Once the ticket for your next destination is booked, the next step to consider is - accommodation! Having a nice, clean and safe place to sleep doesn’t mean breaking your bank. Hostels are a great choice for a budget friendly accommodation so you can add more value to your vacation affording other activities. Here’s a little list of reasons why you should book a hostel for your next trip!
1. Save money on accommodation
In general, hostels are a cheaper option than hotels because they offer comfortable accommodation with affordable prices. How? By utilizing shared dorm rooms, bathroom and kitchen. But don’t worry, if you wish for more comfort, many hostels these days offer private rooms without compromising the price. Swanky Mint hostel went an extra mile to include studio apartments too.
2. Save money on food
Staying in a hostel allows you to be a chef by preparing your own meals in the hostel kitchen. Make buying groceries a sightseeing activity by visiting local farmers markets. If you don’t feel like cooking on your vacation, choose a hostel that has meals offered on site or even has them included in the price.
3. Save money on experiences
Offering budget friendly accommodation also means providing the best deals on other experiences. You are interested in a walking tour of the city, cool day trips or even renting a car? Walk no further then reception - the staff will provide you with the best deals. Trust them, they are travellers themselves who like to get the best value for money also!
4. Staying in a unique hostel becomes an experience on its own
These days hostellers are getting more and more creative in offering unique experiences by placing their hostels in places which already have a story. For example hostel Swanky Mint is placed in a former cleaning and textile dye factory from the 19th Century and all it’s industrial design has been inspired by it. With no ghosts, promise.
5. Location, location, location
Most city hostels have a central location close enough to explore the city highlights or night life. Renting bikes is becoming popular also - so add that as an activity to stay fit while exploring 🙂
6. Feeling safe
Being aware you are a foreigner in another country can be a bit intimidating, especially for solo female travellers. That’s why hostels are a great choice since they put a lot of effort into making guests feel safe. Having unique guests only codes for the main door after dark, camera surveillance, 24/7 working staff, lockers in the room, curtains on the beds - for your piece of mind they try to do the best they can!
7. Making friends along the way
The biggest difference between a hotel and a hostel is the S - the social aspect. Common motto is - strangers are just friends you’ve never met before. And it’s a well known fact that travel friends easily become lifelong friends. Who knows, you maybe even fall in love.
8. Free travel agents
Hostel staff aren’t just concierges, mums, guides, cleaners, chefs, but your own life size Lonely planet guides 😀 If you need help planning activities in the city, best tips for food & drinks, planning road tripping around the country - their map will be out in no time while providing you with the best local information!
9. Free Wi-Fi
Needless to say more!
10. Supporting sustainable tourism
Travelling in a conscious way is our future! To maintain the beauty of our planet and local cultures while leaving a positive footprint. Hostels are usually the first in the line supporting such a mindset. Many hostels are trying their best to be as eco-friendly as possible, recycling, reusing, running on solar panels, being aware of electricity and water usage, partnering with small businesses and always seeking new ideas how to improve!
Zagreb is definitely one of the underrated European capitals, additionally shadowed by the beautiful Croatian coastline and paradise-like islands. However, this city offers an abundance of activities for every kind of traveler. So without further ado, let’s talk about what to do in Zagreb in 48 hours!
We recommend spending your first day exploring where it all began - the upper and the lower town center. The heart of Zagreb consists of two green and charming hills called Kaptol and Gradec - these are where the city was founded. The lower town flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries, and with its central Ban Jelačić Square has been and still is a focal point of the city.
Consider joining our Swanky Travel Free Walking Tour to get to know the city and to make it easier to find your way around it.
Zagreb is a city riddled with farmers markets, and one of the oldest and biggest ones is the Dolac market, dating to the year 1930 (at the current location). Just a few steps away from the main square, at this market, often called the belly of Zagreb, you will find fresh homegrown produce from all over Croatia. Grab a coffee, take a walk and pick up some fresh fruit and veggies, a piece of the most delicious homemade cheese, and prepare a tasty and healthy breakfast in the hostel kitchen.
Insanely photogenic, with piles of fresh produce and uniformed traditional Zagreb sun umbrellas, the chatty and busy atmosphere of this market is bound to motivate you for the rest of the day.While you are there, check out vendors that sell traditional Zagreb souvenirs like Licitar hearts or Šestine umbrellas.
