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Zagreb’s Fascinating Culture and Entertainment

There’s just so much one can do in Zagreb that having a list may not just be enough when in the city already.

If you are still holding your pen and paper making a list on the things to do in Zagreb, then start writing now as here are some tips to help you wrap up that list.

The museums in the city are plenty with lots of interesting and rare collections, so if you are fund of artifacts and are eager to learn more about the culture and history, not just of the city, but as well as the whole country, then museums in Zagreb should be on your list. If you are an architecture fan, visiting the various architecture in Zagreb would have to be on that list you are making, too.

For those traveling with their little ones, Zagreb for kids will delight you with places and activities that both parents and children will enjoy. Another idea for those thinking about what to do in the city is to check their calendars and see if the tour to the capital of Croatia coincides with a particular festival. Zagreb festivals are truly worth seeing!

The food and nightlife in the city are both great. So going to Zagreb restaurants or checking out Zagreb nightlife will be a delightful experience. For active tourists, sports in Zagreb are worth catching, while those who want to stay fit can check out the options for fitness in Zagreb.

For alternative entertainment at night, the theaters in Zagreb, as well as the music in Zagreb, promise a unique and unforgettable experience.

Museums

Museums in Zagreb will add spice to your travel in the city; they feature rare collections while giving you a better insight into the capital of Croatia’s culture and history. Below are a few of the museums that you must visit in Zagreb:

Ethnographic Museum
Donji Grad (Lower Town)
01/482-6220

Although one of the city’s most underrated museums, the Ethnographic Museum showcases a wide collection of agricultural artifacts from all over Croatia. It also has a wide array of tunics and traditional aprons that will also fascinate you. Most of the collection pieces were acquired between the 19th and 20th centuries, each giving visitors a glimpse of the way people lived and worked in Croatia.

Mimara Museum
Donji Grad (Lower Town)
01-482-8100

The neo-Renaissance building located on the western side of the city center was a donation of Croatian artists, Mimara. Over 3700 art pieces can be found in this museum, dominated most of painting collections from Spanish, Dutch, and Italian artists. On its ground floor, textiles, glass, and Asian art are also showcased. Because the captions of the art pieces are in Croatian only, it would be good to visit the museum with a guide who speaks and reads Croatian.

Museum of the City of Zagreb
Gradec
01/485-1364

The Museum of the City of Zagreb presents a documentation of the city’s development through the years. It includes a display of religious objects, weaponry, ethnic costumes, photos, and furniture from various periods in the city. After exploring its collections, you can easily grab a bite at Stara Vura, a nice restaurant on the museum’s premises.

Other museums that you can pay a visit to are the Croatian History Museum at Donji Grad, the Klovicevi Dvori Gallery at Gradec, the Museum of Arts and Craft at the Donji Grad, and Zagreb Archaeological Museum still at the Donji Grad.

Archaeological Museum of Zagreb
19 Nikola Subic Zrinski Square
Box 13

There are five main collections in the Archaeological Museum of Zagreb, mostly focusing on Croatia. Most of these approximately 400,000 pieces are found all throughout Zagreb. Among the exhibitions in the museum are Egyptian mummies, Greek vases, and an extensive collection of coins from the Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, and Celtics.

Croatian Museum of Naïve Art
Sv. Cirila i Metoda 3, Gornji grad

This museum features a vast collection of artworks from known artists like Smaljic, Mirko Virius, Mraz, and Ivan Generalic. Those who are not familiar with the Croatian naïve art will find the displays in the museum quite unique and interesting.

This museum is housed in a structure with a 19th-century neo-baroque style. It opened in 1994 with collections dating from 1952.

Museums in Zagreb are interesting to add to your itinerary. They not only give you a learning-filled experience, but they are also a perfect opportunity to get a good look at Zagreb’s history and culture.

Architecture

Architecture fans will not be disappointed to visit Zagreb. The capital of Croatia, through its long history, features many architectural structures that will fascinate its visitors.

One of these structures is the Zagreb Cathedral which is considered to be the most eloquent Neogothic and most monumental architectural work in the southeast part of the Alps. The St. Francis Church with its harmony and simplicity from the early Gothic Franciscan churches will also impress architecture buffs.

Built using the principles of the Romanesque architecture, the St. Mark’s Church is also one of the interesting architectural structures in Zagreb. The church’s south portal is known to be the most eloquent sculptural work in that specific part of Europe. Another church known in the city for its marvelous architecture is the St. Blasius Church which is one of the most important sacral structures of modern Croatia.

