The family-friendly city of Zagreb on the Sava river and the capital of the Republic of Croatia is a great place to stay with your kids. Don’t miss it on your journey around Europe.
PLACES TO VISIT
The Cathedral of Zagreb on Kaptol is a large Gothic Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and kings St Stephen and St Ladislaus. It is the tallest building in Croatia and the largest sacral Gothic building southeast of the Alps.
Maksimir Park is an excellent place to take a break and rest from sightseeing. It is the oldest public park in Zagreb, habitat for numerous plants and animal species, and the city’s cultural heritage. Visitors can enjoy the pond with water lilies, plants, and trees in the tranquil atmosphere.
St. Mark's Churches the iconic Zagreb’s church with colorful tiled roof and medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia together with the emblem of Zagreb. It is a gothic church with a lot of sculptures.
You should visit the Zagreb 360° observation deck, the most visited tourist attraction in Zagreb, located on the 16th storey of the Zagreb skyscraper. You can have a spectacular view of the city and as far as the Republic of Slovenia on a clear day.
If arriving by train, King Tomislav Square will be the first Zagreb’s site you will come across. You will see the Monument of King Tomislav, the first Croatian King. It belongs to a bigger architectural concept from the 19th century with six parks and squares that look like a horseshoe.
Another place to take a break is Zagreb Botanical Garden located in downtown Zagreb opened to the public in 1891. It is a part of the Faculty of Science visited by over 100,000 tourists every year
Museum of Broken Relationships, the Kenneth Hudson Award winner, treasures, and shares heartbreak stories and symbolic possessions. It is an ever-growing collection of items, mementos of relationships with personal but anonymous stories.
ZAGREB FOR FAMILIES
If your kids say they are bored with sightseeing, take them to the shortest functional railway in the world, a 64-second ride from Downtown Zagreb to Upper Town (Lotrscak tower), constructed in 1890. All the kids love it. It leaves every 10 minutes.
Most children will be astonished at the sight of Backo Mini Express. It is a large model of the railway with 8 levels, 120 trains, numerous bridges, tunnels, traffic lights, figurines, trees, and houses. The trains drive through day time and night time, through thunders and lightnings. It is not only children who enjoy this but a lot of parents, too.
On weekends, you can take your kids for a free ride on a blue tourist train from Ban Jelacic Square. It runs every 40 minutes through the center of the city and returns to the starting point. It is a great way to see the city and rest your feet. Kids will enjoy the train ride.
Kids adore unusual things. Take them to see Zagreb Mummy in Archaeological Museum. She is Nesi-hensu, a wife of Paher-hensu and she lived in 390 BC. The linen bandages that she is wrapped inside are in Etruscan language, known as Linen Book, and it is the world's longest surviving manuscript in the language.
Another museum that children will love is the Museum of Illusions. The whole family will enjoy the experience with funny photos and Anti-gravity room, Rotated room, Infinity room with mirrors, optical illusions, and holograms.
Museums don’t usually seem to be a great choice for kids, but in Zagreb, there is another one that will occupy their attention, Zagreb Technical Museum Nikola Tesla. It is dedicated to the genius Nikola Tesla, so it has an educational Tesla demonstration laboratory. It also boasts of Planetarium, real submarine, airplanes, trains, and cars. Under the museum, visitors can walk along 350 meters long model of a mine.
You don’t have to persuade your children to watch the animals as they are always ready to do that, so visit Zagreb zoo in Maksimir park, and let them spend time with 275 animal species. The whole family can have a half-day fun. Visitors can even adopt animals.
Just like other cities, Zagreb has a popular Escape Room, a great place for kids to use all their wits trying to escape from a room – jigsaw puzzles, given hints, and different strategies. You can choose a Detective agency, Space room, or Professor’s Secret to escape from.
Kids are usually impressed by the big scale model of the city in bronze, located in the open area between the Ban Jelacic square and Kaptol. This almost 4-meter long and wide model named Zagreb welcomes you, represents Zagreb’s urban area where visitors can see historical sights and tourist attractions.
Changing of the guard ceremony takes place at St Mark’s Square, Ban Jelacic Square, and the statue of Our Lady at Kaptol, with infantry and cavalry soldiers marching through Upper and Downtown. They have an armorer, trumpeter, drummer, standard-bearer, and a commander.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
Visitors can choose among numerous museums: Museum of Contemporary Art, Croatian Museum of Naïve Art, The Museum of Arts and Crafts, Mimara, Atelier Meštrović, Klovićevi Dvori Gallery, Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters, Zagreb City Museum and others.
Families can choose among numerous luxury or budget kid-friendly hotels and apartments where they can feel at home. Service may include free cribs or infant beds, in-room childcare with surcharge, babysitting or childcare with surcharge, too. Connecting and adjoining rooms are also available. In the apartments, families can take pleasure in preparing their own meals kitchen fully equipped with cookware, dishware, utensils, and microwave.
WHAT TO EAT
You can’t leave Zagreb without trying Croatian national dishes like cottage cheese and sour cream (sir, and vrhnje), Strukli (a dough filled with cottage cheese and sour cream, probably the most Zagreb-like dish), Cuspaiz (meat and different vegetable stews) Plum Knedli (potato dumplings with a plum in the middle rolled in sweet fried bread crumbs), Kulen (smoked pig intestine filled with spiced minced meat, usually very hot and salty). There are a lot of restaurants everywhere. If you want to stick to burgers, french fries, and pizza, you can easily find them.
· At shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, and petrol stations credit cards are accepted, but for the privately owned shops and open-air markets prepare some cash.
· Shops are mostly open 8:00 to 20:00
· The local population can speak some English and Italian, but it is nice to learn some local words and phrases.
· The power supply voltage is 220V. If necessary, adapters can be purchased at supermarkets or required from the hotels.
· Currency should be exchanged in banks and exchange offices only.
TIME TO VISIT
Winters in Zagreb are normally cold, with a lot of snow. The city looks fabulous dressed in white, especially at Christmas time. Summers are usually very hot, but the city’s parks it is always easy to find shelter from the heat. Spring and autumn may be the best time to visit Zagreb, with mild temperatures, but rain can be expected.
The Zagreb Eye, a popular attraction for the locals is still a hidden place for tourists. You can get the most amazing view of the city in the daylight or at night at the cheap admission fee.
The Lotrscak Tower, built in the 13th century houses in the bell that used to signal the closing of the town gates.
The Stone Gate or Kamenita vrata in Croatian is the only gate of the Old Town still preserved. Passing through them makes you feel you are in the 12th century.
Although most Croats are Catholics, Zagreb has an Orthodox Cathedral in the middle of the city, an old and interesting church built-in 1866.
A World War II tunnel built in 1943 known as the Gric Tunnel goes under the city for 350 meters and connects two streets. It is fully restored and open to visitors. It is great for history lovers.
The baroque St Catherine Church is neglected by tourist guides, but although fairly simple from the outside, it is amazing from the inside.