This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.
If you were looking for the perfect 2 day Zagreb itinerary, this is it right here!
With all the hype around other Croatian destinations, you might be asking yourself: is Zagreb worth visiting?
The short answer is: Yes!
While most visitors who fly into Croatia’s capital either make a beeline for the coast or opt to spend only one day in Zagreb, I’m here to tell you that it is worth staying a little longer. As someone who has been living in Zagreb since 2014, I’ve grown to know the ins and outs of the city and can share some local tips about what makes this city so special.
In this post, I’ll cover all of the best things to do in Zagreb including what to see in Zagreb, Zagreb attractions, and even recommendations for Zagreb day trips.
Affectionally dubbed the “City of Museums” because the capital of Croatia has more museums per square meter than any other city in the world, so it’s safe to say that Zagreb is rich in culture and history. Thanks to its Austro-Hungarian influence, the city is quite reminiscent of other nearby capitals like Ljubljana and Vienna.
Whether you are spending a weekend in Zagreb or are searching for the best Zagreb activities, this post will show you the best way to spend your time in Croatia’s capital. Luckily, 48 hours in Zagreb is just enough time to get a taste of the city’s historic charm, vibrant cafe culture, buzzing local markets, lush green parks, and exciting festivals.
Now let’s dive into the perfect two day Zagreb itinerary!
The Perfect 2 Day Zagreb Itinerary
Before planning your trip to Croatia’s capital, you’ll want to secure a place to stay in the city. Make sure you check out this post on my local recommendations for the where to stay in Zagreb. If you’re a first-time visitor to the city, I’d recommend staying at a boutique hotel in the Lower Town. 😉
Without further ado, here is what to see in Zagreb in 2 days!
Day 1 in Zagreb
When it comes to what to do in Zagreb in 2 days, the very first thing you should do is start your morning at Dolac, a daily farmer’s market that takes place just a few steps away from Ban Jelačić Square (Trg bana Josipa Jelačića). This market can be easily recognized by its iconic sea of traditional red umbrellas.
Many locals flock to this very market to pick up their groceries for the day. The market itself is split up into two levels. On the top level, vendors sell seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as locally made honey, dried fruits, and fresh cheeses. Take some time to wander among the stalls, sample a few local treats, or grab some fresh fruit to snack on later.
The lower level of Dolac Market is located inside, right beneath the top level. In this section, you will find fresh and cured meats, pastas and pastry doughs as well as a fish market offering the catch of the day straight from the Adriatic Sea.
Dolac Market is a great place to get a taste of local life and to truly experience an authentic side of Zagreb.
After you’ve had your fill of the market, make your way toward the Upper Town for some sightseeing in Zagreb! The Upper Town is a major historic section of the city and home to some of the best Zagreb attractions. Simply cross over to Radićeva Street from Dolac Market and begin walking up the hill. On the way there, stop at Kamenita Vrata (Stone Gate), an important historic landmark that was once the gateway between the Upper and Lower Towns of Zagreb.
Constructed in the 13th century, the Stone Gate was the location of a miraculous event. In 1737, a devastating fire burned almost the entire city of Zagreb to the ground. At the time, the Stone Gate displayed a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus, which amazingly undamaged by the flames. In order to honor this great event, the citizens of Zagreb built a chapel within the arches of the Stone Gate that still houses the original painting today.
After passing through the Stone Gate, make your way to Kavana Lav, a cult-favorite among locals. This lovely Zagreb cafe sits above the sidewalk and features a lovely sun-filled terrace. Take a break here and enjoy a cup of coffee the way the locals do (“kava s mlijekom” or coffee with milk) and a piece of their delicious homemade carrot cake.
St. Mark’s Church
Once you’ve re-energized, climb up the hill to admire one of Zagreb’s most recognizable landmarks – St. Mark’s Church. This stunning piece of architecture features a beautifully tiled rooftop. The inside of the church is a masterpiece as well, featuring a ceiling that is gilded in 22-carat gold leaflets and sculptures throughout the church created by famous Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštrović.
Continue your walk from St. Mark’s Church toward Gradec Plateau for the most gorgeous panoramic view of the city and cathedral. This picturesque corner of the city has also become a venue for creative street art in recent years. You’ll notice the Blue Whale mural as well as other interesting artwork as you stroll around the area.
Taking the steps down from the plateau will lead you to the Strossmayer Promenade, one of the most romantic walkways in the entire city. Take a right and follow the tree-studded pathway toward the famous sculpture of Croatian poet Antun Gustav Matoš.
