We recently travelled to Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, for a family weekend getaway during February. A modern metropolis which also has a medieval history prevalent in the old town. Visitors can enjoy an urban getaway coupled with traditional architecture and Croatian hospitality.
With this in mind, I thought I would share five family friendly activities you can experience in this unique city which has been sneaking under Croatia’s tourist radar for years.
Take the Cable Car to St Mark’s Church
Zagreb is home to the world’s shortest cable car ride, Funicular. Take the cable car to the top and enjoy the city sights while you go up. Once at the top you can explore upper town also known as Gornji Grad, with its historic medieval architecture and narrow cobbled streets.
The city visually rewards visitors who are on foot, so don’t be surprised when you spend the entire day exploring taking in the sights. Gornji Grad is also the home of St Mark’s Church, with its colourful emblematic tiled roof which was built in the 14th century. The roof tiles represent the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia on the left and the emblem of Zagreb on the right.
Explore the Historic and Modern Museums
The city has an abundance of museums to explore. From historical museums with archaeological artifacts and old city ruins to modern museums showcasing local art and also a unique Museum of Broken Relationships, filled with memories and objects from doomed relationships. The Tehnicki Muzej is also worth a visit if you are a fan of the inventions of Nikola Tesla.
We chose to explore the Zagreb City Museum, where the exhibition gives a portrait of the city in all of its aspects from its political, church, town-planning and architecture aspects, to the history of art and literature. The model city was a hit with our toddler. Other popular spaces particularly for children, include the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Archaeological Museum.
Check out the Dolac Markets & Sample Local Cuisine
The open air Dolac farmers’ markets are set out in the town square with the soaring Cathedral of the Assumption as a back drop. Visitors of the markets are in for a delight with the vast selection of local produce available and taste testing is optional.
With an 80 year long history, visitors can source fresh pasta, cheese mongers and try the regional honey and olive oil. If you are keen to also try local dishes, then I suggest you visit a hidden gem around the corner, Kaptolska Klet, which serves simple and traditional Croatian food . If you have time, visit Zagreb’s bakeries for pastries, cakes and ice cream which are fantastic and a sure hit when sightseeing with kids.
Slastičarnica Vincek is the oldest cake and ice cream shop in Zagreb with delicious Croatian cakes on offer including our favourite, peach shaped cakes known as Breskvice. I also have it on good recommendation that Le Kolač is a must visit for the best cakes.
Shopping in the City Centre
Zagreb is known for its shopping, in particular shoe shopping and also unique fashion finds from local designers. Head to the main streets of IIica and Tkalčićeva where you’ll find a combination of high street and Croatian designer labels. The shopping centres within the city are Centar Cvjetni and Kaptol Center, and just outside of Zagreb there is the retail mecca Arena Centar with over 200 shops, all of which are ideal if you prefer the convenience of everything under one roof. Croatians also enjoy a thriving cafe culture, so after your shopping expedition visit one of the many cafes in the city centre for a break while the little ones enjoy an ice cream or Croatian cake.
Visit the Gardens of Zrinjevac
Zrinjevac is the central park of Zagreb, apart from the serenity of unwinding as a family in a green oasis in the middle of the city you can find water fountains and a music pavilion – with concerts in the summer time.
Alternatively during winter, the park holds an annual event known as Advent on Zrinjevac, a magical Christmas festival with lights and festive decorations throughout the gardens. At the northern end of the garden you can spot a meteorological column made from Istrian marble and despite being made in 1884, it still works today.
If you’ve been to Zagreb and have more to add, feel free to comment below with any additional family friendly sights and activities.