Zagreb is the newest addition to the list of EU capitals located in the very heart of the European continent somewhere between east and west, north and south, the Mediterranean and the vast Pannonian plain. As such, Zagreb is a great mixture of numerous influences but yet so authentic and easily reachable from almost any point of Europe and beyond.
Let us organise you a unique and personalised Zagreb City Break! We are a local agency specialised in tailor-made trips to the Balkan area, including Croatia. Contact us to get a quote of your custom-made tour.
We can help you with your flights, airport transfers, hotels, local guides and daily excursions from Zagreb, either private ones or in groups with other visitors. Trust us, we are locals and we know all the secrets!
HISTORY OF ZAGREB
We could say that the history of Zagreb started back in 1094 as a tale of two cities sitting on neighbouring hills: Kaptol, inhabited mainly by clergy and the larger Gradec, home of craftsmen and merchants. Although the name Zagreb has been in use for both settlements since the 12th century, they weren’t formally united into a single town until 1851 by ban Josip Jelačić, a national hero whose statute you can see on the city’s main square. In those days Zagreb was just a peripheral town of the Hapsburg Empire, but started growing quickly after it got connected to the world by a railway in 1862. Especially significant was the legendary Orient Express Train between Paris and Istanbul which also ran through Zagreb. Many of the passengers making an overnight stop here were sleeping in the luxury Esplanade Hotel next to the railway station, which is still one of the most popular 5-star hotels in the city. After WWI the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell apart and this area became part of the newly established Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which, after WWII became known as Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During that time South-Slavic nations were living in harmony which was ended by the rise of nationalism after the death of Yugoslav leader Tito who was half Croat, half Slovene. Because the territory of Croatia was ethnically pretty diverse, the separation from Yugoslavia in the beginning of 1990s didn’t go as smoothly as they were hoping and the country ended up in a gory independence war with 15.000 casualties. But Croats proved to be a strong nation and reconstruction was quick. It didn’t take long before tourism returned to this country as there are so many natural and cultural wanders it has to offer. Today Croatia proudly stands as one of the strongest tourism powers in the Mediterranean region.
Why is it called a city of a thousand hearts? Discover on your Zagreb City Break!
WHAT TO SEE IN ZAGREB & AROUND?
Want to learn more? How about we prepare everything for an exceptional Zagreb City Break tailor-made just for you? Croatian capital has great airline connections with all Europe and beyond so there will be no problem flying you over. Your private driver will wait for you in the arrivals hall and take you to a chosen hotel in the city centre. We will book accommodation according to your budget and preferences. After check-in, your private tour guide will show you around. As you will find out, Zagreb’s core is divided into older Upper Town (“Gornji Grad”) – what used to be the old hill settlements of Kaptol and Gradec – and newer Lower Town (“Donji Grad”) – full of turn-of-the-century architecture – which mainly developed after the arrival of the railway.
No matter where you start your tour, sooner or later you will end up at the main city square named after general Josip Jelaćić already mentioned above. Other notable piazzas include Kapitol square with the twin towers of Zagreb’s neo-gothic cathedral, the always busy green strip of Zrinjevac Park and of course the tiny but important St. Mark’s square where you can find not only Zagreb’s symbol – St. Mark’s church with a colourful tiled roof – but also Croatia’s parliament building (Sabor) and government’s headquarters (Banski dvori).
After the sightseeing of city’s most emblematic buildings, you can fresh-up at the cosy open-air Dolac market often referred to as the heart of Zagreb for being the junction between Upper and Lower Town. If you want to learn more, this basic tour of Croatia’s capital can be extended to also include sights beyond the walking distance, for example the gorgeous Mirogoj Cemetery, often listed as one of the Europe’s most beautiful cemeteries or Zagreb’s oldest park Maksimir opened to the public back in 1794. For a different angle of Zagreb we can organise a visit to the nearby Medvednica Hill crowned with Medvedgrad Fort which offers great views of the city below.
In case of bad weather you can peek into one of the many museums Zagreb has to offer. The Mimara Museum is one of the most important art centres in Europe. Its superb art collection contains works by such names as Velázquez, Caravaggio and Renoir and is worth spending a few hours. Beside the obvious choices of other history and archaeological museums, there is one that particularly stands out – The Museum of Broken Relationships. It is a quirky display of random objects people from all over the globe donated to the museum as something that reminds them of their ex-partners. Each exhibit comes with a note explaining the backstory – from funny cynical ones, to really heartbreaking ones.
Dinner time: If walking city’s cobblestone streets made you hungry, our guides will be happy to recommend a great dining place. Being halfway between Mediterranean and Central Europe, Zagreb has a great mix of both cuisines. From tasty traditional Balkan restaurateurs serving čevapčiči or roasted veal under the bell (teletina ispod peke) to more sophisticated Michelin-approved ones. Zagreb has it all and we are here to make your choice easier.
