08 Top-Rated Things to Do in Zagreb
1. Get curious at the Croatian Museum of New Art.
One of Zagreb’s quirky museums, the Croatian Museum of Naive Art (Hrvatski Muzej Naivne Umjetnosti), is also quite famous. It features many works by famous ‘absurd’ artists such as Ivan Generalik, Mraz, Mirko Virius and Smaljic. The gallery also features artwork in a similar style – sometimes referred to as “original” art – by international artists.
Despite the name, Polly art was actually a popular style in the world as well as in Croatia in the 1960s and 1970s. It is less popular today but refers to a type of art that has a dreamlike quality with lots of colour.
2. Watch a show at the Croatian National Theatre
Built in 1895 by Viennese architects Hermann Hilmer and Ferdinand Fellner, the Croatian National Theater (Hrvatsko Narodno Kazaliste) is located in the northwest corner of Zagreb’s “Green Horse Show” in Donjigrad. Officially opened in 1894 by Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I, this imposing yellow structure on Trg Marsala is a prominent feature of the Lower Town.
Built in Neo-Baroque and Rococo styles, with two small domes at the front and a large dome at the back, the building also has a wonderful interior design, with artworks by Vlaho Bukovac and The Well of Life by Ivan Mestrovik. If possible, try to attend one of the venue’s regular opera, ballet, or drama performances.
3. Visit Maksimir Park
Designed in the style of an old English garden, Maksimir Park (Maksimirska) is a beautiful green space covering about 45 acres. The largest park in Zagreb, it includes two pavilions: the Bellevue Pavilion, which was built in 1843, and the Eco Pavilion, which was added after a Swiss design.
The park has many excellent trails and trails, as well as artificial lakes, woodland areas, and flower gardens, making it a great place to relax or take a picnic. For those traveling with little ones, there is also a mini zoo.
Referred to by locals as Zagreb’s “living monument”, Maksmir Park is named after Bishop Maximilian Voorhoek, who was responsible for its construction in 1794. Across Maksmir Park is the Dinamo football stadium where Croatia hosts international matches.
4. Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum
With its focus on Croatia’s rich history, the Zagreb Museum of Archeology (Arhiolovski možej) has five main collections containing some 400,000 objects, many from the local area. Of particular interest are Egyptian mummies (the Zagreb mummy cloth shows text that has yet to be deciphered), Greek vases, and a medieval section focusing on the Great Migration.
One of the most important pieces is the head of Platella from the ancient town of Salona, as well as an extensive collection of coins, including Greek, Celtic, Roman, Byzantine, and modern pieces. Also of interest is the Ethnographic Museum (Etnografski Muzej), whose extensive collection depicts the cultural history of Croatia through displays of ceramics, jewelry, gold, musical instruments, textiles, tools, weapons, and elaborate costumes.
Only the traditional folk costumes are worth seeing, with different colors and patterns reflecting the country’s regional diversity.
5. City Museum
Zagreb’s Upper Town contains the City Museum (Muzej Grada Zagreba), St. Clair’s Monastery, an 11th-century tower, and a 17th-century granary. Built along the eastern city wall, the museum has been in operation since 1907 and houses 12 collections containing about 75,000 objects.
The collections tell the history of Zagreb through documents, maps, art, archaeological remains, and other historical artifacts, including a wonderful scale model of the old town of Gradac. The City Museum also has interactive exhibits for interested children, including hands-on workshops and a playroom.
6. St. Catherine’s Church
The Jesuit St. Catherine’s Church was built in the first half of the 17th century and is considered one of the finest churches in Zagreb. Highlights include its beautiful interior with many fine examples of Baroque art, as well as frescoes by Italian artist Antonio Quadrio from the 1720s. Also of note is the ceiling with its many medallions depicting the life of Saint Catherine with a scene by Giulio Coglia.
Other interesting features include the altarpiece of St. Ignatius by Francesco Rubi and behind the main altar, the fresco of St. Catherine among the Alexandrian Philosophers and Writers by Christophe André Gellus, dating from 1762.
7. Zagreb Botanical Garden
The Botanic Garden (Botanicki Vrt) was originally built as a research area for the Faculty of Botany of the University of Zagreb. It covers an area of about 50,000 square metres, and is part of a series of parks that make up the city’s “Green Horse Fair” in Dongigrad.
The grounds contain an arboretum, two ponds with many aquatic plants, an ornamental bridge, and nearly 10,000 different plant species, making it a great escape from the city and a great place to relax or take a stroll.
Afterwards, if you have energy left for another museum, visit the nearby Museum of Natural History (Hrvatski Prirodoslovni Muzej). Located in the Amadeo Palace, built in the early 18th century, the museum houses nearly 2.5 million objects including minerals from around the world, an extensive zoological collection documenting a variety of Croatian flora and fauna, and local artifacts found in ancient excavations. .
8. The Modern Show
The Zagreb Gallery of Modern Art (Moderna Galerija) is housed in the magnificent Vraniczany Palace in Donji Grad, built in 1882. Home to a number of fine works by Croatian artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Gallery of Modern Art opened in 1973. It dates back to the early 20th century When he began acquiring important pieces for artists such as Ivan Mestrovic, Mirko Raki and F. Belak.
The collection has grown over the years and now displays works by Ljubo Babić, Milijenko Stancic, and F. Karas, Macić, Emmanuel Vidović and other famous Croatian artists who have frequent temporary exhibitions.