Discover Zagreb Croatia capital city of cool

Jonathan Bousfield

written by
Jonathan Bousfield

updated 21.09.2021

Zagreb Croatia has dubious honour of being underestimated twice. Once it was shunned by travellers for a lack of beaches. Then it was ignored by city-breakers bound for Prague or Budapest.

So Zagreb is still unknown enough to be a discovery. It has well deserved status as Central Europe’s big surprise. Challenges most preconceptions. And mixes gritty urban culture with laidback Mediterranean manners. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Croatia, your essential guide for visiting Croatia.

So what suddenly made Zagreb Croatia cool?

Zagreb's long been arty and creative. Much more so than Croatia’s coastal cities. Adriatic travellers just never noticed, until now.

The city's home to a thriving alternative music culture. It works edgy fashion, creative clubbing and characterful bars. And there are more good places to eat, drink and play than ever.

Local cafés serving excellent coffee make Zagreb an icon of Central European authenticity. Its global franchises are mainly out-of-town. And the city centre has been left free to follow its own path.

Zagreb Croatia © Shutterstock

Visit Zagreb for urban Croatian cool © Shutterstock

What to do in Zagreb Croatia?

Zagreb doesn’t have a must-see list. It has a must-stroll list. Think more streets and squares than sights. It's one of few European capitals which still has an open-air produce market in the centre. And Dolac's stalls make a good base camp for exploring.

Tkalčićeva is the city's prettiest 19th century street. It's also the centre of café-life. And looming above it, Gornji Grad (upper town) is quiet and quaint. Here Baroque streets sit on a south-facing ridge. Visit for sweeping views across the city.

Head to Dežmanov prolaz for chic shops and more cafés. It's also gateway to the northern suburbs. An area that's great for woodland walks.

Arrived on a rainy day? Seek out the Museum of Broken Relationships. In terms of ingenuity and appeal, it outshines most. Or take a tram south across the River Sava. Then make for the Contemporary Art Museum. A perfect place to muse on Croatian avant-garde.

Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Have a look at some sample itineraries. Both Complete Croatia or Croatia Itineraries offer inspiration. All Tailor Made Tours can be modified together with your local expert, then booked for a stress-free holiday. Click 'Modify this itinerary' to contact a local Croatia expert.

St. Mark's Church in Zagreb, Croatia © 9MOT/Shutterstock

St. Mark's Church in Zagreb Croatia © 9MOT/Shutterstock

What and where should I eat in Zagreb?

Zagreb is big on quick, informal restaurants. So look forward to fast food using great local ingredients. And expect a Global-Mediterranean approach to cooking.

Sleek Dežman Bar will sort you out a gourmet sandwich. Then rustle up a brew supplied by roasters, Cogito Coffee.

Want to taste test Zagreb? Head out on a guided foodie tour with local experts.

Espresso machine in Italy © Firma V/Shutterstock

Rediscover a passion for real coffee in Zagreb Croatia © Firma V/Shutterstock

Where to party in Zagreb?

Most evenings begin on Tkalčićeva. The packed, pedestrianized strip of pavement bars is year round festive. Down a pint of local ruby-red Griška Vještica lager at Mali Medo. Then sample herb, fig, carob or quince brandies at Rakhia Bar.

Up for early-hours clubbing? Join the post-industrial crowd at Shock Show Industry.

Find hotels in Zagreb Croatia

Zagreb accommodation is as individual as the city. Try Hostel Bureau. This slickly converted office block offers affordable dorms and private doubles. Design Studios SVI-MI is a good choice for self-catering apartments. Try cosiness at 4 City Windows B&B in Zagreb centre. Or go full heritage at Jägerhorn. It's one of the oldest hotels in Zagreb Croatia.

Ready for a trip to Croatia? Check out the snapshot Rough Guide to Croatia. Read more about the best time to go to Croatia, the best places to visit and best things to do in Croatia. For inspiration use the Croatia Itineraries from The Rough Guide to Croatia and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this does not influence our editorial standards - we only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Jonathan Bousfield

written by
Jonathan Bousfield

updated 21.09.2021

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