Zagreb is a pocket - sized metropolis, culturally close to central European capitals like Vienna or Prague but with more than a dash of Mediterranean/ Balkan atmosphere. The air of a- yet- to- be discovered treasure and the opportunity to enjoy your time away from places overrun by tourists, wandering from tourist trap to tourist trap, is an attraction in itself.
Top 5 sights
Trg bana Josipa Jelaćića (Governor Jelačić Square), or simply The Square, is the main square in Zagreb and a meeting point for locals, as well as tourists.
Gradec (Upper Town, also referred to as Grič) is one of two medieval settlements that Zagreb grew from. Many historical sights, political institutions and museums found their home here in some of the grand old palaces. St. Mark's Church (Crkva Sv. Marka) dominates the central square on Gradec- Trg Sv. Marka (St. Mark's Square) and is one of Zagreb's symbols. Its ceramic tiled roof depicting Zagreb and the Kingdom of Croatia coats of arms is found on most postcards. Kamenita vrata (Stone Gate) was one of the four original entries into this walled town of the feudal period; all wooden elements in the gate were destroyed by the fire in 1731, apart from one painting of holy Mary and baby Jesus. This picture is the central part of the Stone gate shrine today.
Kaptol is marked by an impressive neo-gothic building - the Cathedral (Katedrala Marijinog Uznesenja), and Dolac market, a buzzing open food market known as "the belly of Zagreb". Tkalčićeva ulica (Tkalčićeva street) is a long pedestrian street where a number of cafés and bars offer a great place to sit, sip your drink and generally revel in Croatian favourite pastime "activities"- drinking coffee, people-watching and gossiping.
Trg Petra Preradovića (Petra Preradovića Square) is known as Cvjetni trg (The Flower Square) as the flower stalls have been here since 19th century. Except colourful flowers, Cvjetni trg boasts a lively pedestrian area and a "bar zone".
Lower Town is characterised by the Green horseshoe, a series of eight interconnected garden squares or seven squares and a botanical garden, that give the U shape to the Lower Town and represent a strong feature of Zagreb's urban identity. Some truly remarkable historicist palaces are positioned around it and some of the Zagreb's museums and cultural institutions are housed in them: Archaeological Museum, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Art Pavilion, and many more. On the western side of the Green horseshoe - Croatian National Theatre (Hrvatsko Narodno Kazalište- HNK), a beautiful neo-gothic building erected in 1895, draws oohs and aaahs from visitors and locals alike.
Top 5 Museums& Galleries
Archaeological Museum (Arheološki muzej) displays approximately 460,000 items with some exceptional finds of which the Zagreb Mummy in linen bands with the world's longest extant Etruscan text is a real gem.
Croatian Naive Art Museum (Hrvatski muzej naivne umjetnosti) is the first museum in the world dedicated solely to the naive art
(a distinct style of the 20th century art).
Klovićevi dvori Gallery (Galerija Klovićevi dvori) organises exceptional exhibitions of world famous international, as well as outstanding Croatian artists.
Museum for Arts and Crafts (Muzej za umjetnost i obrt- MUO) is a home to a huge permanent collection of furniture, textiles, artistic production and the history of material culture in Croatia. Also, features temporary exhibitions throughout the whole year and various music or theatre events are staged here.
Zagreb City Museum (Muzej grada Zagreba) with over 4500 items tells the tale of the city through centuries. The museum is entertaining and educational at the same time with its city models and interactive displays.
Top 5 green time-outs
Maksimir is more than just a park as it spreads on over 18 hectares of land and is home to the Zagreb Zoo.
Mirogoj is a burial ground (of many famous Croats), but also a leafy, green park and an open art gallery enclosed by red-brick walls with cupolas and arcades (designed by a well-known architect Herman Bolle).
Medvednica is an unmistakable backdrop to the city skyline in the north and a favourite weekend gateway for the inhabitants any time of the year. In winter, one can do a bit of skiing as there are ski slopes on the northern side (total slope length about 4 500 meters).
The Botanical Garden, a part of the Green horseshoe in the Lower Town, is a tranquil place with many rare trees and plants perfect for a short break and a breath of fresh air.
Zrinjevac is one of the eight parks on the Green horseshoe, between Governor Jelačić Square and the main train station, a leafy place to sit, relax and enjoy promenade concerts on Saturday mornings.
Top 5 festivals & events
June 01.-30.: Strossmartre - Summer on the Stross
Zagreb's inhabitants and visitors can enjoy various art performances, live concerts, classical movies and more for free on Strossmayerovo šetalište (next to the Lotršćak Tower) on Gradec.
May/ June 25.-06.: Contemporary Dance Week (Tjedan suvremenog plesa)
One of the most important and largest dance festivals in the region that promotes modern dance forms will celebrate its 26th birthday in 2009.
June: Eurokaz- International Festival of New Theatre (Festival novog kazališta)
As a festival not limited by genre it encompasses theatre, dance, performance and other related art forms.
July 01.-31.: Zagreb Summer Evenings (Zagrebačke ljetne večeri)
A music festival inviting high- quality musicians from Croatia and abroad who present various genres from classical music, jazz, Portuguese fado to new flamenco.
November 02.-11: Martinje (St. Martin's Wine festival)
Celebrate winegrovers and their patron saint St. Martin of Tours by sampling various Croatian wines.
Nightlife and entertainment are getting more vibrant & colourful as the years go by and the 1990s, when the club scene was as good as dead, recedes from Zagreb’s memories. There is something to suit every taste: from eclectic clubs nights & events organised by students to swanky lounge bars, a few small jazz bars presenting domestic bands to couple of big concert venues hosting musicians of international fame.