Spend your afternoon exploring the city your way, because Zagreb indeed is a city with something to offer to everyone. If you enjoy nature, consider having a picnic in one of our numerous parks. City park Zrinjevac or a park-forest Tuškanac are located just a few minutes walk from the hostel in the city center, but you will feel like you escaped far from the business of city streets and into nature.
To visit some of the most popular parks that are further away from the center, rent a bike on our reception and pedal 20 minutes through Zagreb to the forest-park Maksimir or Jarun lake where on warm days you can even go swimming.
Zagreb is famous for its museums, ranging from art and history museums to some pretty unique ones. You probably already know about our Museum of Broken Relationships, but make sure to check out the Archeological museum where you will see a real Egyptian mummy, the Chocolate museum where the entrance ticket is edible, or travel back in time visiting the Zagreb 80s Museum.
So after a super busy day of sight-seeing and walking around, you will probably be searching for a nice meal. Whether you are looking for a pub dinner with good craft beer, a more romantic setting, traditional or street food, the city center is riddled with places that will be kind both to your stomach and wallet (ubaciti link na članak o restoranima).
The bar scene in Zagreb is insane, in the most positive way possible. Check out Tkalčićeva street, the street that in the late 19th and early 20th century made Zagreb the first European city with an actual Red Light District. Today this street is Zagreb’s most popular bar street with an abundance of bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants with charming terraces perfect for people watching.
If you want to finish your first night in Zagreb with some clubbing, we got you covered there as well! Join a pub crawl that will take you around the center's most popular bars and clubs, or check out one of the clubs more beloved by locals, like Alcatraz, Funk or Boogaloo.
Don’t worry if you stayed longer at dinner or want to take a nap after a long day, most clubs here stay open even until 5 am. And for those who want to keep exploring the city, Secret Zagreb offers cool and spooky tours focused on the city’s stories about witches, ghosts, and dragons.
After a busy and fast-paced first day, on the second day, you can take it easy and enjoy Zagreb the way locals do.
Maybe you heard about this ‘’weird’’ coffee culture in Croatia where people go to a bar, order one small cup of coffee, and enjoy it for 2 hours at a time. Yeah, we do do that, but pair that coffee with a nice breakfast in one of Zagreb’s many coffee shops or bistros and you have a recipe for a nice relaxed morning going through photos of the previous day and recharging your batteries for the rest of the day. If you are up early and ready for the next adventure, consider visiting Hrelić, an insanely unique and quirky flea market, the biggest one in this part of Europe.
Use the afternoon to explore the historical streets of the Upper Town, and beautiful architecture and landscaping of the Lower Town. We suggest taking a Funicular to the Upper Town. This is the shortest funicular ride in the world, with 66 meters long rails that will take the little cabin 64 seconds to ascend. When you exit the funicular you will be greeted by the 13th century Lotrščak tower. This symbol of Zagreb offers two attractions worth seeing: there is a noisy surprise every day at noon, and you can climb to the top of it where there is a viewing deck that offers an amazing 360-degree view of the city.
Take a walk around this area to be amazed by plenty of plateaus with the most photo-worthy views, the most unique and beautiful buildings like St. Marko’s church, and museums in almost every street. If you need some peace and quiet to get your thoughts together, because we all know how stressful traveling can be, take a short walk to the Cathedral from where you can hop on a bus that will take you to Mirogoj. Mirogoj is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe open to visitors, often referred to as an outside art gallery, where you can take a walk, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and take some amazing photos.
Your last evening in Zagreb should be reserved for a good session of wining and dining because you don’t want to miss out on delicious Croatian traditional cuisine. Medvedgrad pub is a must for those who enjoy a good craft beer and simple but hefty meal. If you are looking for something more traditional that even the most strict Croatian grandma would approve of, check out restaurant Stari Fijaker. To finish your evening, consider finding a pool or an ice-skating rink, depending on the season, or if you are up for a more relaxed evening, that 2-hour coffee culture can easily be translated into evening edition with a tasty cocktail or a glass of famous Croatian wine.
Ice Park - Seasonal ice skating rink
If you’re searching for the perfect European city to spend a long weekend, Zagreb might be just what you’ve been searching for… ‘the one’ as they say! Why? It’s perfectly sized meaning that seeing all of the main sites in just one weekend is achievable, it has a buzzing yet relaxing atmosphere, fantastic food and wine, and countless layers of history. This means that whether you want to spend your time visiting historical sites, exploring every inch of the city, eating and drinking to your heart’s content or simply sitting back and watching the world go by from a sunny café terrace, Zagreb will deliver.
