Where to Stay in Zagreb: Top 8 Best Areas

Where you stay in Zagreb will depend on what you are looking for and how much money you have. This blog post will give you some information on the best areas to stay in Zagreb. Read on and find out!

Some travelers prefer historic hotels that offer traditional Croatian hospitality and charm. Others might want a more modern hotel with all the amenities one could need at their fingertips. Whichever type of accommodation you’re looking for, we can help find it!

A quarter of Croatia’s population of 5m lives in Zagreb and its immediate hinterland. Zagreb was a settlement back in Roman times and its rich history is just one of the reasons why Zagreb is such a fascinating city. In the times of Yugoslavia, it was the economic centre of the Country despite being smaller than its capital, Belgrade.

Best areas to stay in Zagreb: Tips & Info

As a new nation, Croatia quickly made a name for itself in everything from commerce to sport. Despite its relatively small population, Croatia has made quite an impact within Central Europe. Its success in sport is quite remarkable and Zagreb can take quite a lot of credit for the positives that tourists feel about Croatia.

Zagreb benefits from its own tourist attractions as well as being the starting point for some travellers wanting to have a holiday on the Adriatic. It is a vibrant city in its own right with plenty of cultural and historical Zagreb attractions. The numbers of visitors heading for Zagreb are increasing every year. 

Zagreb has direct air connections with the rest of Europe, east and west. In addition, overland connections between Zagreb and all its neighbours make it a great choice, if only for a weekend break. There are several districts that you may want to make your base, with Zagreb accommodation to suit most budgets.

Zagreb’s climate does include a significant winter. Capital cities do get winter visitors and so does Zagreb but most visitors arrive from springtime onwards. The Zagreb Card, available at tourist offices and many hotels, provides unlimited travel, an obvious benefit for visitors.

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Where to Stay in Zagreb Croatia: 8 Best Areas to Stay in Zagreb

When you are deciding where to stay in Zagreb, you need to factor in the main things you want to see and do. It is also a matter of whether you want to be close to the main tourist attractions, whether you are happy to walk or need to use transport. Read on and hopefully, you will be closer to making a decision. 

Best areas to stay in Zagreb map

1. Upper Town, where to stay in Zagreb for nightlife

Upper Town, Gorni Grad locally, and in effect the Old Town, covers around half of Zagreb City itself. One of the reasons for its being called ‘’Upper’’ is because it sits on a hillside above Zagreb Lower Town.  In common with many city centres, it has plenty of attractions and facilities for travellers. 

The Croatian Parliament and another lovely church, St. Mark’s are both in Upper Town. The latter in St. Mark’s Square is one of the oldest architectural buildings in the City. Its style is Gothic Romanesque and after being completed in the 13th Century, it was reconstructed in the late 14th Century.

If you are looking for the best shopping and a good choice of restaurants and lively nightlife, Upper Town is the first place to look. 

Tkalciceva, the road from Ban Jelacic Square down in Lower Town runs through Upper Town. You will see bars and restaurants on either side of the road all along its route. There are still cobbled streets associated with older cities and historic landmarks that have stood there for many years.

Upper Town has good transport links with the rest of the City and there is an arterial road making city transport easier. Tram routes follow that road and link Upper Town to the rest of Zagreb. A short funicular also links Upper Town to Lower Town.

Stay in Upper Town/Old Town if:

  • You always stay in a central location when visiting a city
  • Shopping and nightlife are part of your itinerary when in Zagreb
  • You enjoy history and the architecture of a city
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2. Lower Town, where to stay in Zagreb for first time visitors

Zagreb Lower Town is the area that many tourists pick as their base, especially those who are not familiar with Zagreb. This is because Lower Town is the area that has the most choice in accommodation, everything from budget hostels to the best hotels. Zagreb luxury hotels in Lower Town offer tourists all they might need.

Lower Town, locally Donji Grad, makes up the other half of Zagreb city itself and it is probably the busiest part of the city. Its heart is Ban Jelacic Square while the old Austro-Hungarian architecture attracts plenty of tourists. In contrast to the cobbled streets in Upper Town, you will see wide avenues like Ilica Street. 

The Square hosts regular events as well as being a popular meeting place. Concerts and festivals take place here. Oktogon Gallery has designer boutiques if you want to do some shopping. 

There are several great museums in Lower Town. The best archaeological museum in Zagreb, Mimara, also has an important Far East collection of exhibits. A further area holds paintings from many of the Old European Masters, including Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens and Goya.

