48 Hours In Zagreb: How To Enjoy 2 Days In Zagreb

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Do you have two days in Zagreb? Here is one of the one hundred ways to spend 24 hours in Zagreb, Croatia. Enjoy.

Things to do in Croatia_48 Hours in Zagreb_Croatia Travel Blog

A landlocked city might find itself pushed to the background in a country of gorgeous coastlines, many paradise-like islands, photogenic waterfalls, and fabulous historic towns. So is Zagreb’s fate, Croatia’s capital city and probably the most underrated destination in the country.

Need proof it’s so good? 

Anyone who wants to get the “full Croatian picture” can’t skip the city of Zagreb. Far removed from the beach resorts of Dalmatia and the country quietness of Istria, Zagreb provides some welcome sophistication of big-city life in Croatia.

Zagreb is home to about one out of every six Croatians, with a population of around 800,000.


Suppose you happen not to know much about this historic city. In that case, it’s not the most famous of Croatia’s urban hubs, after all—it suffices to realize that there is a vibrant café culture and the great people-watching that comes with it, charming historic districts, a rather large collection of excellent restaurants and the best& quirky museums in the country.

Also, compared with the crowded Croatian coasts, there are times when there are so few tourists, and all you can see are locals.

If you want to experience an excellent contrast, head to Zagreb after visiting a city like Dubrovnik. It’s a city that still feels “undiscovered,” unlike most other Croatian landmark destinations. If you decide to visit Zagreb, you’ll be richly rewarded with many things to do.

You might wonder how long you should spend in Zagreb, and that’s what this post is all about. Generally speaking, first-time visitors can grasp the city well in two days.

Spending 48 hours in Zagreb is enough time to explore its Upper Town, aka the city’s historic core, the Lower Town with the city’s grandest square, and the green parks in the south, which offer a refuge from the hustle and bustle of downtown Zagreb. And this leaves you time to explore other nearby cities (Venice, anyone!?).

But hey, if you have more time, you can dig more deeply and discover its hidden gems.

Here Is Just One Way You Can Enjoy 48 Hours In Zagreb

Things To Do In Zagreb Card

Spend the first day of your 48 hours in Zagreb exploring the city’s Upper and Lower Towns. The first is the heart and soul of Zagreb, the place where the city originated as the twin hill towns of Gradec and Kaptol.

The latter is home to the iconic Ban Josip Jelačić Square, the focal point of virtually everything in Zagreb, from social life to transportation. On the following self-guided walking tour, you’ll hit all major city highlights on your first day.

Day 1 In Zagreb: Morning

Where to go in Croatia | Dolac Markets Zagreb | Travel Croatia Guide
Dolac Market

Start your day of urban exploration with a visit to the Market, known locally as Dolac. Located in the heart of Kaptol in the historic Upper Town, only a block from Ban Jelačić Square, the Market dates from 1930. This was when the city created this centralized open market space by tearing down parts of the ramshackle Old Town in Kaptol.

Nowadays, the Market is jam-packed with vendors and producers from Zagreb, surrounding areas, and all over the country. You’ll find everything from cheese, meat and poultry, fresh produce, fruits, and all other market foods you can think of here. Mingling with the local crowd, it’s a great place to get a first taste—literally—of what Zagreb has to offer.

The Market is free to visit and open every day. The busiest time is in the morning, so you’re encouraged to visit then. If you are staying in an apartment, grab some ingredients to make dinner  – and if you’re feeling extra brave, try one of these Croatian recipes.

Head back down to Ban Jelačić Square, which is Zagreb’s beating heart. Take your time strolling around the Habsburg-style architecture that surrounds you. Make sure to stop by the visitor center at the eastern end of the square to pick up a map and some brochures.

A major tram intersection, this square is always buzzing with activity. Position yourself strategically on a café patio, order a coffee and lunch, and watch the world go by. Because of the elegant buildings, frantic pedestrian activity, and absence of tourists, this is probably the best place in Croatia to enjoy some people-watching.

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Day 1 In Zagreb: Afternoon

The famous Zagreb cathedral is a must-visit landmark in the city, worth visiting for many reasons.

