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Zagreb is Croatia’s capital city, but it is often skipped over by travelers on their Croatia itinerary. Most people probably skip Zagreb because it’s inland and not anywhere near the Adriatic, but does that mean you should skip over Zagreb too? Let’s explore the question: Is Zagreb worth visiting?
As stated Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia, but unlike most other countries capital cities, it is not popular for travelers. Think Budapest in Hungary, Vienna in Austria, or Madrid in Spain.
Zagreb is, however, the largest city in Croatia. In fact, its population is 4 times larger than the next city, Split. So why do people not visit Zagreb?
The answer to why people don’t visit Zagreb is pretty simple. When most travelers visit Croatia, they head for the coast. They want the clear blue water of the Adriatic, hot sun, and sandy beaches. Maybe they’ll take an inland day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park—which they absolutely should! For the most part though, they stick to the Croatian coast.
Zagreb is only about 2 hours from the Adriatic coast, but most travelers see it as not worth visiting. They visit Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar, Zadar, and other popular travel destinations on most Croatia itineraries. However, they miss out on visiting an entire other side of Croatia, including Zagreb.
So now that you know why most people don’t visit Zagreb, let’s look at why you should visit Zagreb and see if Zagreb is worth visiting.
Zagreb is Croatian, but it’s culture and food are a different from the rest of Croatia. The city feels more eastern European than Mediterranean or southern European. If you want to experience a different culture from coastal Croatia, visit Zagreb.
Quite frankly, cities on the Croatia coast are suffering from overtourism. Dubrovnik is the perfect case study of this. It’s a beautiful city, but there are swarms of tourists everywhere. It can be difficult to get an authentic cultural travel experience there because you will basically be surrounded by tourists.
Now, Dubrovnik is gorgeous, but when you think about how the residents are being forced out because they can no longer afford to shop, eat, and live in their own neighborhoods, it’s very depressing.
Zagreb doesn’t quite have that though. It’s an underrated, off-the-beaten-path city to visit in Croatia.
An off-the-beaten-path capital city is a bit of an oxymoron, but we mean that it’s not overrun by tourists, like other cities in Croatia.
When you visit Zagreb, you will be able to experience authentic Croatian life, learn about Zagreb culture, and get away from other tourists.
If you want an authentic cultural experience when traveling and you’re asking yourself is Zagreb worth visiting, then the answer is yes.
Still debating if Zagreb is worth it? Well, Zagreb is a beautiful city with an impressive old town. The architecture is different from coastal Croatia, and it more reflects that of Bratislava, but different doesn’t mean ugly. Visiting Zagreb will give you chance to see other exceptional architectural styles. While its architecture might not have the notoriety of walking the walls of Dubrovnik, Zagreb is worth visiting.
What about Zagreb’s food, you might ask. Lucky for you, Zagreb has some incredibly delicious local cuisine. Like much of its culture, it’s more similar to Eastern Europe, which means it’ll be delicious.
With fewer tourists in Zagreb, there are fewer tourists traps, and it’s easier to find fantastic places to eat in Zagreb without having it be overpriced for tourists.
One of the best things to eat in Zagreb is Strukli. It’s a baked dough that is filled with a variety of fillings. These can be anything from cheese to honey to pumpkin. Strukli is absolutely delicious and something everyone visiting Zagreb must eat. La Struk is the best place to get it!
If you are still on the fence about whether Zagreb is worth visiting or not, it is the perfect city to fly into, explore, and then visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. A day trip from Zagreb to Plitivce Lakes is one of the best ways to both visit Zagreb and see one of the most extraordinary national parks in the world.
Spend one day in Zagreb and then another on a day trip to Plitvice. You will not regret it, both in terms of visiting Zagreb and experiencing Plitvice Lakes.
Zagreb is also filled with plenty of things to do which make it worth visiting. Here are 10 Ideas for What to Do in Zagreb if you need help while you visit Zagreb.
In looking at the question is Zagreb worth visiting?, the answer is a resounding YES. Zagreb is absolutely worth visiting and should be part of your next trip to Croatia. You will be able to see a different side to this wonderful country, avoid tourists, try new food, and have a more authentic travel experience.
Read our Zagreb Travel Guide for everything you need to know when visiting Zagreb.
Zagreb is a wonderful place to visit.
Please note the Croatian coast is on the Adriatic, not the Mediterranean!
Yes! We love Zagreb! Also, noted. Thank you for the clarification!