Don’t worry if you only have 48 hours in Zagreb. A lot can be seen and done even if you have only 2 days in Croatia’s capital. From gorgeous architectural monuments over vibrant café bars and excellent restaurants to interesting cultural places, Zagreb has it all.
Keep reading to find out about the best places and top things to do in Zagreb for first-timers.
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How to spend 48 hours in Zagreb
Zagreb is an awesome city, there’s a reason why it’s one of the best places to visit in Croatia.
Let’s get into the details of how to spend the best 2 days in Zagreb that anyone could ask for.
Start your journey early in Ban Jelacic Square, the city’s main square of historical importance. A huge statue of Governor Josip Jelacic on his horse is the one by which the square is named. Right next to the statue is a tall clock where you will see many people standing around it.
A famous meeting point of locals started to attract many tourists, so join them if you are waiting for someone. It is also a cool place for people watching so don’t forget to bring your camera.
The square is also popular due to its nice fountain with a legend behind it, as well as numerous café bars, bookstores, shops, and interesting architecture. During the winter months, the square becomes 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.
Exploring the beating heart of the city is one of those things to do in Zagreb for free.
After enjoying the urban atmosphere of Ban Jelacic Square, head to the city’s main food market, known locally as Dolac. This vibrant market will enchant you with its combination of flavors, colors, and smells. It’s a great opportunity to mingle around the locals while buying fresh food products. If you pay attention, you’ll see Dolac is divided into categories.
The delicious fruit is at the very beginning of the market while vegetables are behind it.
There is a large fish market within the location as well as colorful stalls selling traditional crafts, flowers, clothing and all those little things for the home.
Don’t forget to buy a traditional gingerbread heart, which is a Zagreb’s trademark.
Right behind the market, you will spot a magnificent cathedral with a rich fountain in front of it. Zagreb Cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia and a must-visit if you have only 48 hours in Zagreb. With its outstanding twin spires that can be seen from almost every part of Zagreb, Cathedral is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. An impressive interior will leave you breathless from the moment you enter.
Massive chandeliers that are brought back from Las Vegas will welcome you at the entrance. Beautiful altars and magnificent statues in front of stained glass windows decorated in detail will surely leave you amazed.
Another gorgeous part of this sacral building is a luxurious organ, which is one of the top 10 finest in the world. However, as this is a sacred place for all locals and tourists as well, respect the silence that reigns here.
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. To get there take a bus standing in front of the Cathedral, and enjoy the city from the other perspective.
During your scenic ride, you’ll spot numerous examples of beautiful architecture, little narrow streets and local café bars. The moment you reach this beautiful cemetery park, you’ll understand why it’s a must-see during your 48 hours in Zagreb trip.
You can use one of the top booking sites for tours to develop a hassle-free plan at seeing most of the key landmarks of Zagreb.
Mirogoj Cemetery is not only the final resting place of many historically significant Croatians but also home to inter members of all religious groups. You can even find irreligious graves.
Some of the notable names buried at the park are the architect Hermann Bole, writers Miroslav Krleza and Ivana Brlic Mazuranic, the popular 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 cupolas, 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.
After lunch, stroll down Ilica Street. With its large amount of shops and stores, it is the main street in the city. You will spot numerous alleyways where you can turn off the main street.
Say yes to your wanderlust and go hunting for some cool coffee shop.
Besides being a paradise for all shopaholics, Ilica also makes a beautiful frame for street photographers. One of the main squares that you’ll pass by is named ‘Flower Square’ (Cvjetni trg) due to little stalls selling flowers. It is also the most popular place in the city for having a cup of coffee, so don’t be surprised if you find a seat next to famous Croatian celebrity names.
If you are interested in learning more about the popular clothing item made in Croatia, head to ‘Octogon’. A romantic passage offers not only interesting shops but also a Croata shop where you can buy a handmade tie. Not a bad souvenir to take home, right?
The Croatian National Theatre 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 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. Don’t forget to dress up!
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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 on the main square, you will also love this area!
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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. Another stunning church you’ll find here is called St Mark’s Church. Built-in the 13th century, St Mark’s Church is a world known for its colorful tiled roof.
A medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia on the left side, and the emblem of Zagreb on the right side 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 especially because it contains sculptures by famous Ivan Mestrovic.
Luxurious parliament and government buildings stand alongside the church. Every Saturday, between April and October, you can see the change of the guard ceremony.
If you’re up for a little cultural uplift, head to the Museum of Broken Relationships. Just a short walk from St Mark’s Church, this cool museum is among the most interesting things to do in Zagreb. It is completely dedicated to failed relationships, so each exhibit you’ll find here has a special and unique story.
Donations come from all around the world and vary from heartbreaking over strange to hilarious. In the same square, you can spot another cute little church. St Catherine is a beautiful example of Baroque style and its interior is really impressive.
Continue wandering through the alley that leads you straight to another city’s landmark. Riding in Zagreb’s famously blue funicular offers a unique chance to experience this part of the town.
Open space next to the funicular provides a stunning view of the city, so take a minute to admire Zagreb’s panorama.
For all those wanting to learn more about Croatian history, Lotrscak Tower is a place to be. Every day at noon, a blast from Gric canon 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 tower is worth the visit.
Ready for a short break? Take a stroll around Strossmartre, a charming hub known for its artistic vibes and many hidden bars. During the summer months, this little alley has become a popular hangout place 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 its delicious beverages, desserts, and events.
Around the corner is Stone Gate, another spot favored by locals. A shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary is also a pilgrimage site for religious Croatians.
As lunchtime approaches, pick a traditional tavern or head to a fine dining restaurant. Enjoying the Croatian delights can begin!
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The best thing to do to stay awake after lunch is a slow walk among nature. Get down to the Lower Town and go explore an amazing park called Zrinjevac. One of the city’s most famous and prettiest parks is also among the top things to do in Zagreb.
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.
For all those hungry of culture, Art Pavilion that is located nearby hosts different large-scale exhibitions. If you’re spending 2 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 as well.
If you’re coming during Christmas time, this amazing place becomes Winter Wonderland with huge ice-skating point and lots of cute stalls selling boiled wine and hot tea.
Escape streets’ bustling rhythm and find peace in Botanical Gardens, a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. This protected monument of garden architecture is one of those places 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.
You can even see cute turtles sunbathing all day long. 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.
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If you’re lucky enough to have 2 nights in Zagreb, make sure you don’t spend them in the hotel room. Go try super delicious black truffles while drinking traditional Croatian wine in one of the Upper Town’s taverns. Find a spot in one of the bustling café bars in Flower Square and mingle with locals.
Ask them for a trending nightclub and dance the night away. There are endless possibilities! Exploring the city by night is one of the best ways to experience the city! Consider some of the many other things to do in Zagreb while you are there.
Zagreb is a must-have for your entire Croatia itinerary. Are you ready to spend a few days in Zagreb? Let us know in the comments below.