Where to Stay in Zagreb → 5 Best Areas from Experience!

St. Mark's Church in Zagreb, Croatia, with its iconic colorful tiled roof featuring the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia

Dobar dan (g’day in Croatian), welcome to my blog post on where to stay in Zagreb! As someone who’s visited this beautiful city and has tons of friends and cousins living there, I’ll be your trip-planning gal for the perfect stay in Croatia’s capital!

I have prepared this simple and easy-to-read guide where I discuss the 5 best areas, sorted by interest and price! I also share top-rated, guest-favorite accommodation options in each of the areas!

Now, the City Center, notably the Lower Town, is the place to be for first-timers! It’s packed with cultural, historical, and casual sights, and it’s where the center of the action is!

Just keep in mind that you have to book in advance to get the best deals, especially the mid-range and budget ones. Those sell out quickly!

Quick Picks for Your Stay

Here’s a short list of all the best hotels for your stay in Zagreb: 

And here is a map showing the top 5 areas to stay in Zagreb for your easy reference:

A colorful map highlighting the best areas to stay in Zagreb with numbered locations and labels for easy navigation
  1. LOWER TOWN: for first-timers
  2. UPPER TOWN: for nightlife
  3. JARUN: for families
  4. NOVI ZAGREB: for socialist architecture
  5. MAKSIMIR: for outdoor activities

1. Lower Town (Donij Grad) – where to stay in Zagreb for the first time

Aerial view of Lower Town (Donji Grad) in Zagreb, with the Zagreb Cathedral dominating the skyline surrounded by classic European architecture

Lower Town or Donji Grad is the part of Zagreb City Center with charming Austro-Hungarian architecture and huge streets. It’s the perfect choice if you’re traveling to Croatia’s capital for the first time and are arriving at the central train station, which is located here! 

This area is super convenient since you won’t even need to take the bus to get around, as everything is within walking distance!

Start your visit from the central square, Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića, situated on Ilica Street. As a symbol of the city, the horse statue of this celebrated Croatian army general welcomes locals and visitors from across the world.

We spent a good portion of our visit in a bookstore on the main square (as always). But there are plenty of things to do in Lower Town, like strolling in the Park Zrinjevac (map) and exploring local squares (Cvjetni Trg or Flower Square, Britanski Trg or British Square).

Here, you’ll also find plenty of museums, no matter what your interests, there’s a museum for you. Learn more about the world of chocolate at the Chocolate Museum, dive into human history at the Archeology Museum, and discover more about science and technology at the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum

During our stay, we stayed in a hotel near Park Zrinjevac, and I loved how we could walk literally everywhere. The hotels near parks are great because the area around them is quiet, but you’re just a few blocks away from the vibrant nightlife!

Did you know that Advent in Zagreb is actually one of the best ones in Europe? You’ll find 25 Christmas Markets across the capital’s numerous squares, so you’ll certainly enjoy visiting in December!

You’ll also find plenty of hotels and public transportation options, so you can make it to any part of town relatively quickly.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Zagreb: a cozy living room area with a plush beige sofa and flowers on the coffee table, a majestic exterior view of a classical hotel facade with outdoor dining setup, and a well-appointed bedroom with a large bed and elegant decor.

I love the classical-elegant touch of this Lower Town Zagreb luxury hotel. It looks like a modern palace! Not to mention the art-nouveau, spacious rooms with amazing views of the heart of the city! You can hit the gym or spa in the morning, and then go to the hotel’s terrace restaurant and enjoy a delicious meal! This is one of the best places to stay in Lower Town!