As you make your way down the promenade, you’ll pass by another notable Zagreb landmark, Lotrščak Tower. Every single day, for over 100 years, a cannon is fired from the tower exactly at noon in commemoration of Zagreb’s victory over the Turks.
Passing by Lotrščak Tower, you’ll finally arrive at one of the most scenic parks in the city, Park Grič, built on top of one of the original medieval defense walls of Zagreb. Park Grič is a wonderful place to sit back and relax for a few minutes while taking in the views of the city skyline.
Lunch at Konoba Didov San
Once you’re done soaking up the best Zagreb sights in the Upper Town, it’s time to grab lunch from the nearby restaurant, Konoba Didov San. This Croatian restaurant is just a short walk away from Park Grič, and is a wonderful place to try out some traditional Croatian cuisine.
Some highlights on the menu include traditional donuts with local soft cheese, Grandma’s Pan, and grilled squid.
Explore the Best Zagreb Museums
After lunch, pay a visit to a museum or two. Zagreb is, in fact, most famous for its abundance of exceptional museums. I suggest checking out the Museum of Broken Relationships, located in the Upper Town near Konoba Didov San.
While it might not be your traditional museum, this interesting exhibit is dedicated to failed relationships and is quite an entertaining place to visit.
Afterward, take a ride on the funicular to the Lower Town to check out the Chocolate Museum or the Museum of Illusions. The Zagreb Funicular is considered to be one of the shortest in the world and is the oldest and first-ever public transportation to be installed in the city.
Other more classic museums worth checking out in Zagreb are Zagreb City Museum, Mimara, Museum of Arts and Crafts, Museum of Contemporary Art, Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, and the Archeological Museum.
Dinner at Vinodol
End day one of your Zagreb itinerary with a dinner at Vinodol. Located in the Lower Town, this restaurant is a Zagreb classic serving up delectable local dishes in a cozy and relaxing atmosphere.
After dinner, take a walk over to Zrinjevac Park to see if there’s any live music playing. If you’re visiting in summer, there will most likely be a number of festivals and events going on in the city. Zrinjevac Park often features food festivals, movie festivals, and live music during the summertime, making it the perfect place to wrap up your first day in Zagreb.
Day 2 in Zagreb
Begin the second morning of your 2 day Zagreb itinerary in the great outdoors. If you’re the active type, head to Medvednica Mountain (or Sljeme as the locals call it) for a hike.
Filled with streams, meadows, forests, and wildlife, Sljeme is a surprisingly short drive away from the city center. It can be easily reached by taking the #14 tram toward Mihaljevac. Just hop on and ride until you reach the last stop where you’ll then get off.
Sljeme is truly a nature lover’s paradise. There are 70 trails that zigzag through the mountain, each of varying difficulty. There are options for leisurely hikes and ones that require you to be in a bit better shape.
If you prefer, you can also take a bus all the way up to the top of the mountain and spend some time walking around its peak. To do this, take bus #140 from the Mihaljevac stop where you disembarked the tram.
At the top, you can enjoy the sprawling views of Zagorje, have a cup of coffee, or grab some traditional food at the mountain restaurant.
Instead of going to Sljeme, another outdoor option is heading to Maksimir Park.
Maksimir Park is like the Central Park of Zagreb. Consisting of five lakes, endless pathways, and English-style gardens, this park holds a special significance in the hearts of Zagreb’s citizens.
This popular green oasis is the very place you’ll find packed with locals. Couples going for a stroll, families visiting the Zagreb Zoo, and dogs frolicking through the meadows are just a few of the typical scenes you’ll witness in Maksimir Park.
Just across the street from the park are two cafes, Mimice and Park Cafe, ideal for having a rest or a morning coffee. These two cafes are frequented by locals, especially during the weekends – you’ll see people catching up with friends and families going out for a Saturday morning outing.
If you’re hungry, grab some delicious pizza at the nearby Pizzeria Duksa, situated right behind the cafes. This local pizza place is home to amazing thin-crust pizza (each one with a unique name) and delicious combinations that you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
If you’re not into nature and wish to skip Maksimir Park or Sljeme altogether, or if you just have some extra time, I would recommend visiting Mirogoj Cemetery.
While recommending a visit to a cemetery may seem strange, Mirogoj Cemetery is actually considered to be one of the more noteworthy landmarks in Zagreb. Designed by Hermann Bollé, the same architect responsible for Zagreb’s cathedral, Mirogoj is a gothic wonderland featuring copper domes, ivy-covered walls, and stunning tiled arcades.
Mirogoj Cemetery is just a short bus ride away from the Zagreb Cathedral. You can reach it by hopping on bus numbers 106, 201, 203, and 226 at the Kaptol Bus Station.
