5 Things Only Tourists Do in Zagreb

Like A Local Guide • 20 Nov, 2013

It’s always quite easy to recognise a tourist. Sometimes it’s the city map they’re holding that gives them away, sometimes it’s their puzzled look. But there are other more specific things that give tourists away, things that can be avoided with local advice and recommendations. Our lovely local editor Iva reveals which 5 things to avoid doing in Zagreb if you don’t want to look like a tourist.

1. Hear an explosion in the city centre at noon and almost have a heart attack

If you happen to wander around the city centre at noon, you may be unpleasantly surprised. I mean, who would expect a cannon blast?! A cannon blast that triggers no response from anyone apart from uninformed tourists! This is actually what happens daily at noon – a cannon is fired from the Lotrščak Tower located in the old part of town. According to a local legend, the shot from the cannon helped to prevent the Turkish invasion of the city many years ago.

2. Take numerous pictures of vegetables at Dolac Market

It’s local custom in Zagreb to buy fruit, vegetables and other fresh produce from a market. Besides shopping for groceries, Zagreb markets are great places for socialising and people watching. The outdoor Dolac Market is probably the most famous one in the city – it’s a really great and colourful place that both locals and tourists love to visit. As for the countless photos of veggies, well, that’s something only tourists do.

7356589686_5d86955bfb_zPhoto credit: Bern Harrison

3. Go on a funicular ride

Funicular (cable railway) was the very first means of public transportation in Zagreb. It’s considered the safest option for getting around as there have never been any accidents with human victims. Even though locals absolutely adore the funicular, they tend to take the stairway to the upper part of town rather than paying for a ride of less than a minute. Basically an operating museum exhibit, the funicular is very popular amongst tourists who don’t mind paying less than €1 for a joyride.

8525397897_c4fc21209d_zPhoto credit: Victoria Lea B

4. Buy a necktie

Croatia is the birthplace of Nikola Tesla and Zagreb is the home of Slavoljub Penkala – the inventor of the mechanical pen. But funnily enough Zagreb became famous for being the homeland of the necktie. A Frenchman is believed to have started wearing one after seeing something similar on Croatian soldiers back in the 17th century. It has since become something of a national souvenir.

5. Notice the scaffolding around the cathedral spire

Zagreb Cathedral is probably the most touristy spot in the city and that’s why you won’t find it mentioned in the Like A Local guide. Also, there’s no need to recommend it as the building really can’t be missed – it can be seen from all over the city. There is something curious about it though – the towers have been undergoing reconstruction for so long that locals no longer notice the scaffolding. Tourists on the other hand always draw attention to the scaffolding surrounding the towers and ask why it’s there. The cathedral is being restored for a perfectly good reason – originally it was constructed from poor quality materials so now each stone has to be manually replaced to make it more durable.

4599464496_931f1dae7f_zPhoto credit: Annieminna

Like A Local Guide
Like A Local Guide is about stepping off the tourist trail and finding cool and cosy spots where locals like to spend their time. We built a website and mobile app to bring insider recommendations from around the world to your fingertips.

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    Isn't the story that some Croatian guy got a stain on his shirt and he covered it with a piece of cloth which then became a neck tie?
    anja • Nov 16, 2016 • Reply
    […] This country is an unspoiled European gem that is quickly gaining tourism steam – try over 675,000 visitors in 2012 – as people […]
    Not-to-Miss Attractions in Zagreb, Croatia | Venere Travel Blog • Jan 07, 2015 • Reply
    Hey Erik! Thank you for your comment! You've certainly inspired us to include more churches and sanctuaries to our local guide. Upon your request our Zagreb local Iva added this review: http://www.likealocalguide.com/zagreb/st-marks-square And there will be more to come. Also, even though we find the main cathedral touristy, that doesn't mean it's not worth visiting. Hope this helps!
    Kris Härsing • Jan 24, 2014 • Reply
    Hello Kris and Iva, Thank you for this list. We didn´t know that about the cannon being fired from the Lotrščak Tower. Whenever we go to Zagreb we will try not to get scared and look like a tourist haha :) If you don´t recommend the Zagreb Cathedral is there any other church or building you would totally recommend? Thank you! Erik
    Vuelos Zagreb • Jan 24, 2014 • Reply