Where to Stay in Zagreb First Time: 8 Best Areas

The best areas to stay in Zagreb for the first time are Lower Town, Upper Town, Kaptol, Novi Zagreb, British Square, Maksimir, Jarun, Zagreb Airport. This blog will help you to decide where you stay in Zagreb for tourists, for nightlife, budget, family, one night.

Zagreb has two main areas the Upper Town and the Lower Town. Upper Town is the historic part of the city, located on a high plateau, where you find parliament building and cathedral. Lower Town is a modern part of the city, home to prestigious hotels, world-class museums, upmarket shopping, and the Croatian National Theatre.

If you are visiting Zagreb for the first time, Lower Town is your best bet. This central location is also the best place in Zagreb for 1 night, and just 30 minutes drive to the airport. If you are looking for nightlife, Upper Town is the best choice. it offers a good choice of restaurants and lively nightlife in the bar street Tkalciceva.

If you wondering how many days to stay in Zagreb, 3 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 to minimize your time of traveling.

Zagreb is located in northwest of Croatia, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. It is the capital city, political and cultural heart of the Republic of Croatia. It’s also a popular tourist destination with great shopping, dining, sightseeing, and museums.

Zagreb has direct air connections with the rest of Europe, east and west. In addition, overland connections between Zagreb and all its neighbors 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.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Lower Town
💰💰💰 Best luxury hotel:The Westin Zagreb
💰💰 Best mid-range hotel:Garden Hotel
💰 Best budget hotel:Hotel Jägerhorn

8 Best Areas to Stay in Zagreb

1. Lower Town, where to stay in Zagreb for first time tourists

Zagreb Lower Town (locally Donji Grad) is the area that many first-time tourists pick as their base to explore the rest of the city, especially those who are not familiar with Zagreb.

This is because this modern part of the town is an area that has great nightlife, shopping, coffee shops, restaurants, museums, and well-connected transport.

The Lower Town also has the most choice in accommodation, everything from budget hostels to luxury hotels. If you are looking for high-end hotels and business hotels, this commercial center of Zagreb is the best area to stay.

Lower Town, makes up 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.

Ban Jelacic Square is a popular meeting place and venue for many big events, football matches, concerts, and festivals. it’s lined with the grand19th century building with the Biedermaier, Art Nouveau, and Post-modernism architectural styles.

In contrast to the cobbled streets in Upper Town, you will see wider avenues like Ilica Street, and many gorgeous parks and open spaces.

The 6km long Ilica Street runs through Lower Town. It is one of the longest, busiest, and most popular shopping streets in Zagreb with many shops, stores, and boutiques.

There are several great museums in Lower Town. The Mimara Museum is Zagreb’s major art museum, on Roosevelt Square. The museum had its name from mystery man Ante Topic Mimara, a close friend of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, who donated his collection to the museum.

Mimara Museum displays archaeological artifacts, art objects, a Far Eastern collection, and paintings from many of the Old European Masters, including Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, and Goya.

A further gallery, Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters is a fine art museum, located in a beautiful 19th-century neo-Renaissance building, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. You will find one of the highlights of Zagreb’s ‘’Green Horseshoe’’ which is a lovely green park in the city center. 

Head to the Trg (Square) Nikole Zrinskog 11, you will find the Museum of Arts and Crafts, one of the earliest museums of arts and crafts in Europe, was founded in 1880, the intention being to protect works of art and craft.

There are more than 100,000 items from the 14th to the 21st century including furniture, metal, ceramics, sculpture, painting, product design, and graphics.

If you are interested in Croatian culture, you should visit the Ethnographic Museum. Adjacent to it, stands the Archaeological Museum, one of the oldest and one of the best museums in Zagreb, which holds over 450,000 varied artifacts and monuments.

Art lovers will also want to visit the Modern Gallery, which is the National Museum of Modern Art, on Andrija Hebranga 1 street. It’s overlooking the Zrinjevac Park and displays Croatian fine arts from the 19th to the 21st century.

You also have the Museum of Hangovers, Museum of Chocolate, the Backo Mini Express Museum, and the Art Pavilion of Zagreb to explore.

If you are tired of seeing museums, there are plenty of big green parks to relax. You will find Lenuci’s Green Horseshoe and Maksimir Park, the oldest park in Zagreb.

Lower Town is the best area to stay in Zagreb due to its proximity to the city center with its attractions and many choices in accommodations.

Best places to stay in Lower Town (Donji Grad):

🔍 FIND BEST HOTELS IN LOWER TOWN

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

Located north from the main city square, Upper Town (Gornji Grad by locals ) is the most historic part of Zagreb. One of the reasons for its being called Upper is because it sits on a hillside above Zagreb Lower Town, stretches Kaptol hill to Gradec hill. 

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

In contrast to the wide street and parks of Zagreb’s Lower Town, the Upper Town is a maze of narrow, winding streets filled with 17th and 18th-century buildings.

The Old Town has a history dating back to the 11th century, it has plenty of historical attractions and facilities for travelers. Start your tour from the town’s main square, Trg Ban Jelačić, and head to the Dolac market, a daily outdoor market covered with the iconic Dolac red umbrellas which give a unique touch to the market for fruit and vegetables.

To the Northwest of Trg Ban Jelačić, on Kaptol Hill stands the Zagreb Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. it’s the largest sacral building in Croatia and the most monumental and most impressive Gothic-style sacral building southeast of the Alps.

Zagreb Cathedral was first constructed in the 13th century. It was restored by the amazing Hermann Bolle from 1880 to 1905 after damage from the earthquake.

If you head to Tkalciceva street, a famous bar street, you will see small boutiques, traditional shops, bohemian cafes, bars, and restaurants along the road.

Nearby, you will find the 13th-century Stone Gate, stop for the moment and light the candle.

