Commit to spending one day in Zagreb, Croatia’s lovable capital city, and you just might find yourself enchanted.
Though it’s home to one of the biggest airports in the country and plenty of travelers pass through Zagreb, far fewer stop to appreciate this beautiful city, instead making a beeline for the coast or national parks that Croatia is known for.
And while we deeply understand the temptation–it took us four visits to Croatia before we properly appreciated Zagreb–it really is worth slowing down your busy trip to Croatia just enough to enjoy a day in Zagreb.
Colorful churches, gorgeous architecture, interesting history, tasty food–Zagreb has a little bit of everything, and it’s worth recognizing as a destination in its own right, even in a country packed with as many beautiful places as Croatia.
Here’s how to make the most of this colorful, vibrant city when exploring Zagreb in a day.
Table of Contents
The Perfect One Day in Zagreb Itinerary
Start your one day in Zagreb at Ban Jelacic (Zagreb’s main square).
Where better to kick off your one day in Zagreb itinerary than with a visit to the main square?
Lined with colorful buildings on one side and an endless parade of bright blue trams passing by on the other, the square is both beautiful and busy.
Seek out incredible views at Zagreb 360.
After seeing photos of what the view from the top of Zagreb 360 looked like, we couldn’t resist heading up ourselves–and we’re so, so glad we did.
Housed on the top floor of an otherwise unremarkable-looking office building at the edge of Ban Jelacic, Zagreb 360 is home to some of the best views of Zagreb you could ever hope for.
The tickets are good all day, with however many entrances you want, so if you’re so inclined, feel free to return to Zagreb 360 in the evening to appreciate the sparkling lights of Zagreb lit up against the night sky.
Prefer to have the context of a tour during your one day in Zagreb?
This popular walking tour is a great introduction to the city!
Stroll through the Dolac Market.
As you head closer to the Zagreb Cathedral, pass through Dolac Market to enjoy the sights, smells, and possibly tastes of this marketplace!
Selling fruits, veggies, flowers, meats, and more, the Dolac Market is a must-see during one day in Zagreb–definitely consider picking up a snack for later.
Step inside the Zagreb Cathedral.
This Gothic-style church is beautiful inside and out, and also happens to be the tallest building in Croatia (probably not surprising once you see how much it towers over everything around it).
Though a church has been present in this location since the 12th century, this building dates to the 13th–though it has been modified as it sustained damage over the centuries, most notably in the 1880 Zagreb earthquake.
Make your way to the Stone Gate.
Built in the 13th century as one of four gates fortifying medieval Zagreb, Stone Gate is the only one that is still standing today.
You can walk right through the gate, and as you do, you’ll pass from the Lower Town to Upper Town.
You’ll also notice that the Stone Gate is not only a gate, but a shrine–the largest and most important shrine in Zagreb, in fact, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Check out Lotrščak Tower.
This 13th-century tower once acted as a guard tower protecting what is now the Upper Town of Zagreb–and like all guard towers should, it has a great view of the surrounding area!
Definitely stop by during your one day in Zagreb, though unless you’re intent on getting every single overview of Zagreb possible, it’s probably not necessary to climb it given the fact that you already visited Zagreb 360 and also have some more epic views coming up.
Pay a visit to the Strossmayer Promenade.
Strossmayer Promenade may not be perched as high above the city as Lotrščak Tower, but it is a beautiful, peaceful place that–once again–boasts beautiful views of the city.
Stop by and rest your feet for a moment during your one day in Zagreb.
Peruse the Museum of Broken Relationships.
The Museum of Broken Relationships has been on our list for years, and after finally making it there, we absolutely believe that it lives up to the hype and can heartily recommend making room for it in your itinerary when seeing Zagreb in a day.
Made up of donated items that represent lost relationships, each item is accompanied by a short story about the love story that it was part of.
The items vary dramatically, from clothing to jewelry to books to pizza boxes and beyond, and the stories just as much so. Some are touching, some are gut-wrenching, some are deeply uncomfortable.
Save plenty of time for this compelling museum–it’s easy to spend over an hour here.