The Croatian National Theater is another architecture in Zagreb that’s hard to miss. With a neo-baroque style, the structure is among the first projects of Architectural Atelier Fellner and Helmer. It is among the representative theaters constructed with historical styles around Eastern and Central Europe.

Not to be overlooked, the State features unique ornamentation and architecture that make it among the most beautiful examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the country. Dating back in 1867, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, on the other hand, was built through the initiative of Bishop Strossmayer. The Italian-Renaissance structure is being maintained with the use of high-technology.

For European style architecture, the Croatian State Archives should be visited. Combining the elements of the 20th century, the building is situated in a park. It is known to hold a great number of very important documents in the city. It was initially destined as a university library, and later on, between two world wars, it was re-established and renamed as an independent institution for the state’s archives.

For towering architecture, the Cibona Tower would be an interesting structure to visit. Third among the tallest buildings in the country, the tower stands at 92meters tall and features 25 levels. It is a cylinder skyscraper with a diameter of 25 meters. The building’s façade is made of dark steel, black granite, and reflective glass. This tower is very strong it can withstand an earthquake as strong as 7° in the Richter scale and an impact a small airplane may bring.

The architecture in Zagreb simply adds beauty and character to the city. These Zagreb attractions just show the creativity and ingenuity of the city’s architects.

Theaters

If partying and clubbing is not your cup of tea, then you may just find your way to some of the theaters in Zagreb for night entertainment. Showcasing the vivacious culture of Croatia, the theaters in the city feature performances mostly in the Croatian language; although there’s a few who also hold shows in English.

Some of the famous theaters in Zagreb are the following:

Croatian National Theatre
Trg marsala Tita 15
+385 1 48-88-488

More than a hundred years old, the Croatian National Theatre was built through Emperor Franz Joseph II. It is a neo-baroque structure featuring a lavish interior still preserved up to this date. The theatre’s stage has already held several performances including many drama, opera shows, and ballets. Its hospitality services make it one of the favorite venues of organizers for congress meetings, promotional events, and receptions.

Exit Theatre
Ilica 208
+385 1 37-04-120

The Exit Theatre in Zagreb’s first independent theatre dedicated to adults. Built-in 1994, the theatre is the place to watch theatre plays that are innovative, provocative, and high aesthetics.

Shows usually happen from Thursday to Saturday from 4:30pm to 8:00 pm.

Gavella City Drama Theatre
Frankopanska 8-10
01 48 49 222

Gavella is a downtown theatre known for its colorful history. It was established by young and rebellious actors and directors in the city wanting to break away from the administration of the Croatian National Theatre in 1953. The group was headed by Dr. Branko Gavella and Zagreb Drama Theatre; later on, they named the establishment after the prolific theatre director. Shakespearean plays and contemporary drama are the usual repertoires in this theatre.

Kerempuh Satirical Theatre
Ilica 31
01 483 3354, 01 483 3348

The Kerempuh Satirical Theatre was established in 1964. Since 1976, it has already been running satirical theatre shows on a regular basis aside from late-night cabaret shows.

Zagreb Puppet Theatre
Trg kralja Tomislava 19

The Zagreb Puppet Theatre has already been operating in the city for 60 years now. It is the oldest professional puppet theatre in the country. This 200-seater theatre is ideal for families traveling with their kids.

Festivals

All year round various events and festivals are being hosted by Zagreb – although summer is usually the time when the city comes to life. Around the center of the city, different outdoor shows take place; most, if not all of these are family-friendly, so everyone can enjoy it. The majority of these events are being offered for free, thus, even those who are in the city on a budget can take advantage of these offerings.

The following are a few of the festivals to look forward to when in Zagreb:

Strossmarte

Happening every summer, Strossmarte is a summer-long series featuring different outdoor events, such as free films, concerts, dog shows, and more! It is run by people who are also behind Cest is d’Best (happening early June), which is a popular event celebrating street entertainment.

Dance Week Festival

The Dance Week Festival takes place in late May. The event showcases some of the city’s best choreographers and their new home, the Zagreb Centre for Dance. Although most of the festival’s activities take place in Croatian Institute for Motion & Dance, some of the activities are also being held outside the city.

Animafest

An event perfect for film lovers, Animafest is a celebration for some of the city’s short, animated films. It takes place in cinemas across Zagreb, early June.

Zagreb Wine Gourmet Festival

The Zagreb Wine Gourmet Festival takes is being held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, every February 25-26. It is a two-day event featuring over 500 wines from across the country. Here, tourists can meet and greet with wine creators as well as get a taste of some of their creations.

