Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and is also it’s largest city. The city’s history dates back to Roman times and hosts approximately one million visitors annually. The medieval city center is home to ornate churches, palaces, museums and boutique shops. You can find medieval architecture all around while walking the streets of this vibrant city.
Zabreb is also a University town, creating a city and atmosphere that’s fun with many exciting activities throughout the year. The network of public transportation makes it easy to explore all the wonderful treasures the city has to offer. For anyone willing to rent a car, you will quickly learn about all the stunning locations outside of town that can be experienced on a day trip. Learn why Zagreb travel is the perfect setting to explore Croatia on a budget, these travel trips will guide you on how to save money for your trip.
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The Best Time to Visit Zagreb
In April, the weather in Zagreb begins to warm and remains ideal through September. Summer marks the main travel period in Croatia. In May and June, the whole country begins to heat up and the days get longer. For all the sun worshipers out there, you will find that May through September are the best months to enjoy the heat. July and August are peak season months in Croatia but luckily most tourist head to the coast, making Zagreb the perfect choice to escape the crowds.
Between the months of April and August, the city capitalizes on the nice weather and holds most of its festivals and celebrations. Two large events that kick off the series is Zagreb’s Contemporary Music festival and Queer Zagreb Festival.
Zagreb is also a great city to visit in the winter time. In spite of the cold temperatures, the city comes alive and there are many fun activities to enjoy. Ice-skating rinks, beautiful Christmas lights and holiday concerts in the snow are just part of the charm of Zagreb in the winter.
Always book well in advance to get the best prices possible. Although Zagreb is not as highly traveled as Croatia’s coast, tourism has been steadily rising and is projected to continue gaining popularity.
Budget Things to Do in Zagreb
With so many parks and even forest within the city limits, its easy to create a budget travel guide for Zagreb. Maksimir Park is one of the oldest public parks in South Eastern Europe, dating back to 1787, and is the perfect place to enjoy your afternoon. The beautiful open space is the perfect place to take a stroll, have a picnic and admire the gorgeous landscape.
If you feel like exploring the local food scene, Zagreb has many farmer’s markets. One of the most popular is Dolac, a two-story market located behind the main square. On the top floor, you will find souvenir shops, a fish market (don’t worry about the smell, its enclosed) and an open air market. The bottom floor has a mix of bakers, butchers and boutique food shops. This is one of many free things to do in Zagreb.
Another popular market can be found in Britanski Trg (British square). The huge open air market in the morning is a great place to see the city in action.
Tkalciceva Street, which was once a creek, is a popular area to immerse yourself with the locals and enjoy a delicious meal at any of the numerous restaurants and cafes that line the street. Taking a stroll is a perfect way to work off all the delicious food while enjoying the city’s architecture that you find at every turn.
Mount Medvednica Nature Park is perfect for hiking and walking in summer, and it is a popular winter-sports destination during the colder months. You can spend a full day wandering the trails, enjoying the chairlifts and taking in the view from Zagreb’s highest peak. Only 20 minutes from downtown, Mount Medvednica is best reached by car, but you can take a bus as well.
Places to Visit in Zagreb on a Budget
Is Zagreb cheap? Absolutely… if you know where to visit. The proximity of so many sites to each other makes it easy to see many Zagreb attractions in one day. The Stone gates (Kamenita Yrata), St. Marc Church, Museum of Broken Relationship, Stross Promenade, and the Klovicevi Dvori gallery are a few of the most famous must-see stops that can all be found in Zagreb’s upper town. These are all great options to enjoy while not breaking your budget.
The Museum of Broken Relationships is a unique mainstay that started off as a traveling exhibition. The name of the museum perfectly describes this quirky museum and what you will find inside. It takes about an hour to explore and is equipped with a small bar for refreshments. The price of admission is less than 7 USD, making it the perfect activity for travelers who enjoy one-of-a-kind destinations.
Kamenita Yrata, also known as the stone gate, is one of the must see stops in Zagreb. It is said that in 1731, there was a great fire that destroyed the entire wooden gate with the exception of a painting of Madonna and child. The site has now become a shrine and is thought to have miraculous powers. It has become a beacon for visitors to pray, hold vigils and leave offerings.
There are stone slabs that commemorate the event and offer praise to the virgin. Whether it is a fanciful tale or not, it remains a large draw for visitors’ year after year.
St. Marks Church, was originally built in the 13th century and later received a major gothic renovation during the 14th and 15th centuries. The unique tiled roof displays the city’s coat of arms and is one of the oldest structures in town. St. Marks Church is located within St. Mark’s square. It is free to visit, making it an excellent stop for anyone visiting Croatia on a budget.
Don’t miss the Klovićevi Dvori Gallery, which is the largest gallery in all of Croatia.
The Gallery is four stories tall and host 30 exhibitions a year. This is the perfect place to visit for art lovers and with admission costing less than 5 USD, it’s a great bargain.
Jarun Lake is a popular water sports destination, is only 10km away from Zagreb. A short 20-minute drive will place you at the lovely lake that is surrounded by places to eat and drink. There are also nightclubs if you decide to spend the evening at the Lake.
If you don’t mind a bit of a drive (3 hours), the town of Pula is worth the trip. The town is located on the Adriatic coast and was once a Roman port. Traces of Rome’s are easy to find throughout the town, including a gladiatorial style arena.
