Croatia’s stunning southern coast may allure the country’s visitors with its looks — that’s undeniable. But in the north, Zagreb, Croatia’s lesser-known capital city and its nearby countryside, quickly wins the affections of those who discover it, with an innately peaceful charm and comforting culinary offerings that soothe the soul.

Being less popular comes with its perks: Zagreb sees far fewer crowds than the tourist spots in the south, and is easier on the wallet. Plus, the city is still a looker in its own right, just in a more understated way. Zagreb will capture your camera lens with its red-tile roofs, ample greenery and dramatic architecture. It will keep you out later than planned with its bustling patios on the car-free Tkalčićeva Street. It will give you all the feels with its Museum of Broken Relationships. And its signature dish štrukli will have you coming back for more.

Must-visit food experiences and restaurants in Zagreb, Croatia

La Štruk

One can’t visit Zagreb without indulging in the beloved (and addictive) štrukli. The dish, made with a stretchy dough and traditionally filled with cottage cheese, can be made either savoury or sweet, boiled or baked. At La Štruk, a charming restaurant in the heart of old Zagreb, štrukli is the star dish — in fact, it’s the only one on the menu. This doesn’t mean you don’t have options; you’ll find an assortment of savoury, sweet, vegetarian and gluten-free varieties of the comforting pastry. Those with a soft spot for gooey cheese will appreciate that štrukli arrives at the table bubbling hot. It’s best enjoyed from the cozy back terrace.


Stari Fijaker

Known for its traditional northern Croatian cuisine, beer-drinking vibe and eye-catching vintage carriage that sits in the dining room, Stari Fijaker is a long-time institution in Zagreb. A favourite spot for both locals and repeat tourists, the welcoming restaurant features an extensive menu, with staples like stuffed peppers, sarma (cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat), sausages, venison goulash, schnitzel-style cuts of meat and the region’s signature roast turkey dish with mlinci (baked pasta sheets). With its traditional décor — a tiled floor, wood furniture and knitted table linens — this homey and old-fashioned restaurant feels like visiting long-lost Croatian relatives.

Dolac Market

At Dolac Market, next to the central Ban Jelačić Square, tourists and locals intermingle over rows of colourful fruits and flowers, peruse meat and local homemade cheese that will later fill picnic baskets, and take a break with a beer. Dotted with red umbrellas, the historic open-air farmers’ market is held in an elevated square, with an adjoining fish market. Inside houses fresh pasta vendors, butchers and cheesemakers. Must-try crowd-pleasers include fresh-baked cornbread or sir i vrhnje, a dreamy cottage cheese that’s served with a sprinkling of salt or spices like paprika. The market is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (1 p.m. on Sundays), with the morning being the best time to visit.

Things to do in Zagreb, Croatia

Mirogoj Cemetery

A stroll through Zagreb’s Mirogoj Cemetery — a tree-lined, foliage-covered landmark known as one of Europe’s most beautiful cemeteries — offers a peaceful reprieve from the city’s summertime bustle. While a graveyard is an unexpected tourist spot, the cemetery’s celebrated sculptures, Gothic design elements and dramatic arcades captivate visitors. Designed by famed architect Hermann Bollé, who also restored Zagreb’s stunning cathedral, it’s the final resting place for people from all religions, including some of Croatia’s most notable politicians, poets and artists. Located outside of the city centre, this sanctuary can be accessed in about 15 minutes by bus from the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Krapina-Zagorje County

It’s worth renting a car and heading an hour north of Zagreb to the picturesque Krapina-Zagorje County. Backed by the towering Medvednica Mountain and filled with rolling hills and shades of green, the tranquil region is home to charming villages, medieval castles, vineyards and thermal springs. At Vuglec Breg, visitors can indulge in Michelin Guide-recognized traditional local fare.

Museum of Broken Relationships

The world-famous Museum of Broken Relationships will tug at the heartstrings (warning: It may open old wounds). Conveniently located in the landmark-filled Upper Town, the museum houses the breakup mementos, plus tokens of heartbreak and unspoken lust, from people around the world. Exhibits range from photos and notes, to a parachute rig, a prosthesis and a toaster, and tell the stories behind them. The small museum can be completed quickly and will easily fit into a jam-packed itinerary. And, if you need a beer after, Zagreb’s oldest pub, Pod starim krovovima, sits a five-minute walk away.

Where to stay in Zagreb, Croatia

Canopy By Hilton Zagreb City Centre

For modern and eclectic accommodations, the Canopy by Hilton Zagreb City Centre is a colourful choice. Its vibrant vibe begins in the art-filled lobby, where a lively bistro and bar serves cappuccinos and cocktails to creatives lounging with laptops on brightly coloured furniture. Meanwhile, the hotel’s restaurant, reUnion, removes the need to venture elsewhere for a meal. The hyper-local menu sees ingredients from Dolac Market make their way into charcuterie boards, soups and comforting street food (the Canopy burger is 10/10). The best thing about this hotel, however, is its convenience: City sights are within walking distance and it’s an easy access point for taxis and rideshare cars.