Zagreb International Folklore Festival

The city’s International Folklore Festival is an annual presentation of all of Croatia’s folklore groups. It features different music concerts as well as performances from these groups, with exhibitions on or off the screen. The event usually takes place in two main areas in Zagreb, in the Josip Jelacic Square and in the Upper Town.

Zagreb World Theatre Festival

Attracting many theatre lovers in and out of Croatia, the Zagreb World Theatre Festival, which happens in September, aims to promote experimental and innovative theatre performances. Actors, performers, and other masters in terms of theatre productions all gather in the city to enthrall its audience and give them something new in the field.

Queer Zagreb FM Festival

The Queer Zagreb FM Festival takes place in September. Unlike ‘normal’ festivals, this festival does not adhere to any norms or standards in terms of celebration; instead, the festival tries to reinvent itself yearly when it comes to theatre, dance, and art presentations. It is considered to be one of the biggest and one-of-a-kind festivals in Eastern and Central Europe.

These are just a few of the festivals to look forward to when in Zagreb.

Music

Music in Zagreb is wide and varied, but for music enthusiasts, two venues are often visited to catch concerts and other performances: the Tvornica and the Lisinski Concert Hall.

Tvornica
Šubićeva 2

The Tvornica is often considered by many locals and tourists to be the best (mid-sized) music venue in Zagreb. It has a superb ambiance and facilities and used to be run by the city’s legendary, Kulučić. Capable of sitting 1500 people, the venue is the place to listen to several famous music icons, like the Residents, Asian Dub Foundation, MC5, Henry Rollins, and David Byrne.

Tickets are sold in its ticket office which is open daily from 9 am to 3 pm. Gigs start from 9 pm to 4 am.

Lisinski Concert Hall
Trg Stjepana Radića 4
01 61 21 111

This 2000-seater venue was opened in 1973. It is Zagreb’s main classical venue staging performances like opera, ballet, and several theatres play. Named after the 19th-century Croatian composer, Lisinski, the concert hall is also a convention center holding important business meetings and conventions.

The ticket office opens from 10 am to 8 pm, from Mondays through Fridays, and from 9 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.

Whether or not you understand the Croatian language, music in Zagreb is worth experiencing.

Restaurants

Being the capital of Croatia, expect to get restaurants in Zagreb serving various cuisines. Although this may disappoint some, especially those who are looking for authentic Zagreb delicacies, these different menus only add to the character of the city. From budget to high-end dining establishments, Zagreb restaurants will not disappoint you.

Among the restaurants to give you an amazing gastronomic experience in the city are the following:

Okrugljak
Mlinovi 28, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
+385 1 467 41 12, +385 1 476 71 13

Okrugljak specializes in Continental and Croatian cuisines. It is the main stop for those up for a fine dining experience in Zagreb as it treats you with the best traditional dishes served with the best wines. This century-old restaurant features an immaculate atmosphere that would make diners feel really special.

Nova
Ilica 72, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
+385 1 249 86 30

If you are on a diet, this restaurant will be your best option in Zagreb. Serving Macrobiotic food, you are assured to get something that’s just light on your tummy while removing toxins in your system. The strictly-vegetarian delicacies are perfect for health-conscious diners.

Marcellino
Jurjevska 71, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
+385 1 467 71 11

Marcellino is a favorite among personalities and dignitaries visiting Zagreb. It is a high-end restaurant that serves nothing but the best of Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. Its interiors are perfectly designed to give it a luxurious atmosphere.

Ivica I Marica
Tkalčićeva 70, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
+385 1 482 89 99, +385 95 482 89 99

The restaurant, when translated in English, is known as Hansel and Gretel. Its concept is all about healthy eating rather than snacking. Its dishes are mostly Continental and Croatian cuisines are made from wholegrain and wholemeal devoid from additives, preservatives, and artificial flavoring. Aside from its name, the restaurant’s interior will also attract children as it is very colorful.

Hugo
Jurjevska 71
01 46 77 444

For culinary treats that are definitely a standout whilst not emptying your pockets, Hugo is the best place to be. Featuring delicacies of Mario Čerhak (the chef-owner of Marcelino), the restaurant offers a sample of the chef’s inventive and delicate touch at a price affordable to all. Among the favorites in the restaurant are the sea bass in Istrian, scampi in curry sauce, and the Meneghetti olive oil.

Korčula
Teslina 17
01 48 72 159

This fish restaurant is considered by many locals to be as traditional as it gets being erected long before many of the trendy bars and restaurants in Zagreb were even set up. It features a kitchen that’s of top quality in terms of seafood standards. Among its specialties is the baked octopus with potatoes.

