Zagreb might not be a city known for as famous and beautiful attractions as for example Budapest, only a few hours away from Zagreb by car. Even though it has no landmark that people all around will recognize and at once make them think of Zagreb, it is still a city that has sights and attractions to show you and here we will try to tell you more about exactly the most important attractions in Zagreb.
But, there is something magical about Zagreb that will make you fall in love with the atmosphere of the city which you can freely enjoy while walking the streets of the old town and taking a look at what the city has to offer.
The most important attractions in Zagreb
Ben Jelacic square
This is the square above all squares in Zagreb. It is the city center and it is a big and fantastic square where you can both enjoy a cop of coffee, do some shopping, jump on a tram to travel to somewhere else or start your walk towards the hills of Zagreb. The official name of the square is Trg bana Jelačića and it has existed since the 17th century. In the middle of the 19th century a big statue of Josip Jelacic on horse was placed on the square. The statue was later removed during the Communist government of Yugoslavia, but in 1990 it was returned back to the square and the square got its present name. Before Christmas the square is especially beautiful with a big Christmas tree and Christmas lights.
The Zagreb Cathedral is located only a couple of hundred metres from the Ben Jelacic square, though this is a quite steep walk upwards. The cathedral is a part of the upper town named Kaptol and it has a long history dating back to the 11th century. It has been severely damaged several times throughout history, but it received its looks as we see it today after a big earthquake in 1880. It is the tallest building in all of Croatia (108 metres) and also the most sacred of all buildings in the nation.
Address: Kaptol ulica 31 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
St Marks Church
At the beautiful St. Marks Square in the upper town of Zagreb, in the part named Gradec, you can find the amazing St. Mark’s Church which dates back to the 13th century. The roof is very special and it illustrates the coat of arms of Zagreb (white castle on red background) and also the triune kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia.
At the same square you can also find the Croatian Parliament (hrvatski sabor). The building in itself might not be so impressing, but if you first visit the square it is nice to know what you are actually looking at. At the other side of the square you can see the seat of the government of Croatia (banski dvori).
Address: Trg Svetog Marka 5 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
It is easy to mix these things up, but Gornji Grad is the district also known as the Old Town in Zagreb. This area stretches up on the hills above the Ben Jelacic square and in this area you will find not only the St. Marks Church and the Zagreb Cathedral, but also the Croatia Parlament and the fantastic restaurant street named Tkalciceva. The restaurant street of Tkalciceva is located at a place where earlier a river flowed and thus separated Gradec from Kaptol. A walk in this area is fantastic just to sip in of the fantastic atmosphere of Zagreb.
The Lotrščak Tower is located in Gradec and as you travel with the funicular from “downtown” to the hill you will immediately arrive just by the Lotrscak tower. It dates back to the 13th century and it was built to guard the southern entrance of the hill. The tower is also known for its canon, gric, which is fired every day at 12.00, so do not be surprised if you suddenly believe that Zagreb is under attack… it is only noise coming from the canon in the Lotrscak tower.
Address: Strossmayerovo šetalište 9, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
The stone gate known as Kamenita vrata is the only of the four original gates from the medieval time remaining today in Zagreb. Today people walk through the gate and as they walk through they also light candles and pray prayers, as this has become a kind of sanctuary in the old town of Zagreb.
This might not be a 100% attractions, because it could just as well be called an activity, but the Dolac market is the number one market to visit as you travel to Zagreb. It is located in Gornji grad, only a few metres from the Ben Jelacic square. It is a farmers market and here you can walk hours just looking at everything the market has to offer. Buy fresh oranges, grapes and all sorts of fruits and vegetables, or buy some flowers and enjoy the fresh smell.
The square looks terrible in the afternoon as the market closes, but then it is cleaned up quickly, and the next day everything looks perfect again. A must see while in Zagreb!
The Lenuci Horeshoe: A collection of attractions in Zagreb
So far all the attractions in Zagreb described have been located in Gornji Grad, in the upper town. But, you will of course take a walk in the lower town as well, and as you do, the horseshoe is something to discover.
The horseshoe was designed in the 19th century by Milan Lenuci and as you can see it consists of lots of squares next to one another. The squares connecteed in the Lenuci Horseshoe are Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square (also known as Zrinjevac), Josip Juraj Strossmayer Square, King Tomislav Square, Ante Starčević Square, Lenuci fitness park, Zagreb Botanical Garden, Marko Marulić Square, Ivan Mažuranić Square and Marshal Tito Square.
In the Lenuci Horseshoe you will find some of the most popular attractions and activities in the lower town of Zagreb, including the Croatian National Theater, the Ethnographic museum, the Museum of Arts and Crafts, a Modern Gallery, an archaeological museum, the state archives and Croatian academy of science and arts.
Our favorite locations in the horseshoe is for sure the botanical garden and the fitness park. If you want to live fantastic then you should book your room in the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel which is located within the horseshoe as well.