Zagreb is the capital and largest city in the republic of Croatia. Located in the northwest of the country, on the river Sava, the city is the centre of administration, travel, business and culture in the country. Its strategic location at the point where Western Europe and the Mediterranean meet southeastern Europe gives it great significance as a transport hub for not just Croatia but the entire region as a whole.
Zagreb can trace its origins back to the Roman times, its first settlement dates back to the 1st Century. Zagreb itself was not officially founded until nearly a millennium later by the Hungarian King Ladislaus, and in 1242 it gained the honour of Free Royal Town. In 1845 it became the capital of Croatia and got its first mayor 6 years after that. After the mid-1950s the city expanded rapidly to the south, east and west, including the formation of a new district on the other side of the Sava: Novi Zagreb. Although some fighting took place in the city during the Croatian War of Independence and it suffered being hit by rocket strikes, Zagreb did manage to escape the war largely intact.
Since the end of the war, Zagreb has attracted close to a million visitors annually. The historic part of the city, comprised of the Gornji Grad and Kaptol, is a whole network of winding medieval streets populated by churches, museums, palaces, galleries and government buildings. The months between spring and autumn are the busiest times of the year for tourists, but with good reason, as they are also the best times of year to visit the city.
Zagreb airport is the main international airport of Croatia and the primary hub for Croatia airlines. It serves more than 2 million passengers a year and construction is currently underway on a second terminal. The airport is located about 10km to the southeast of the city center.
Getting from Zagreb International Airport to City Centre
There is a bus link between the main airport (Zračna luka) and the main bus station (Autobusni kolodvor) in Zagreb. A single ticket costs 30 HRK. From the bus station in downtown Zagreb, you can connect to the city's trams, which have a major terminal just down the street. The journey from the airport to the main bus station should take around 25 minutes. The bus leaves the airport every thirty minutes between 8:00am-8:00pm. In the hours between these, there is a bus leaving for Zagreb bus station every time a Croatia Airlines plane arrives. Additionally, there are buses run by Croatia Airlines/Eurolines.
There is also the option of taking a taxi from outside the airport - remember to ask for the fare before boarding.
By car the journey is straightforward: follow the D8 main road and it should not take much more than 30 minutes.
Zagreb's main station is also the largest station in Croatia as a whole and forms the primary hub of Croatia's railway network. Located 1km south of the city's main square, it was constructed in the Neoclassical style towards the end of the 19th century. It runs direct services to major European cities such as Vienna (6 hours), Budapest, Zurich, Munich, Salzburg, Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Belgrade (return ticket €44, only one train a day), as well as domestic services to all major towns (except Dubrovnik). There is also a night train between Zagreb and Split, costing 197 HRK and taking nine hours. Hrvatske željeznice (Croatian Railways) are the main provider of rail services from the station.
Getting from Zagreb Glavni kolodvor to City Centre
The train station is a major tram terminus - tram route 6 goes to the town center. The main bus station is also located nearby.
There are taxis outside the train station; a ride into town will cost about 30 HRK. Make sure this is the case before setting off!
The drive is a short one, barely worth making. The walk through the parks into the city center is an enjoyable one, so why not do that instead?
The bus station in Zagreb was first built in 1961, its current incarnation dates from 1987 when a new bus station building was built with associated terminals. It offers fast and safe transportation to all destinations in Croatia as well as to many bigger European cities.
Getting from Autobusni kolodvor Zagreb to City Centre
It is directly next to the train station: see above.
Many of the motorways in Croatia start or end in Zagreb.
To use motorways in Croatia you must pay the toll either in HRK or in EUR.
The speed limits are:
You must have a reflective jacket in the car that is to be worn if you are in an accident. Roads are generally well maintained, although smaller ones remain unlit at night.
Zagreb's public transport system is well-developed and efficient and consists of a network of trams, buses, and trains, as well as the famous funicular.
The tram network runs 24 hours/day - from 4:00am to 12:00am there are 15 "day-time lines" (tram lines 1-9, 11-15 and 17), and from 12:00am to 4:00am there are 4 "night" lines (tram lines 31-34) that run on a less frequent schedule. Tram line 3 does not run on weekends nor on public holidays.
Regarding buses: there are 113 daytime 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.
Using public transport is more popular than moving around the city by car. Zagreb does not have a car-centric culture; its citizens are happy to take advantage of the 24/7 public transport network.
Cycling is fairly common and there are a few companies offering cycle tours of the city. There are some cycle lanes but in some parts of town they may appear a bit of an afterthought.
Taxis are pretty common, with a number of new companies springing up in the past few years. The resultant price war means that taxis offer a viable alternative that is affordable.
You can drive in Zagreb, but be warned: the very center of the city is pedestrianized and where it isn't is probably part of the - to some people counterintuitive - one-way system.
There are supposedly 24,174 parking places in Zagreb but finding one is never easy - especially in the rush hour! Zagreb is divided into three parking zones. Parking in the red zone in the city center costs 6 HRK/hour, in the yellow zone 3 HRK/hour and in the green zone 1.5 HRK/hour. The daily rates are 100HRK in the red zone, 60 HRK in the yellow and 20 HRK in the green. All-day tickets can be purchased in the post office.
The city is undoubtedly a pedestrian-friendly place with numerous walking tours frequently offered. The center of town, including many of the main sights - is pedestrianized. Indeed much of the city can be explored on foot, although cars become more prevalent the further from the old town that you go.