If you only have one day in Zagreb, my first question is… why?! Okay, I know the beautiful beaches of south Croatia are calling but seriously, if you can make time for Zagreb you won’t regret it. This little city is full of cute quirks and fun things to do, and is worth taking the time to explore properly.
That said, if you DO only have 24 hours in Zagreb, fear not. I’ve got the perfect itinerary to help you get to know Zagreb in a flash, with plenty of time spare for the important things (like drinking beer).
Have a Coffee at Quawha
Cafe culture is a massive part of Croatian life, so when I asked the receptionist in my AMAZING hostel (more on that later) what’s the first thing I should do in Zagreb, she directed me here. Quawha is one of Zagreb’s most popular coffee shops and independent roasters, so get there early to grab a table. The coffee is to die for, with loads to choose from… try the chocolate cookie latte. The atmosphere is really chill and you can sit outside too – the perfect sunny morning.
Visit the Museum of Broken Relationships
This not-your-average museum is one of Zagreb’s most famous attractions, and I bloody loved it! It’s full of artefacts people have donated from their past relationships, which range from the heartbreaking to the hilarious and totally random:
Each of the objects has a story written by the person who donated, and reading these personal anecdotes from lives around the world is absolutely fascinating. Even Jordan the museum-phobe loved this. A must visit in Zagreb!
Marvel at St. Mark’s Church
Just around the corner in St. Mark’s square you’ll come across the charming church of the same name, easily spotted by its iconic tiled roof in the colours of the Croatian flag. It also features mosaics of the Croatian, Dalmatian and Slavonian coats of arms, as well as the emblem of Zagreb. It’s free to enter, so there’s no excuse not to visit and soak up some Croatian history.
Zagreb is a very hilly city, and these attractions are in the upper town, which means incredible views! After visiting the church, head to one of the cafes near the funicular for another coffee, or a beer with incredible views over the sand-hued lower town.
Munch at Good Food
All that sightseeing is hungry work, and I was so happy to find a cheap, healthy spot for lunch called Good Food. Their hearty salad bowls are amazing, and were just what I needed after the copious amounts of meat, cheese and carbs consumed on my Euro trip so far! Just look at my gorgeous vegan falafel salad (and Jordan’s crispy chicken caesar). These cost £4, bargain!
Channel some flower power
On a summer’s day you’ll find central Zagreb in full bloom. Right outside the main train station (Glavni Kolodvor), there’s a series of parks that are packed with rows upon rows of colourful flowers, ponds and fountains. They’re so beautiful! You’ll see loads of people reading, playing music and just hanging out with a really chilled vibe. And if that doesn’t give you your floral fill, just around the corner from the station is Zagreb Botanical Garden where you’ll find acres of plant life, as well as gorgeous water features and cute greenhouses that’ll take your Insta game up a level.
Browse Dolac Market
Dolac Market is the city’s largest open-air market, where you can join the locals browsing for meats, clothes, and everything in between! It’s the best place to pick up some souvenirs, whether you’re after a fridge magnet or a bottle of Croatian wine. There are also a few vendors selling street food and snacks, so you can sample some local flavours. My favourite stall was this one selling hundreds of second hand books in multiple languages – I’m a sucker for a dusty old novel so I could have browsed here for hours!
Check out Zagreb Cathedral
Now you’ve had a good look around the city, head back up to the upper town to be blown away by Zagreb Cathedral. This massive Neo-Gothic building is absolutely magnificent – I felt like a tiny speck stood next to it – and best of all you can explore it inside and out for free. Unfortunately for us, one of the spires was covered in scaffolding when we visited (which turned out to be a recurring theme on this trip). Regardless though, this was still one of the best things to do in Zagreb.
Neck a drink (or five) on Tkalčićeva Street
You’ve definitely earned a beer by now! There’s no better place to quench your thirst than the buzzing Tkalčićeva Street, a long stretch lined with bars, pubs and restaurants with lots of tables outside filled with people drinking and dining al fresco. This was my favourite place in Zagreb and one of the coolest streets I’ve seen. Seriously, it’s that good – you have to go here! Just pick the bar that suits you, pull up a chair outside and watch the world go by with a cold Croatian pint.
Have a burger at Otto & Frank
Okay, there are hundreds of places to eat on Tkalčićeva Street, but if you want my personal recommendation then the burgers at Otto & Frank are killer (and an absolute bargain)! You can get a cheeseburger, chips and a beer for about £8, all of which you can enjoy in the sun with views across the street. And when you’re done, it’s obviously time to check out some more pubs!
Party at Alcatraz
Wherever you’ve ended up on your Zagreb pub crawl, your final destination to dance the night away should be Alcatraz, the city centre’s coolest bar. Expect it to be absolutely rammed, but there’s always room to squeeze in one more among the various floors and rooms. It’s super lively and decorated with all sorts of quirky band memorabilia, plus the music is good and the drinks are cheap – what more could you ask for?!
Rest your head at Chillout Hostel
I found one of my favourite hostels EVER here in Zagreb. Chillout Hostel is a crazy, colourful wonderland with amazingly funky dorm rooms (we were the only people who checked into our six-bedder – bonus!) The bar downstairs was so sociable and loads of fun – they put on a screening of that night’s Game of Thrones ep, complete with a drinking game and pub quiz, before the party kicked off. Plus, they have two dogs!! We headed back here for drinks post Tkalčićeva, and made some new friends who took us to Alcatraz. We never would have heard about it otherwise, so thanks guys!
So, that’s how you fit a week’s worth of exploring and adventures into one day in Zagreb! If you only have 24 hours, tick off everything on this list for a whirlwind tour of the city. But please, if you can make a little more time you won’t regret it – you might just fall in love with Zagreb!