Zagreb is Croatia’s capital city and is definitely worth mentioning as my first blog post. I have family that live right outside of Zagreb so I spend at least every summer there visiting them. Aside from visiting family, Zagreb has so much to offer travelers thirsty for history and entertainment.
Zagreb in one day is possible if you are on a time constraint. I would recommend starting the day early so that you are able to view all of the important and beautiful sites of Zagreb.
Depending on where you are staying there is a trolley that runs through Zagreb. The trolley makes many stops at important parts of the city so that if you are on a time constraint you do not have to walk from one end of Zagreb to the other. If you are staying outside of Zagreb another method of transportation is a taxi cab. Taxi cabs are fairly priced so you will not need to spend tons of money to get where you need to go.
The first stop is the square of King Tomislav and the Croatian National Theatre. The King Tomislav statue pays tribute to the first Croatian king in the 990s. The Croatian National Theatre is Zagreb’s most prominent opera, broadway, and dance theatre. The theatre itself is stunning with its Austrian-Hungarian styled architecture.
The second stop is Ban Jelacic Square. This square meeting place for the locals usually by the clock. The most important aspect of the square is the Ban Jelacic statue, which has an interesting historical significance. The statue was first placed in the square in the 17th century by an Austrian Sculptor.The statue was initially placed to face the north toward the Austrian- Hungarian Empire because of the strong influence in the region. During the communist period of Croatia while a part of Yugoslavia, the statue was removed because Josip Ban Jelacic was considered to be a traitor. After the 1990s War, the statue was removed from a museum in Zagreb and placed back into the square facing South. The significance of it facing south is that it is not facing toward Austria/Hungary and facing toward the rest of Croatia.
Once you have seen the square and possibly snapped a photo of the Ban Jelacic statue you can move on to the rest of the area. Around the square are several cafes and restaurants which warrant a beautiful view of the square. The next stop would be the Zagreb Cathedral. The Zagreb Cathedral is located right behind the square and can be seen from the square. The cathedral was initially built in the 1090s but has suffered damages throughout the years. The cathedral was occupied by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century and in the 1880s an earthquake damaged one of the towers. The cathedral is under constant remodel to keep the beauty of its history alive. You are able to go inside and snap a few photos of the gorgeous Neo-Gothic architecture.
The next stop in Zagreb is to visit the Stari Grad or Old Town. There are three routes to the old town. There is a cable car ride up to the old town because it is situated on the hill or you can walk up to old town via two walking routes. When I went to Zagreb we walked through an alley way up hill and through many many stairs to get to the old town. I enjoyed the walking route because it showed us other parts of Zagreb around the old town. After you have arrived up the hill and into old town the first stop is St. Marks Church. St. Marks Church was built in the 1400s and is well known for it colorful roof. The tiles on the roof represent the coat of arms of Zagreb (white castle on red background). Next to St. Marks church is the old town hall which held city administration in medieval times. Today, the old town hall still keeps its doors open for the meetings of the Zagreb City Council. After you have seen St. Marks you can stroll through old town viewing statues and stopping at one of the many cafes. Also there are museums in the Old town as well. Zagreb is called the city of museums because there are 30 museums in the city. We went to two museums in the old town and were delighted by both. The first one we visited was called The Museum of Broken Relationships. This was a very neat museum with stories of relationships that have ended in an interesting manner. The second museum we visited in old town is the museum dedicated to Croatian History. That day this museum held a special showing on the Yugoslav War, which was super exciting for me since I fled the war as a young child. After you have walked around and possibly explored some museums the overlook from old town is a must see. This overlook allows you to see everything below old town which includes the square and the cathedral. There are benches situated by the overlook to aid in relaxation and enjoyment of the views.
After you have explored Zagreb it is time to go a little farther outside of the city. The first stop is the Maksimir Park. Maksimir Park was the first large public park in South-Eastern Europe. This park holds many of Zagreb’s plant and animal species. This park is very family and pet friendly and is so relaxing to walk through. There is much shade in the park due to all of the trees making it easier to walk through on a summer day. The park also includes a zoo, a lake, and a beautiful house on top of the hill that serves as a restaurant. Many of the locals bring their blanket and lay on the gorgeous green lawn by the restaurant.
Lastly your one day visit to Zagreb would not be complete without a visit to the Mirogoj Cemetery. It is one of the biggest cemeteries I have ever seen and is without a doubt the biggest cemetery in all of Croatia. Mirogoj Cemetery was named one of Europe’s most beautiful Cemeteries. The Cemetery is encased by tall walls and much greenery. When you arrive at the Cemetery it is almost hard to fathom at how large it is. The entrance to the Cemetery alone leaves you speechless. This Cemetery holds many famous Croatians such as the first president of Croatia. There is also a War World II memorial within the cemetery. This is definitely a very picturesque place in Zagreb.
Many people go to Croatia for the beaches and coast life but a stop in Zagreb will not leave you disappointed. I feel as though I could go on and on about all of the activities to do in Zagreb because there really are endless possibilities. There seems to be something for everybody. The Dinamo Stadium for Soccer fans, Museums for history and culture lovers, Statues and important buildings for history lovers, and many many cafes and restaurants for food lovers with amazing views. Make time to visit Zagreb on your next trip to Croatia.