Top 10: Best Free Things to Do in Zagreb

Like A Local Guide • 10 Nov, 2015

Croatia’s charming capital is only now becoming a popular travel destination, enchanting visitors with its relaxed atmosphere and great diversity. While the prices are still very reasonable, there’s a decent range of fun things to do and see for free. Whether you enjoy nature, culture, touristy stuff, unique sights or even treasure hunts, there’s something to suit your taste. Iva has shared her favourites in the hope of helping you experience Zagreb to the fullest. Besides being a loyal local ambassador and the author of the Secret Zagreb blog, she runs fun storytelling walking tours in her city.

1. Visit Zagreb Cathedral

The Cathedral is one of the most exquisite architectural monuments in Zagreb. Be sure to check out the interior. There are usually a lot of tour guides inside, so maybe you can eavesdrop and hear some stories about it too.

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Photo credit: Andy Clymer

2. Don’t miss Mirogoj – the city’s main cemetery

You can spend hours strolling along the serene pathways of Zagreb’s main cemetery. The massive wall that surrounds it is a must-see. Many agree that Mirogoj is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe. Founded in the second half of the 19th century, it’s the eternal home of many important Croatian historical personalities. Many graves in the oldest part of the cemetery are decorated with sculptures by great artists. At the tourist information centre, you can get a free brochure that highlights the most famous graves.

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Photo credit: Iva Silla

3. Enjoy the serenity of the Botanical Garden

Zagreb is known as a laid-back destination; a perfect alternative to the touristy capitals that stress visitors out with their crowds and long queues in front of each attraction. But Zagreb can get even more relaxed – take the Botanical Garden for example. It’s a true natural oasis stuck in time and space. Very little has changed since it was opened to the public in 1891, and the staff still sticks to the original agreement with the city – they don’t charge an entry fee.

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Photo credit: Iva Silla

4. Explore the oldest and biggest public park in Zagreb

Park Maksimir is just several tram stops away from the main square. It’s easy to reach and is an impressive example of park architecture. Most of the lovely buildings, gazebos and other structures are located fairly close to the entrance, but the park is so huge that most locals have never covered all of it.

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Photo credit: Iva Silla

5. Go hiking

On the north side of the city there’s a mountain – Mount Medvednica. You can reach its base by tram and then start hiking. The forest trails are in great shape and are properly marked. The mountain is full of historical and natural wonders. There’s an abandoned sanatorium, the ruins of a mansion, a cosy mountain lodge and even a few urbex spots.

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Photo credit: 2nd star on the right

6. Browse through the open-air markets

There are around 20 open-air farmers markets in Zagreb, the biggest being the centrally located Dolac Market. A walk through any farmers market in the city will give you a colourful experience and colourful photos for your travel album. The visit itself is free, but we can’t guarantee you won’t get hungry and end up spending some money after all. Britanac is another farmers market located in the city centre. On Sundays, a lovely antiques fair takes place there. In fact, Sunday mornings in Zagreb are perfect for market hopping, as the Hrelic flea market is also held there. If you’re in town on a Sunday, get up early and explore all of the above.

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Photo credit: Iva Silla

7. Seek out the city’s street art

Zagreb is fast becoming a street art hotspot. Several street art festivals that have taken place over the last decade have left behind so-called “street art museums” in different parts of the city. You can see impressive murals by world-famous street artists such as Phlegm and Étien’, as well as beautiful pieces by great Croatian artists such as Oko and Lonac. Make sure you check out the graffiti wall, Dugave street art museum, Siget street art museum and the giant whale mural.

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Photo credit: Iva Silla

8. Go planet hunting

Artist Davor Preis created an interesting art installation called Nine Views. It’s a scale model of the solar system. Planets are situated all over the city, circling a sculpture called The Grounded Sun. Walking around Zagreb trying to spot all of the planets is a fun activity, plus it’s a great excuse to visit some non-touristy spots.

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Photo credit: Iva Silla

9. Get lost

Just head somewhere and see where it takes you. I’ve done this myself countless times. I’ve also heard so many travellers say that they spent their day simply wandering around and enjoying the city. It really is the best thing to do in Zagreb.

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Photo credit: nemomemini

10. See (and hear) the cannon

We’re ending this article with a bang. There’s a cannon that strikes every single day at noon. It’s a fun experience – make sure you don’t miss it. It’s just once a day, but it’s worth planning your schedule to ensure you’ll be standing just under the Lotrščak Tower in time for the shot. And make sure you cover your ears – there’s no warning when it’s going to hit. It’s also really fun to see the reactions of people who don’t follow this advice. They jump all over the place.

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Photo credit: Iva Silla

For more local recommendations read:
What locals like to do in Zagreb
Where locals like to eat in Zagreb
Where locals like to party in Zagreb

Special tip:
For a more authentic Zagreb experience, get the Like A Local mobile app

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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