Zagreb in a Glimpse
Zagreb is a vibrant city of around 800,000 people (metropolitan area: 1,200,000). The city boasts a charming medieval 'old city' with architecture and cobbled streets reminiscent of Vienna, Budapest, Prague and other Central-European capitals. Yearly its visited by over 800.000 tourists.
You Must See
The Upper and Lower Towns
Gornji grad, (Upper Town) and Donji grad (Lower Town) are the cultural, religious, and commercial hubs of Zagreb. These are where most of the restaurants, bars and tourist sights are located. The Upper Town, which is the medieval core of the city, developed as two separate (and often warring) towns - Kaptol, the seat of the Bishop (where the imposing Cathedral now stands), and Gradec, the free town where tradesmen and artisans lived (proclaimed by King Bela of Hungary in the 12th century) merged in the 1770s to form the northern section of historic Zagreb. Following this, the city expanded south of today's Trg Bana Josipa Jelacica (Jelacic Square) to the railway station and the Sava River.
Other city parks are connected in the "Lenuci Horseshoe", an unfinished project of combining small green squares and parks at the core of the center of the town.
Zagreb has two very popular lakes:
Medvednica and Medvedgrad (mountains)
The imposing mountain overlooking Zagreb (Medvednica) contains a preserved fortress (Medvedgrad) and fascinating views of the city. Being respectful in the fort is a good idea, since it is the site of the Altar of the Homeland memorial, dedicated to Croatian soldiers who died in the Homeland war. There are several historical festivals during the year, including knights tournaments.
The gree jewel of a mountain Medvednica is over 1000m high covers a large area with many excellent hiking and biking routes. Since Zagreb is at roughly 120 m, it is quite a climb.
There are many small restaurants, mountain grills and cafes at the top of the mountain, open until early evening. In the early and late summer it can be crowded in places, especially on weekends.
It is possible to take the bus up to the top of Sljeme from Mihaljevac (last tram station of the line #14). This bus replaces the gondola, although there are allegations that this will eventually be rebuilt. The bus takes a circular route and comes back to the same place. It take about 30 minutes up, less coming down. Many other buses serve small villages at the foot of the mountain where the mountain paths start/stop. Altrernatively, you can walk from Mihaljevac or Šestine (take the bus from Britanski trg) to the top of Sljeme. It should take you between 1,5h (fast walking) and 2,5h.
Zagreb has a well-developed and efficient public transport system that consists of trams, buses and trains. The tram network (route map web) operates 24 hours a day - from 4AM to 12AM there are 15 "day-time lines" (tram lines 1-9, 11-15 and 17), and from 12AM to 4AM there are 4 "night" lines (tram lines 31-34) which cover most of the day-time lines on a reduced (around 30-40 minute) frequency. Occasionally, buses replace trams on night lines. Tram line 3 does not operate Saturdays, Sundays and on public holidays. There are maps of the tram lines on almost every stop, so if you know the nearest stop to your destination you can simply figure out the shortest trip while you're at the stop.
As for the buses, there are 113 day-time and 4 night lines. ZET buses cover the area outside the city center, as well as some neighboring towns that administratively belong to Zagreb county. The buses use the same ticketing system as the trams.
A historic funicular railway (uspinjača in Croatian), one of the steepest in the world, operates between the lower and upper towns. Monthly, daily as well as single tram/bus ticket can be used, otherwise there is a small fee for a ride.
The price of a single one-zone ticket valid for 1.5 hours is 10 Kunas(September 2014)(~ 1.3€) when bought from a newspaper stand, ZET ticket or from the tram or bus driver. The ticket used during night schedule costs 15 Kunas (~2€). It can only be paid in local currency Kuna (currency exchange - mjenjačnica in Croatian) web. There is also a 24 hour ticket (dnevna karta) available at 30 Kuna (~ 4€) from newspaper stands or the ZET office, 3 days ticket for 70 Kunas (~9,2€), 7 days ticket for 150 Kunas (~19,7€), 15 days ticket for 200 Kunas (~26,3€) and 30 days ticket for 400 Kunas (~52,5€) (September 2014). Buy a ticket and punch it (insert it) in the little orange machine once you enter to validate. All single tickets are transfer tickets valid in multiple vehicles traveling in a single direction, so you won't need a new ticket when switching trams and/or buses. Tariff zone system exists, but only for townships and communities outside of Zagreb city limits, all trams are in zone 1, as well as buses in the City of Zagreb. If you plan on taking more than two rides, buy a daily ticket. Riding without a validated ticket is not advisable, due to a recent increase in the number of active ticket controllers.
Trains operated by Croatian Railways web (Hrvatske Željeznice) run every 15 minutes from east to west, connecting the suburbs of Zagreb with the central railway station. They are usually the quickest form of transport for those coming from the areas of Zagreb far from the railway station (Glavni kolodvor), or beyond the tram network.
Travelers who are staying for several days should consider buying the Zagreb Card web. The card offers unlimited travel on public transport in Zagreb, discounts at virtually all of the city's museums, reduced prices at many restaurants, shops, and service providers and many other concessions. It costs 90 kuna (approx. 12 euros) and is valid for 72 hours from the date and time entered on the card. Holders of the card also receive a special booklet with a list of all of the establishments and the discounts available to them. The card can be purchased at any of Zagreb's Tourist Information Centers and at the reception desks of the majority of Zagreb's hotels.
As other cities in Croatia, Zagreb is very safe, but just as anywhere else dark alleys, parks during the night, etc. should generally be avoided, and common sense should be followed. The chance of getting in trouble in Zagreb is fairly low, especially in the city centre where the most of the hotels and restaurants are located. Tourists, who are in general respected and welcome, soon realise that Zagreb is way safer than the vast majority of other European capitals such as London, Paris, Vienna, Rome, Budapest, etc.
Pickpocketing isn't a particularly common occurrence in Zagreb, but you might be approached by beggars and similar people on the street - ignore them and they will go away.
Park Ribnjak, located very close to the city centre, is safe during daytime and worth visiting, especially for children. However, it has recently become a night-time meeting place of alternative youngsters, and subculture violence involving "skinheads" and similar violent young people has occasionally occurred. It's best to steer clear of Ribnjak after dark, which shouldn't be a problem because of a lack of interesting content for most tourists anyway.
Further, if you are going out at night (especially on weekends) steer clear of any drunk and rowdy groups of young people you might encounter in the street or night trams as random beatings have been known to occur. It is not uncommon for such groups to start unprovoked attacks on passersby, although they target mainly younger crowd and teenagers. These are not common but they do happen occasionally, so take precautions.
Avoid clubs which play what is known in Croatia as "Turbo-folk" music. These clubs are often featured in the local newspapers as violence erupts in them quite easily.
Also, avoid strip clubs at all costs. Zagreb is not famous for such clubs and they are rare, however most of them are often run by very shady characters, and often overcharge their guests. Recent cases include foreigners that were charged €2000 for a bottle of champagne. These clubs overcharge their customers to the extreme, and their bouncers will not have any mercy if you tell them you are unable to pay. You will soon find yourself in a local hospital. This not only applies to strip clubs in Zagreb, but also all over Croatia.