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Zagreb layover – how to spend 8 hours in Zagreb?

Stuck on a Zagreb layover at the Zagreb International Airport in Croatia and you are wondering what to do on layover in Zagreb? Having a break on your way to Croatian seaside? Read this post to find out what to do in Zagreb if you have few hours to explore this city.

Zagreb is the capital and the largest city in Croatia and it is made for strolling. The Croatian capital is young and full of energy, despite the old history of its old town. Zagreb ranks among the oldest cities in Europe, as is evident from the documents dating back to 1904. The capital of Croatia attracts visitors with the lively atmosphere of its streets, coffee shops and restaurants. The interest in Zagreb as a tourist destination has significantly grown over the years. The city has come to life with its amazing Advent Markets and you should visit Zagreb during this time of the year.

Seduced by seaside delights along the Adriatic coast, most travellers leave Zagreb out of their Croatian itinerary. Don’t leave Croatia without visiting this underrated capital, even if it’s only Zagreb layover.

If you are looking for a break on your way to (or from) a seaside tourist resort, then Zagreb is the place to come to.

Zagreb Airport

Zagreb Airport is the main international airport in the country. Distance from Zagreb airport to the city centre is around 17km and it will take you about 30 minutes to get there.

Luggage storage

There is no luggage storage in Zagreb airport. However, there is luggage storage at the bus station and at the train station (at the moment, there is no luggage storage at the train station because of the earthquake in March).  The “Cloak Room” at the bus station is open from 6am to 10pm. They charge 6HRK per hour/per piece for regular luggage or backpack.

How to get to city centre

Transport from ZAG to downtown Zagreb has never been easier. There are options for all budgets. Zagreb city centre can be reached by private transfer, taxi, scheduled local bus services (No.290) operated by ZET or scheduled coach services operated by Croatia Airlines (Plešo prijevoz).

The Zagreb Airport shuttle bus normally runs every 30 minutes (this year is a little bit different, so you better check the timetable here) and costs 30HRK.

From the bus station you can walk into the city centre, take another bus or tram.

Things to do in Zagreb

Ban Jelačić Square

Ban Jelačić Square is the central square of Zagreb and it is a pedestrian area. Jelačić Square is the most common meeting place for people in Zagreb. Being a part of the pedestrian zone, it is inaccessible by car, but it is the main hub for trams. This is a central point close to the Dolac market. The square has existed since the 17th century. Its first name was Harmica. The oldest standing building, dating from the 18th century, is situated at 1 Ban Jelačić Square.

Dolac market

In the shadow of the Cathedral is Zagreb’s most precious resource – the Dolac. This is more than just a trading place. Buying at Dolac market is one of the most traditional amusements of Zagreb’s locals and tourists. Dolac market of Zagreb was officially opened in 1930, when government of city allocated the square for this market in between the Upper Town and Lower Town, in a centre of Zagreb.

Zagreb Cathedral

Zagreb Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a Zagreb landmark. Once you get to Kaptol Square you will see it is dominated by Zagreb cathedral which has been there since the 11th century.

What you will see today does not represent the original construction. The first Cathedral was damaged during the Tartar attack and a great fire in the 13th century. It was severely damaged by the 1880 earthquake and was restored in the Neo-Gothic style. The last time it was damaged in 2020 earthquake on March 22.

Zagreb Cathedral

St. Mark’s Church

This church is one of the most instantly recognizable symbols of Zagreb because of its colourful glazed tile roof. The roof was constructed in 1880 and it shows the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia on the left side of the roof, and the emblem of Zagreb on the right. The animal that you can see in the coat of arms of Slavonia is pine marten (kuna) – the animal Croatian currency got its name from.

King Tomislav Square

King Tomislav Square is a well-kept public space, lined with trees, dotted with flowerbeds and bordered by the imposing yellow facade of the grand Art Pavilion. With an underground shopping mall and the busy main train and tram station opposite, there are usually many people. Sit on one of the square’s benches and observe the people of Zagreb mixing and mingling.

Art Pavilion

Visit the square on a warm and sunny summer day and join locals sunbathing and relaxing on the grass. 

In winter, the square is fitted with an ice rink for skating and the trees are decked out in fairy lights imbuing it with a magical festive ambiance. 

Zagreb walking tour

If you’re limited with time and want to learn about history, see the sights and lots more, there are many tours too choose from. You’ll need approximately 2-3 hours, which is great if you have a layover in Zagreb.

Other Zagreb attractions include: Zagreb 360° observation deck, Tkalciceva Street, Lotrscak tower, Stone gate (Kamenita vrata), the Museum of Broken Relationships, Stross promenade, the Mestrovic Atelier, and Cvjetni Trg (Flower’s Square).

I hope this information was helpful to you. Let me know what do you recommend me to do in Zagreb the next time.

P.s.: The biggest earthquake in 140 years hit Croatian capital while in coronavirus lockdown, so be prepared for cracked buildings, damaged walls and rooftops. Tram lines are still not operating to the main square.

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