After lunch, it’s time to begin your self-guided tour of Zagreb’s historic core. Leave Ban Jelačić Square to the west, entering the Octagon shopping gallery almost immediately on your left. This imposing gallery houses some of the top stores in Croatia, including a tie store that explains how the necktie, or “cravat,” was invented by Croats. You’ll emerge from the gallery on the other end onto Petra Preradović Square, home to an all-day flower market and quaint outdoor cafés.

Turn right diagonally across the street toward the Funicular. This late-1800s funicular is a Zagreb classic and works its way up the steep hill. It’s often referred to as the shortest funicular in the world. You have two options here—walking up or taking the funicular, the latter obviously being the most fun.

You’ll now find yourself in Gradec, one of the original hill towns. This area is filled with fascinating historical attractions, and the views are nothing short of amazing. You can pick and choose interests as you please. Still, it’s strongly recommended to pay a visit to the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art, arguably the most interesting art museum in Croatia.

You can see expressionist paintings made by amateur peasant artists in this small museum roughly between the 1930s and 1980s. It’s a fascinating place, one of the most unusual and surprising art museums you’ll ever visit.

A second recommended museum in Gradec is the Museum of Broken Relationships, which is precisely what its name suggests. Alternatively, consider visiting the Zagreb City Museum, which exhibits the city’s history through displays of furniture, paintings, clothing, artifacts, and town models.

Other attractions in Gradec include the Strossmayer Promenade, the Church of St. Catherine, St Mark’s Church & square, and Ban’s Palace. Just east of St. Mark’s Square, you’ll walk through the Stone Gate, the only remaining gate in Gradec. You can visit this historic gate—there’s an improvised chapel inside.

Walking through the gate, you’ll find yourself on Radićeva. Walk downhill and turn left toward the Market (where you were this morning).

Cross the Market once again toward the Zagreb Cathedral, known officially, and a bit elaborately, as the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saintly Kings Stephen and Ladislav. This is the most important church in Catholic Croatia. It is a true sight to behold both inside and out; make sure not to skip this on your tour.

Day 1 In Zagreb: Evening

Kick back after a long day of walking and sightseeing on Tkalčićeva Street, one of Zagreb’s most charming and atmospheric streets. Situated in Kaptol and completely pedestrian, this street is lined with some of the most beautiful old houses in the city, inviting restaurants, and patios. If you liked people-watching earlier today, you’d be thrilled to spend the evening in this area. Try getting a seat at Mali Medo, a popular brewpub whose sizeable outdoor terrace extends along the street.

Check out Iva and her storytelling walking tours if you’re into spooky walks.

Day 2 In Zagreb

Two Days in Zagreb - Croatia Travel Guide

The second part of your 48 hours of Zagreb tour will be much more low-key and relaxed than yesterday. Today, you’ll visit some of the less-visited attractions in the city and have plenty of time to hang out and enjoy the city atmosphere.

Day 2 In Zagreb: Morning

In the morning, take the bus for a short ride to Mirogoj Cemetery. This phenomenal cemetery is one of Europe’s most beautiful and evocative cemeteries. A quiet and contemplative spot, Mirogoj Cemetery is the final resting place of many great and historically significant Croatians, including Franjo Tuđman, Croatia’s first president following independence from Yugoslavia.

Designed by Austrian architect Herman Bollé, who’s also buried here, this cemetery encompasses mausoleums, gates, and wonderful tomb-lined arcades. Visiting is free. Make sure to pick up an information booklet at the visitor center before you go.

Day 2 In Zagreb: Afternoon

Zagreb’s modern city center is home to a U-shaped series of parks, appropriately known as the Green Horseshoe. These parks are a perfect place for a relaxing lunch on a blanket and to slow down. A short walk south of Jelačić Square—make sure to pick up some picnic food at the Market first!

Alternatively, you may also want to check out one of the museums in the Green Horseshoe. Plenty of them exist, but you should focus on the Mimara Museum and the Arts and Crafts Museum. Note, however, that these museums aren’t as impressive as those in the Upper Town. So, focus on those first if you want to keep your museum visits limited.

