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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Zagreb in 24 hours or Less

Our first stop in Croatia was Zagreb, a city full of history, especially because it was a trade hub connecting Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea for many years. Today Zagreb is a modern city with a great touch of history immersed into it with art, medieval buildings, churches and open-air markets. Zagreb is a great place to explore on foot and we spent a day just immersing ourselves in central Zagreb.


Technically we could have headed straight to Plitvice National Park, but we thought it would be fun to spend a day in Zagreb as it was the first place we visited in Croatia in 2015, as it would give us a bit of a walk down memory lane. We did a lot of retracing our steps, almost doing the same exact walking route but we just had a short time to visit. Therefore, we wanted to share some of the top highlights if you only have 24 hours or less in the city.


When we had visited in 2015, we came at the end of September so things were pretty quiet. However, this time (early August) while walking into the same square we noticed a drastic difference in the crowds. To be honest, it was our first experience with summer tourism in Europe, as many of the other places we have visited thus far seemed to be mostly domestic tourists and we haven’t seen a ton of international tourists.


However, the great thing about Zagreb is that many of the sites are within walking distance of each other. You can easily see all the sites as you walk through town. These are just some of the highlights:


Ban Jelacic Square

This central square has been at the heart of Zagreb since 1641 and is a main point in the city still today. In the center of the square is the equestrian statue of Ban Jelacic, which is who the square is named after. The statue was actually taken away in 1947 by the communist authorities, but it was brought back in 1990 with a public petition.

Ban Jelacic Square - Central Zagreb

Dolac Market

This is the local produce market and they had such a wide selection of fruits and vegetables -especially during summer! On the steps leading up to the market from Ban Jelacic Square, there were also flower vendors who had some beautiful floral arrangements! It was the perfect stop for a mid-morning snack of cucumbers for Connor, blueberries for Clara and peaches for me!


Zagreb Cathedral: Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This church is one of the tallest buildings in Zagreb and has a rich history dating back to 1093 when King Ladislaus started construction on the cathedral and it was completed in 1217. While we were there one of the spires was being refurbished because it was damaged in a March 2020 earthquake. However, I seem to remember when we visited in 2015 that it was possible to go inside to see the churches (St. Mark’s included) but at the time we were wearing shorts so we couldn’t go in. However, this time it wasn’t open at all and in looking at the website it should have been, so not really sure what was happening.


St. Mark’s Church

This is one of my favorite sites in Zagreb. The church is so unique with its mosaic roof design and adds a lot of color to the square. While they don’t have the exact date of original construction, they believe it was built as early as the 13th century. In the 14th century it was reconstructed and became a Gothic church. The roof is full of tiles which showcases the coat of arms for Zagreb and the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia & Dalmatia. For some reason while we were visiting, the square around the church was completely blocked off with fencing so we could only view from a distance.

St. Mark's Church - Zagreb

Zagreb Funicular

While we didn’t ride it because we had just ridden the Budapest Funicular, it was fun to walk along the steps from the hillside to the bottom and see the funicular come down the hill.

Checking out the Zagreb Funicular from the stairs.

Croatian National Theatre

This was actually a new place that we didn’t see in 2015. The yellow building was originally opened in 1834 as a city theatre, but it became a National Theatre in 1860. The theatre showcases opera, ballet and theatre presentations. Also directly outside of the theatre is the ‘Well of Life’ sculpture which represents the ‘circle of life’ of various people and ages in this circular presentation.


There are several other museums in Zagreb, but this was the quick version of hitting up the sites in Zagreb if you only have 24 hours or less. However, what was personally most memorable for us was to recreate some of the photos we had taken in 2015 with a newer and updated version of the same photo. I'll leave you with one of my favorite.


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