What is the best way to spend one day in Zagreb, Croatia’s bustling capital city?
Most people simply pass through Zagreb on their way to the coast or before heading to nearby Ljubliana. However, I think this is a shame as Zagreb is a really charming city.
Located in the Northwest of the country, Zagreb has a much more Eastern European feel to it than the rest of Croatia’s popular tourist spots.
Although Croatia’s capital is small and compact there is still plenty to see and do here. I recommend spending at least a day in this fab little city or maybe even more if you truly want to experience all it has to offer.
It is also a very budget-friendly city as there are many cheap and free things to do in Zagreb.
In this post, I’ll show you all the awesome things you can do when spending one day in Zagreb, Croatia. Use the ideas below to create your own one day Zagreb itinerary.
- 10 things to do in one day in Zagreb
- Tours from Zagreb
- Best cafes, bars and restaurants in Zagreb
- Where to stay in Zagreb
- Summary of one day Zagreb itinerary
10 things to do in one day in Zagreb
#1 – Ride the funicular
Did you know Zagreb is home to the world’s shortest funicular?
At only 66metres long it connects Zagreb’s upper town and lower towns and takes less than a minute to reach the top. Supposedly it is also the world’s safest funicular railway, never having a single accident since it opened in the 1890s!
Price: 4HRK (~50p)
#2 – Climb the Lotrščak Tower
At the top of the funicular, you’ll find Lotrščak Tower. A 13th-century defence tower with incredible panoramic views of the city.
Every day at noon a cannon is fired from the tower. This is a tradition dating back from 1877 and was intended so that the citizens of Zagreb could set their clocks to exactly noon. Unfortunately, the cannon has not been firing ever since a recent earthquake. Hopefully, they will get it running again soon!
The best time of day to visit the tower is in the hour before sundown. At this time you can view the city bathed in a beautiful golden glow. The viewing platform at the top is narrow and easily crowded but I promise the views are worth it!
Opening times: 10am – 7pm (closed on Mondays)
Price: 20 HRK (~£2.25)
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#3 – Museum of Broken Relationships
This quirky museum is one of the best things to do in Zagreb. The museum of broken relationships started as a travelling exhibit before finding its permanent home in a baroque palace in Zagreb.
People from all over the world have donated items to be displayed alongside their stories of how their relationships ended. Some of the stories are heartbreaking, some are uplifting and others are downright hilarious!
The exhibits give a fascinating look into human behaviour and how we handle our relationships.
There is even a guestbook so that you can share your own story of lost love! It was one of my favourite experiences during my one day in Zagreb and I definitely recommend that you add it to your Zagreb Itinerary.
Opening times: 10am – 9pm
Price: 40 HRK (~£4.50)
#4 – St Mark’s Church
If you have ever browsed photos of Zagreb on Instagram then you will probably instantly recognise this iconic church. The gothic church dates back to the 13th century. It is instantly recognisable by its colourful tiled roof.
If you are visiting on a weekend between April and October you can watch the changing of the guard ceremony which is performed outside of the church at noon.
This is still a working church so if you would like to see the interior your best option is to attend daily Mass, just remember to practice responsible tourism and be quiet and respectful to the worshippers inside.
Opening times: Weekdays 09:00-12:00 (Entrance may be restricted)
Mass schedule: Weekdays at 18:00, Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 10:30 and 18:00
#5 – Hang out at Tkalciceva street
Tkalciceva street was one of my favourite places in Zagreb. This lively pedestrianised area is home to the best restaurants, bars and cafes in Zagreb.
During my time in Zagreb, I stopped by around mid-afternoon to sample a craft beer at Mali Medo and then returned in the evening for dinner.
There are a lot of great restaurants here and lots of great options for vegan and veggie travellers too! This fun street is also a great place to meet other travellers in Zagreb.
#6 – Communism tour
Croatia is a part of former Yugoslavia and used to be under communist rule from 1945 until the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. It was also a part of the brutal homeland wars in the ‘90s.
I always find the recent history of former communist states to be absolutely fascinating so I will usually book a tour and try to learn as much as I can whenever I visit a country like this.