Eating well never be a problem in Zagreb. Not only do its restaurants serve sumptuous delicacies, most of them also care for your health so you wouldn’t feel bad having a lot.

Nightlife

Zagreb nightlife is something that you should not miss when in the capital of Croatia. A relatively new tourist destination, the city’s nightlife has a sense of vigor that will keep you alive throughout the night.

Winters in Zagreb pave way for indoor activities, thus, expect lesser or no street parties at all. The clubs and bars may still be plenty but the choice for nightlife spot may quite be limited due to the cold temperature.

Summer is the perfect time to be in the city to experience its nightlife at its best. Here, the Mediterranean spirit fills the city’s atmosphere. Various parts of Zagreb’s streets and some parts of the town are surrounded by cafés and crowded with guests – locals and tourists alike – looking for fun and enjoyment.

Those who want to try their luck in the city can also check out the casinos in some of the city’s notable hotels. For those who are simply looking for a cozy place for a good chat, there are also plenty of coffee houses and cafés in Zagreb. For party animals, Zagreb also boasts of numerous clubs and pubs that are quite popular among yuppies.

However you want to spend your nights in Zagreb, there is one that would fit your preference.

Shopping

Shopping in Zagreb is a wide and varied experience – from the high-end European brands to souvenirs and gift markets. The main shopping attraction though in the capital of Croatia is the Dolac Market located at the city’s main square, Ban Jelacica Square.

Held every Friday and Saturdays, the Dolac Market is the place to buy fresh vegetables, fruits, and other produce in Zagreb. It is also the oldest open-air market in the city and one of the best in Europe. Dolac Market has three levels: the lower level is where one can buy olives, herbs, meat, and cheese; the upper level is for those looking for vegetables, fruits, textiles, and plants; its outer space is allotted for cheese products and fish vendors.

Other shopping stops in the city include:

Algorithm
Gajeva 1, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
+385 1 488 15 55

Still located at the main square, Algorithm sells a wide variety of magazines, books, as well as multimedia articles. Although most books are of the Croatian language, there is still a few numbers in English.

Croata
Kaptol 13, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
+385 1 481 46 00

Selling neckties, Croatia is a specialized shop with branches all over the country. The shop’s name is said to be from the word “cravat” (the father of all necktie) and from the Croatian word, “Croat”. With a wide range of neckties of different patterns, colors, and prices, the shop is perfect for those who love the accessory.

Antique Market
British Square (Britanski trg), Zagreb 10000, Croatia

The Antique Market is open every Sunday. During this time, many antique buyers and dealers from all over the country, come to the shop to do business. Whether you are looking for coins, relics from the World War, chandeliers, and furniture items, the shop has got everything for you, antique lovers.

Gharani Štrok
Dezmanov Prolaz 5, Zagreb, Croatia
 +385 1 484 61 52

The high-end boutique is a haven for fashionistas in the city. It sells a wide range of branded designs, especially for women. If you are someone who loves to dress up, this is the perfect shop for you.

Sports

The people of Zagreb are passionate about sports too that they take part and follow several sports events. Many of the city’s coaches and athletes have world reputation mainly for the many medals they have won in the Olympic Games and other international competitions.

Two of the famous sports venues in the capital of Croatia are the Jarun Sports and Recreation Centre and the Sports Park Mladost.

Jarun Sports and Recreation Centre

Jarun is a spacious sport and recreational center located in the southwest part of the city. It is both an oasis of nature and peace that’s surrounded by the noise of crowds. It features a regatta course of world-class design and a jogging lane around the Jarun Lake. Many sports enthusiasts come here to swim, sunbathe, water ski and do other water sports. Playing football, basketball, volleyball, minigolf, table tennis, and handball is also possible to do here.

Dom Sportova

Two of the six halls in Dom Sportova can accommodate up to 7,000 and 3,900 people, respectively. It features facilities for various sports, including hockey, gymnastics, handball, volleyball, and basketball among others. Often times, the sports center is also used to hold concerts in the city.

Arena Zagreb

A 24,000-seat arena, Arena Zagreb was just completed in 2008. It showcases a swimming pool of Olympic size and some smaller ones for outdoor and indoor swimming. It has courts for tennis, volleyball, field hockey, handball, football, and basketball.

These are just three of the many sports venues in Zagreb. For sports enthusiasts, there is no reason not to enjoy sports in Zagreb.

Fitness

Being the biggest city in the Republic of Croatia, it is inevitable to get stress due to the hustle and bustle environment of the city. To eliminate those stress accrued from the leisure touring around the city, and to get fit as well, fitness gyms and wellness centers are the answer.