A further gallery, Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters is one of the highlights of Zagreb’s ‘’Green Horseshoe’’ which is a lovely green park in the city centre

Stay in Lower Town if:

  • You want a good choice of accommodation even when Zagreb is at its busiest
  • Museums are a special interest for you
  • You enjoy a lively base with plenty to do in the evening
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3. Kaptol, the best area to stay in Zagreb on budget

If you are looking for budget accommodation, Kaptol is a neighbourhood where you may well find what you want. It is a neighbourhood that some categorise as Upper Town but it is worth examining separately. You will find not only hostels but cheap hotels and apartments. 

Kaptol has plenty of attractions within its limits. It is regarded as the religious heart of Zagreb as well as having museums such as the Zagreb City Museum and the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Zagreb Cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia. This Roman Catholic Cathedral in Gothic style has spires, at over 350 feet, visible from most parts of Zagreb. While it dates back to the 13th Century, the cathedral underwent additions and reconstruction in the late 19th Century after a powerful earthquake.

The City Museum looks at all aspects of Zagreb’s history, political and economic, cultural and artistic. The earliest exhibits predate the Romans. With 75,000 in all laid out in chronological order. The Museum of Broken Relationships was one of a kind when it was set up in 2010. 

It immediately won an award as the most innovative museum in Europe. It appealed so much to an American lawyer, John B. Quinn that he opened a similar one himself in Los Angeles with the help of Zagreb.  If you like the idea of reading letters and messages and looking at photos of lovers, pay a visit.

Stay in Kaptol if:

  • You want a central location within Zagreb
  • Museums appeal to you, especially ones that are a little different to the norm
  • You are interested in cathedrals and their history
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4. Novi Zagreb, a modern residential neighborhood in Zagreb

Most cities expand, certainly those that are also national capitals. That is because of the job opportunities that such places offer. Novi Zagreb is a largely residential neighbourhood south of Lower Town. The Sava River is the dividing line between Lower Town and Novi Zagreb.

It is home not only to high-rise developments but also celebrity homes. Its development has meant that some of the old Soviet buildings have been demolished.  One thing that does add to its beauty is Lake Bundek, originally a gravel pit. Nature, having taken over, the Lake area now has woods, while a beach and visitor amenities have been added.

Novi Zagreb also has modern shopping malls, the best of which is Arena Centar. Most of the world’s famous brands market themselves in this Mall. Dubrovnik Avenue in Novi Zagreb has cafes and bars along its length. One of Zagreb’s biggest markets is in Utrine within Novi Zagreb.

It is apt that the Museum of Contemporary Art is in Novi Zagreb. It is a relatively new addition to Novi Zagreb, conveniently located in Dubrovnik Avenue. The original museum began in the mid 20th Century before moving to Novi Zagreb. It is Croatia’s largest museum and contains permanent displays with room for periodic exhibitions. 

You have a choice of accommodation in Novi Zagreb. If you decide on this area as your base, you can take advantage of the good transport infrastructure to get elsewhere in the City. 

Stay in Novi Zagreb if:

  • You have a keen interest in contemporary art
  • City center accommodation does not interest you
  • You need a choice of accommodation and restaurants close by.
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5. British Square, a trendy place with easy access to other parts of Zagreb

British Square is a trendy area in Zagreb, connected to both Upper and Lower Town. It is the neighborhood of diversity, artists, subcultures, and youth. It is fun just to walk around and absorb the atmosphere or look for antiques. Each Sunday, there is an antiques fair in the Square.

The Square dates back to the 19th Century, built in what was then the Kraljevac Valley. Its buildings are typical of Venetian architecture of the time. If you are lucky, you may be there on one of the spontaneous ‘’Old School Nights’’, a festival atmosphere created by old vehicles, bikes and motorbikes. Film documentaries tell the history of Zagreb’s traffic. 

Its open-air farmers market is a major attraction, selling produce bought directly from local farms. It is a daily event, starting very early in the morning and finishing at noon. There are only a limited number of such markets these days, and indeed, a limited number of squares in Zagreb. 

British Square is a few blocks west of Lower Town. It is a train station hub so staying in this neighbourhood means you will have good links to other parts of Zagreb. You can sit with a coffee to just observe the activity in the Square and enjoy the experience. 

Stay in British Square if:

  • You prefer to be fairly central without being right in a city centre
  • The daily activity of an open-air market appeals to you
  • You want good transport connections. 
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6. Maksimir,  a largely residential area in Zagreb

Maksimir is north of Zagreb, named after Bishop Maksimilijan Vrhovac who played a major role in the revival of nationalism in Croatia in the first two decades of the 19th Century. It has a park and a stadium both taking the Bishop’s name.