Where to Stay in Zagreb on a Budget
The type of accommodation you choose in Zagreb varies greatly on the type of traveler that you are. Cheap hotels in Zagreb, Croatia can be found throughout the city, with many cheap options available for the adventurous traveler. Single travelers looking for a home base will find amazing deals at the many hostels located through the city.
Hostels are a viable option for couples as well, because many Zagreb hostels offer private rooms. In the age of Airbnb, you can find the perfect place to fit your needs. Zagreb has many beautiful hotels, but the rates are not always competitive. We have also written an extensive guide on Where to Stay in Zagreb.
Chillout Hostel is centrally located and dorm rooms can be as cheap as 12 USD a night. A private room fluctuates between 54 USD in low season and 62 USD in high season.
Hotel Jarun is located just outside of the city center but is right beside the tramline. Room rates are typically around 90 USD, and that price includes free breakfast, wifi, satellite TV, air-conditioning, mini bar and a safe.
Swanky Mint Hostel is located between Main and British square, making it close to all the points of interest. Private rooms are between 34 USD and 49 USD a night. For an additional 3 USD, they will provide breakfast as well.
Hostels are not for everyone but luckily Airbnb has some amazing deals for anyone seeking a little more privacy. For those looking to be in the heart of uppertown, steps away from many sights, there are listings as low as 30 USD a night. There is a price increase during high season but you can still find excellent rates, especially if you book ahead.
How to Get Around Zagreb on a Budget
Zagreb is a very flat city, making it very walkable. If you choose your accommodation carefully, you can save in transportation costs, and this may be good cause for spending a bit more on a central location. Regardless of where you stay in Zagreb, getting around is easy to do. Between the extensive public transportation system, and flat walkable streets, you can cover a lot of ground.
If you are looking to do some exploring just outside of the city, car hire in Zagreb is very affordable. It is easy to find rentals for as low as 10 USD a day. You can find any car to suit your needs, from providers such as Economy Bookings, Argus Car hire, and Auto Europe, all at the airport. You can book direct or compare prices on sites such as Kayak or Expedia. You can use the same sites to purchase all your travel arrangements, including cheap flights to Zagreb. Book ahead for the best prices.
Cheap Tours to Do in Zagreb
Whatever your comfort level, size of group or where your accommodations are in town, you can find plenty of options for tours in Zagreb. If you want to get “off the beaten track” or visit the surrounding areas, there is a tour to suit all needs.
The company Secret Zagreb Walks could not have chosen a more appropriate name. They give several unique tours of upper town. One of their tours, The Secret Zagreb, is a private, customizable tour. It emphasizes hidden points of interest and runs 3-4 hours long. For fans of the macabre, you can visit forgotten graveyards and hear of folklore, all under the cover of darkness with the Ghost and Dragon Tour.
Looking for something more kid friendly? Try the Dvorišta tour. Dvorišta translates to “courtyards” in Croatian, which is what this tour is all about. This tour gives you a unique peek behind closed doors to see the hidden courtyards that are nestled away. Each courtyard is decorated with lights and features live music, snacks and drinks. This tour is only offered in mid-July for nine days, so plan ahead.
The Secrets of Gric is another night tour that is fun for the whole family. Costumed characters bring life to this tour that blends history with folklore. The tour is held in upper town between May and September. It runs every Friday and Saturday and begins at 9pm. The tour lasts approximately an hour and is a ton of fun.
Viator has some great full-day trips to Plitvice Lakes. Tours include a pick-up and drop-off from either your hotel or the main square and are modestly priced. Beyond Plitvice, there are other lakes that are hubs for water sports and have day tours leaving from Zagreb.
Looking for an extreme tour? Any fan of extreme sports such as skydiving, rock climbing, and sea kayaking will love Adventure Driven Vacation. They offer something for every adrenaline junking and are all supervised by trained certified professionals.
Nothing beats a free tour and that’s exactly what you will find with Free Spirit Walking Tour. Free Spirit Walking Tour is tailored specifically for the young and everybody who feels that way! Take a 2-hour walk with a local guide and check out all the must sees, find out what to do, where to eat and drink, where to go out and a lot of other interesting information. They offer tours every day at 11am except Jan 1st and Dec 25th and every day at 5pm from Jun 1st until Oct 15th.
If you are looking to go Croatia island hopping on a budget, you’ll first need to get yourself to the coast, as Zagreb is about three hours from the coast. Several buses and trains can get you from Zagreb to the coast, and from there you can find a ferry or boat tour for a day of island hopping.
Zagreb is a unique city that is not highly traveled yet. This gem of a destination is the perfect place to book your next vacation with friends, the family or even as a romantic getaway.
Recommend budget tours in Zagreb
- Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke Full-Day Tour from Zagreb
- Kumrovec Trakoscan Castle and Varazdin Full Day Tour from Zagreb
- Private Walking Tour of Upper and Downtown Zagreb
- Ljubljana and Bled – Small Group Day Tour from Zagreb
- Zagreb Cheap Thrills Tour
- Zagreb BIG tour
- Feel the Pulse of the City – Zagreb Walking Tour
- Zagreb to Split Group Transfer with Plitvice Lakes Tour
Get your guide is a Great company, that often offers heavily discounted tours! Check out a few options below: