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How to Spend 48 hours in Zagreb: An Itinerary to Follow

Looking for a couple of days away in Croatia? Zagreb, the country’s vibrant capital, is full of exciting sights and attractions. A 48-hour trip to Zagreb can be filled with cultural activities, sightseeing, delicious cuisine, and plenty of chances to explore. Home to many quirky museums, historic landmarks, and bustling squares, there are endless possibilities to make the most of your time in Zagreb.

One of the top attractions in Zagreb is the Museum of Broken Relationships. This museum is filled with stories from genuine relationships that ended—it’s a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else! Other must-sees include the Mirogoj Cemetery and St. Mark’s Church, two of Zagreb’s most iconic landmarks.

Two days in Zagreb, Croatia, isn’t long to digest the best of this city, but it’s definitely doable. Keep reading for the perfect 48 hours in Zagreb itinerary.

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Tips for Planning a Trip to Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia Sunset Scenery

First and foremost, check to see if you need a visa to travel to Croatia. As part of the Schengen Zone, visitors from certain countries may need to obtain a valid visa before their travel. Starting in January 2023, Croatia will adopt the Euro as its currency, so plan accordingly.

The most popular time to visit Zagreb is during the summer months. The days are long and sunny, perfect for sightseeing and exploring. But if you’re looking for a budget-friendly trip to Zagreb, try visiting during the off-season in the spring or fall when prices are lower.

If you have the chance to visit Zagreb in December, the Croatian capital is home to one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe. The city lights up even more during this time of year, with endless winter fun in store.

Our final tip for a Zagreb trip? Go with the flow! Zagreb is a lively city, and unexpected surprises may be waiting around every corner. Make sure to stay flexible and open-minded during your visit.

What to Pack for Visiting Zagreb, Croatia

Packing Travel Essentials

A great way to explore the city is on foot, as many attractions are within walking distance. Make sure to pack comfortable shoes for your visit.

For such a short trip, you may be thinking of packing light. Many budget airlines now charge a fee for overhead luggage, allowing you to only fit a bag in the seat in front of you. This small, durable, and lightweight travel backpack is the ideal companion for your 48-hour trip to Zagreb.

Another element to consider packing is a money belt. This is the best way to keep your money, cards, and passport safe while exploring.

Summers in Zagreb can be hot, so pack lightweight and breathable clothing. Equally, in the winter, make sure to bring layers to protect against the chilly weather.

Where to Stay in Zagreb

Roughly divided into two main parts (the Upper and Lower Towns) Zagreb has 17 districts.

Upper Town

Main Square Hostel Room
image by Booking.com

Zagreb’s Upper Town is the most popular area for tourists and is home to a plethora of attractions, restaurants, shops, and pubs. You can find both hotels and private apartments in this area. For a social stay, we recommend the very central Main Square Hostel.

Not into dorms? No problem! Hotel Academia is a beautiful hotel located just a short walk from all of the action. For an even more luxurious stay, Pod Zidom Rooms guest house is the place to be.

Lower Town

Chillout Hostel Zagreb Interior
image by Booking.com

The Lower Town is quieter, and a bit more residential but still has plenty of great places to stay and offers easy access to Old Town. Closer to the city’s main parks and local cafes, the Lower Town is also an excellent spot for budget travelers.

I’ve stayed at Chillout Hostel a few times, and it’s easily my favorite. It’s incredibly central, with a cool, open-air bar and cafe indoors. I will admit, though, sometimes it’s nice to stay in a private room instead, like this modern apartment. For the ultimate experience, Hotel Park 45 is in an ideal location and has all the amenities.

Gornji Grad – Medveščak (Kaptol)

Kaptol Hostel Interior
image by Booking.com

Technically part of the Old Town, Kaptol is the city’s sacred heart and home to several old churches. Still offering a fun vibe, you’ll find many budget accommodation options, such as Kaptol Hostel. For a more private experience, this modern apartment is an excellent choice. For those really looking to splash out, this deluxe apartment is the perfect place.

Maksimir

Funk Lounge Hostel Room
image by Booking.com

Located a bit farther from the center, in this district, you can also find plenty of cafes and bars where you can grab a quick lunch or relax with a beer. Close to the park bearing the same name, Maksimir is the perfect spot for a quieter stay.

Our top pick for budget accommodation is the Funk Lounge Hostel. For a more private stay without breaking the bank, check out this rental home. If you’re really looking to splurge, Villa Madison is the place to stay.

How to spend 48 hours in Zagreb

Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb is a fantastic city; there’s a reason why it’s one of the best places to visit in Croatia. Here we’ve compiled the ultimate Zagreb Itinerary for your 48-hour stay. Let’s get into the details of how to spend the best two days in Zagreb that anyone could ask for.

