Welcome to my insider’s guide to the best day trips from Zagreb! Having lived in Croatia for over a decade, I’ve explored countless hidden gems and popular spots, all within a short drive from the capital of Croatia
Zagreb, the heartbeat of the nation, isn’t just a transit point—it’s a gateway to some of the most fascinating destinations in the Adriatic and Balkan regions.
Whether you’re touching down for a layover or starting your epic road trip here, Zagreb’s central location makes it an ideal base. Sure, the city itself, with its rich history, iconic clock tower, and bustling King Tomislav Square, is a great place to explore. But beyond the Croatian capital’s charm lies an array of incredible day trip adventures just waiting to be discovered.
To take one of my recommended day trips from Zagreb, you can rent a car, hire a driver, take public transportation, or join an organized tour to one of the destinations below.
From serene boat rides on the Adriatic Sea to private day tours through historical towns, there’s no shortage of experiences to be had. And the best way to uncover these treasures?
Dive into this curated list of the most popular and best Zagreb day trips, each a unique journey into the heart of Croatia’s stunning landscapes and rich cultural tapestry.
Let’s embark on these Zagreb day tours together and see what this beautiful region has in store!
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Short Day Trips From Zagreb (Under 2 Hours)
1. Zagreb To Plitvice Lakes National Park Day Trip
If you only have time for one day trip from Zagreb, let it be to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Although this is a rather large park, its main attractions can be explored conveniently in one afternoon.
Several terraced lakes flow into one another in a beautifully wooded gorge in a series of waterfalls and cascades. These lakes have to be one of the most popular day trips to take from Zagreb as they are, in my opinion, the most beautiful lakes in Europe.
The other reason why Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site is so popular is that there are easy-to-navigate boardwalks that wind their way over and around the lakes and waterfalls, allowing you to see everything from up close.
The day trip from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes is no longer than two hours. However, there is so much to see and do here that we suggest setting aside a full day to explore the lakes and drive back from the most visited national park in Croatia to Zagreb before it gets too dark.
You’ll want to take your time to enjoy the sheer natural wonders of this area, so you could also consider a private tour to maximize your time and not stress about the return drive. There are plenty of companies that offer a day trip to Plitvice from Zagreb.
2. Zagreb To Rastoke Day Trip
Rastoke is conveniently on the way between Zagreb and Plitvice Lakes National Park; the small town of Rastoke is a popular place to stop. Rastoke is the old town center of Slunj, filled with historic buildings and boasting surprisingly beautiful nature – the most perfect of Zagreb day trips for nature lovers.
Situated at the confluence of the Slunjcica and Korana Rivers, the town’s star attraction is its combination of waterfalls and watermills. It’s sometimes called “the small lakes of Plitvice” for a reason. Much less crowded than the nearby national park, Rastoke features similar landscapes of cascading waterfalls.
Its watermills are incredibly picturesque, and because it’s small enough to be explored in less than two hours, you’re encouraged to include Rastoke in your Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park itinerary or even as a pit stop on your road trip from Zagreb to Split.
3. Zagreb To Vuglec Breg Day Trip
Vuglec Breg, located about an hour northwest of Zagreb, offers a unique blend of rural charm and wine culture. This family-run estate is set amidst rolling hills and vineyards, providing a tranquil retreat. Visitors can enjoy wine tasting, traditional Croatian cuisine, and breathtaking views of the Zagorje region.
The estate’s rustic setting makes it an ideal spot for a relaxing day trip, immersed in the tranquility of the Croatian countryside.
Our first visit to Vuglec Breg started with an unexpected discovery. We first tasted their outstanding Baronial sparkling wine at a restaurant in Marija Bistrica, which led us to this picturesque winery. We enjoyed lunch on their balcony, starting with the same Baronial sparkling wine, a delightful blend of Chardonnay and Grasevina – I suggest that you do the same.
The visit was made even more memorable by the friendly miniature horses and a baby donkey on the property. The lunch, featuring Zagorje soup, frog legs, and roast goose, was perfectly paired with their Sauvignon Blanc and Pasion Cuvee.
Our engaging conversation with the waiter and the guided tour of their wine cellar highlighted the warmth and passion of the Vuglec Breg team. We left with a dozen bottles of wine and have been back 2 other times since!
4. Zagreb To Varazdin Day Trip
One of the northernmost towns in Croatia, Zagreb to Varazdin, is less than a one-and-a-half-hour drive each way and is an easy Zagreb day trip to make. Its location in the far north of the country keeps it off many visitors’ radar, adding only its appealing quietude.