Explore Zagreb’s Lower Town
In the afternoon, explore Zagreb’s Lower Town. Situated just below the more famous Upper Town, this area of Zagreb is considered to be the hub of business, art, shopping, and museums.
Featuring Viennese-style architecture mixed with contemporary buildings, Zagreb’s Lower Town is the perfect blend of old-meets-new.
Some of the best things to do in Zagreb Croatia’s Lower Town include the main square, Ban Joisp Jelačić, Ilica Street, Bogovićeva Street, Flower Square, and the Croatian National Theater.
You’ll notice the many green spaces that dot the city as well. This is because Zagreb has a long and rich tradition of parks that dates all the way back to the 18th century. Today, the city boasts a total of 30 parks that cover an area of around 400,000 square meters. A few of the parks worth checking out in the Lower Town include Zrinjevac Park and King Tomislav Square.
While wandering around Zrinjevac Park, be sure to stop at Zagreb’s beautiful Palace Hotel, home to the only traditional Viennese-style cafe in the city. This historic hotel is a former Art Nouveau Palace that was renovated and reopened into a hotel in 1907 and remains one of Zagreb’s most treasured landmarks to this day.
Roam Around Tkalčićeva Street
In the evening, head to Tkalčićeva Street, right off of the main square Ban Jelačić. This pedestrian-only street is lined on either side with an endless collection of bars, restaurants, and cafes. Tkalčićeva Street is also the beating heart of Zagreb’s international food scene. Here, visitors can enjoy a variety of cuisine from around the world including Turkey, India, Lebanon, Greece, and even Sri Lanka.
If you’re up for some international food, I highly recommend Royal India Restaurant. If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, La Štruk is an awesome place to taste one of continental Croatia’s most famous dishes – štrukli.
Štrukli is almost a lasagna-like dish with layers of homemade dough and cheese, usually boiled or baked. You can enjoy sweet štrukli prepared with blueberries, honey and walnuts, or sweet cheese, or you can enjoy them savory featuring fillings like salty cheese and truffles.
Day Trips From Zagreb
When you visit Zagreb, you might want to consider adding a few day trips to your itinerary. Continental Croatia has a lot to offer, and it’s worth taking some extra time to explore before heading to the coast.
Trakošćan Castle is a fairytale-like fortress located in northern Croatia. It is only about an hour drive away from downtown, making it the perfect one day trip from Zagreb.
This beautiful castle was constructed in the 13th century as part of a defense system, but its position at the top of a lush green hilltop gives it quite the romantic appeal. The inside of the castle houses authentic armor, historic paintings, furniture, and scripts that date back centuries.
The surrounding park and lake add to the magical medieval setting and are free for visitors to roam around. There is a beautiful pathway that lines the entire lake and takes about an hour to stroll around at a leisurely pace. Another fun activity for both children and adults is to rent a paddleboat for an adventure of the water. Plus, you’ll also have the chance to enjoy some pretty spectacular views of the castle.
Samobor is a lovely little town located just about a thirty-minute drive outside of the Croatian capital. This picturesque town is one of the best day trips from Zagreb as it is rich in tradition, charming architecture, and creamy cakes.
Visitors to Samobor can stroll along the stream that winds through the town center, have seat in the sunshine on the main square, and enjoy the city’s most famous dessert – the kremšnita. This delectable dessert features a puff pastry base and an irresistibly creamy custard filling. To taste the best kremšnite in town, head to the pastry shop U prolazu, which you will likely spot thanks to the never-ending line of visitors waiting to take a few of these sweet cakes home.
Nestled on a hilltop in the heart of Zagorje county, Vuglec Breg is an enchanting day trip destination for those seeking a relaxing time complete with good food and wine.
Owned by the Vuglec family whose dream was to transform the heritage of their ancestors into a place where visitors could come to experience the beauty of Zagorje, this rural estate is now complete with a restaurant, a winery and even accommodation.
The estate sits right on the peak of a hill and offers breathtaking views of the rolling green valleys of Zagorje – the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset. This one of my personal favorite things to do near Zagreb in the summertime!
Continuing Your Trip Through Croatia
Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes
Getting from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes is simple, and should definitely be the next stop on your Croatia itinerary if you plan to continue south to the islands. There are daily buses available that can take you to the national park, or you can make the easy two-hour-drive yourself.
I would highly recommend renting a car when visiting Croatia and doing your own road trip through Croatia as it truly is the best way to explore the country.
If you do opt to take a bus from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes, be sure to check the updated departure times on this website.
