What to do in Zagreb, Croatia
July 9, 2019
by Sonja Kamenov
Many people see Zagreb only as a stop on their way to the breathtaking Croatian coast. Nonetheless, the city has a lot to offer and spending a few days in the Croatian capital will definitely be worth your time.
1) Walk through the historical city center
The center of Zagreb lies around the main Jelačić Square, named after the 19th-century duke Jelačić, who looks down at you from his horse in the middle of the square. Buy some souvenirs at one of the many stands on the square, sit near the Manduševac well and meet your friends under the big clock, a popular local meeting point.
Uptown from Jelačić Square leads a street full of café terraces and small restaurants called Tkalčićeva Street. It’s a place where you have to stop for a coffee, a place to observe people passing by and a place to be seen.
Turn left into the narrow street called Bloody Bridge. This street used to be a bridge between the two small medieval towns, Gradec and Kaptol. Gradec was a commoners’ town, while Kaptol housed the privileged dignitaries of the church. Fights broke out many times on the bridge between the inhabitants of the two towns, giving it its gloomy name.
Passing the Bloody Bridge Street, you’ll reach the entrance to the Grič tunnel, an ex-war shelter, which today is open for public. Taking a walk inside the tunnel on a hot summer day can be very refreshing.
2) Explore the Zagreb Upper Town
Follow the Zakmardi’s stairs from Radićeva Street to get to the Zagreb Upper Town. You can take a walk under the trees on the romantic Strossmayer Promenade with a view of the Zagreb Lower Town. If you’re looking for the best panoramic views, climb up to the Gradec plateau or the Lotrščak tower, one of the remains of the Romanesque fortification system.
The Gradec plateau is a great spot to see the Zagreb Cathedral, the tallest building in Croatia. Many cultural and musical events are organized on the plateau during the summer, including the summer cinema.
Walking around the Zagreb Upper Town, you’ll certainly pass the Stone Gate, the only preserved medieval gate to the city. Light a candle to the miraculous Our Lady of the Stone Gate in the chapel below the gate. Why miraculous? During a great fire that hit the city in 1731, only the picture of the Virgin Mary survived the flames.
3) Shop at Dolac market and try the local delicacies
The largest city market is located just above the Jelačić Square. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables from local vendors called kumice and make sure to take a photo with the statue of the most famous kumica on the top of the stairs. You can also buy some traditional souvenirs at the market: a Licitar heart (a heart shaped cake decorated with colorful details) or a red Šestine umbrella.
If you’re looking for some local dishes, go to Pivnica Medvedgrad (Ilica 49, Tkalčićeva 36) and choose between many meat specialties, a typical pljeskavica and more than ten kinds of craft beers. You can enjoy a typical Croatian dish štrukli (a pastry with various types of filling) in the restaurant La Štruk (Skalinska 5).