The Gric tunnel is also a tourist attraction. This pedestrian tunnel was built in 1943, during World War II. Running below the historic neighborhood of Grič, between Radiceva and Mesnica streets, it was used as a bomb shelter during WWII and the Croatian War of Independence.

One of the most photographed sights in Zagreb is the St Marks Church on St. Mark’s Square. Its style is Gothic Romanesque and after being completed in the 13th Century, it was reconstructed in the late 14th Century.

St. Mark’s Square was the center of medieval Zagreb and nowadays, it’s the center of the Croatian government, Croatian Parliament, and Presidential Palace.

The Museum of Broken Relationships displays artifacts with stories about a broken relationship, located between Saint Catherine’s and Saint Mark’s Church at the end of Cirilometodska Street.

If you’re an art lover, be sure to visit a fine art museum dedicated to the work of naïve artists of the 20th-century Museum of Naive and Contemporary Art.

History lovers will also like to visit the Institute of Croatian History and City Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Museum of Croatian History.

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 Cable Car also links Upper Town to Lower Town.

Stay in Upper Town if nightlife and shopping are part of your itinerary when in Zagreb; You want to stay in a central location close to the attractions and you can walk everywhere, You enjoy the history and the architecture of a city.

Best places to stay in Upper Town:

🔍 FIND BEST HOTELS IN UPPER TOWN

3. Kaptol, where to stay in Zagreb on budget

If you are looking for budget accommodation, Kaptol is a neighborhood where you may well find what you want. This historic religious center of Zagreb is a sub-area of 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 limit, and a good base to experience the culture of Zagreb. 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 Zagreb 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.

Don’t miss out on Zagreb’s city Dolec open-air market, Opatovina street, the Glyptotheque Zagreb museum, the Franciscan monastery of Saint Francis of Assisi Zadar, Zagreb’s main Ban Jelacic Square with Manduševec fountain.

Stay in Kaptol if you want to stay in a budget-friendly area; You want a central location within Zagreb, Museums appeal to you, especially ones that are a little different from the norm, You are interested in cathedrals and their history.

Best hotels to stay near Kaptol:

🔍 FIND BEST HOTELS IN KAPTOL

4. Novi Zagreb, where to stay in Zagreb for local vibe

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

This area is where important art galleries, flea markets, and local street food are set up. It’s the most local neighborhood in Zagreb so if you want to stay somewhere with fewer tourists, Novi Zagreb is a good choice.

It is home not only to high-rise developments but also to 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 in Bundek Park, originally a gravel pit. Nature, having taken over, the Lake area now has woods, while a beach and visitor amenities have been added. You also have the Park of the Newlyweds to explore.

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 MCA, Museum of Contemporary Art is in Novi Zagreb. It is a relatively new addition to Novi Zagreb, conveniently located on 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.

Best places to stay in Zagreb in Novi Zagreb:

🔍 FIND BEST HOTELS IN NOVI ZAGREB

5. British Square, hipster neighborhood in central Zagreb

British Square (Britanski trg) is a trendy and hipster neighborhood in central Zagreb, well-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 antique 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 produces 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 neighborhood 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 center, The daily activity of an open-air market appeals to you, You want good transport connections.

Best places to stay near British Square:

🔍 FIND BEST HOTELS IN BRISTISH SQUARE

6. Maksimir, good spot for sports enthusiasts

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 beautiful Maksimir Park and a football stadium, Maksimir 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. 

Maksimir is a modern neighborhood where you will find many department stores, large shopping malls, and luxury restaurants with fine dining.

Maksimir Park is the oldest park in Zagreb and part of the City’s heritage. It is home to Zagreb Zoo, the second-largest in Croatia; five lakes, called the Maksimir lakes;

The Zagreb Football 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.  

Don’t miss out on Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, Zlatni Dvorac Children’s Amusement center, and Zagreb Sports Complex.

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 center, 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.

Best places to stay in Zagreb in Maksimir:

🔍 FIND BEST HOTELS IN MAKSIMIR

7. Jarun, where to stay in Zagreb for family

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 center. You will still find a good choice of bars and restaurants without having to head into the city centre. 

This is primarily a residential neighborhood with its main attraction Jarun Park with its massive man-made lake Lake Jarun. 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 center. 

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’re traveling with family; 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.

Best places to stay in Jarun:

FIND BEST HOTELS IN JARUN

8. Zagreb Airport, where 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.

Where to stay near Zagreb Airport:

Royal Airport Hotel This 4-star hotel is located 1.5 km from Zagreb Airport, the hotel can arrange car hire and airport transfer upon previous request. It provides a sauna, an indoor pool, free private parking, and free wifi.

Paula&Matej Airport Zagreb This guest house is set in Selnica Šćitarjevska, offers air-conditioned accommodation with free wifi, private parking, a satellite TV, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer and a shower. it’s just 2km from Zagreb Airport Franjo Tuđman.

Rooms Barba Niko near Zagreb Airport This bed and breakfast is just 20 m from a bus stop and 1.3 km from Zagreb Airport. It has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom, TV and free Wi-Fi.

🔍 FIND BEST HOTELS IN ZAGREB

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. 

Check out the virtual tour about the best places to stay in Zagreb in my video:

Croatia is the meeting point of the Mediterranean and Central and Southeast Europe. It shares the border with Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Italy. Croatia has famous cities like Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split, and the Dalmatian coast.

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 center of the Country despite being smaller than its capital, Belgrade.

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’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.

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. Now as you know where to stay in Zagreb, all you need to do is to book your accommodations and ready to go!

if you’ re interested in the best areas to stay in Zagreb, you can also check Where To Stay in Dubrovnik, Where to Stay in Split, Where to Stay in Hvar, Where to Stay in Ljubljana.

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