Make your way back toward Ban Jelačić Square in the late afternoon for pre-dinner drinks. An exciting option on the way is Kino Europa, a 1920s cinema with a bar and a small, large screening room. This is the venue of many film festivals and related events in Croatia. If you’re lucky, there may be a screening on the day of your visit.

Day 2 In Zagreb: Evening

Zagreb in Two Days - Croatia Travel Blog

For dinner, there are many options for you to choose from. A recommended place for classy Croatian cuisine is Vinodol Restaurant, which serves various Central European dishes ranging from meat-focused to vegetarian, soups, and strudel for dessert. In the mood for pizza? Head to Karijola, one of the most popular pizzerias in the city.

If you’ve had a large or late lunch and feel like a light dinner, consider going to Cheese Bar. Located one block from the Zagreb Cathedral, this fun and friendly establishment is a great spot to sample Croatian wines paired with local cheeses and olives. Vegetarians are encouraged to check out Nishta, one of the best meatless restaurants in Zagreb. Its menu features an extensive mix of international vegetarian dishes; its salad bar is huge.

Alternative Capital Of Croatia Itinerary Options

Things To Do In Zagreb 360° – Zagreb Eye Observation Deck

Day 1: Exploring the Heart of Zagreb


  • Museum Hopping: visit some museums; I like the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art, a unique collection of works by self-taught artists


  • Main Square (Ban Jelacic Square): start your adventure in Zagreb’s vibrant center
  • Visit St. Mark’s Church: admire its colorful roof tiles depicting the medieval coat of arms
  • Museum of Broken Relationships: explore personal stories behind donated items


  • Dinner at the Main Square: choose a restaurant offering traditional Croatian cuisine
  • Evening Walk: stroll through the illuminated streets and squares

Day 2: Modern Zagreb and Relaxation


  • Fresh Fruits at Dolac Market: enjoy the bustling atmosphere and local produce
  • Lotrščak Tower: the Lotrscak Tower, a historic guard tower dating back to the 13th century, stands as a prominent landmark in Zagreb, known for its daily noon bell that has been a tradition since the 19th century


  • Church: visit the Zagreb Cathedral, not just the tallest building but also a historical marvel
  • Art Pavilion: check out the latest exhibitions


  • Zagreb 360° Observation Deck: offering a panoramic view of Zagreb
  • Dinner Options: choose from one of the many restaurants 

Zagreb At Christmas

If you find yourself in the city during the Christmas holiday, you’re in the right place! Zagreb won the best Christmas markets award, meaning the city is magical during Christmas.

Day Trips For Your Zagreb Itinerary

If you have more than 48 hours in Zagreb, check out these fun day trips you can do from the Croatian capital.

Comments (23)

  1. Perfect timing, we have just booked 3 nights here for September. Just one question, can we expect rain then?

    1. It can rain then, though not much. Bring with you a light windbreaker and travel umbrella just in case.

    1. Keep sending people to Dubrovnik. Zagreb is our last line of defense with American tourists!!! ????

  2. We are loving Zagreb and all of Croatia that we have visited. Also loving this ship that delivers us to port after port and swimming off the deck in the fabulous Adriatic!

  3. Mirogoj Cemetery is a must. Museum of Broken Dreams was interesting, but didn’t live up to the hype.

  4. Is also a great day trip location. Three awesome day trips are 1. Plitvice Lakes & Rastoke (absolute must do)2. Realisable Castle and Varazdin 3. Zagorje & Krapinja. Plitvice is approx 1.5 hour away and stopping for dinner in Rastoke a village half hour closer to Zagreb is a must as is a village built in waterfalls and a hidden treasure. Trakoscan was recently named in tbe list of 15 most beautiful castles in Europe and us in a beautiful lush setting on ghe way to Varazdin which is one of the best Preserved Gothic towns in Europe. Number 3 is a hidden treasure and not many people yet know about thus but the Krapinja region has the oldest and most extensive Neanderthal discoveries in Europe and an excellent museum. On the way there the Zagorje region is stunning full if castles wineries and cute villages.

  5. Thank you so much for this guide! We had a tremendous time in Zagreb and we did take the walking tour with Iva, which was greatly interesting!

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