Zagreb Cathedral
© Vanda Vucicevic/Time Out

Essential Zagreb attractions

Searching for things to do in the Croatian capital? Look no further than these top Zagreb attractions

By Justin McDonnell
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Zagreb attractions number plenty of stately icons among their ranks, owing to the city's status as a former Habsburg hub and capital of a new nation. Towering cathedrals, a venerable zoo and a stately cemetery all provide plenty of things to do in Zagreb. Our experts pick out the best.

Zagreb attractions

Gliptoteka
© Gliptoteka

Gliptoteka

Art Sculpture Zagreb

Created by the Croatian Academy of Science & Arts to house plaster copies of famous sculptures, the Gliptoteka has expanded its activities to become a major venue for changing exhibitions of contemporary painting, sculpture design and new media art. There is still an extensive permanent exhibition of sculpture, featuring replicas of medieval tombstones, statues, and a handful of originals by famous Croatian sculptors.

Croatian National Theatre
© Matt Field/Time Out

Croatian National Theatre

Theatre Public and national theatres Zagreb

This neo-baroque landmark, opened by Habsburg Emperor Franz Josef in 1895, played a vital role in the establishment of a Croatian national identity. What you find today is a sumptuous interior – a suitably ornate backdrop for local-language theatre, congresses and promotional events.

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Image of War Photography Museum
© Image of War Photography Museum

Image Of War Photography Museum

Museums Military and maritime Zagreb

Located in the city centre, the popular Image of War Photography Museum collects some of the most vivid and often harrowing photographs taken during Croatia's War of Independence 1991 – 1995. Displaying multiple aspects of the conflict, including the effects on civilians and military alike, the work of well-known photographers hangs alongside images captured by the public.

Croatian Association of Artists
© Matt Field/Time Out

Croatian Association of Artists

Art Galleries Zagreb

Visit for the building alone, a circular pavilion standing in the middle of Victims of Fascism Square, a ten-minute walk south-east of the main square. The building was designed by sculptor Ivan Meštrović just before World War II as an exhibition space in honour of the then Yugoslav King Peter I. Inside, the circular walls contain three galleries, which span two floors and provide an outstanding venue for a dynamic program of contemporary art exhibitions and events organized by the Croatian Association of Artists (HDLU). The circular central hall features natural light through the cupola. The HDLU is actually comprised of four galleries, with only one of them, Gallery Karas, not located within this building, but close by, at Zvonimirova 58.

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Galerija ULUPUH, art galleries, zagreb, croatia
(C) ULUPUH

Galerija ULUPUH

Art Galleries Tkalciceva

Occupying a rather charming trio of barrel-vaulted rooms in a Baroque town house, this gallery is displays works by members of the Croatian Association of Applied Artists. Ceramics, photography and fashion design feature strongly in a varied menu of changing exhibitions.

KIC Club
© KIC Club

KIC Art

Art Arts centres Zagreb

Cultural and information centre near the main square, with its own bar and regular screenings of international films – a significant number of the arthouse variety.

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Zagreb Cathedral
© Vanda Vucicevic/Time Out

Zagreb Cathedral

Attractions Religious buildings and sites Kaptol

The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary (Katedrala Uznesenja Blažene Djevice Marije) is Zagreb's principal landmark. And though much of the exterior has long been veiled behind construction sheathing, its neo-Gothic twin towers, visible over the city, are as close as Zagreb gets to a visual identity worthy of calling-card status. The first church was destroyed by the Tatars in 1242 and later reconstructions were damaged by fire. After an earthquake in 1880 the city hired architect Hermann Bollé, who added a monumental pair of 105m-high bell towers. The interior remains austere: neo-gothic altars, 19th-century stained glass, and an Ivan Meštrović relief that marks the resting place of controversial Croatian Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac. An effigy of the archbishop rests on a raised platform behind the main altar.    

Greta Gallery
© Greta Gallery

Greta Gallery

Art Contemporary art Zagreb

Zagreb has always lacked the kind of small-scale independent galleries that occupy the fertile spawning grounds in-between public art institutions and private dealers. Which is why Greta, a gallery in a former clothes shop that opens a new exhibition every Monday night, has proved such an instant hit. Greta doesn’t follow too strict a curatorial framework, ensuring the widest possible variety of artistic approaches. The gallery’s location, at the apex of a bohemian Bermuda Triangle formed by the Fine Arts Academy, the Architecture Faculty and the Sedmica bar, ensures a knowledgeable and enthusiastic public. Indeed Greta regularly receives more visitors than many of the more established galleries, with opening-night celebrants spilling out onto the pavement outside.

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Museum of Arts & Crafts
© Fumie Suzuki/Time Out

Museum of Arts & Crafts

Museums Art and design Zagreb

This grand Hermann Bollé-designed palace, founded in 1880, was originally based on 'a collection of samples for master craftsmen and artists who need to re-improve production of items of everyday use'. It has now grown to become the country's premier collection of applied art, with a wide-ranging gaggle of pieces from Baroque altar pieces to Biedermeier furniture, domestic ceramics, clocks and contemporary poster design. A side room full of synagogue silverware and ritual candlesticks recalls the rich heritage of Zagreb's pre-World War II Jewish community. On the top floor, a collection of 19th-20th century ball gowns and evening dresses provides a strong whiff of glamour. The museum is also a major venue for temporary exhibitions with big themes, with the photographs of Rene Magritte and the history of Croatian Art Deco drawing recent crowds.

Maksimir Zoo
© Fumie Suzuki/Time Out

Maksimir Park & Zoo

Attractions Parks and gardens Zagreb

A ten-minute tram ride from the main square heading east of the centre, these attractive 18 hectares (45 acres) of welcome greenery were opened to an appreciative public in 1794, the many woods, meadows and lakes landscaped in what was then considered the English style. Rolling hills cradle footpaths and cafés, providing ample room for jogging, romancing and relaxation. At one end you'll find the City Zoo, with the daily feeding times posted up for the seals, sea lions and otters, so that you can time a family visit around them. On the other side of the road stands Croatia's national football stadium, also called the Maksimir, base of home-town club Dinamo Zagreb.

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