One of the most historic cities in Central Europe, almost 1000-year-old Zagreb has an endless amount of activities to delight in.
See its countless modern and traditional museums, hear a local musicians' guitar twang as you wind the city’s cobblestone roads, smell the fragrances of the centre's Dolac Market, taste the one and only štrukli dish, and gently get in touch with Zagreb's flora and fauna in the city's parks.
Without further ado, here's our selection of five must-dos during your health tourism visit to Zagreb.
Hop on the famous funicular
The Zagreb Funicular (Zagrebačka uspinjača) holds the world record for being the shortest funicular in the world. Since 1890, the 66-meter-long ride has efficiently linked Zagreb’s Upper and Lower Town and transported its citizens with a view in tow.
For just 5 kuna, you'll be treated to beautiful vistas of Zagreb as the funicular steadily rises to the Strossmayer Promenade in the Upper Town, or lowers you directly to Ilica Street in the Lower Town.
If your destination is the Lower Town, pop in for a treat at iconic Vincek bakery's only gluten-free location, Vis a Vis, conveniently located footsteps away from the funicular station. If your destination is in the Upper Town, the Strossmayer Promenade features one of the best panoramas of the city, and is often dotted with food and music stands, especially during summer events and the Advent season.
Wander around Dolac Market
Dolac Market is very aptly known as "the belly of Zagreb".
This open-air marketplace operates year-round, and even the rainiest of fall days can't stop local and artisan producers and their dedicated buyers from coming back day after day. Here, you'll find everything from the freshest fruits and veggies, across local meat cuts, to hand-crafted souvenirs.
Buy a basket of fresh bread, cheese, and fruit and enjoy a picnic at the nearby Zrinjevac Park - or, pop in to one of the nearby restaurants (which procure their ingredients from the market) and enjoy the creations of Zagreb's fabulous chefs.
Savour štrukli at Esplanade Hotel
With its official opening on April 22, 1925, the Esplanade Hotel has been a monument of cultural significance for nearly 100 years. Actors, entertainers, businessmen, and politicians have flocked to the Esplanade in times of need and comfort, and without hesitation, the Esplanade has always welcomed them with open arms. The refurbished hotel blends timeless Art Deco with modern luxury in order to create a world class experience for each guest.
Chef maestro Ana Grgic oversees onsite restaurant Zinfandel's cuisine, whether that be one of its Mediterranean chic, regional food, or worldwide fusion dishes. You won't go wrong no matter which meal you pick - but many locals will tell you that a trip to the Esplanade is not complete without štrukli, traditional pastry with a cheese filling.
The Esplanade Zagreb refers to their štrukli as "traditional hand-drawn dough stuffed with fresh cheese, topped with fine cream and baked in the oven." This is an authentic, flavourful experience no one should withhold from their tastebuds!
Make your way up lovely Lotrščak Tower
Lotrščak Tower was originally built in the 13th century with an intent to guard the area surrounding the southern gate of the town (today’s Strossmayer Promenade) from invasions.
The tower’s name is derived from the Latin phrase campana latrunculorum, meaning "thieves' bell". It rang in the evening to signal the closing of the town gates. After Ottoman army attacks during the 16th century, the tower lost its protective purpose and was renovated in 1857, to include two additional floors and a lookout tower on the roof.
To get to the top of the tower today, you'll have to climb quite a few sets of stairs, but the view is completely worth it. A circular walkway encloses the top so you can walk all the way around while viewing Zagreb's warm terracotta rooftops and its numerous skyscrapers.
As an added bonus, a cannon is fired from the tower at noon, every single day! A long-lasting tradition, this sound has marked midday for the people of Zagreb for the past 200 years.
St. Mark's Church
This 13th-century church is one of Zagreb's most famous - and most colourful - trademarks.
While its foundations date back to the 1200s, its characteristically brightly tiled roof was added in the 19th century. The beautiful design showcases medieval coats of arms of the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia on the left side, and the emblem of the city of Zagreb on the right. Inside, you'll be able to take in work by some of Croatia's most renowned artists, including that of iconic sculptor Ivan Meštrović.
The church sits on a same-named square which is encircled by historic buildings that house Croatia's most important governmental sites (and they're a sight to see in their own right). In these ornate palaces are the seat of the Croatian government, the office of the Prime Minister, and the Croatian Parliament's meeting rooms.