Fortunately enough, the city offers plenty of fitness centers to burn those extra calories and fats.

For rigid calorie-burning exercise, Dream Gym is the gym to go to. The programs they offer are cardio fitness which has a large selection of top cardio equipment, cardio Pilates and belly dancing shouldn’t be missed out as well. For better results, their personal trainers are more than willing to help.

Outdoor and sports fitness is what Recreational Sports Center Jarun can provide. Situated on Jarun Lake in the southwest of the city, it has fine shingle beaches, a world-class regatta course, jogging lane around the lake, several restaurants, many night clubs, and a discothèque. Its sports and recreation opportunities include swimming, sunbathing, waterskiing, angling, and other water sports, but also beach volleyball, football, basketball, handball, table tennis, and mini-golf. This place is best for multiple fitness activities.

There are also fitness gyms and recreation in hotels, like Arcotel Allegra Zagreb. Arcotel Allegra Zagreb has a health club, a steam room, a sauna, and a fitness facility.  Recreational amenities at the hotel include a health club, a sauna, a steam room, and a fitness facility. It also offers Bicycle rentals, Pilates classes, playground, running track, and scooter.

The fitness gyms and center in Zagreb will definitely keep you fit even in your dream vacation.

Zagreb for Kids

Zagreb is not just for couples and adults. For families traveling with kids, the city also offers a number of sights and attractions that your little one can enjoy and learn from. Among them are the following:

Museums

The capital of Croatia features plenty of museums that kids and adults alike will be fascinated in. Some of the child-friendly museums in Zagreb are the Archaeological Museum, the Croatian History Museum, the Croatian National History Museum, the Croatian School Museum, Museum of the City of Zagreb, and the Technical Museum.

The Croatian School Museum is headquartered in the Croatian Teacher’s House. It is the only Croatian museum that specializes in education and features pieces studied to exhibit Croatian teaching and schooling. The Zagreb City Museum, on the other hand, is perfect to teach kids about Zagreb’s history in a fun way. The museum showcases exhibitions of the city’s history, economy, arts, politics, and culture among others.

Theaters

Zagreb theaters are a bonding destination for the family. The Ribica Children’s Theater, the Dubrava Children’s Theatre, the Tresnja Municipal Theatre, Zar Ptica Municipal Theater, Zagreb Puppet Theater, and Zareb Theater of the Young make up most of the theatres in the city dedicated to kids.

There are also libraries in the city that cater to kids, the Dječja knjižnica A. Cesarca and the Gradska knjiznica (Children`s Department). Zagreb’s Astronomical Observatory, Jarun Sports and Recreation Centre, Zagreb Racecourse, and Botanical Garden are ideal for kids as well.

Restaurants

After a day exploring Zagreb attractions, it’s time to take your family and kids for a great dining experience. There are a good number of restaurants in the city that features child-friendly facilities. Bistro Karlo in Gundulićeva 16, Zinfandel’s in the Regent Esplanade Hotel, and Boban in Gajeva 9 are just a few of the dining establishments in the city that’s perfect for the whole family.

Zagreb is an ideal destination not just for those who are planning to do some soul searching or for those who are eyeing for a romantic getaway; it is also a perfect place to be for the whole family! From its range of museums that you and your kids can check out during day time to the theaters to watch for productions at night and the restaurants to spend an exceptional family meal, there is just so much to do, see, and experience with you and your kids in the capital of Croatia!

Zagreb for Free

Traveling is generally expensive; however, doing a little research will lead you to several things you can enjoy in your destination for free. In Zagreb, these things are not few, so get yourself ready for some free fun in the capital of Croatia.

Attractions

If you do not have the budget to sign up for tour services in Zagreb, do not worry as many of the main attractions in the city are located at a close distance that you do not need to travel anymore! Whether you are in the upper or the lower town, the monuments, museums, parks, and architectural structures found in these areas are actually in proximity to one another, you can travel them on foot.

\Walking around these areas and doing some sightseeing will already give you a glimpse of Zagreb’s beauty without having to spend. – Just be sure to wear a good pair of shoes and comfortable clothes!

Festivals

Many festivals held in Zagreb do not have admission fees, especially if you are in the city on a summer where several outdoor events and activities are given for everyone to enjoy. Aside from being free, festivals in Zagreb are also the perfect opportunity to meet and mingle with the locals.

With little know-how, tourists will find that there are still many things they can enjoy in Zagreb for free, so staying in a budget is really possible.

Sandy

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