Zagreb Walking Tour: DIY Old Town Zagreb Sightseeing by JetSettingFools.com

Zagreb Walking Tour: DIY Old Town Zagreb Sightseeing

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Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, pulses with life. It has all the tell-tale signs of a European city: rich in history, beautiful architecture, a plethora of cafes and a humming public transportation network. The city long ago merged from two medieval towns, Gradec and Kaptol, creating what is today’s city center. Strolling through the city on foot is the best way to discover Zagreb sights. Fellow travelers can follow in our footsteps – step-by-step – on our Self-Guided Zagreb Walking Tour.

 

Old Town Zagreb History

Located in the southern foothills of Medvednica mountain, Zagreb developed from two smaller towns – Kaptol and Gradec. When the hill-topping towns originated (in the 11th and 13th centuries, respectively), they were separated by a river. Although the two towns commingled, they were divided – the clergy and cathedral were in Kaptol, while tradespeople and administration were in Gradec.

It was not until 1851, under the leadership of Ban (Governor) Josip Jelacic, that the two towns officially merged together into the city of Zagreb. In 1898, the river that separated them was diverted, and the riverbed filled in, erasing the distinct line between Kaptol and Gradec. Then, in 1991, when Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia, Zagreb became the capital of (and largest city in) the country.

 

Zagreb Sightseeing

While Zagreb, Croatia is a sprawling city, the historic Zagreb Old Town remains the city center. The top places to visit in Zagreb are located in close proximity, so even visitors with only one day in Zagreb will be able to see a lot. Our Zagreb city tour covers all the highlights…and more!

 

Free Walking Tour Zagreb

Our DIY Zagreb Free Walking Tour features the top things to see in Zagreb, Croatia. We include information about each attraction, as well as step-by-step directions and map links so that visitors can easily navigate to each sight. Additionally, we provide a Zagreb, Croatia map at the end of the post, complete with numbered sight markers of our recommended Zagreb places to visit.

In this blog post, we include everything you need to know to complete your own free tour of Zagreb. Save, Pin or Bookmark this post so that you can easily access it when you visit Zagreb!

 

Zagreb Walking Tour: What To See in Zagreb, Croatia

Our walking tour of Zagreb covers the sights in the historic city center. Start your Old Town Zagreb walking tour on Tomiceva Ulica at the Lower Funicular Station.

 

#1 Funicular

Funicular Lower Station in Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} Touted as the shortest funicular in the world, the Zagreb Funicular connects the lower town to the Gradec upper town with just 217 feet of track. Built in the late 1800s, the funicular transports visitors up and down the hillside every 10 minutes. The 50-cent ride takes less than a minute to ascend the slope – which is the quickest (and least strenuous) way to the hilltop. Note: Tickets can be purchased at the lower station for 4 kuna each. (Visitors who would rather trek up to Gradec can do so via the stairs on the right side of the tracks.)

At the Upper Funicular Station, stand at the lookout point revealing the big city sprawl, then turn around to face the Lotrscak Tower.

 

#2 Kula Lotrscak Tower

Historic Lotrscak Tower in Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} When Gradec was declared a Free Royal City in 1242, it was done so with the stipulation that the city become fortified. Walls, gates and towers were built to protect Gradec. One of the few remnants of the walled city is the 13th century lookout tower, Kula Lotrscak, which was built to stand guard over the southern gate.

In 1877, the Gric Cannon was installed on the tower’s fourth floor. However, the canon was not intended to protect the city from threats, but rather to keep the city synchronized. The canon is (still) fired daily at noon…a signal to the church bell-ringers of the exact time. 

Through the years, the tower has been used as a prison, a warehouse, a fire station and as a social club. Today, the interior hosts an art exhibition. For a fee, visitors can climb the spiral staircase inside Kula Lotrscak for incredible 360-degree views and an iconic look at St. Mark’s Church from above.

From the Lotrscak Tower, walk west into Strossmayer Park.