Zagreb Drawing

Day One

Morning

Ban Jelacic Square

Monument in Ban Jelacic Square
olenadesign – stock.adobe.com

Start your journey early in Ban Jelacic Square, Zagreb’s main Square of historical importance right in the city center. It’s easily recognizable by the colossal statue of Governor Josip Jelacic on his horse, the namesake of the famous Square. A general meeting point of locals started to attract many tourists as a base to visit Zagreb and the attractions found within the Upper Town.

The Square is also famous due to its magnificent fountain, old clock, and numerous café bars, bookstores, and shops lining the streets. A central hub in the city center, Ban Jelacic Square is often the key meeting point for city walking tours.

For a quick way to see all of the Croatian Capital’s most significant attractions, we recommend going on a walking tour. The city walking tours usually last about 2 hours and cover the most historical spots, which is the perfect activity when you’re short on time.

During the winter, the Square plays host to a huge Christmas Market with a large decorated tree and lots of colorful stalls selling all kinds of food and beverages. During other months of the year, this is a place of great concerts, parades, organic food markets, and even a venue for sporting events.

After enjoying the urban atmosphere of Ban Jelacic Square, head to the city’s main food market, known locally as Dolac Market

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia

Dolac Market

Dolac Market Scenery
LT – stock.adobe.com

Heading upwards into the Upper Town, this vibrant market will enchant you with its combination of flavors, colors, and smells. It’s an excellent opportunity to mingle with the locals while buying fresh food products.

From its fresh fruit and vegetables to its signature meat and fish, this authentic farmer’s market in Zagreb is not to be missed. Pick local delicacies for a mid-morning treat, such as a traditional gingerbread heart. A Zagreb trademark, this sweet treat is found in many market stalls. Not quite hungry? Dolac Market has a variety of stalls selling locally crafted cards, clothing, and jewelry. 

For the foodies out there, we recommend going on a private food tour of the capital city, which includes some of Dolac’s best eats.

The city's main square full of amazign architecture, shops, bars and stores
photo credit: iStock/xbrchx
market produce

After sampling and shopping, continue your tour of the Upper Town to the Zagreb Cathedral.

zagreb's cathedral is among must-visit places

You will spot a magnificent cathedral behind the market with a rich fountain in front of it. Zagreb Cathedral is one of the tallest buildings in Croatia and a must-visit if you have only 48 hours in Zagreb. With its impressive twin spires that can be seen from almost every part of the Croatian Capital, the Cathedral is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. A remarkable interior will leave you breathless from the moment you enter.

Massive chandeliers brought back from the Gold Coast Casino in Las Vegas (of all places) welcome you at the entrance. The beautiful altars and magnificent statues in front of stained glass windows decorated in detail will surely leave you amazed.

Another beautiful part of this sacral building is a truly magnificent organ, one of the top 10 finest in the world. However, as this is a sacred place for all locals and tourists, respect the silence that reigns here.

Before Lunch

Explore the Beautiful Mirogoj Cemetery

Mirogoj Cemetery Entrance

If you still have energy before heading to lunch, go for a short ride to one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, Mirogoj Cemetery. The bus stop, taking you to the cemetery in less than 10 minutes, is directly in front of the Cathedral.

During your scenic ride, you’ll spot numerous examples of beautiful architecture, little narrow streets, and local café bars. When you reach this beautiful cemetery park, you’ll understand why it’s a must-do on your Zagreb itinerary.

MIrogoj Cemetery is not only a must-visit place if you only have 48 hours in Zagreb, but also one of the things to do in Zagreb for free
photo credit @viktorjuric

Mirogoj Cemetery is the final resting place of many historically significant Croatians and home to inter-members of all religious groups. Some notable names buried at the park are the architect Hermann Bole, writers Miroslav Krleza and Ivana Bilic Mazuranic, the famous basketball player Drazen Petrovic, the singer, and composer Arsen Dedic, the noble-prize winning chemist Vladimir Prelog, and many other great names.

Thanks to the magnificent work of Herman Bole, the whole cemetery is decorated with monumental arches, beautiful arcades, and luscious greenery. A true work of art!

Visiting Mirogoj is not only one of the things to do in Zagreb for free but also a great opportunity to admire the architecture and find contemplation.

Beautiful arcades in Mirogoj Cemetery
photo credit @goranhorvat

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Hvar, Croatia

Day One Lunchtime

Take the bus back into the Zagreb city center for lunch. If you’re still in the Upper Town, Downtown Zagreb is full of delicious spots to try both international and Croatian cuisine.

Not sure what to eat? Try the Croatian favorite of cevapi, a type of kebab made with minced meat, onions, and spices. Sample some traditional dishes such as sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls) or strukli (a yummy kind of cheese strudel).

