Come to Zagreb
Zagreb, located in Croatia, is one of the most thrilling destinations in Europe. The city is far from being confined to museums, formal restaurants, and galleries. Life in Zagreb is on the streets, with public art, street food, and stunning green parks that delight locals and tourists in all four seasons. From friendly coffee culture to surprising outdoor art, Zagreb has something enchanting to offer everyone. We have rounded up ten reasons why a trip to Zagreb is an experience you will remember.
In Zagreb, asking someone to “grab coffee” is more than just a quick cup of java. The ritual often lasts for hours and is enjoyed outdoors, especially when the first day of spring arrives. Zagreb’s cafes, such as Cogito, 42 Coffee Co, and Teneo Coffee Shop, serve everything from espresso to cafe au lait and act as a stop along a promenade where friends gather, families explore, and visitors are welcomed into the fold. On Saturday mornings, don’t miss the špica or the peak, where natives and tourists alike take to the pedestrianized streets between Ban Jelačić Square and Petar Preradović Square to sip coffee and catch up on the week while planning their next adventures.
Zagreb is a city where art is more comprehensive than traditional museums and guided tours. Some of the most exciting art in the city can be found in unexpected corners, which may be easily overlooked if not observed. The Urban Interventions project called OKOLO//AROUND invited artists from all over Europe to create unique projects such as a red carpet laid out spontaneously, plants that play music, and small installations hidden between the bricks of historic buildings around the city. In addition, the Q'art Ilica project, revived in 2018, encouraged the city's residents to participate in public art projects addressing social and cultural issues relevant to modern Zagrebians.
Zagreb is currently one of the world's most vibrant street art cities, with local artists creating stunning masterpieces throughout the city. If you're looking for a must-visit destination, Art Park in Ribnjak Park should be on your list. This open-air art festival showcases the work of some of Croatia's most talented young artists. The Pimp My Pump collective is another group of Croatian artists that you should not miss. They transform unused water pumps found in public squares, apartment courtyards, and industrial zones into whimsical and innovative art projects. Through their work, you can even see artistic interpretations of iconic pop culture figures like Jimi Hendrix, Marge Simpson, and Andy Warhol.
Zagreb has something for everyone when it comes to museums. The city is a museum lover's paradise, from centuries-old institutions to dynamic pop-up museums. You can explore everything from ancient artefacts to Renaissance masterpieces, but Zagreb is also home to quirky museums. For instance, the Museum of Broken Relationships uses everyday objects to tell the stories of love and heartbreak worldwide. The Museum of Illusions offers interactive exhibits designed to delight visitors of all ages. Founded in Zagreb in 2015, the Museum of Illusions has gone global. Another museum that deserves your attention is the Technical Museum of Nikola Tesla, where you can see a wide range of historic aeroplanes, steam engines, and technological curiosities that span over a century.
Ivan Meštrović, a renowned sculptor in Croatia, spent 22 of his most creative years living and working in his home and studio on Mletačka Street in Zagreb. Though he was not born in the city, he infused it with his artistic spirit by introducing the novelty of taking his art to the public. During his golden years, he welcomed visitors from around the world, and many of his most famous works can still be seen on the streets of Zagreb. Taking a walk focused on Ivan Meštrović will take you past pieces like the Well of Life, a monument to Nikola Tesla, and the Church of Christ the King, where some of his majestic religious pieces remain.
In 1994, a sculpture called the Grounded Sun, created by artist Ivan Kožarić, was placed in Bogovićeva Street. It quickly became a beloved installation. Ten years later, artist Davor Preis created replicas of each planet in the solar system, including the sun, which served as the puzzle's centre. These replicas were placed around Zagreb, forming the Zagreb Solar System. Hunting for each planet in the solar system is an activity that can double as a self-guided walking tour. It is a fun activity for kids and adults, who can compete to see who can spot Pluto first.
Zagreb is a delightful food city that offers various dining options. The only challenge is deciding where to start! One option is to book a table at Noel, the city's first Michelin-starred restaurant and a pioneer in the growing destination dining scene. The following night, you can try Zagreb's oldest operating restaurant, serving hearty local dishes since 1913. If you're in the mood for a quick bite, you can grab some štrukli, a fluffy pocket filled with cheese that can be enjoyed as a starter, main course, or dessert. Zagreb also offers the opportunity to sample delicacies from different parts of the country, such as Dalmatian seafood dishes and Slavonian cuisine, leaving you craving more. To get the authentic Zagrebian experience, it's important to savour your meals slowly and enjoy them with your companions.
Zagreb is a city full of architectural treasures. In the 19th century, Hermann Bollé, an architect, designed many beautiful buildings of impressive scale. Therefore, no visit to Zagreb is complete without admiring its facilities' classic lines and grand finishes. Please start at the Museum of Arts and Crafts and head towards Mirogoj, where Bollé is buried and which he designed. The cemetery, often called the Croatian Pantheon, is home to many legendary Croatians. The arcades and pavilions, set amidst lush landscaping, make for an ideal afternoon to learn about Croatian history.
Zagreb is also a great city for outdoor enthusiasts. Thanks to the Lenuci horseshoe, a city planning initiative from the 1880s, it's easy to get outside and explore. Sites like the Botanical Garden, whose opening date marks the arrival of spring, King Tomislav Square, and Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square, where city dwellers love to stroll, are all connected. The Maksimir Park and Monument, Zagreb’s oldest public park, provide fresh air and glimpses of native plants and animals. For those who enjoy swimming and relaxing, Bundek Lake is a popular spot for families. At the same time, Jarun, known by locals as the Zagreb Sea, is a lake that offers recreational activities in the warmer months.
Zagreb is considered a city of festivals. During Advent, the city transforms into a cosy Christmas market, with wintertime treats and traditional music creating a festive atmosphere. In the spring, the Festival of Lights is a must-see event in which buildings and structures across the city become canvases for dramatic light installations designed by top artists. The Zagreb Classic is another special event held in the warmer months. King Tomislav Square became an outdoor venue for classical music concerts. The experience, featuring musicians and opera singers performing iconic songs and suites, is one of the most magical nights in Zagreb. For the more adventurous, the INmusic festival, held in Zagreb each summer, is one of Europe's most special summer music events. It takes place on the Isle of Youth, in the middle of Lake Jarun, and regularly attracts crowds of 100,000 people. Indie and electronic artists perform on multiple stages for three days of fun.