In Zagreb, I took this 2.5 hour walking tour and loved it! I can honestly say it’s one of the best history tours I have ever done.
The guides are really knowledgeable and add in their own personal memories of the war. There was also a short film shown at the end of the tour which was very moving.
Time/Location: 3pm every day from Ban Jelačić Square (the main square)
Price: Check price here
#7 – Visit the Cathedral
The beautiful gothic style Zagreb cathedral that stands in the city centre of Zagreb is well worth a visit. It is the second tallest building in Croatia and one of the most famous landmarks.
The cathedral was damaged during an earthquake in 2020 so it currently has some scaffolding around it. It is still very pretty though!
You can wander inside but be aware that mobile phones and photography are not allowed. You can also get a great view of the cathedral at night when it is lit up.
Opening times: Monday – Saturday 10:00-17:00, Sunday 13:00-17:00
#8 – Unwind at Out rooftop bar
This delightful little rooftop bar is an absolute hidden gem in Zagreb. I discovered it as it was located on the top floor of the hotel I was staying in. There is a fun lively atmosphere here and they sometimes have live music too.
Come here for sunset and get a great view of the Lotrščak Tower.
I had the most perfect gin & tonic at this bar and it was *chefs kiss*
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 4pm – 12am, Friday – Sunday 12pm – 12am
#9 – Museum of illusions and torture museum
I love exploring fun interactive museums and Zagreb has plenty to take your pick from.
The museum of illusions allows you to take photos of yourself in several different rooms which all feature fun optical illusions. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to experience the illusions museum as I was travelling solo and forgot to bring my tripod, I figured it would be a bit pointless to go if I couldn’t take photos but next time I visit Zagreb I’m definitely planning to grab a friend and go have fun at this quirky museum.
I did manage to spend some time at the torture museum which is a small but fun museum dedicated to medieval torture instruments. It is very similar to many of the other torture museums that you can find all over European old towns but I did like how they give you an iPad which you can use to scan the items and get a multimedia experience.
Museum of illusions opening times: 9am – 10pm
Museum of illusions price: 50HRK (~£5.60)
Skip the line tickets: Check price here
Torture museum opening times: 12pm-7pm
Torture museum price: 50HRK (~£5.60)
#10 – Take a day trip
Zagreb is located in a perfect place to use as a base for day trips to other parts of the country. Some popular day trips from Zagreb are:
Tours from Zagreb
If you fancy spending your one day in Zagreb as part of a tour then there are several great options. You can choose from food tours, walking tours or experiences with locals. Check out some of the most popular Zagreb tours below.
Best cafes, bars and restaurants in Zagreb
Zagreb has an excellent culinary scene. As a vegan traveller, I found it easier to find good vegan food options in Zagreb than I did elsewhere in Croatia.
The best restaurants are around Tkalciceva street and Ban Jelačić Square but there are also a few gems scattered throughout the city.
In my opinion, the best places to eat and drink in Zagreb are:
Roots juice & cocktail bar – I came here for breakfast on my one full day in Zagreb and had the most delicious smoothie and avocado toast. Roots bar is located at the base of the funicular which makes it a perfect stop for breakfast before you spend the day sightseeing.
Mali Melo – This place seems to be a favourite for both locals and travellers. Pop in to sample some Croatian craft beer.
Curry Bowl – I came here for dinner on my first night in Zagreb and loved it! The restaurant specialises in Sri Lankan curries with a Croatian twist. Absolutely delicious!
Submarine burger – Very good burgers with plenty of options for veggies and meat-eaters alike. Try the truffle oil fries for a taste of local Istrian truffles.
Where to stay in Zagreb
I stayed at Time out heritage hotel and loved it. I would definitely stay there again. The hotel has both hotel rooms and hostel dorms. I stayed in the dorms and can honestly say it was one of the nicest dorm rooms I have ever stayed in. The room had lots of quirky design touches, a balcony and the beds were huge!
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Summary of one day Zagreb itinerary
As you can see Zagreb is a great little city with plenty to offer and is definitely worth spending some time in. I highly recommend adding it to your Croatia itinerary.
Are you planning to spend one day in Zagreb? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy travels xo
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