Other accommodation options in Lower Town (Donji Grad)

mid-range
Facade of Hotel Dubrovnik, a classic building situated at a bustling city square with clear skies above

Located on the city’s central square, this iconic hotel has the perfect location and complimentary breakfast

budget
Minimalistic attic bedroom with a large double bed covered in patterned bedding, under a sloped ceiling with skylight windows

Stay in Zagreb in this cozy studio with all the basic amenities and a perfect location

airbnb
Modern and minimalist living room with a comfortable gray sofa, chic dining set, and large windows

One of the best apartments in the City Center that has a garden, free parking and a lovely kitchen

Things to do in Zagreb Lower Town (Donji Grad)

2. Upper Town (Gornji Grad) – best place to stay for nightlife

Statue of a knight on horseback, positioned in front of a lush, ivy-covered building, depicting historical grandeur in a green urban space

The Upper Town forms the other half of the beautiful City Center of Zagreb. It’s also known as the Old Town, and it’s simply amazing! If you want to enjoy the city’s nightlife in between museum hopping and history lessons, this part of town is perfect for you. 

You won’t get prettier views of the city than from the hilly Upper Town! Definitely pack those comfy shoes! Luckily, there’s one of the world’s shortest funiculars (66 meters or 216 feet long, map) that can take you up or down!

The old houses and cobbled streets look amazing from up here, but fear not—the streets are not quiet! They are packed with friendly tourists, lively bars and restaurants, and other Zagreb attractions. Here, you can also explore the vibrant street art scene (notably around Park Ribnjak, which also encompasses an Art Park).

Walk around the beautiful Jelacic Square, and oh, get ready to have some fun on Tkalciceva, the famed “bar street” and my favorite street in town! I totally recommend you go beer tasting at Mali Medo (map), the largest brewery in town! We tried a set of local craft beers and loved every single one!

One of the top sights is the Museum of Broken Relationships, with artifacts of ex-lovers offering a completely new take on broken hearts. Seriously, Zagreb has some of the weirdest museums I have seen – museums of selfies, mushrooms, and hangovers, just to name a few.

A small sub-area here, Kaptol, is the city’s religious center, and the atmosphere is quite nice. You have the lovely villas and the Zagreb Cathedral (map) here, which is the tallest Croatian building at 108 m (354 feet)!

In this part of Zagreb, you’ll find many other historical landmarks, as well as some shopping stores and good restaurants. Make sure you stop by the Dolac Market (map) and get a cool souvenir! 

A bit further north is the Mirogoj Cemetery (map), one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe, according to National Geographic! It was designed by Hermann Bollé, an Austro-Hungarian architect who mainly worked in Zagreb and Ljubljana. He also designed the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three boutique hotel images for a stay in Zagreb: an inviting private balcony with wicker chairs and a table overlooking greenery, a minimalistic bedroom with a large bed and wood accents, and a living room with modern furniture and framed pictures on the wall.

The closest it can get to luxury in Zagreb’s Upper Town is over at HOH! Fully modern rooms with a lovely patio/terrace where you can have breakfast, featuring a fitness center, a spa, and the most accommodating staff!

Other accommodation options in Upper Town (Gornji Grad)

mid-range
Spacious balcony area with metal chairs and table, ideal for outdoor dining, partially shaded by an umbrella

This 4-star hotel is situated on a central street, has great breakfast, and spacious rooms

budget
Contemporary bedroom featuring a rustic wooden bed, a piano in the corner, and creative overhead decor

A great place to stay, located near the Ban Jelacic Square (the main square), this hostel has a terrace and air conditioning in the rooms

airbnb
Bright and airy living space with a sofa bed, plush white chairs, a shag rug, and a TV, under a white-pitched ceiling

Stay in Zagreb Croatia in a quirky, affordable apartment that has a kitchen, free parking, and Wi-Fi

Things to do in Upper Town (Gornji Grad)

3. Jarun – where to stay in Zagreb for families

A person in a yellow shirt riding a bicycle on a paved path next to a calm river, with a unique, ribbed structure in the distance, on a hazy day.

Are you traveling to Zagreb, Croatia, with your family, and don’t know which neighborhood will keep your kids entertained? Jarun, which is 6 km (3.7 miles) Southwest of the City Center, is the perfect place! 

