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Croatia,  Destinations

What is Croatia Capital City: Discover Zagreb Facts

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What is the Croatia capital city? Croatia is a great destination for summer holidays. Sea, sun, amazing views, food. During the summer, many people fly to the coast of Croatia.

But what about Croatia’s capital? What is its name, where is it, and is it worth visiting?

In this article, I will tell you more about Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.

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What is the Croatia capital city?

The capital of Croatia is Zagreb.

It’s the country’s largest city. It has almost 800,000 inhabitants, while the Zagreb urban area is over a million.

That means that in and around Zagreb, around a quarter (and even a little bit more) of the Republic of Croatia population lives.

Where is Zagreb, Croatia?

The city of Zagreb lies in the north of Croatia. It’s close to the border with Slovenia and not far from the border with Hungary. It’s quite close to the other capital cities. It takes around 2 hours to travel from Zagreb to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and around 4 hours to travel from Zagreb to Budapest, the Hungarian capital.

Zagreb lies at the river Sava. However, it’s not obvious to many tourists visiting Zagreb, as the river doesn’t pass the city centre. The Sava River is of the longest tributaries of the Danube river, and it flows through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. It feeds into the Danube in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Anyway, if you would like to see the Sava River in Zagreb, you will need to take the tram.

Additionally, it’s very important to mention that Zagreb is not on the seaside. It’s around 3 hours to get from Zagreb to the closest places on the Adriatic Sea. Let’s look at this more in the next chapter.

Croatia Capital City: Is Zagreb on the seaside?

No, the Croatian capital is not on the Adriatic coast.

It’s probably one of the main ‘mistakes’ that tourists make when thinking about Croatia. People usually have in mind only the seaside, mostly the Dalmatian coast. Sea, beaches, palms, etc. it’s a typical picture of Croatia in tourists’ minds. Plus pictures of Split and Dubrovnik, other Croatian cities. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with that! as we visit Croatia mostly because of the summer holidays. However, it’s worth remembering Croatia is not only the coast.

Croatia is a small country, but it spreads on relatively wide land with many differences in climate and weather, architecture, and history. While the Croatian coast gives a Mediterranean feeling, Zagreb gives a more Central Europe feeling.

Is Zagreb a good destination for a city break?

Yes, Zagreb is actually a perfect place for a city break trip!

You can visit it throughout the whole year, but you have to remember that Zagreb has all four seasons. So it can get really cold, and it can be snowy in the winter too. What can be really nice and pretty; Zagreb is a great destination during November and December time, as it has Best Christmas Market in Europe according to visitors.

In the summer, especially in July and August, it can be really hot and tough to visit. It’s also a time when many Zagreb inhabitants leave the city and go to the coast.

Summing up, autumn, late spring, or Christmas markets time are probably the best times to visit the Croatian capital.

Zagreb has a long and rich history. As it was under Habsburg empowerment (for a few centuries, for example, in the 19th century), you can see it in the architecture. If you have already visited Vienna or Budapest, you will see some similarities.

Modern Zagreb is a vibrant city, with many places to visit and cafes. On the other side, it’s not too huge, quick, and overwhelming, as sometimes you may feel when visiting the biggest European cities.

I really recommend Zagreb as a weekend trip idea. You can also combine it with visiting other Croatian places or make a circuit trip with other capitals in the region.

What to see in Zagreb?

This information needs a whole separate article (which is coming soon!) but just to mention briefly the most important places to see in Zagreb.

I’m almost sure you will start your visit at Ban Jelačić Square, the main square and meeting point in the city centre. You will notice it easily, as there is a fountain and statue. Very close to the square, you will find Dolac Market, the farmers market where you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc.

From there, it’s already quite close to go to the historic Upper Town (Gornji Grad). You can walk there or take the funicular, which is one of the prettiest, oldest (built in 1889), and shortest funiculars in Europe or even in the world. The ride takes around 1 minute.

There is a lot to see when you go to Upper Town. First of all, Zagreb Cathedral. Secondly, St. Mark’s Church from the 13th century. It’s probably the most known and pictured Zagreb’s landmark, with a colourful tilled roof with a Croatian symbol. Additionally, there is tower, Stone Gate, many charming streets, including the most known Tkalčićeva Street, Croatian parliament building, and a park with a view.

There are also many things to see in the Lower Town (Donji Grad), for example, the building of the Croatian National Theatre, which is quite close to the railway station. It’s one of these buildings that gives you the Central European feeling I spoke about before.

Obviously, there are also many museums and art galleries in Zagreb. Standard ones, like Zagreb City Museum, Art Pavilion, or Mimara Museum, as well as more ‘special’ ones like the Museum of Broken Relationships or the Museum of Illusions.

Around 15 minutes by bus from the centre, there is beautiful Mirogoj Cemetery, which is absolutely worth seeing.

And that’s only the most important and known of Zagreb’s landmarks. So, as you can see, you will not be bored when visiting the city.

Croatia Capital City: Interesting Zagreb Facts

A few interesting facts about the Croatian capital:

  • The University of Zagreb is the oldest and biggest university in Croatia and even in Southern-East Europe. It was established in 1669.
  • In 1880, Zagreb was struck by a big earthquake, which destroyed many buildings. 140 years later, in March 2020, Zagreb was also hit by a earthquake. It was the strongest one in 140 years.
  • There is no metro in Zagreb. The public transport system is based on buses and trams. The first tram line was opened in 1891.
  • The etymology of the name Zagreb is unclear. There are a few theories, but it’s not sure which one is right.

Transport to Zagreb

If you are travelling from countries near Croatia, you can get to Zagreb by bus or by train. There are trains from Austria, Ljubljana, or a night train to Zurich in Switzerland.

The train station is conveniently located in the city centre. But, it’s not next to the bus station, it’s a longer walk or tram ride away.

Zagreb Airport

Zagreb International Airport is the biggest airport in Croatia. There are many standard and budget airlines operating at Zagreb airport, for example, Ryanair. The national Croatian airlines are called Croatia Airlines, and they are part of Star Alliance.

From Zagreb, you can get to many European cities; from non-European cities at the moment, you can get to Dubai, Doha, and Toronto.

Getting from the airport to the city centre is easy. You can go with the  Pleso shuttle bus, which takes 30 minutes and takes you to the bus station.

Or with city bus number 490.

More about airports in Croatia read in this article.

I hope this article has answered for the question of what Croatia capital city is and has given you a sense of what Zagreb is like.

If you are planning a trip to Croatia, check out this section of the blog.

Here you can see what 20 Amazing Croatian Coastal Cities are.

Here, you can read what to see in Krk island and here, what to see in Zadar city.

Useful Croatian Travel Tips are here, and information about the Croatian language here.

Check out also what to buy as a souvenir from Croatia.

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