Admire St. Mark’s Church.
Though the Zagreb Cathedral is certainly larger, the colorful, tiled rooftop of St. Mark’s Church, framed perfectly by the wide, nearly empty square in Upper Town that the church calls home, is among the most recognizable aspects of the city–and once you lay eyes on its brilliant colors in person, it’s not hard to see why!
Head down to Tkalčićeva Street.
At this point, you’ll likely be ready to wrap up your Zagreb sightseeing for the day (or perhaps not–we’ll cover some more suggestions on how to fill one day in Zagreb below for those who want extra ideas!), so it’s time to head to Tkalčićeva Street.
Filled to the brim with restaurants, cafes, and bars, Tkalčićeva Street is the perfect place to settle in for a laid-back Croatian dinner and reflect on the beauty of the city.
Other Fun Things to Do With One Day in Zagreb
Depending on how early of a start you get to your one day in Zagreb, how long you linger over cups of coffee in outdoor cafes in true Croatian style, and how much sightseeing you like to do in a day, the one day Zagreb itinerary outlined above very well might fill your day!
However, if you’re the type to want to pack your sightseeing days completely full, here are a few more fun things to do that you just might have time for when seeing Zagreb in a day.
Ride the funicular to Upper Town.
Zagreb’s funicular is one of the shortest in the entire world, drawing opinions that suggest it’s more about fun than function.
At a mere 66 meters of track long, the Zagreb funicular is both short and steep–and a fun way to get to Upper Town if you’d rather avoid a (mild) climb!
Stroll through Green Horseshoe Park.
Made up of 8 parks that curve through Zagreb in a vague horseshoe shape, this is a beautiful place to rest and relax in Zagreb–the green, leafy parks are incredibly tranquil, and we found ourselves finding excuses to spend extra time in them!
Duck into the 80’s Museum.
This interactive museum is dedicated entirely to 1980s Yugoslavia: the culture, the technology, the style.
Step inside to be immersed in the (fairly recent) past.
Check out the Grič Tunnel.
Built during WWII as a bomb shelter, the Grič Tunnel has experienced many fates over the decades, but today serves as a tourist attraction.
Stroll through the tunnel for a different perspective on Zagreb–literally.
For additional historical context on the Gric Tunnel and beyond, consider joining this well-reviewed Croatian Homeland War Tour.
Where to Stay in Zagreb
When deciding where to stay when spending one day in Zagreb, we recommend choosing a hotel within a comfortable walk of Ban Jelacic and/or St. Mark’s Church–by doing so, you’ll ensure you’re in a good place to reach just about all the best things to do in Zagreb on foot.
Here are a few well-located properties to consider for your trip to Zagreb.
DTA Zagreb — This popular guesthouse is perfect for those looking for something a step above a hostel, while still visiting Zagreb on a budget.
Located just a short walk from Ban Jelacic, you’ll be within reach of all the best Zagreb sightseeing from here!
Premium Zagreb Delux Studio & Rooms — We loved our stay at this property! The studio we rented was easy to find, a reasonable walk from everything you’d hope to see in Zagreb in a day, incredibly comfortable, and a great place to retreat at the end of the day.
We’d be thrilled to stay again.
Hotel Dubrovnik — Set right on Ban Jelacic and boasting spacious rooms, great reviews, and a tasty included breakfast, you can’t go wrong with a stay at the popular Hotel Dubrovnik if you’re looking to make your trip to Zagreb as smooth and simple as possible.
One Day Zagreb Itinerary Map
Getting Around Zagreb
Getting around during your one day in Zagreb should be incredibly easy: you can walk just about everywhere!
Zagreb is not a large city, and if you choose a hotel or apartment within walking distance of the main square, it’s likely you won’t need any other forms of transportation during your time exploring Zagreb.
If you do need or want to use additional transportation, Zagreb’s extensive tram system is easy to use and a huge benefit.
Uber does also operate in the city, and connects to local taxis.
If you’d like to avoid climbing the hill to Upper Town (it’s really not bad at all, though!), or you’re just a fan of quirky transportation, you can also ride the funicular all 66 meters up.