Jarun is named after the artificial lake that runs through the area, also known as the Zagreb Sea. You can try numerous activities here, like swimming, paddling, surfing, skating, and many others at the lake. My cousin, a former Zagreb local, recommended this area as one of the most activity-dense in the city!

You can watch the swans and just chill, but you’ll still be close to the City Center’s hustle and bustle. Even though the area has a good bus connection to the Center, you might consider renting a car so you can get around easily with the little ones. As another option, you can take Tram 17 to the City Center; the ride is around 40 minutes. 

There’s a great selection of luxury hotels and budget hostels here as well, plus tons of restaurants and cafes, so you’re really in for a treat in one of Zagreb’s trendiest areas!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three luxurious hotel photos in Zagreb: an opulent bedroom with a large upholstered bed and purple armchairs, a serene spa area with a wooden hot tub and sauna, and a sophisticated dining area with stylish blue chairs under a unique ceiling light feature.

One of the best luxury hotels in Zagreb, this place looks super fancy, and they have two saunas and a hot tub! There is an elegant terrace where you can enjoy your morning coffee (together with your pet!) before heading to the lake. The breakfast is really good, too!

Other accommodation options in Jarun

mid-range
Modern bedroom with a bold orange floral wallpaper, twin beds with matching headboards, and complementary orange cushions

A lovely hotel in Zagreb with complimentary breakfast, a terrace, fitness center, and spacious rooms

budget
Intimate balcony setting with a round table and chairs, perfect for enjoying a morning coffee amidst urban greenery

A nice stay for up to 4 guests, featuring modern amenities, free private parking, and AC

airbnb
Comfortable living room with a large L-shaped sofa, modern coffee table, and wall-mounted TV, featuring warm decor accents

Fit the entire family in this beautiful, renovated apartment within walking distance from the lake

Things to do in Jarun, Zagreb

  • Enjoy a picnic at Jarun Lake 
  • Have a delicious dinner at Il Secondo (map)
  • Sunbathe on one of the lake beaches
  • Take the kids to eat dinner at Burger Bar Zagreb (map)
  • Rent a paddleboard or paddle boat at the lake

4. Novi Zagreb – where to stay for socialist architecture

Aerial view of Bundek Lake in Zagreb, surrounded by lush parkland, with a view of the city in the distance, showcasing the natural beauty of the area

Novi Zagreb is located South of the City Center, just across the Sava River. It’s the new (when I say new, I mean built after WWII), socialist neighborhood that gives away the old-school Yugoslavia vibe.

There are plenty of urban spaces here, including attractions like the Zagreb University, Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Bundek City Park (map), where you’ll find locals BBQing and having picnics!

The Zagreb hotels are also quite affordable here, as the area is not as packed with tourists as the other ones. Like any other modern neighborhood in town, you’ll find plenty of shops and restaurants here. 

In the Western Novi Zagreb, you’ll find Arena Zagreb, which is the main event venue in town, as well as a shopping mall (also called Arena) adjacent to it.

If you want to visit the Gornji Grad Upper Town or the Lower Town, you can easily take the tram to either part of the city and get there in less than 30 minutes.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three images from Mövenpick Hotel in Zagreb with free parking: a modern bedroom with map-themed decor and comfortable furnishings, the hotel's contemporary exterior showcasing the Movenpick sign, and an indoor seating area with fresh flowers and a modern blue chair.

This brand new 4-star hotel in Novi Zagreb has a tastefully decorated interior, from rooms to bathrooms, to the lobby. A gym and private parking are at your service, and so is an on-site bar and super friendly staff.