For such a small town, Varazdin has many highlights. Once Croatia’s capital, the town is now a stunningly well-preserved Baroque town. Make sure not to miss Trg Kralja Tomislava, home to the Draskovic PalaceAlso, the Cathedral is also a sight worth seeing. Additionally, definitely visit the Stari Grad Fortress and the City Museum.
From Zagreb, you can get to Varazdin by car and bus. The latter is a convenient option if you don’t want to rent a car. If you do rent a car, you’re strongly encouraged to make a detour to Trakoscan Castle, one of Croatia’s most beautiful and most visited castles.
5. Zagreb To Trakošćan Castle Day Trip
Atop a steep hill in Hrvatsko Zagorje, Trakošćan Castle is perhaps the most famous castle in Croatia. It overlooks a human-made lake and bountiful gardens, making it one of the best places to visit from Zagreb.
Trakošćan is less than an hour’s drive from Zagreb, the pilgrimage town of Maria Bistrica, and within minutes of the baroque city of Varaždin. Because it is so close to Zagreb, we strongly encourage you to go for a day trip there. There’s plenty to see and do en route, too.
Built in the 13th century, the original owner is still unknown, but the castle is believed to have been constructed as an observation fortress. Over the last nine centuries, many people owned Trakošćan Castle at some point. It currently belongs to the Croatian government and is one of the best-preserved castles in Croatia. You can visit a great museum with a permanent collection of paintings, furniture, and other display items.
As you walk through the museum, you are taken back in time. You’ll gaze into the eyes of ten generations of owners, spanning three centuries, whose faces are now portraited paintings. This living museum has fully set dining tables, study areas, and bedrooms complete with antique linens. Daydream as you meander along the circular staircase, which winds down and around the castle from the hunting room at the top all the way to the basement kitchen.
6. Zagreb To Kumrovec Day Trip
Situated along the Sutla River in the far northwestern corner of Croatia, on the border with Slovenia, Kumrovec village is home to just under 1,600 residents. It’s a teeny, tiny Croatian village indeed. So, “Why would Kumrovec be one of the best day trips from Zagreb?” you may wonder.
Well, the town’s main feature is that it’s the birthplace of Josip Broz Tito, the army commander who later became the founder of communist Yugoslavia.
The house where Tito was born, nothing fancier than a basic peasant home, was converted into a museum during his lifetime. In the decade’s aftermath, the surrounding buildings were renovated and reconstructed. It’s also considered to be the best museum village anywhere in Croatia.
Now, the town of Kumrovec is a superb example of what a 20th-century Zagorje village looked like. As it’s called, the Ethnological Museum encompasses eighteen historic village buildings, with permanent exhibits displaying artifacts and furniture.
This is a popular destination option for Zagreb day tours if you’re into history and local culture.
7. Zagreb To Samobor Day Trip
The nearest and most accessible day trip from Zagreb is probably Samobor. Situanly twenty kilometers to the west of the city, it’s easily reached by both car and bus. So, if you are time-poor – this is the choice for you.
Samobor is worth visiting for two main reasons—its architecture and its famous custard cake. The latter is known as Samoborska Kremsita and is said to be the best in all of Croatia. Make sure to try a slice.
Besides that, Samobor boasts lovely historic highlights, including the Stari Grad Castle, the City Museum, and the St. Anastasia and St. Anne Churches.
8. Zagreb To Ozalj Day Trip
One of the most fun day trips from Zagreb, if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination, is Ozalj. It sits on the banks of the picture-perfect Kupa River. It has a rich and glorious past, which becomes evident as soon as you gaze upon the Ozalj Castle.
This imposing fortress overlooks the river and is one of the top castles in Croatia. Ozalj Castle is a fascinating museum that houses art, ancient pottery, and medieval military weapons.
The Old Town of Ozalj is in the County of Karlovust, 55 kilometers from Zagreb, and an easy day trip by, train or public transport. In addition to the castle, you can also visit the St. Vitus Church and Ethno Park Trg and drive the incredible wine roads of Ozalj-Vivodina-Vrhovac. This is one of our favorite Zagreb day trips because of the area’s rural charm, notable historic sites, and great food and because we went there on a babymoon (notice my baby belly in that photo?)
9. Zagreb To Krapina Day Trip
Just an hour northwest of Zagreb, the town of Krapina not only offers a quaint, small-town vibe with its lovely cafes but also a unique window into prehistoric times.
The town is renowned for its Neanderthal Museum, a world-class facility that presents a fascinating and educational journey into the lives of Neanderthals. This museum is particularly famous for its display and interpretation of the Krapina Neanderthals, whose remains were discovered at the site and date back around 130,000 years.
These findings are significant as they represent one of the largest collections of Neanderthal fossils in the world, offering invaluable insights into early human history.
