Explore Zagreb

Zagreb Travel Guide

Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is the country's economic centre and the gateway to Western Europe. The picturesque city is situated on the slopes of Medvednica Mountain, along the banks of the Sava River, in the north of Croatia.<br /><br /> The core of Zagreb consists of the Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and Donji Grad (Lower Town). The Upper Town is home to the well-preserved medieval city, known as Gradec and Kaptol, while the residential area covers the southern slopes of the Medvednica Mountains. Since the 1950s the city has grown appreciably to the south of the Sava River, and the main industrial area is in the southeast.<br /><br /> Besides being a commercial hub Zagreb is a popular tourist centre, and an established international conference venue. Zagreb has a history dating back nearly a thousand years but it is also an efficient modern city; it is rich in historical monuments, museums and galleries, has modern shops, restaurants, sport and recreation facilities, and good transport infrastructure. The city's tourist attractions are largely historical, ranging from the Palaeolithic Veternica Cave, through the vestiges of Roman culture, to the fascinating medieval old town.<br /><br /> Zagreb is well-situated as a springboard for exploring the picturesque medieval towns of northern Croatia, including Samobor, Vrbovec and Karlovac. There are also great hiking opportunities on nearby Medvednica Mountain, which casts its 3,280-foot (1,000m) shadow over the pretty city.<br /><br />

Andautonia Archaeological Park

Address: Archaeological Museum: 19 Nikola Subic Zrinski Square Zagreb

Near the village of Scitarjevo, close to Zagreb, are the remains of the ancient Roman town of Andautonia, which have been excavated and provide a fascinating tourist excursion. Andautonia was a prominent administrative, economic, cultural and religious centre about 400 years ago. Archaeologists are still excavating the site, but at the Andautonia Archaeological Park visitors can view a 26,910-square-foot (2,500 sq m) area of the Roman City including parts of the main street, city baths, colonnades and side streets. There is a museum at the site which exhibits artefacts from the Greek and Roman history of the area. Tourists can also visit the present-day village of Scitarjevo, which offers examples of typical rural farms with their characteristic wooden houses.<br /><br />

Croatian History Museum

Address: Matoševa 9 Zagreb

The building that houses Croatia's history is itself a part of that history. Situated in the historical town centre, it is the beautiful Baroque palace, Vojkovic-Orsic-Rauch, built at the end of the 18th century and formerly the private residence of three successive baronial families. In the late 1930s the palace became the residence of Zagreb's mayors, before being designated as a repository for the historical relics of the city. It currently houses more than 140,000 artefacts in various collections, from stone monuments to fine art, religious artefacts to heraldry.<br /><br /> The exhibitions in this museum are not permanent but constantly changing so that all the collections get an airing. This means that it is possible to visit the museum many times and never tire of the exhibitions. The artefacts are grouped into 17 collections which include a map collection, a coin collection, a collection of religious items, a collection of stone monuments, a military uniforms collection and a weapons collection, among other things. It is a small museum but the exhibitions are thorough and interesting.<br /><br />

Croatian National Theatre

Address: Trg Marsala Tita 15 Zagreb

The building housing the Croatian National Theatre (commonly referred to as the HNK Zagreb) is as much a national treasure as the world-class theatre, opera, music and ballet productions that take place on its stage. Construction began on the theatre building in 1894. Croatian painter Vlaho Bukovac painted the ceremonial curtain while Viennese artist Alexander Goltz decorated the ceiling of the auditorium. The building was officially opened by Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz-Joseph I at the end of 1895. The theatre is owned and operated by the Croatian Ministry of Culture and it is constantly busy with full performing arts programmes. At the entrance to the theatre visitors can see the famed wall fountain called "The Source of Life", designed by Croatian artist and sculptor Ivan Meštrovic in 1905.<br /><br /> The Croatian National Theatre has hosted famous artists and performers from all over the world and culture vultures shouldn't miss seeing a show. If travelling with a group, the mezzanine boxes are a wonderful way to experience the performances together. Even if you don't have time to catch a world-class ballet or opera, it is worth walking by the HNK Zagreb to see the building itself.<br /><br />

Town Squares

Address: Zagreb

Praska Street, in the lower part of old Zagreb, leads on to a sequence of attractive park squares, each flaunting their own attractions and worth a walking tour. Zrinski Square features a music pavilion dating from 1895 and fountains, with the Archaeological Museum at No.17. This square also features a row of busts of distinguished Croatians and the palace of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences (1876), which houses the Strossmayer Gallery of old masters. On Strossmayer Square is a monument to bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, founder of the academy, and several other historic buildings.<br /><br /> Tomislav Square features the Art Pavilion, fronted by a monument to Croatian Renaissance painter Andrija Medulic. King Tomislav rises on horseback at the southern end of the square. Starcevic Square is home to the City Library and Hotel Esplanade, and gives access to the Botanical Gardens and Frane Bulic Monument. In Marulic Square the University Library building stands as a magnificent example of Art Nouveau architecture. Mimara Museum is on Roosevelt Square, and the neo-Baroque Croatian National Theatre stands on Marshal Tito Square. Any or all of these squares are worthy of attention and it is best to just stroll around them all, camera in hand.<br /><br />

