Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb is a wonderful vacation destination. Summer months offer long days and warm weather, while winter in Zagreb offers Christmas markets and skating rinks.
Like many European capital cities, Zagreb has many things to do including food, history, architecture, arts, culture and music. However, don’t overlook the many options for fun day trips from Zagreb. Here are a few of our favorites.
Plan your trip?
Avoid hidden fees in the exchange rate while withdrawing from millions of ATMs abroad, paying in restaurants and shops, and buying your accommodation and flights using the Wise Card. You can hold up to 40+ currencies at once to spend in in over 150 countries, and convert them in real time with the free Wise app.
Need help planning your trip from start to finish? Check out these helpful links:
- Cheap flights
- Savings on accommodation from hostels to luxury hotels
- Affordable car rental options
- Affordable sightseeing tours and day trips
- Travel Adapter – All in one so you don’t have to carry a bunch around
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Croatia’s most popular national park is just two hours from Zagreb. Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site best known for the waterfalls. 16 lakes cascade into one another through a series of waterfalls surrounded by lush forest.
Plitvice National Park has several hiking trails and walkways around the lakes, or you can take an electric boat tours between some lakes. Join a bus tour from Zagreb or rent a car and explore on your own.
Day trips to Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Zagreb to Split Group Transfer with Plitvice Lakes Tour
- Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke Full-Day Tour from Zagreb
- litvice Lakes Guided Day Trip from Zagreb
- Plitvice Lakes Private Guided Tour from Zagreb with Transfer to Zadar
Less than 30 km from Zagreb is the medieval village of Samobor. You can easily reach Samobar by bus from Zagreb and spend the day exploring cobblestone streets.
Download a walking tour before you visit, and be sure to make the 10-minute walk to visit the castle on the hill.
Samobor has lots of restaurants to choose from, and outdoor cafes pop up all over when it gets warm out.
For those looking for outdoor adventure, Samobor is surrounded by nature, so there are many hiking trails around. If you prefer, there are many tour operators offering day trips from Zagreb to Samobor.
Day trips to Samobor
- The Dionysus Tour Lunch or dinner and Wine Tasting at Plesivica
- Samobor and NP Zumberak Priavet Winter Hike from Zagreb
- Private Wine Road Day Tour from Zagreb
- Private Samobor and Rimac Automobili Factory 5-Hour Tour from Zagreb
A bit farther from Zagreb is the “City on Four Rivers.” Karlovac is a fortress town that was nearly completely destroyed in the Homeland War of the 1990’s.
Only 49 kilometers, Karlovac is a popular day trip from Zagreb, especially for beer lovers wanting to visit Karlovac Brewery.
You can schedule a tour, or attend the beer festival in August. There are several museums and an aquarium in Karlovac, or outdoor adventures like river rafting. Buses and trains from Zagreb are frequent and inexpensive.
Day trips to Karlovac
- Plitvice lakes Rastoke village Turanj fortress and cheese tasting
- Private Tour to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb with Drop-off in Zadar
- Private Day Tour: Fruska Gora Monasteries and Sremski Karlovci
For a day trip beyond the borders of Croatia, check out the Slovenian capital city of Ljubljana. There are at least 10 trains per day between the two capital cities, taking from 2 hours 15 minutes to 3 hours.
Ljubljana is a charming town centered on the Ljubljana River, with several picturesque bridges to explore. The Ljubljana cathedral looms over the city, with a green copper dome and ornate interior.
There are many things to do in Ljubljana, including just wandering the cobblestone streets amongst cafes, restaurants and shops.
Day trips to Ljubljana
- Ljubljana and Lake Bled Full Day Excursion from Zagreb
- Full-Day Ljubljana and Bled Small-Group Tour from Zagreb
- Ljubljana and Bled – Small Group Day Tour from Zagreb
- Postojna cave and Ljubljana group tour from Zagreb
- Ljubljana and Postojna caves Full-Day Private Tour from Zagreb
For a coastal escape from Zagreb, consider a day trip to Rijeka, a port city on the Adriatic Sea. Rijeka is easy to reach from Zagreb, with several bus and train departures making the 160 km journey each day. Rijeka is the gateway to Croatia’s islands, but is a worthy day trip destination of it’s own.
Spend the day exploring the city’s museums and attractions such as the Trsat Castle, Museum of the City, Maritime and History Museum and Rijeka Cathedral.
Rijeka is also a great place to enjoy a fresh seafood meal before you head back to Zagreb for the evening.
Day trips to Rijeka
Only 45 minutes from Zagreb, Krapina is an easy day trip. Krapina also sits on a river, and derives it’s name from the carp found in the river.
One of the most notable things about Krapina is that it’s the site of the largest number of Neanderthal fossil bones in Central Europe.
Today, you can visit the Krapina Neanderthal Museum that details the 1899 discovery. You can even visit the excavation site, just a short stroll from the museum.
On the main square in Krapina, you can enjoy a cafe or restaurant, and visit a few historic churches in the village.
Day trips to Krapina
Trakošćan Castle is an interesting day trip from Zagreb. The castle dates back to the 13th century, and was originally a fortress of defense from the Ottoman Empire.
The castle offers splendid views of the surrounding countryside, and you can stroll the grounds at your leisure, enjoying the lake and forest nearby.
The best way to reach Trakošćan castle from Zagreb is to join a tour that includes transportation, or you can rent a car for the 80 km drive.
Public buses and trains don’t take you all the way to the castle, which is a bit outside of the village.
Day trips to Trakošćan
- Kumrovec Trakoscan Castle and Varazdin Full Day Tour from Zagreb
- Hiking and Trakoscan Castle
- Trakoscan Castle and Varazdin Private Full-Day Tour
- Trakoscan Castle and Varazdin Economy Tour from Zagreb
- Trakoscan-Varazdin with Cazma Christmas Fairytale Day Trip from Zagreb
For the ultimate outdoor adventure near Zagreb, visit Sljeme, a mountain that towers over the capital city. Also called Medvednica Mountain, there are many adventures to have if you just want a break from the city.
Only 20 minutes by car or public transit from the city center, has skiing in the winter and dozens of hiking trails in the summer. Thanks to Sljeme, Zagreb is the only European capital city with professional ski slopes!