After Lunch

Zagreb 80’s Museum

Zagreb 80's Museum Exhibit
image by Tina G/TripAdvisor

To really make the most of your time here, we recommend a quick visit to the Zagreb 80’s Museum. The Zagreb 80’s Museum is an interesting place to explore the culture of former Yugoslavia, with a vast collection of 1980s memorabilia. The museum’s collection is laid out as a house, with each room holding common household artifacts from the former communist rule. The interactive museum is a unique experience for all ages with games, radio clips, and more.

As we’ve mentioned before, Zagreb is home to so many quirky museums. If this one isn’t your style, not to worry! With so many to offer, you can sample each museum in a few hours time.

Ilica Street

Ilica Street, Zagreb Aerial View

After your visit, stroll down to Ilica Street in the Lower Town. With its large amount of shops and stores, it is the main street in the very center of the city. You will spot numerous alleyways where you will discover the charming streets and impressive architecture Zagreb offers.

The city's main street full of shops and cafe bars is ideal for shopping during 48 hours in Zagreb
photo credit @ivicajakovljevic

Besides being a paradise for all shopaholics, Ilica makes a beautiful frame for street photographers. One of the main squares you’ll pass by is named Cvjetni trg (or Flower Square) due to the small stalls selling flowers.

Head to Oktogon – a charming passageway lined with shops and cafes. This passageway is a great place to take pictures, grab lunch, or just people-watch! The beautiful passage connects Ilica Street with Petar Preradović Square.

A shopping mecca, this lively street is perfect for checking out local and big-name boutiques. At this point, you might be tired from all the sightseeing. If so, stop at one of the many nearby cafes for a quick reset.

Visit the Croatian National Theater

Croatian National Theatre
photo credit @phillippppeters

The Croatian National Theater should be the next stop during your 48 hours in Zagreb itinerary. Surrounded by colorful tulips, this elegant, yellow building with extraordinary neo-baroque architecture and a fabulous dome is another city’s notable landmark.

Many world-known names have performed on its stage over the years, so it’s an ideal chance to experience high-class ballet, drama, or opera performances at affordable prices!

If you managed to book last-minute tickets or you’ve already planned your visit to this spectacular building, be prepared to be amazed by its interior. Gilded columns, frescoed ceilings, marble details, and luxurious chandeliers exude elegance.

See Related: Best Things to do in Bratislava

Evening

End the day full of sightseeing in one of the most atmospheric and charming streets in Zagreb. Completely pedestrian, Tkalciceva Street offers you a wide range of café bars, pubs, casual pizzerias, and fine dining restaurants.

Always bustling with live music performances and outdoor terraces, locally called Tkalca attracts many locals, but tourists as well.

Whether you dance the night away or just have a drink under the night sky, this is a place to be during your 2 days in Zagreb. If you liked people-watching in the main square, you will also love this area!

The best place to spend an evening during 48 hours in Zagreb
photo credit @julienduval

See Related: Going (Formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) Review

Day Two

Zagreb's funicular
photo credit @infozagreb

Morning

Put on your walking shoes and start the second part of your 48 hours in Zagreb journey by exploring the hidden gems of the Upper Town. You might be tired of yesterday’s activities, which is understandable in such a jam-packed visit. If you’re staying in the Lower Town, take a ride on the city’s funicular railway – one of the oldest in Europe.

At the top, you’ll find St. Mark’s Church.

St. Mark’s Church

St. Mark's Church

Built in the 13th Century, St Mark’s Church is known for its colorful tiled roof. Croatia’s medieval coat of arms, including Dalmatia, Slavonia on the left, and the emblem of Zagreb on the right, are credited for making this church one of the most photographed places in Zagreb.

Even though it’s open only during mass times, it is worth visiting, mainly because it contains work by the famous Ivan Mestrovic.

St. Marks Church in Zagreb
photo credit @thejourneyvibes

Museum of Broken Relationships

Museum of Broken Relationships
LT – stock.adobe.com

If you’re up for a little cultural uplift, head to the Museum of Broken Relationships. Just a short walk from St Mark’s Square, this cool Museum is among one of the most interesting things to do in Zagreb. It is completely dedicated to failed relationships, so you’ll find each exhibit here has a unique story.

Donations to the Museum of Broken Relationships come from around the world and vary from heartbreaking to hilarious. The museum is often full, so buy your ticket in advance.

Continue wandering through the alley leading to another city landmark. You can spot another cute little church in the same square as the Museum of Broken Relationships. St. Catherine is a beautiful example of the Baroque style, and its interior is awe-inspiring.