Trakoscan Castle

Address: Zagreb

Trakoscan is a legendary 13th-century Gothic castle that was home to various influential families for centuries before finally falling into abandoned disrepair in the second half of the 18th century, when it belonged to the Draskovic family. In the 1950s the castle was taken over by the state and turned into a living museum, reconstructing life in a medieval castle. Visitors can explore four levels, including the dungeon, and finish their exploration by enjoying the surrounding parklands.<br /><br /> Trakoscan Castle is a spectacular journey for the imagination as it feels so authentic and you can wander with remarkable freedom through the stone corridors, up and down the winding staircases and into the numerous rooms. It is a great attraction to enjoy with kids because they particularly love exploring the castle; with the lake and forest setting it really does appear to be straight out of a fairytale or a medieval romance. The castle contains original artefacts from its history, including furniture and weaponry, and the displays are informative and well laid out. As wandering through the castle, and its beautiful grounds, can be somewhat tiring, you may want to stop for a break at the restaurant by the lake.<br /><br />

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Address: Zagreb

The Plitvice Lakes have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the national park that encloses them is the oldest in Southeast Europe (founded in 1949). It is the natural beauty of the 16 green and turquoise lakes, linked by waterfalls and surrounded by forests, that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Wooden walkways meander over, around and across the magical watery setting that was formed by mineral deposits in the water creating travertine barriers within the constantly changing limestone landscape. The lakes are divided into lower and upper lakes and trails are well marked. Visitors can cover the 11 miles (18km) of walkways on foot, but the park entry ticket also includes the use of buses and ferries to cover certain sections.<br /><br /> The incredible lakes are not all the park has to offer; it is a heavily forested area with an extremely diverse variety of flora and fauna, including rare European species like the brown bear and wolf. It is one of the last regions in Europe in which these two species can be found living in the wild. Some may recognise the area from the film adaptations of Karl May's Westerns, which were filmed here in the 1960s and 70s.<br /><br />

Rijeka

Address: Zagreb

The commercial capital of the idyllic Adriatic coast is the cultural city and holiday destination of Rijeka, which has an international harbour that lends it a cosmopolitan flair. Rijeka is not only the gateway to the beautiful coastal island resorts, but a tourist's delight in itself with its charming historic buildings. A stroll along the Korzo Promenade in the old part of town provides an eyeful of classic buildings and a variety of street cafes ideal for resting your feet and enjoying the passing parade. Rijeka also has an annual carnival full of lively music and dancing, involving plenty of ancient Slavic folklore and mythology. Revellers don masks to scare away evil forces and a good time is had by all in numerous events, concerts and the carnival parade.<br /><br /> There is plenty to eat, drink, see and do in this vibrant port city. The best way to see Rijeka's cultural and historical attractions is to follow the well-worn tourist path that takes in all of the most important sights of the town. Most of them are accessible by foot, as they are located in or near the city centre (parts of which are not even accessible to traffic). Although, to see the remarkable Trsat Castle you will have to either hire transport or climb the formidable stone steps from the city centre to the castle. It is certainly worth it.<br /><br />

Krk Island

Address: Zagreb

The largest island in Croatia, Krk (pronounced kirk) is a haven of sparkling beaches and lovely holiday towns. Nicknamed the 'Golden Island', Krk is the nearest Croatian island to mainland Europe and has a laid-back Mediterranean atmosphere.<br /><br /> Getting to Krk from the mainland is made easy by a 4,500-foot (1.4km) bridge. Once there, visitors are spoiled for choice as there are many beaches and villages to explore. Krk Town is the largest and most popular hub for tourists with many restaurants, shops and bars in the attractive Old Town area.<br /><br /> The best beaches in Krk are found in Baska, which boasts more than 30 beaches connected by a promenade. Though most are covered in pebbles, soft mats and chairs are available for hire. Other popular beach towns on Krk include Njivice and the sandy coastline of Klimno Bay, though many towns have more to offer than just beaches. Vrbnik is home to vineyards that produce some of the best white wines in Croatia, while the August folk festival in Dobrinj draws crowds from all over Croatia.<br /><br /> Krk Island is popular for weekend excursions from the Croatian mainland; however, visitors can easily spend a week exploring the winding streets and hidden corners of the island. A paradise for summer watersports, diving, bird watching and hiking, there are many things to see and do on Krk for just about anyone.<br /><br />

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