Where to stay in Zagreb, little Vienna of the Balkans
Zagreb is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Croatia.
With just over 1 million citizens when combining all its municipalities, it holds around ¼ of the total population. An important part of the cities history was spent under the Austro-Hungarian empire and the influence on architecture and lifestyle is obvious, which is why it was nicknamed “little Vienna”.
This article will help you pick the best area where to stay in Zagreb.
What are the best areas to stay in Zagreb?
The main attractions and activities this city has to offer will be concentrated in the central area, which is where we’re going to focus on.
Zagreb is a relatively small city, so picking the right location to stay in will make it quite easy to cover things on foot.
Here are 3 areas to choose from and reasons to do so:
|Best area for first-timers||Lower Town|
|Best area for the nightlife||Upper Town|
|Best area for staying long term||Kaptol|
Transportation, getting around Zagreb
If you picked any of the neighborhoods we recommended, chances are the most important things will be within walking distance.
The city of Zagreb also has an advanced and easy to use public transportation and is recognizable by the blue color of its vehicles.
It includes the following:
- Trams – a total of 15 daily lines run from 4 a.m. to midnight. All of the lines intersect within the city center connecting the surrounding areas. Click here for a detailed map.
- Buses – 113 bus lines run through Zagreb, most of them connect to the city center or circle around the city. The amount of lines can get confusing, and trams do a good enough job for tourists.
- Taxis – can be requested, hailed on the street on found on many taxi stations throughout the city. A typical starting fee is 10 Kuna’s ($1.5) and every kilometer is around 5 Kuna’s ($0.75)
- Uber – UberX and UberXL both operate within Zagreb. Travelers that enjoy the convenience and security provided by this service can rest assured it’s available.
Tickets for public transport should be bought in advance and can be purchased in most street shops or official ZET shops.
Pricing usually depends on the duration of usage, here’s a short list:
- 30 min duration – 4 Kuna’s ($0.6)
- 60 min duration – 7 Kuna’s ($1)
- 90 min duration – 10 Kuna’s ($1.5)
- 24 hour unlimited – 30 Kuna’s ($4.5)
- 72 hour unlimited – 70 Kuna’s ($10)
The night tariff is 15 Kuna’s ($2.25) in any direction and tickets are bought once you board.
Where to stay for first-timers in Zagreb – Lower Town
The lower town makes up a large portion of the city center and stretches quite a bit horizontally.
The area is packed with modern and historical attractions and its location allows for quick access to other areas through public transportation.
What to see and do in Lower Town, Zagreb?
The Art Pavilion is an art gallery established in 1898 and represents the oldest gallery in the Balkans region.
The building was designed and constructed specifically with the intention of serving as a large-scale gallery, which is why it’s just as much of a masterpiece of architecture, as the inside contents are of art.
It does not have a permanent exhibit, but rather organizes solo and group exhibits by regional as well as international artists.
Although not located in Lower Town, getting there is easy via trams 4, 6, and 13.
The Zagreb Zoo not only plays a role in the cities attractions and entertainment, but it’s also an important research center and a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and working on their European endangered species program.
It houses a total of 2225 animals from 275 different animal species, with plenty of rare animals including, but not limited to:
- Forest giraffes
- White antelopes
- European bisons
Technical Museum of Zagreb
Also known as the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, it is one of the most visited museums in Croatia.
Some of the permanent exhibits include, but are not limited to:
- Energy Transformation Exhibit – displaying the evolution of engines
- Means of Transportation Exhibit – displaying vehicles used mostly in the 20th century, including planes, cars, trams and more
- Planetarium – displaying models of famous spacecraft, rocket-carriers, space stations, as well as a planetarium show (only in the Croatian language at the moment)
- Nikola Tesla study – a cabinet dedicated to his work and other major figures in Croatian science
Where to stay in Lower Town, our top AirBnB’s
Affordable price range: Paradasium – modern, fully-furnished apartment with a great location
Moderate price range: Central Station – bright, artsy, spacious apartment
Luxury price range: Big, Bright, Beautiful – gorgeous, spacious apartment with lots of natural light
Where to stay for the nightlife in Zagreb – Upper Town
Although not marked on the map officially, the area known as Upper Town resides around the Ban Josip Jelačić Square.