The exhibit creatively uses multimedia and life-sized displays to bring this ancient world to life, making it an enthralling experience for all ages. My son (then age 5) loved it, and we even went back to the start of the exhibitions to see some a second time.
As you explore Krapina, the serene atmosphere of this charming town, coupled with its rich prehistoric heritage, offers a truly unique glimpse into both ancient and traditional Croatian life.
The drive itself is a treat, as the Zagorje region, with its rolling hills and lush vineyards, paints a picturesque backdrop to this culturally rich and historic destination.
10. Zagreb To Sljeme Day Trip
An easy half-hour drive from the bustling streets of Zagreb, Sljeme, crowning the peaks of Medvednica Mountain, offers a quick escape into nature’s embrace.
This local favorite is not just a scenic retreat but a hub for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re up for hiking along its well-marked trails, cycling through its lush forests, or simply soaking in the panoramic views of Zagreb and beyond, Sljeme caters to all kinds of nature lovers.
During the winter months, Sljeme transforms into a winter wonderland, boasting a popular ski resort that attracts both beginners and seasoned skiers. The snow-covered slopes provide a different kind of thrill, making it an ideal destination for those looking to add a bit of adventure to their winter travels.
After a day spent exploring the natural beauty of Sljeme, indulge in the local culinary delights. The area is dotted with traditional restaurants where you can savor authentic Croatian dishes.
From hearty stews and grilled meats to local cheeses and wines, these hilltop eateries offer the perfect end to an active day. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, a day trip to Sljeme is a refreshing way to experience the natural splendor just a stone’s throw from Croatia’s capital.
11. Zagreb To Lonjsko Polje Nature Park Day Trip
Just an hour’s drive southeast of Zagreb, the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park unfolds as a serene and expansive haven for nature enthusiasts. As one of Europe’s largest wetlands, it offers a unique landscape that is both a vital ecological zone and a stunning natural spectacle.
The park is a bird watcher’s paradise, home to numerous species, including some rare and endangered ones. It’s not uncommon to spot storks, herons, and even eagles soaring above or nesting in the park’s vast expanse.
But bird watching is just the tip of the iceberg. The park’s diverse habitats, including marshes, meadows, and oak forests, are perfect for leisurely walks, photography, and simply enjoying the tranquility of nature. The Sava River, meandering through the park, adds to its picturesque setting and offers opportunities for fishing and boat tours.
Adding to the park’s allure are the quaint, traditional wooden houses scattered in the villages around its perimeter. These charming structures, some of which are centuries old, stand as a testament to the region’s rich cultural heritage. They provide a glimpse into the traditional way of life, harmoniously intertwined with nature.
For those seeking a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle, Lonjsko Polje Nature Park is an idyllic destination.
12. Zagreb To Međimurje Day Trip
A mere 2-hour journey north from Zagreb, the Međimurje region awaits a picturesque retreat. Known as Croatia’s ‘flower garden’, this area is a mosaic of lush vineyards, thermal springs, and quaint villages. A key highlight is Čakovec, a town rich in history with its striking Čakovec Castle, offering a glimpse into the region’s past.
Nearby, the enchanting Trakošćan Castle, set beside a tranquil lake, is a must-see for its stunning neo-Gothic architecture and scenic surroundings. For a taste of local culture, indulge in Međimurje’s unique wines and traditional cuisine, which are sure to delight your palate.
In addition, the region’s thermal springs, like Terme Sveti Martin, provide a relaxing escape with their soothing waters and spa treatments. This day trip combines the charm of rural Croatia with the allure of historical exploration, making Međimurje a captivating destination just a short drive from Zagreb.
13. Zagreb To Mrežnica River Day Trip
The Mrežnica River, about an hour’s drive from Zagreb, is a paradise for nature lovers.
This stunning river, with its crystal-clear waters, is perfect for kayaking, swimming, and picnicking. The numerous waterfalls and cascades along the river provide a picturesque backdrop for a day of relaxation or adventure. The area’s natural beauty makes it an ideal spot for those looking to escape the city and enjoy Croatia’s pristine outdoors.
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Long Day Trips From Zagreb (Over 2 Hours)
14. Zagreb To Istria Day Trip
A day trip to Istria from Zagreb is like stepping into a Mediterranean dream. It’s about a 3-hour drive each way, so I recommend you get a driver or take a tour. The journey takes you through some stunning landscapes.
Whether you’re strolling through ancient Roman ruins in Pula or enjoying the crystal-clear waters, Istria’s blend of history and natural beauty is captivating.