 

#3 Strossmayer Park and Garden

Strossmartre Park Sign in Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} The Strossmayer Promenade is the east-west walkway in southern Gradec that occupies the space where the city wall once stood. The western end of the charming promenade is nicknamed “Strossmartre,” because it evokes a Parisian vibe. In the shade of trees, park benches line the walkway, overlooking the city to the south.

Stairs lead down from the promenade into Art Park – a small park featuring murals by local artists. On the north side is an elevated planned garden, Park Gric. The romantic park features a fountain and manicured flower beds, but history buffs will want to seek out the archaeological site which has produced numerous findings.

From the northeast corner of Gric Park, walk east on Vranyczanyeva Ulica just a few steps to Markovicev. Turn left (north) and walk two blocks to Freudenreichova Ulica. Turn right (east) and walk into Trg Sv Marka (St. Mark’s Square).

 

#4 St. Mark’s Church

St. Mark's Church in Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} St. Mark’s Square is the most beautiful square in the city. In the very center of the square is St. Mark’s Church, easily recognizable by the colorfully tiled rooftop (which clearly stands out among the standard orange tiles of nearly all the other rooftops in town). The church was built in the 13th century, with numerous additions and expansions throughout its history.

The iconic rooftop was added in 1880. The tiles depict two Coats of Arms. The one on the left is the Coat of Arms for the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia (which existed prior to becoming part of Yugoslavia) and the one on the right represents the city of Zagreb. 

Although most visitors can’t take their eyes off the eye-catching roof, the southern door features an intricate Gothic design. Dating to the 14th century, the portal is composed of 15 carved statues placed in small alcoves. (Unfortunately, visitors cannot pass through the doorway, as the interior of the church is only open for mass.)

Flanking St. Mark’s Church are the two most important government buildings in the city.

 

#5 Government Buildings: Banski Dvori and Sabor

Sabor Parliament Building on St. Mark's Square in Zagreb, Croatia

The church is an island in the center of St. Mark’s Square, which is ringed by government buildings. On the west side of the square is Banski Dvori {MAP}, translated to Ban’s (Governor’s) Court. Intended to be built as a private palace in the early 1800s, the government completed the structure as the official residence of the Ban. The city’s Bans lived in Banksi Dvori until 1918. Throughout history, the building continued to be used as government offices and is today the seat of the Croatian Government.

On the east side of St. Mark’s Square is the Sabor, or Croatian Parliament {MAP}. As the legislative branch of government, the Sabor represents the people. The parliament building was constructed in the 1730s, with the first parliament meeting taking place there in May 1737. However, the building was completely rebuilt in the early 1900s and is now used solely for parliament.

Although one of the top Zagreb tourist attractions, the square is the center of the country’s politics. In fact, presidential inaugurations are held in St. Mark’s Square, and it’s not unusual to see politicians clad in suits coming and going from the buildings.

From the center of the square, walk south on Cirilometodska Ulica (towards Lotrscak Tower). Pass the Museum of Broken Relationships and turn left (east) at Katarinin Trg. Walk straight ahead to St. Catherine’s Church.

 

#6 St. Catherine’s Church

St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} The 17th century St. Catherine’s Church features a white facade with five statues standing in recesses. Built by the Jesuits between 1620 and 1632, the church suffered two fires (1645 and 1674), as well as severe damage from an earthquake in 1880. Reconstruction of the church was led by famous Zagreb architect, Herman Bolle. An attached monastery was built on the north side of the church; the space is now used for the Klovicevi Dvori Art Gallery.  

Walk along the south side of the church into the open square on the Gradec Plateau.

 

#7 Gradec Plateau Lookout Point

View of Cathedral from Gradec Plateau in Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} One of the best viewpoints in the city, the Gradec Plateau overlooks what was once the separate town of Kaptol. The panoramic view encompasses the Zagreb Cathedral, the yellow spire of St. Mary at Dolac and a jumble of orange-tiled rooftops.

Retrace your steps out of the terraced square and turn right (north) to walk past the front of St. Catherine’s Church and the Klovicevi Dvori Art Gallery. Continue walking north on Jurja Habdelica to Kamenita Ulica. On the southeast corner of the intersection is The Black Eagle, the oldest pharmacy in the city dating to the year 1355. Turn right (east) onto Kamenita, passing the pharmacy, and walk to Stone Gate.