It is largely residential and has a population of over 50,000. Maksimir is just north and west of Gornji Grad. There are no highrises, making Maksimir more attractive than some areas of Zagreb where Soviet-style buildings still stand. 

Zagreb Zoo gets a significant number of visitors each year. You will find it inside Maksimir Park, the oldest park in Zagreb and part of the City’s heritage. It opened towards the end of the 18th Century when this area was very much the outskirts of Zagreb. 

The Stadium is currently home to the local soccer side, Dynamo Zagreb, which has won more league titles than any other club. Croatia holds its international here while the Stadium also hosts concerts and other events.  

You have a good choice of accommodation in Maksimir. There are studios and apartments primarily and there is certainly good value available in this area of Maksimir.

Stay in Maksimir if:

  • You are looking for good value accommodation away from Zagreb city centre.
  • Attending a soccer game is one of the things you would like to do in Zagreb
  • Some time relaxing in a nice park appeals to you
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7. Jarun, the best area to stay in Zagreb for a family vacation

Jarun is probably the first area to look at if you are on a family holiday. It is an area southwest of the City and certainly quieter than the city centre. You will still find a good choice of bars and restaurants without having to head into the city centre. 

This is primarily a residential neighbourhood with its main attraction Jarun Park with its large lake. Locals often refer to it as ‘’Zagreb Sea’’ and it offers the opportunity for swimming, sailing or simply relaxation. There are cycling and walking trails, grounds for team sport, and a large entertainment centre. 

Zagreb Arena is in Jarun. It is a large complex offering shopping, sport and indoor entertainment. It is large enough to hold 16,500 spectators for a basketball game while hockey, handball, and volleyball are just three of the other sports played there.

There are plenty of free parking spaces for those attending sports events or going shopping. While there, visitors will have a good choice of cafes and restaurants.  It is easy to spend a whole day and evening at Zagreb Arena and still consider returning a second time.

Stay in Jarun if:

  • You are keen on sport and want to attend an event while in Zagreb
  • The open spaces provided by a park are welcome when you stay in a city
  • You want a choice of entertainment close by
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8. Zagreb Airport, the best area to stay near Zagreb airport

Travellers often choose to make their base close to an airport. In the case of Zagreb, the international airport, Franjo Tudjman Airport, is only 6 miles southwest of Zagreb Central Station. It means connections with the City are good so why not stay out at the Airport?

The district itself is called Velika Gorica and it has a population of just above 30,000. The name translates to ‘’Great Vineyard/Forest’’ and it is a region that has always been known for its fertility. There has been a settlement here since Neolithic times, through the Romans and right up to the present day

If you book an airport hotel, there are some places to visit on a day when you do not head to the City. They include the Turopolje Museum tracing the history of the region. Monuments around the area are worth seeing, especially Vrata od Krka (The Timber Gate) from the 18th Century.

Some of the later wooden chapels from the 17th Century still survive as does a fortification originally built to repel the Ottomans in the 16th Century. More recently, monuments to those killed in the War of Independence are found around Velika Gorica.

You have a choice of hotels around the airport with shuttle transport to and from the airport and facilities that are more than enough for a stay of a few days.

Stay in Zagreb Airport if:

  • You want a base close to the airport
  • As long as you have good transport connections into the city centre, you are open to staying in the suburbs
  • You must have some things to do and see close to your base
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Is Zagreb Croatia Worth Visiting?

Zagreb is an interesting city in a new country. Croatia may be new but this land has a rich history as well as having everything that a tourist would want in terms of infrastructure. Why not make Esplanade Zagreb Hotel or Best Western Premier Hotel Astoria your base? 

How Many Days Should I Spend in Zagreb?

Three days is sufficient to see Zagreb but you will be busy during that time. It makes sense to book a place in the city center so that your traveling time is minimal. Sheraton Zagreb Hotel is a luxury but there are cheap hotels if you are on a budget. 

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Conclusion

If you stay in Zagreb’s city centre, lots of the historic attractions are within walking distance. You will find good hotels with all the amenities you might want. The a la carte restaurants serve international cuisine while you can also enjoy Croatian food and wine. 

There are open spaces within Zagreb to enjoy, plenty of historic landmarks, and museums. You will want for nothing if you choose Zagreb for a future holiday.

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