Zagreb to Split
Getting from Zagreb to Split can be easily done via bus or by car. The railway system in Croatia is not as developed or reliable as it is in other European countries, which is why it is not listed as an option here.
Traveling from Zagreb to Split takes four hours by car on the A1 highway. The roads are relatively new and easy to navigate, and there are a number of solid rest stops along the way.
You might be interested in taking the “old road” from Zagreb to Split, which was used before the new A1 highway was constructed. This road is a good option if you prefer a beautiful drive and don’t mind a longer trip (due to speed restrictions). This option will take you about six hours to get to Split.
The second best option is to take a bus. Buses from Zagreb to Split are plentiful and typically leave every hour or so from the main bus station in Zagreb. You can check the up-to-date timetables here. I’d recommend spending at least 3 days in Split to get a good feel for the city. Plus, once you’re there, it’s super easy to do day trips from Split to many of the nearby islands!
Zagreb to Dubrovnik
Getting from Zagreb to Dubrovnik can be done three ways. The first, is by taking the same route as you would to go to Split, but continue south for two more hours. This route requires a border crossing through Bosnia & Herzegovina, so be sure to have your passport on hand!
The second option is to take a bus. If you have plenty of time and don’t mind long bus rides, then this is the most cost-effective option. The bus ride from Zagreb to Dubrovnik takes about ten hours.
The third option is to fly. This is the quickest option, however, you’ll be missing out on all of the amazing destinations along the way! I would only recommend this option if you are short on time and absolutely must fly.
The Perfect 2 Day Zagreb Itinerary Summary
I hope you found this 2 days in Zagreb itinerary helpful and that it inspired you to visit one of Europe’s most underrated capitals! Zagreb truly has so much to offer and is the perfect place to start your epic Croatia vacation.
Everyone’s travel plans are different, which is why this Zagreb itinerary is super flexible. If you’re short on time, you could easily cut out day two to create a Zagreb one day itinerary. If you have extra time, you can always extend with one (or a few) of the day trip options listed above or perhaps combine two countries into one trip with an Italy and Croatia itinerary!
How many days in Zagreb is enough?
Two days in Zagreb is the perfect amount of time to see the city’s highlights and get a taste of the local culture.
Is Zagreb a walkable city?
Yes, Zagreb is very pedestrian friendly and it is possible to explore the Upper and Lower Towns entirely on foot.
Is Zagreb better than Split?
It really depends on the type of trip you’re looking for. Zagreb has a lot of events and activities going on all year round, plus it is centrally located in Europe, making it a great base for visiting other countries. Split, on the other hand, is good for island hopping in Croatia and is best visited in the summer.
Is it better to stay in Upper or Lower Town Zagreb?
The Lower Town offers more accommodation options and is well-connected to public transportation, making it a better area to stay in when visiting Zagreb.
Is Zagreb safe to walk at night?
Zagreb is generally a safe city and it is not dangerous to walk around at night. However, it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings no matter where you travel.
Zagreb Travel Tips
💸 What is the currency in Croatia?
As of January 1st, 2023, the official currency of Croatia is the Euro and NOT the Kuna (which is also the name of the national animal of Croatia).
🇭🇷 What language do they speak in Croatia?
Croatian is the official language of Croatia. Learn some phrases in Croatian before your trip with the Ling app!
🚑 Should I buy Croatia travel insurance?
10000% YES – Seriously, don’t leave home without it. You never know what can happen on the road. I like SafetyWing because they provide excellent coverage for as little as $1.50 a day.
📱 Will my phone work in Croatia?
Maybe – check with your provider to see if you’ll have service while traveling Croatia. If you don’t have service (or it’s too expensive) I recommend getting an eSIM like Airalo. Airalo allows you to have data while traveling without the high costs of roaming. They have super affordable plans available for 190+ countries, including Croatia. Download the app and get your plan before you leave home so that you have data as soon as you touch down in Croatia!
🏨 What’s the best way to book my Croatia accommodations?
For Croatia hotels, Booking is by far the best site.
🛫 What’s the best site to buy Croatia flights?
I always use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights.
🚗 Is it safe to rent a Car in Croatia?
Yes! – In fact, renting a car in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the country! I recommend Discover Cars because they check both local and international rental companies to ensure you get the best deal. (Get your Croatia road trip itinerary here)
💦 Is it safe to drink the water in Croatia?
Tap water in Croatia is completely safe to drink, so bring your reusable water bottle and fill up!
Do I need a visa for Croatia?
Depending on where you are coming from you may or may not need a visa to enter Croatia. Check the official Republic of Croatia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more information on who should apply for a visa.