Day Two Lunchtime

Lotrščak Tower

Lotrščak Tower

For all those wanting to learn more about Croatian history, Lotrščak Tower is the place to be. Every day at noon, a cannon blast from the tower shutters the city, reminding of an era when Turks planned to invade the town. Even if you’re not a history buff, climb the spiral staircase to the top because the view from the observation tower is worth the visit.

Strossmartre

Strossmartre Entrance
Fred Romero from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ready for a short break? Take a stroll around Strossmartre, a charming hub known for its artistic vibes and many hidden bars.

This little alley has become a popular hangout place during the summer months due to numerous concerts, food stalls, and art installations.

If you have only 48 hours in Zagreb during the winter, the square will enchant you with its bustling Christmas market and delicious beverages, desserts, and events.

If you have 48 hours in Zagreb during summer, visit this charming hub known for artistic vibes and music events
photo credit @journal.hr

Around the corner is Stone Gate, another spot favored by locals. A shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary is also a pilgrimage site for Croatian christians.

A nun lights up the candle at Stone Gate
photo credit @thejourneyvibes

As lunchtime approaches, pick a traditional tavern or head to a fine dining restaurant. Enjoying more Croatian dishes can begin again!

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Afternoon

Zrinjevac Park

Zrinjevac Park Fountain

A slow walk among nature is the best way to stay awake after lunch. Get down to the Lower Town and explore the beautiful Zrinjevac ParkOne of the city’s most famous and prettiest parks is also among the top things to do in Zagreb. Croatia, once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, still boasts some Viennese-inspired architecture.

In the center of the park, you will find the 19th Century music pavilion surrounded by luscious greenery, several fountains, and colorful flowerbeds. This architectural beauty also serves as an open-air concert stage during various music events, food festivals, and art projects.

Art Pavillon

Art Pavillon

The nearby Art Pavilion hosts different large-scale exhibitions for all those hungry for culture. If you’re spending two days in Zagreb during the warmer months, you will notice that the large meadow in front of the Pavilion serves as a picnic spot for many locals and tourists.

If you’re coming during Christmas, this amazing place becomes a winter wonderland with massive ice-skating points and lots of cute stalls selling boiled wine and hot tea.

A perfect place for culture lovers
photo credit @jorgefranganillo

Zagreb Botanical Garden

Escape the streets’ bustling rhythm and find peace in the Botanical Garden, a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. This protected garden architecture monument is one place that will enchant you at first glance.

Take a walk among exotic flowers from all around the world. Capture the perfect photo of a mahogany red wooden bridge surrounded by a pond lake. Learn more about rich Croatian flora or just find an ideal spot in one of the beautiful pavilions while enjoying the sounds of nature. Paradise just got a new meaning.

See Related: Best Gardens in Europe to Visit

Evening

For a nice dinner, we recommend booking a table at the popular Vinidol Restaurant serving classic Croatian dishes.

Why not try a wine tasting from some of the country’s best vineyards for some after-dinner drinks? Wine Bar Bornstein is a hidden gem a short walk from the city center, offering up delicious wines from across Croatia.

If you’re lucky enough to have two nights in Zagreb, ensure you don’t spend them in the hotel room. The largest city in Croatia indeed has cool spots to offer. For an entirely local feel, head to the popular bar Alcatraz, a quick walk from the old town. Beers here are cheap, the music is excellent, and the vibes here are even better.

FAQs

How many days do you need in Zagreb, Croatia?

The amount of days you need in Zagreb depends on your preferences and what activities you want to do. Generally, 3-4 days is enough to explore the city and visit all its main attractions.

If you are a first-time visitor, we suggest spending at least four days in the city. This will give you enough time to explore the city and all its attractions while also having enough time to relax.

For those wanting to spend more than a week in Zagreb, we recommend combining your stay with trips to other nearby cities such as Dubrovnik or Split. Nonetheless, the city can still be explored in two days, if you have less time.

Is Zagreb, Croatia worth visiting?

The answer is YES! We can’t recommend it enough to visit Zagreb. In 48 hours, you can get a real feel for the city and its vibrant culture. This underrated capital in Central Europe is filled with unique attractions, amazing food, and stunning views.

The city is so walkable and easy to get around, which makes for a convenient stay. Whether you’re looking to explore its historical sites, enjoy a night out on the town, or relax in one of its charming cafes, Zagreb has something for everyone!

Are 2 days enough in Zagreb, Croatia?

Yes! Although two days in Zagreb might seem a little short, you can still explore the city and its attractions. With careful planning and well-timed activities, you can cover the highlights of this beautiful city in just 48 hours. Start your journey with a walking tour of the city to get an overview of the history and culture of Zagreb.

Visit the city’s famous churches, squares, and museums before heading to one of its many pubs or cafes for a meal. Although we recommend more, 48 hours is still sufficient to explore this wonderful city.

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