13 Things to do for Free in Zagreb
Vibrant Zagreb, capital and largest city of Croatia, is often skirted past by travellers heading for the sun and sand of the country’s magnificent coastlines. However, do not repeat their mistake! Zagreb is a fascinating place, rich in culture, architecture, history and good times, all at prices that the budget traveller appreciates. Dig a little deeper and with its unique churches, innovative museums and abundance of green spaces, you are never far from things to do for free in Zagreb.
❶ The Changing of the Guard takes place every Saturday & Sunday from noon – 2 p.m. on Trg sv. Marka (St. Mark’s square) and is marked by a parade through the city centre with trumpeters, drummers, standard-bearers who then go and take up positions around the city.
❷ Muzej suvremene umjetnosti (Museum of Contemporary Art: Avenija Dubrovnik 17) is the largest and newest of Croatia’s museums, and contains a total of 12,000 exhibits of which 600 are on permanent display. It is Free on the 1st Wednesday of the month between 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
❸ Park Maksimir is the oldest public park in Zagreb and is a great place to escape the noise of the city. It is a favourite destination for locals and a great place to have a picnic, take a walk or simply to enjoy the nature and peaceful environs.
❹ Tržnica Dolac (Dolac Market) is Zagreb’s best known and most visited market, and a great place to experience the everyday life of the city. Specialities include home-made foodstuffs, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a covered downstairs market with a variety of butcher’s, fishmonger’s and predominately elderly ladies selling the local speciality sir i vrhnje (cheese & cream).
❺ Muzej ulične umjetnosti (Street Art Museum: Ulica kneza Branimira & parts of parts of Dugave and Siget neighbourhoods) is an ambitious open air art project located in 3 areas of the city where the city walls have been given over to graffiti and murals.
❻ Botanički vrt (Botanical Garden: Trg Marka Marulića 9A) covers an area of 5 hectares and is home to over 10,000 different species of plant (including 1,800 exotic plants). It is open Mon & Tue: 9 a.m. – 2.30 p.m. Wed – Sun: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. from Apr – Oct.
❼ For another slice of real Zagreb, check out the Hrelić Flea Market (Sajmišna cesta), one of Zagreb’s grittiest and most hectic events. It takes place on Saturday mornings and items on sale include used cars, clothing, all manner of goods and hardware, and some of the cheapest & greasiest food anywhere in the capital.
❽ Perhaps Zagreb’s most famous monument, Zagrebačka katedrala (Zagreb Cathedral: Kaptol 31) dates back to the 13th century, and despite being badly damaged by an earthquake in 1880, has managed to retain some of its original features. It is the tallest building in Croatia and its twin towers, seemingly always under renovation, are emblematic of the city and a soaring presence in the city’s panorama. Most pleasingly, it is Free to visit and open Mon – Sat: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. & Sun: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
❾ Hrvatski muzej pošte i telekomunikacija (Museum of Post and Telecommunications: Jurišićeva 13) is dedicated to the history of post and telecommunications in Croatia with several thematic exhibitions augmented by art exhibitions from professional and amateur artists. It is free to visit and open Mon – Wed & Fri: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. & Thu: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
❿ The unique Kamenita vrata (Stone Gate) was constructed in 13th century and is the only remaining gate of the defensive structure that once encircled the Gradec district. Today, it is a popular pilgrimage site where people light candles and prey.
⓫ Constructed on the site of an earlier religious building, the Crkva sv. Marka (Church of St. Mark: Trg Svetog Marka 5) we see today was built in the latter half of the 14th century in the late Gothic style and is instantly recognisable due to the elaborate patterned tiled roof representing the coat of arms of Zagreb (white castle on red background) and the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia. It is Free to visit and is open daily 7.30 a.m. – 6.30 p.m.
⓬ Nicknamed the ‘Zagreb Sea’ by locals, Lake Jarun is the perfect place to cool off after a sticky Croatian day. Swimming is, of course, free and there are 5 blue flag beaches to enjoy as well as plenty of bars and restaurants in which to relax.
⓭ Strossmayer Promenade (Strossmayerovo šetalište) is one of Zagreb’s most interesting and lively place. Throughout the year, the street offers fabulous views across the city and a great place to mingle with the crowds, but it is in summer, when the ‘Summer Stross’ festival is held, that the street truly comes alive. Events take place daily from 11 a.m. tp midnight with concerts and theatrical performances all washed down with a healthy dose of alcohol.