23 Things to Do in Zagreb in ‘23
Part of the view from the Lotrščak tower. Feels like the very top of the city
As we are looking into the new year, we could start with the viewpoints. I picked two, both situated in the Upper Town area's medieval watchtowers.
1. Lotrščak Tower
Famous for being the home to the cannon that fires each day at noon, the tower can be visited, too. Climbing the narrow wooden stairway, with exhibition areas on each floor, and even seeing the Grič cannon up close is a very authentic experience. The 360 view from the top is breathtaking.
Tickets are only 3 EUR. Find the info here.
Zagreb observatory offers the best night views of the city and the sky above it. Make sure to check out the working hours before your visit.
Interior of Croatian National Theater. Photo by M. Gašparović, Zagreb Tourist Board
You’re visiting the cultural capital of Croatia, so make sure not to miss out on some culture. Here are some ideas.
3. Croatian National Theater
If you like theater, why not book tickets for Croatian National Theater during your stay in Zagreb? You don’t need to understand Croatian to enjoy an opera or a ballet. You'd be surprised how affordable the tickets are compared to other similar theaters worldwide. After all, it’s a chance to experience the incredible baroque-revival-style building that took only 6 months to build back in 1895!
4. Summer cinema
If you’re here in the summer months, check out the schedule of the open-air cinema Tuškanac. It’s a real movie theater in the forest, only a 20-minute walk from the main city square. If the movie is in your language, you can enjoy it, as we don’t dub movies in Croatia.
5. Old-school cinema
There are still some old cinemas that have survived the modern era. If you like classic, cult, or independent films, there is a chance you will find something in Kinoteka, Tuškanac, or KIC. Zagreb is home to many movie festivals. The best part of screenings in those old-school cinemas is the way audience reacts - old-school, how else? They clap and cheer, so it feels like watching a movie with a bunch of friends.
6. Visit a museum
You simply can’t leave Zagreb without visiting at least one museum. After all, they say it’s the city with the largest number of museums per capita! If the classical museums aren’t your thing, go for the quirky private ones. Let's see: there's the Museum of Broken Relationships, Mushroom museum, Museum of the ’80s, New Wave museum, Chocolate Museum Zagreb, Backo Mini Express mini train museum, Museum of Hangover, and Cannabis Museum, to name a few.
7. Puppet theater
I honestly believe Zagreb puppet theater is formative for every child that grows up in Zagreb. If you want to understand the locals, join a show in the puppet theater. If you are traveling with kids, there’s another reason to do it. I absolutely love the foyer with its exhibition of old puppets.
Beautiful views from the mountain are surrounded with a snowy frame in winter
Now that we’ve covered culture, why don't we spend some time in nature? Here I go again: if you truly wish to experience Zagreb like a local, visit its mountain Medvednica.
8. Cable car to the top
Last year, Zagreb got the new cable car that makes the top of the mountain as accessible as can be. What are you waiting for?
9. Medvedgrad fortress
Another novelty from last year is the new visitor center in the fortress of Medvedgrad on the mountain. Good to know - the castle is not at the top of the mountain. You will have to do some figuring out how to reach it - but it’s worth the bother. You could take the cable car to the top, do some hiking and exploring, spend the night in one of the accommodations near the top, and stop by the fortress on your way down the next day. Sounds like a great plan to me!
10. Winter sports
If you’re here in Zagreb in winter, then winter sports it is! How about sledding on the mountain slopes? Or even skiing, since there are small but charming ski runs up there. The least you could do is try ice skating somewhere in the city.
Yummy break to fill your tummy
As soon as the sun breaks through clouds, all the tables are taken
11. Coffee with a friend
If this is not the first article you’re reading about Zagreb, you must have noticed that everyone mentions the coffee culture. Indeed, streets are full of cafes. If you take a good look at the outdoor bar tables, you will notice that the majority of people is having coffee. If you want to do it the Zagreb way, meet a friend, order kava s toplim mlijekom (by far the most common coffee choice by the locals), sit back, and relax. Sip your coffee and try to make it last at least half an hour. At least.
If you’re looking for a cake to pair with your coffee, you could try kremšnite in one of the local pastry shops. After all, pastry shops are known for the creamiest coffee, so there is your perfect combination.
13. Try a (craft) beer
If you’ve had enough coffee (as if this is even possible when in Zagreb), how about a beer? While Croatia is famous for its wine, Zagreb is often associated with beer. The most typical local brand is Ožujsko, nicknamed Žuja. You can also find a number of imaginative craft beers in local bars. Some of the most popular brands are the ones from Medvedgrad brewery and pubs, or Zmajsko (dragon) beer.
14. Don’t forget štrukli!
Order yourself a fine meal of štrukli. You can get them in many restaurants, often listed as desserts. Some locals claim that the best štrukli are at Le Bistro Esplanade or La Štruk.
Get active to get of the beaten path
Better hurry up, there is so much to explore in this city! You will cover a lot more if you are faster, so get on a bike, or put your best running shoes on.
15. Explore Maksimir
The most common recommendation for a day of regenerative recreation is park Maksimir. It’s large, and the best way to fully explore it is on a bike.
16. Dotrščina forest
Now that you’ve covered the basics, an undiscovered adventure awaits near Maksimir. The forest called Dotrščina is another area popular among bikers and runners. You will be amazed by the peculiar art there. The sculptures are there for a sad reason, as they serves as a memory of the WWII victims.
17. Along Sava
Prefer open spaces over dense forests? In that case, a long bike ride alongside the river Sava and its lakes could be a better fit for you!
18. Swim in a lake
Take a break from all those rides, put on a swimsuit, and jump in Jarun or Bundek lakes.
19. Join a run
Zagreb hosts a number of marathons, including some pretty imaginative running events. For instance, the Advent run is something else, as Santas, elves, and other Christmassy runners overflow the city center. This year’s healthy challenge could be to join at least one of the Zagreb runs.
The most wonderful time of the year is even more wonderful in Zagreb
There are many festivals in Zagreb, especially in the warmer part of the year. It’s always a good idea to stop by the visitor center at the main square and check the current events. You could even plan your visit around the most popular events.
20. Festival of lights
There’s hardly a better welcome to spring, than the Festival of lights. It is quite an impressive start to the city movement and awakening after the winter torpor.
21. Cest is d’ Best
The crazy street performers festival has been turning the streets of Zagreb into an interactive theater for years.
22. Advent Zagreb
The end of the year is as shiny as can be, thanks to the award-winning Advent Zagreb. It's a set of Christmas markets and events with their unique urban vibe, spread throughout the town from late November to early January.
Last but not least
23. Browse the markets
If you don’t have the time for other open-air markets, then at least stop by the famous food market called Dolac in the narrow city center. The antique fair on Britanac square or the Hrelić flea market are authentic experiences, too. You can discover all sorts of curious stuff there. As a famous local expression says, you'll encounter “od igle do lokomotive” (anything from a needle to a locomotive).
Bonus item on the 23-things-to-do-in-Zagreb-in-‘23 list
One last tip is to keep following the Love Zagreb blog. After all, this is a perfect place to find the inspiration for your 2023 trip to Zagreb!
Header image credit: Iva Silla
Author: Iva Silla