ZAGREB CHRISTMAS MARKET
Did you know Zagreb won the title “best European advent market” several years in a row? You might be wondering what is so special about it. Well come and see it for yourself! Zagreb City Break is always a good idea, but especially in the weeks leading up to Christmas when its squares get festively decorated and radiate in a sea of lights. Zagreb Christmas Market has all the ingredients a decent advent market should have: stalls full of tasty local food, mulled wine, gingerbread, original and handmade gifts, a noisy ice rink and of course a gigantic Christmas tree. Come and taste the advent market done in a Balkan way.
You can also do it in a combination with Ljubljana (capital of Slovenia) which is just over an hour away and is also a very popular December destination. Check out our proposal of a tailor-made Christmas Ljubljana / Zagreb itinerary which also includes popular tourist destinations of Plitvice National Park, Alpine village of Bled and the enormous Postojna Cave.
Expand your Zagreb Experience with daily trips or a longer Croatian tour
DAILY EXCURSIONS FROM ZAGREB
You can easily spend a long weekend in Zagreb and still not see everything the Croatian capital has to offer. But if you are in a constant search for things that amaze you, you should also explore its surrounding. There are tons of options and our agents will be happy to recommend you the ones most suitable for you budget and interests. Here are just some of the daily excursions from Zagreb we can organise for you either with a private driver guide or in a group with other travellers if available.
The most obvious and popular choice is of course the amazingly beautiful Plitvice National Park, one of the most visited tourist attractions not just in Croatia but in the whole Balkan region. You might find the name slightly misleading, as it is not so much the lakes that attract the visitors but the numerous waterfalls that connect them. Best time for visiting this UNESCO-recognised natural wander would be spring when the falls are flush with water, but Plitvice can be equally charming in autumn and winter colours. Summertime is usually very busy, specially around noon when most groups on daily excursions from Zagreb or Zadar get here. If you are travelling to Croatia in the summer, we recommend visiting the park late in the afternoon when the crowds are gone and spend the night in one of the many hotels in the area. We can get you accommodation, guide and tickets with no problem.
The bucolic Zagorje region north of Zagreb is a great place to escape the city crowds, specially in hot summer months. It is a perfect road-trip destination with green hills, well maintained vineyards, baroque churches and fairy-tale castles such are Trakošćan Castle and Veliki Tabor. The main town of this area is Varaždin with a neat historic centre, a castle of its own and a beautiful cemetery. The region of Zagorje together with the region of Štajerska on the other side of Slovenian border is also known for numerous thermal and mineral springs – a source of health and well-being. Spa tourism is a big thing here are you can opt for a week-long stay in one of the thermal centres, while exploring both countries – Croatia and Slovenia.
Speaking of Slovenia, Croatian little neighbour to the north-west can be easily reachable on a day tour from Zagreb as well. Slovenian charming capital of Ljubljana is just a good hour drive away and if you continue a bit further towards the Julian Alps, you will reach Bled – a stunning fairy-tale village on the shores of a glacial lake with a tiny church island and an imposing castle above. But we warn you: Slovenia might enchant you and you will want to stay longer. No problem, we actually thought about that and prepared an itinerary that features both countries.
You might also go the other direction: towards the Adriatic Sea. South-west from Zagreb lies Opatija, a popular summer residence of Autro-Hungarian nobility. Although the Hapsburg Empire is long gone, numerous palaces built by its elite remain and were turn into luxurious hotels, giving Opatija its royal sophistication. You might want to spend more time here as Opatija can be a great base for exploring the magical peninsula of Istria, rich in culture and gastronomy experiences or a doorstep to the Kvarner Bay Islands.
CRUISES FROM OPATIJA
When you think about cruises in Croatia, you probably think about the well known Dalmatian islands such as Hvar, Korčula and Brač. But Croatia, being a land of a thousand islands, can offer so much more than that. Why don’t you explore the northern Adriatic, often referred to as Kvarner Bay, on a small ship cruise? Most of our guests claim this is truly the best way to visit all the northern islands (Krk, Cres, Rab, ect.) without having to change hotels. The packages include accommodation on deluxe and standard ships, half board and sightseeing tours. There are weekly departures from Opatija and other nearby ports with circular route and others who continue south to Dubrovnik. To get more information about this small ship cruises in the Adriatic which only carry up to 40 passengers contact us at ➨ firstname.lastname@example.org.
But cruise is just one way to explore Croatia. If you have more time on your plate we can organise a land tour from Zagreb all the way to Dubrovnik and beyond. Follow our pre-prepared Perls of Croatia itinerary which runs from north to south or vice versa. It’s totally up to you! Or go the other way – from Zagreb you can cross the less visited flat region of Slavonia and continue to the neighbouring country of Serbia. Throw in the mix other Balkan countries as well and treat yourself to a two-weeks-long Grand Balkan Tour. Our professional driver guides will take you across five countries of ex-Yugoslavia (including Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro) and show you all the beauties as well as explain you the rough history of the Balkan region and the relations between its nations.
We know you like to be flexible on you travels and this is exactly what we offer: well organised, yet flexible and personalised tours. Get in touch with us and we will prepare a tailor-made itinerary not just for Zagreb City Break but also for the whole Croatia and other Balkan countries.