Other accommodation options in Novi Zagreb

mid-range
Exterior view of Sundial Boutique Hotel, showcasing its modern architecture with a welcoming entrance and outdoor seating

One of the best boutique hotels in Zagreb, with modern amenities, a terrace, and spacious rooms

budget
Simple yet elegant bedroom with a queen-sized bed, a Southwestern-style rug on a wooden floor, and minimal decor

This spacious apartment has a convenient location, 2 rooms, and a full kitchen

airbnb
Charming small living space featuring a single bed with drawers, a compact coffee table, and vibrant throw pillows

I love the Mediterranean colors of this apartment together with all the basic amenities

Things to do in Novi Zagreb

5. Maksimir – where to stay for outdoor activities

Lush Maksimir Park in Zagreb, showcasing a wide pathway leading to a charming pavilion, ideal for outdoor activities

Located in the Eastern part of the city some 4.6 km (2.8 miles) from the main square of Zagreb, this area will be perfect for you if you enjoy spending some time in nature and shopping in the best stores! Home to the largest and oldest parks in Zagreb and the Maksimir Stadium (map), there are tons of activities to try here! 

Who knows, maybe if you’re coming during the football season, you might catch a game! I’m sure all sports enthusiasts would love that! 

The Park Maksimir (map) is really beautiful, especially in the autumn when all the leaves are fallin, and the color palette is mesmerizing. The locals love to stroll here for hours on weekends, and I totally recommend it when you want to spend time outdoors in nature! 

This park is also where the Zagreb Zoo is located! Because most of this part of Zagreb Croatia was built in modern history, you’ll find many cafes, luxury restaurants, and a great shopping mall! 

Don’t forget you’re on holiday, don’t get caught up with all the museum visits and remember to eat some good food and buy that expensive piece of clothing! You deserve it!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos for accommodations in Zagreb: a peaceful balcony with a city view and seating, an elegant bedroom with sleek design and a large bed, and an exclusive wellness area with a blue-lit jacuzzi and sauna.

One of the best hotels in Zagreb, with family rooms and a spa. I just love the little balcony room; you can spend a relaxing evening here admiring the beautiful view of the town Zagreb. They also have a nice garden where you can serve your breakfast and get ready for a new day of sightseeing!

Other accommodation options in Maksimir, Zagreb

mid-range
Cozy attic bedroom with a slanted ceiling, featuring a comfortable bed, wooden floor, and a small dining area

Stay in this Zagreb hotel that offers room and travel agency service and is located near the restaurants and cafes

budget
Indoor relaxation corner with a bright red hammock surrounded by lush green plants

One of Zagreb best budget hostels that has a restaurant and bar on-site, plus a lovely terrace

airbnb
Contemporary living room in a modern apartment with a large gray sectional sofa and a round coffee table, complete with stylish throw pillows and fresh flowers

Situated in a new building, this modern flat is perfect for families or long stays

Things to do in Maksimir, Zagreb

  • Take a long relaxing walk in Maksimir Park
  • Enjoy a day in the beautiful Botanical Garden
  • Take the family to the Zoo Zagreb
  • Visit the Zagreb Stadium
  • Go to the Supernova Garden Mall (map)
  • Eat a delicious meal at Duksa Pizza (map)
👑 Luxury price:€130
💵 Mid-range hotel:€90
🛏️ Budget:€40
📍 Best area:Lower Town
🛎️ Best luxury hotel:Esplanade
🧳 Best mid-range hotel:Hotel Dubrovnik
👛 Best budget hotel:Seven Stars

BONUS 1: Best day trips from Zagreb

Scenic view of Ljubljana, Slovenia, with the historic architecture and cityscape visible from a vantage point, great for a day trip from Zagreb

Croatia and Western Balkans are such a diverse region with plenty of interesting sights, so if you have some spare time, I recommend day trips to one of the following places:

NOTE: I sorted the destinations below according to distance (they’re all equally fun, depending on what you want to see or do), starting from the locations that are closest to Zagreb. 

Plitvice Lakes

The writer of the post sitting on rocky outcrop enjoying a breathtaking view of the turquoise lakes and cascading waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes is a national park 133 km (82 miles) South of Zagreb, and it takes around 2 hours to get here by car. This is probably the most popular tourist attraction in nature. And it’s the one we learned about in school as one of the most beautiful natural parks in the Balkans.