The majority of its attractions are located in the pedestrian-only area around the square, with plenty of things to do at every part of the day.
It’s also the area with the highest concentration of clubs, bars, and restaurants in the city, making it ideal for going out during the evening or at night.
Where to go and what to see in Upper Town, Zagreb?
One of the highest-rated places to visit in Zagreb.
Apart from its luxurious interior and sophisticated vibe, what really makes this venue stand out is the sheer diversity of its program.
It’s the ideal cafe to grab your morning coffee, an elegant restaurant to wine and dine in the evening, and one of the top clubs in the city hosting both DJs and live performances and plenty of thematic parties (Disco, Hip-Hop, 80s, 90s, etc.).
The best part is, you’d expect such a place to blow up your budget, but it’s actually fairly priced when you compare its offers to similar options.
Zagreb 360° Observation Deck
Located on the 16th floor of a skyscraper, it hosts a bar with a panoramic, 360-degree view of the city.
If that weren’t enough, the place also offers binoculars, board games, super-fast internet and a place where you can charge your devices.
The entry fee is 60 Kuna’s (around $9) plus if you buy anything in the cafe.
Museum of Broken Relationships
This one of a kind museum offers unique perspectives on relationships and more specifically breakups from around the world.
The exhibitions are completely crowd-sourced, meaning all the pieces showcased with their attached stories belong to a person who shared them with the museum.
Sometimes funny and sometimes sad, the collections can offer interesting information on what items play pivotal roles in relationships around the world, such as gifts that weren’t appreciated, love letters that were rejected, items that remind of the past too much and more.
There aren’t permanent exhibits, but rather switch and are thematic to the city the items were sent from.
Where to stay in Upper Town, our top AirBnB’s
Affordable price range: Quiet Apartment – colorful, premium location but peaceful
Moderate price range: Zagreb’s Heart – beautiful, bright apartment in historic building (rated AirBnB plus)
Luxury price range: Sunny Flat with Character – Gorgeous mix of interior design and functionality, spacious, tall ceiling, lots of utilities (rated AirBnB Plus)
Where to stay long term in Zagreb – Kaptol
The area of Kaptol is just north and within walking distance of the town center.
Historically, it’s the first settled area before the establishment of the city and.
It’s remained a residential area, meaning it’s calm and there’s plenty of housing options at great prices.
What to see and do in Kaptol?
This Roman Catholic church happens to be the tallest building in all of Croatia, standing at 108 meters (354 feet) tall.
The land on which the cathedral stands has been a holy place since the first cathedral since the 11th century.
It was destroyed during the Mongolian invasion in 1242 and rebuilt by bishop Timotej shortly after.
In 1880, an earthquake shook Zagreb and much of the cathedral was damaged beyond repair.
Reconstruction was handed to Hermann Bollé, an Austro-Hungarian architect who rebuilt it in Neo-Gothic style, as it can be seen today.
It is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, who’s golden statue is standing on top of a fountain in front of the cathedral.
Art Park Zagreb
This open-air gallery is part of the larger Ribnjak park.
The main events of the Art Park take place between June and September, when artists are invited to re-decorate it.
It also hosts plenty of live shows of performance arts, such as music and dance.
After the season is over, since many of the pieces are created on actual park surfaces (such as walls, benches, etc.) the art can still be seen throughout the year.
Zagreb City Museum
The museum depicts the cities history, all the way from its Roman inceptions to modern times.
Around 4500 items from areas of culture, art, politics and similar are on display.
Within the museum grounds are live archeological excavations, some of which date from prehistoric times.
Where to stay in Kaptol, our top AirBnB’s
Affordable price range: Mulberry 44 – nice, fully furnished studio
Moderate price range: Villa 1 – modern, elegant apartment
Luxury price range: Jewel of Upper Town – premium location, walking distance from the city square, lots of utilities, stylish furnishing (rated AirBnB Plus)