When most people think of Croatia, they think of island hopping the coast, and though that’s something everyone should totally put on their bucket list (my personal stops were Cavtat, Dubrovnik, Mljet Island, Hvar, and Split) landlocked Zagreb really is a gem in its own right. Sure, it may lack the Adriatic views but still, the Capital city of Croatia has a lot going for it.
Not only is Zagreb a lot more budget friendly compared to the coast, it is filled with quirky sites, even quirkier museums, and is in close range to some killer nature spots. My trip to Zagreb lasted just four days, but it was an awesome taster.
Now, before we get into the thick of things here, I just want to warn you that my stay in Zagreb was at the end of a multi-month travel spree, and by the time I got there I think I was feeling a little… loopy. Therefore, my photos from this time are nothing but interesting, and I don’t think I made a straight face or took a serious photo the entire time. This is not indicative of my photography style, but it’s not boring, and I straight up laughed the whole way through putting these photos in the post.
Hope you enjoy.
8 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Zagreb, Croatia
Visit the Museum of Broken Relationships
What was probably my favorite museum experience in Zagreb, the Museum of Broken Relationships is pretty much a giant emotional rollercoaster ride. Located in Upper Town’s Kulmer Palace, the museum tells the stories of ended relationships, whether they be romantic, friendly, or familial, accompanied by artifacts from those breakups.
I found that while the exhibits started out lighthearted, with mostly funny teenage breakups being showcased, it quickly turned a lot more serious and deep. So, if you’re at all prone to crying in public, I’d say bring some tissues along to the museum.
Yes, this place will break your heart, but it’s so worth it.
Shop at Dolac Market
Located right in central Zagreb in the main square, Dolac Market is the place to go if you’re looking for specially handcrafted souvenirs, fresh produce, local wines, and Croatian trinkets. A Zagreb hub since the 1930’s, the market is split into two areas, the lower and the upper, with the upper being the more expansive.
I purchased a bottle of Serbian fortified wine from this market to give to my dad and brother, and while they said they didn’t like it, it was gone pretty fast, so…
Visit the Museum of Illusions
Another rather quirky museum experience, the Museum of Illusions (Muzej Iluzija) is a big optical illusion playground where you can essentially walk around, mess with your inner-ear fluid and balance, take weirdo photos, meet some magicians, and all around have a blast.
Take the good ol’ head-on-a-plate illusion for example…
In ye olden days, Zagreb’s city center was once two separate towns Gradec and Kaptol. Over time, these two places merged and eventually more of Zagreb grew around them. Today, Gradec is known as Zagreb’s Upper Town, and you’ll find it has a really cool Medieval vibe.
In Gradec, you’ll find the Funicular (literally the shortest one of all time, but it costs only 0.50 to go up the hill), the Kula Lotrscak lookout tower, and St. Mark’s Church (a photo of which you’ll find at the top of this post). My suggestion is to just walk around and see what you can find.
Take a Day Trip to Plitvice National Park
There were two national parks I knew I had to visit on my Croatian adventure, Krka, which makes a great day-trip from Split, and Plitvice, which is more within driving distance from Zagreb. I visited Krka National Park before Plitvice, and while they’re both incredibly beautiful, I found the parks to be rather different. Krka was a much more choose-your-own adventure kind of day, with lots of options of where to go and different paths to choose from, while Plitvice had specific walkways and trails, and I found it hard to escape the (sometimes hoards) of other tourists.
That said, the park is just as beautiful as the pictures and there are a lot of nooks and crannies to be explored. Plitvice is essentially turquoise waters surrounded by lush greenery, waterfalls everywhere, and well-maintained boardwalks to take you from A to B.
Just note that, unlike Krka, you can’t swim in Plitvice’s waters. A bummer, yes, but necessary to protect the natural beauty.
A gorgeous, colorful street home to all kinds of restaurants, boutique shops, and cafes, Tkalciceva is where you want to go if you’re looking for a lively time while soaking your surroundings. I do believe my friend and I found a little Indian restaurant and drank way too much yogurt there while we sat people watching.
It was unexpected, but quite nice. Now say the name 10x fast.
Visit the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum
My third museum visit of Zagreb, the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum (Tehnicki Muzej) was there to delight my every nerdy impulse. Now, I have to say, there were times that the museum had some questionable Croatian-to-English translation, and I didn’t totally know what was going on throughout, but I still had fun regardless.
My favorite part of the museum though? The Nikola Tesla exhibit where they had humongous electricity generators.
It felt like Frankenstein. It was awesome.
Was this ever explained? I don’t recall.
Take a Self-Guided Street Art Tour
Now, one thing that will absolutely put a city on my favorite list is some great street art, and Zagreb has quite a bit! While there is a great street art tour in Zagreb that you can take (so I hear, I haven’t a personally done this), if you just want a taster then you can definitely plot out your own course. A few key street art spots to check out are Dolac Market, Tkalciceva Street, and Student Centre.
Just try and be a bit more dignified in your photos than yours truly.
Have you ever been to Zagreb? What are your favorite spots?