The park has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979, and its surreal beauty is equally attractive in the winter and in the summer. You’ll be welcomed by stunning waterfalls, dozens of lakes, and 18 km (11 miles) of hiking trails. 

I found this tour that takes you to Plitvice from your hotel, AND it even includes a stop at a 17th-century fairytale village called Rastake! The price is around $70 per person, which is a great deal!

Ljubljana

Panoramic view from a hill overlooking the red rooftops of Ljubljana's old town, with the city sprawling into the distance, blending urban and natural landscapes

Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, is also a 2-hour drive from Zagreb! It’s an ideal day trip idea if you want to explore another major city in the region. 

I’ve traveled far and wide around the world, but Ljubljana (and Slovenia in general) is one of my favorite places on Earth. I definitely recommend a trip there. You can enjoy the beautiful Austro-Hungarian architecture, Western culture, Italian energy, and Balkan hospitality all in one small city!

For more inspiration on things to do in Ljubljana, check out this article! And if you decide you want to visit, there’s this awesome tour for US$130 that takes you from Zagreb to Ljubljana with a stop at the beautiful Lake Bled! Just Google this place, and I guarantee you’ll fall in love with its beauty!

Istria

The writer of the post standing at the waterfront, with the picturesque hilltop town of Vrsar, Croatia, and its marina in the background

Istria is the most beautiful region of Croatia and the largest peninsula on the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula is located some 220 km (136 miles) from Zagreb, and it takes around 3 hours to reach the closest coastal cities. The region encompasses medieval towns that used to be part of the Venetian Republic, such as Pula, Rovinj, Hum, Porec, and many others, all of which scream with charm and history. 

If you need specific reasons why you should visit Istria, I have a whole article dedicated to it! 

The best way to visit Istria is on a tour. This way, you can visit all the important cities and taste their delicious wines without worrying about driving! This fully private tour is a great option, and it costs around $260 per group.

Trieste

Calm evening view of the Grand Canal in Trieste, Italy, with colorful boats moored along the reflective water and classical buildings lining the sides

Trieste is 227 km (141 miles) West of Zagreb, and it’s a charming city located at a cultural crossroads between Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia. One of its most famous residents, James Joyce, a celebrated Irish writer, just loved the cultural vibrancy of Trieste, which is why he lived here for 15 years!

I visited Trieste and Venice on a 2-day trip from Ljubljana, and if you have the extra time or plan to rent a car in Zagreb, I totally recommend this 4-day itinerary: Zagreb-Ljubljana-Trieste-Venice! I’ll gladly help you plan ahead, just drop me a comment below!

BONUS 2: Where to stay near Zagreb Airport (ZAG)

Front exterior of Zagreb Airport (ZAG) with the name 'Zračna Luka Franjo Tuđman' prominently displayed above the entrance

Zagreb Airport is around 16 km (9 miles) from the City Center, and it takes around 30 minutes to reach the main square by car, while the bus trip takes around 1 hour. For a bus ride, you need to take a bus to the main bus station and then switch to another line that takes you to the Center. 

If you’re short on time, you may not be able to afford 1-2 hours to get to the City Center and back for your layover. And if you have an early flight, you definitely want to avoid the morning traffic (it can get bad in Zagreb) and get a few extra hours of sleep before the flight. 

That’s why, for these 2 scenarios (short overlays and early flights), I totally recommend staying near the airport. I handpicked the top-rated hotels and sorted them by budget just to make your life a bit easier!

A collage of three images of hotels to stay near Zagreb Airport (ZAG): a vibrant hotel lobby with a green moss wall and yellow sofa, a bedroom with striped bedding and a dark headboard, and a view of a hotel with a minimalist white facade and evening lighting

Luxury (€140 and up):

  • Hotel Garden Hill – Modern and comfortable rooms with 2 single beds, ideal for couples or single travelers. There’s a 24-hour front desk, an airport shuttle service, and free parking. 
  • Best Western Airport Hotel – An excellent value for money, great if you’re visiting with a car with easy highway access. You can enjoy a fitness center and a wellness and spa on-site, use their free parking, and have a delicious complimentary breakfast.