Here are 10 ideas (of many!) of what you can do for the day in Istria:
- The Amphitheater in Pula, a well-preserved Roman arena
- Motovun, a medieval hilltop town known for truffles
- Rovinj, with its charming old town and harbor
- The Brijuni Islands National Park accessible by boat
- Grožnjan, a hilltop village filled with artists and galleries
- The Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- The medieval town of Hum, often called the smallest town in the world
- Lim Bay and Channel, known for its natural beauty and seafood
- Vrsar, a scenic coastal town with beautiful beaches
- Wine tasting tours in Istria’s renowned vineyards
15. Zagreb To Osijek Day Trip
Heading to Osijek from the capital city of Croatia is a journey of around 4 hours’ drive by car, leading you to the heart of Slavonia. This city is a hidden gem with its beautiful Baroque architecture, peaceful parks, and the Drava Riverfront. Visit the Tvrđa, the old town of Osijek, for a glimpse of history.
It’s also a great base to explore the nearby Kopački Rit Nature Park, one of Europe’s largest wetlands.
16. Zagreb To Đakovo Day Trip
About a 3-hour drive from Zagreb, Đakovo is a hidden gem that boasts the stunning Đakovo Cathedral, known officially as the Cathedral of St. Peter. This architectural marvel, completed in the 19th century, was largely the vision of Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer.
The cathedral is renowned for its beautiful interiors, including impressive frescoes and ornate altars, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in sacral art and architecture.
Đakovo is also famous for its State Stud Farm, home to the majestic Lipizzaner horses, a symbol of the region’s equestrian heritage. Visiting the farm, you can witness these graceful horses and learn about their history and breeding.
Timing your trip to coincide with the Đakovački vezovi (Đakovo Embroidery Festival) is highly recommended. This vibrant event, celebrated annually in July, showcases traditional folk music, dances, costumes, and, of course, the exquisite local embroidery. It’s a fantastic opportunity to experience the rich cultural tapestry of Đakovo and the wider Slavonia region.
Cross-Border Day Trips From Zagreb
17. Zagreb To Lake Bled Day Trip
Past Ljubljana lies Lake Bled. This iconic and extremely popular tourist destination is often included in group tours to Ljubljana from Zagreb. This lake, surrounded by tall mountains, Bled Castle, and its small picturesque island, is mesmerizing.
Bled is another excellent place in the Balkans that’s exceptionally beautiful, but of which you can quickly get a feel in just a few hours.
If you want a change from the hustle of city life in Zagreb, consider going to scenic Lake Bled. On a Lake Bled day trip from Zagreb, you will find beautiful hiking trails around the lake and into the mountains, fascinating historical attractions, and a charming small-town atmosphere.
18. Zagreb To Postojna Cave & Predjama Castle Day Trip
Situated in neighboring Slovenia (remember to bring your passport!), this day trip is an easy 2-hour drive from Zagreb and offers a fantastic 2-for-1 experience. The Postojna Cave system is a breathtaking natural wonder that’s not just for adults; my son absolutely loved it. It’s kid-friendly and not scary, with a unique train ride that takes you deep into the cave, allowing you to witness its immense beauty up close.
Just a stone’s throw away, the Predjama Castle is perched in a dramatic cliffside cave, blending history with a dash of adventure. It’s a perfect combination of awe-inspiring natural scenery and intriguing historical exploration. This day trip is a hit for both nature lovers and history buffs, providing an unforgettable experience for the entire family.
19. Zagreb To Ljubljana Day Trip
The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is one of Europe’s greenest and most livable capital cities. You’ll unquestionably see why on your Zagreb day trip to Slovenia.
The beauty of the Balkan region is that it’s home to a wealth of historic cities, all located within an easy driving distance from each other. In fact, Zagreb lies only about 35 minutes from the Slovenian border, visiting Ljubljana a breeze.
In Ljubljana, indeed one of Europe’s best-kept urban secrets, you can stroll the entirely pedestrianized historic city center, visit Ljubljana Castle, and admire the gorgeous pastel-colored architecture.
An evening walk along the tree-lined Ljubljanica River is highly recommended as well. The city is small enough to be explored in just one day, the ideal city trip from Zagreb—if you can, you should try to spend at least a night there.
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Final Word On Best Day Tours From Zagreb
Whether you choose to navigate with your own car, hop on public buses, or opt for a private day trip, each type of day trip from Zagreb promises an authentic experience filled with discovery and delight.
From wandering through cobblestone streets in medieval towns to immersing yourself in the local culture, these fun day trips are not just journeys but a way to connect with the heart and soul of Croatia.
Remember, every trip offers its unique charm. Whether it’s the historical allure of medieval towns, the bustling activity in local markets, or the serene beauty of the Croatian countryside, there’s an adventure suitable for every traveler.
So, pack your spirit of exploration and set off on one or several of these amazing day trips from Zagreb to uncover the authentic experiences that await just a short distance away.