  2. Wow..”Croatia by car” is something I never thought of! Besides, Dubrownik is what comes to my mind always when I think of Croatia! Thanks for inspiring me with these pretty Zagreb pics. Well written. I loved those yellow pants btw ;)..

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    1. Hello, thank you:) Yes, from Romania by car to Croatia was the best option until this year, when they opened a direct flight Bucharest-Zagreb. However, it you’re a driver, renting a car and checking as much as possible on the coastline is a something I highly recommend in Croatia. There are so many great places to see and it allows you to move around with ease. So glad you liked the yellow pants:))) !

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  3. Wow – thanks for sharing this. I’ve been to Zagreb once before, but only for ~24 hours after Plitvice and before Budapest…so it was a quick day exploring the town, eating around at a couple restaurants and cafes, and having a few beers at night before the early train.

    You’ve inspired me to get back there sooner – it’s moved a few notches up the travel wish list! Since you stayed in an AirBnB, I can recommend a hostel in the center that I stayed in. I had separated from my group in staying there, and met a few other guys traveling through Croatia and we hung out the whole day, plus, it was well priced and was a generally nice place. It was the Palmers Lodge Zagreb. Though, in my trying to find the name of the hostel I stayed in 2 years ago just now, I realized there seem to be quite a few good options there – so look around!

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    1. Hello, Thank you:) It was not a hard job to take nice pictures, the city has many picture perfect places and the weather was to our advantage also. Yes:)) that was a tasty big burger, we continued walking after that meal for another two hours just to make sure we get our metabolism kicking again.
      Thanks for stopping by:)

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