Mid-range (€60 – €130):

  • Royal Airport Hotel – A 4-star comfort at a mid-range price just 1.5 km (0.9 miles) from the airport. They have various room setups suitable for couples and families, an on-site restaurant, and provide airport transfers for an additional fee. 
  • 4TREES Airport Apartments – Proably the top-rated stay near the airport, 4TREES has a seasonal pool, free parking, and modern apartments, from 1-bedroom flats to large 4-room apartments for up to 10 guests!

Budget (up to €60):

  • Filipovic Rent a Car and Apartments – This popular budget stay has modern rooms, a 24-hour front desk, free Wi-Fi, and it’s just 1 km (0.6 miles) from the airport. They can even arrange a shuttle service for you.
  • WooW Apartments – Located just a 5-minute drive from the airport, this property has free parking, an airport shuttle (needs to be pre-arranged), and flexible check-out times. 

FAQs about where to stay in Zagreb

Two guards in traditional red uniforms and black hats standing before the grandiose Zagreb Cathedral, under clear blue skies

🤔 How many days should I spend in Zagreb?

I suggest spending at least 1-2 days in Zagreb. Most important landmarks are within walking distance, but you want to give yourself enough time to taste some great local delicacies and experience the vibes of not-so-central areas like Jarun or Novi Zagreb.

🏨 Where to stay in Lower town Zagreb?

One of the best Zagreb hotels located in the Lower Town is Esplanade. You will feel like you’re in a palace with all the furniture and art deco design.

💲 What’s the best place to stay in Zagreb on a budget?

Stay in Zagreb Croatia with Hostel Bureau located in the Lower Town. The area is perfect if you’re a budget traveler, as you’ll find some of the best deals here, plus stay near all the attractions.

👪 What are the best hotels for families in Zagreb?

If you’re wondering where to stay in Zagreb with the whole family, I recommend the Admiral Hotel in Jarun or at the International Hotel in Lower Town.

🤔 Is it better to stay in the Upper or Lower town in Zagreb?

Both are great for first-timers and are literally just a continuation of each other. The lower part has more attractions, and the Upper Town is more romantic.

✖️ Where not to stay in Zagreb?

Zagreb is a safe city overall, so there are no specific areas that you should avoid in terms of safety. Although for easier commute and greater comfort, avoid the areas too far East.

🚶 Is Zagreb a walkable city?

Absolutely! I walked in all areas of Zagreb! It’s pedestrian-friendly, flat, and beautiful to explore on foot.

🪩 Where to stay in Zagreb for nightlife?

Anywhere in the City Center, but notably around Kaptol, is great for nightlife, as you’ll find tons of late-night bars, clubs, and eateries.

🚊 How do you get around Zagreb?

On foot, with trams, buses, and taxis. Of course, you can also rent a car if you’re planning a visit to other Croatian cities. Otherwise, you don’t really need a car to get around Zagreb.

Conclusion

Illuminated fountain in front of the Art Pavilion in Zagreb at dusk, with the building's classical architecture glowing against the night sky

I hope this article on where to stay in Zagreb helped you decide whether you want to stay in the Upper Town or Lower Town, or any other area!

I know I’ve offered so many options for where to stay in Zagreb during your holiday, but here are my top two favorite ones. Make sure you book in advance, as they are top tourist choices all year round!

  • Esplanade – enjoy the royal treatment in this elegant hotel in Zagreb
  • International Hotel – one of the best places to stay with spacious rooms

Have fun in Croatia’s capital city, explore the beautiful old streets of the Upper Town, and head to the Zagreb cathedral to admire this iconic piece of architecture! 

If you have any more questions about Zagreb, the tourist attractions or anything else, feel free to leave a comment, and I will do my best to help you! 

Safe travels, 

Darija


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