 

#8 Stone Gate and Chapel

Nun prays at painting of Mary in Stone Gate Chapel in Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} Stone Gate is the only remaining gate of the Gradec city walls. The passageway leads from the upper town to the lower town. While the gate itself is historically interesting, the interior of the gate is even more intriguing, as it houses an open-air chapel. Consisting of just a few pews and an encased painting of Mary, the chapel is one of the most unique places to visit in Zagreb. Plaques, which are inscribed with praise and notes of thanks, cover the walls. Visitors can stop to rest, say a prayer and light a candle.

Pass through the gate and walk a few steps to the equestrian statue of St. George.

 

#9 St. George After Slaying the Dragon

St. George after slaying the dragon statue in Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} Like in many European cities, St. George is a celebrated saint and martyr in Zagreb. A member of Diocletian’s army, George refused to renounce his Christian faith and was punished by death. The legend of St. George and the Dragon came about in the 11th century and is the story that many princess fables are based upon. As the tale goes, George slayed the dragon to save the princess – and now thousands of statues depict the victorious slaying. However, very few show George after he killed the dragon. The statue just north of the Stone Gate, however, shows St. George bowing his head to the slayed beast.

Make the hairpin turn around the statue onto Radiceva Street and walk south. 

 

#10 Radiceva Street and Bloody Bridge (Kravi Most)

Radiceva Walking Street in Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} The long sloping street, Radiceva Street (once called Long Street), is lined with shops – as it has been since the 19th century. We think it is one of the prettiest streets in Zagreb. Enjoy a leisurely stroll to the street named Kravi Most, which translates to Bloody Bridge.

No longer a bridge (and thankfully not bloody), Kravi Most Street marks that site of the old bridge that crossed the stream and connected Kaptol to Gradec. Due to the many disputes over watermill rights, conflicts often erupted on the bridge between citizens of the two towns, earning it the moniker “Bloody Bridge.”

Turn left (east) onto Kravi Most Street and walk to Tkalciceva Street. Turn left (north) and walk up the street.

 

#11 Tkalciceva

Statue on Tkalciceva Street, Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} Tkalciceva, the riverbed-turned-café-lined-street, is one of the most popular streets in the Zagreb. Outdoor tables and chairs stretch the entirety of the pedestrian-only street. Families, couples and dog walkers parade up and down the length of the lane. In the summertime, patrons sit in the shade under wide umbrellas – and the cafes and restaurants get particularly busy in the evening. During the winter months, sunny spots are coveted and warm drinks, like mulled wine, are the beverage of choice.

Walk north along the colorful Tkalciceva Street to the Oliver Twist café on the right-hand (east) side of the street. Take the stairs on the south side of Oliver Twist that lead into Opatovina Park. Turn right (south) to exit the park onto Opatovina Ulica and walk south.

 

#12 Opatovina Street

{MAP} At the top of Opatovina Street is the historic Church of St. Francis of Assisi, which dates to the 13th century. Although rather plain on the outside, the interior is highlighted by beautiful stained-glass windows and a blue-and-gold ceiling. Step inside if the doors are open to take a look, then continue walking south.  

Lined with pubs, Opatovina Street has earned the well-deserved nickname “Beer Street.” Most of the bars on the street are dedicated to selling Croatian craft beer, a concept that is revolutionizing beer across the country. Note: The Craft Room has the best selection (ask what they have on tap from Nova Runda…our favorite Zagreb craft brewery!)…and they have a upstairs balcony with an amazing view, which is accessed via the spiral staircase next to the bar.

At the south end of Opatovina Street, pass through the open square and take the stairs down into Dolac Market.

 

#13 Zagreb Market

Dolac Market in Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} The bright and cheerful Dolac Market has been the city center market in Zagreb since 1930. Colorfully striped umbrellas shade long lines of simple vendor stalls. In-season produce – like oranges, strawberries, apples and heaps of green veggies – is piled high atop tables and vendors use traditional weight-and-balance scales to measure out the goods. Numerous cafes surround the market – and weary shoppers and vendors sit to sip coffee throughout the day.