There are plenty of things to do in Zagreb, and you’re likely to stumble upon some of these attractions by accident whilst exploring on foot. But if you prefer to not to just wander around hoping you’ve seen all of the best bits, read on to learn about the top things to do in Zagreb.
I know it looks like I’m cramming three things into one here, but they go hand in hand! Zagreb is split into an Upper and Lower town, and both have distinct personalities. The Upper town is quieter, and it’s cobbled streets and beautiful buildings give it wonderful old town charm. Take the funicular (free with a Zagreb card or 4 Kuna without) from near Ban Jelačić square and admire the views back over the Lower town when you reach the top before slowly heading towards St Mark’s Square.
You’ll be immediately drawn towards St Mark’s Church, which stands in the centre stealing the limelight from the its neighbouring buildings of the Croatian Government, Parliament and Constitutional Court. Whilst these buildings are grand and beautiful, they can’t compete with the bright red, white and blue coloured roof of St Mark’s Church.
Try to time your visit to the Upper town so that you’re up there at midday – the Lotrscak Tower houses the Gric cannon which is fired everyday at this time.
Dolac is Zagreb’s biggest and most charming farmers’ market and is a treat for the eyes with its colourful sea of local fruit and vegetables. It’s not just the place to get one of your five a day though, it also showcases produce from all over Croatia such as cottage cheese from Zagorje, Istrian olive oil, Zadar cherries, mandarins from the Neretva Valley and lemons from Vis. Whilst you’re in the Upper town take some time to get lost amongst the bright red parasols and pick up some Croatian delicacies at the same time.
This cathedral is the largest sacral building in Croatia so it’s definitely worth a look around! It dates back to the 13th century but has been rebuilt multiple times since for a variety of reasons including damage by fires and earthquakes, and currently has a Neo-Gothic style which dates back to the 19th century.
This is an absolute must-see in Zagreb, even if you’re not usually a museum fan. It’s home to a wide variety of donated relics and memorabilia, each with a unique story relating to a broken relationship. This could be romantic relationships, family relationships… there’s even a box of pizza mix representing one individual’s broken relationship with pizza thanks to a gluten intolerance. The museum successfully toured the world before becoming a permanent resident of Zagreb’s Upper town.
If the Museum of Broken Relationships has given you a taste for slightly unusual exhibitions, you might enjoy learning about the torture and execution instruments from different epochs or perhaps about different species of mushrooms! Or maybe you’d like to experience the Museum of Illusions, where not everything is what it appears to be…
Just a short tram ride away from the centre, this park is the perfect place to relax away from the buzz of the city centre. The English-style park is the oldest public park in Zagreb and boasts five lakes and a number of pretty steams as well as the Maksimir Belvedere and the Pavilion of Echoes. It’s almost as big as New York’s Central Park, so make sure not to get lost!
Another reason to head out to Maksimir Park is that it’s home to Zagreb Zoo! A short walk through the park will take you to the entrance, and I have to say it’s the best value-for-money zoo I’ve ever been to. For just 30 Kuna you can spend your afternoon amongst almost 300 species of animals including bears, lions, sea lions, snow leopards, zebras and pygmy hippopotamuses!
You’ll have to take the bus to get here (10 minutes from Kaptol) but you get two attractions in one, with the largest cemetery in Zagreb AND an open-air sculpture park. It serves as a burial ground for various religions and segregation is strictly forbidden, therefore representing religious tolerance. There are plenty of paths and you could walk around here for hours.
If you want to experience Zagreb from above, you can head up to the top of the Zagreb Skyscraper for incredible views of the Ban Jelačić square, Manduševac fountain, Kaptol, Gradec, the Upper and Lower towns and the beautiful parks of Zagreb. The Zagreb Skyscraper is situated in Ban Jelačić square and is free to visit with a Zagreb card or 60 Kuna without.
These are of course just some of the things to see in Zagreb, and there are plenty more if you have the time! For example, you could visit the Technical Museum of Nikola Tesla, the Ethnographic Museum, the Botanical Gardens, the Lenuci Horseshoe and the Croatian National Theatre. However, these are my top picks and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have! Author: Ellen Miller