The underground market is less visually appealing, but worth a walk around to see the different kinds of fish, meat and cheese that is sold in the region. Wine shops – which sell tap wine in plastic bottles – are also found in the below ground area.  Note: The market starts closing by mid-afternoon, so make sure to arrive when it’s still in full swing!

Exit the market from the northeast corner (near Pekarne Dinara). Walk east and cross Kaptol Ulica to the Cathedral.

 

#14 Zagreb Cathedral

Zagreb Cathedral towers, Zagreb, Croatia

{MAP} Construction of the Zagreb Cathedral dates to 1094, the same year the Diocese of Zagreb was first established. However, the church was damaged in an attack, then destroyed and rebuilt in the 13th century. In the 15th century, fortifications (some of which still remain) were built around the church to better protect it from invaders. Then, in 1880, the Cathedral sustained severe damage from an earthquake…and reconstruction has been almost ongoing ever since.  The twin gothic spires reach the height of 355 feet and can be seen from nearly everywhere in Zagreb.

The cathedral’s interior is heavily decorated with works of art and large chandeliers. Alojzije Stepinac, the Archbishop of Zagreb during World War II, is buried behind the main altar and many people offer flowers and candles around his monument.  

In the square in front of the church is a monument to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Behind the church is a small green park, Ribnjak, which is entered from the east, not from the church grounds.

From the church, walk south on Ulica Tome Bakaca Street, which slopes downhill to Jelacic Square.

 

#15 Jelacic Square

Jelacic Square main square in Zagreb, Croatia

 

{MAP} Named for Ban Josip Jelacic (the governor honored for ending serfdom in Croatia and responsible for uniting Kaptol and Gradec into the City of Zagreb), Jelacic Square is the city’s most expansive and busiest square. Designed in 1641, the square was originally the site of city fairs and the marketplace.

An equestrian statue dedicated to Jelacic stands in the middle of the square, facing south (rather than its initial north-facing position, which symbolized his defiant stance against Hungary). On the east end of the square is a fountain – The Mandusevac Fountain – which sits over a natural spring that provided water to the citizens of Zagreb until the late 1800s.

A simple, clock stands on the west end of the square – and is a popular meeting spot for locals; if someone says, “Meet me under the clock,” this is the place. Tram tracks mark the southern side of the square and a never-ending stream of Zagreb trams pass by moving people through the vibrant city.

 

More Things To Do in Zagreb, Croatia

Our Old City Tour of Zagreb ends at Jelacic Square, but there are a few nearby sights you may want to add to your Zagreb sightseeing list.

Zagreb 360

One of the first skyscrapers in Croatia stands on the southwestern corner of Jelacic Square (across the tracks). Built in 1959, the glass structure was quite modern for its time. Today, there is a 16th floor observation deck and cafe that provides sensational views over the city (fee to enter).

 

Green Horseshoe Park

Not just one park, the Green Horseshoe is 8 city blocks of parks linked together in the shape of a (you guessed it!) horseshoe. The intercity green space, which includes the city’s botanical gardens, is surrounded by opulent architecture.

 

Gric Tunnel

Built in World War II as air raid shelter, the Gric Tunnel recently reopened to the public as a passageway beneath Gradec. Just part of a fascinating web of tunnels, the Gric tunnel not only provides a shortcut, but is also a nice place to cool off in the summer heat.

 

Mirogoj Cemetery

Although a cemetery seems an unlikely tourist attraction, the Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb is more like an outdoor art exhibition set in the middle of a park. It’s just a short bus ride to the park (buses depart for the cemetery near the Cathedral).

 

Find all of our tips in our 22 Terrific Things To Do in Zagreb blog post!

22 Terrific Things To Do in Zagreb, Croatia by JetSettingFools.com

22 Terrific Things To Do in Zagreb, Croatia

 

More Tips and Info for Your Free Zagreb Walking Tour

We have a few tips for your Zagreb sightseeing.

Zagreb Walking Tour Details

Our self-guided walking tour of Zagreb covers 1.5 miles. Visitors should allow at least 1-2 hours to complete the Zagreb sightseeing tour.

 

Public Bathrooms

There are not many public toilets in the city, but there are a few along the route of our outlined free city tour of Zagreb. Visitors can find restrooms – marked WC – near some of the city’s top attractions. There is often a fee to use toilets (and sometimes the fee only applies to women’s restrooms); if an attendant is monitoring the bathroom, expect to pay between 2-5 kuna. Bathrooms that charge a fee almost always have toilet paper, but we recommend carrying your own, just in case.

  • Dolac Market: Toilets are located on the north side of the market and in the underground market.
  • Cathedral: There is a restroom outside the church, to the left of the main entrance.
  • Near Jelacic Square: Northeast of the square, there are bathrooms underground. Look for the WC sign in the small square just south of the Cathedral.

 

Zagreb City Map

Use this link to Google Maps for our Zagreb Walking Tour Map online. Visitors can also pick up a Zagreb tourist map from the TI.

 


 

What You Will Need

You don’t need much to complete our free walking tour of Zagreb, Croatia, but we do recommend the following items for your day of sightseeing in Zagreb.

Walking Shoes

Our Zagreb walking tour may only cover 1.5 miles, but there are hills and cobblestone streets to consider. Be sure to wear a pair of comfortable walking shoes to explore Old Town Zagreb! I like these shoes by Columbia and Kris prefers these by Merrell.

Sunscreen and Umbrella

Be prepared for the elements! The sun is intense in Croatia, so we recommend putting on sunscreen before you begin your Zagreb city tour…and bring it with you to reapply. You may also want to bring a wide-brimmed hat that will shade your eyes. In case of rainy weather, bring along a travel umbrella (which can also provide shade, if need be!) and a raincoat

Water Bottle

Remember to bring a bottle of water for your self-guided walking tour of Zagreb. Yes, there are places to purchase water along the way, but we think it is better to be prepared with a refillable water bottle – these collapsible water bottles are great for travelers! There is a public fountain at the end of Opatovina Street, just before the Dolac Market where you can refill.

Zagreb Sightseeing Map and WiFi Access

Although we include map links to each sight and a Zagreb Old Town Map of Sights for easy navigation, visitors will need internet connection to access them. We travel with a WiFi hotspot, GlocalMe, to ensure we always have a secure connection. Croatia visitors can also rent a mobile hotspot from Roam Free Ninja

Visitors who prefer paper maps (like me!), may want to purchase a Zagreb attractions map in advance of their trip – like this one on Amazon!

Travel Insurance

We think travel insurance is essential on any trip! Check rates and coverage for travel insurance on World Nomads.

 

Zagreb Tours

Once you get acquainted with the historic core of the city, consider joining one of the themed tours in Zagreb.

Zagreb Food Tour

We love Croatian cuisine! One of the best ways to sample an array of local fare is on a Zagreb Food Tour. Join a Zagreb guide on a tour that explores the Zagreb culinary scene – from the market to restaurants. Get the details! 

Zagreb Wine Tour by Bicycle

Join a Zagreb city guide to tour downtown Zagreb, including a stop at an urban vineyard. Learn about the region’s best wine – and then indulge in multiple samples in a wine cellar. Reserve your spot! 

Zagreb Bus Tour

For weary travelers, the Zagreb sightseeing bus is a great way to see the city sights in Old Town Zagreb and beyond! The Hop On Hop Off Zagreb City Tour Bus allows passengers to disembark at any of the stops along the way for deeper exploration…and then hop back on the bus to the next sight! Find out more! 

 

Have more than 1 day in Zagreb? If you are planning a multi-day Zagreb itinerary, consider including one of the popular day trips from Zagreb on your to-do list!

6 Sensational Day Trips from Zagreb, Croatia by JetSettingFools.com

6 Sensational Day Trips from Zagreb, Croatia

 

Start planning your trip to Croatia! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!

 

We Want To Know: Are there any sights you would add to our Old Town Zagreb Walking Tour? Do you have any Zagreb sightseeing tips? Give us your best advice in the comments below! 

 

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