Zagreb is Croatia's capital and cultural center, with a thriving tourism industry, attracting many tourists looking to discover more of the country’s hidden gems. It may not be the biggest city in Europe, but Zagreb is filled with surprises and wonders. It is beautiful and enchanting, home to numerous architectural treasures, art galleries, and inspiring museums, including one of the world's largest private art collections, art archaeological museum, and Art Pavilion, the oldest art gallery in Southeast Europe.
The museums in Zagreb provide an array of opportunities for visitors to discover a bygone era and celebrate the past. Whether you’re a fan of contemporary art and nature or science and history, you’ll find a spectacular exhibition hall that offers an educational experience. The city also caters to kids with family-friendly events and programs that will keep your little ones busy and occupied.
But before you head out and begin your cultural adventure, be sure you have a place to store your luggage in Zagreb. That way, you can discover other places without heavy bags weighing you down.
Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb
Founded in 1954, the Museum of Contemporary Art (muzej suvremene umjetnosti) is one of the best Zagreb museums. It holds over 12,000 works of art by local and international artists collected for over half a century since its inception. Its collection covers a period from the mid-12th century to the present day, including photography, films, online art, drawings, painting, sculptures, and videos.
The Contemporary Art Museum has been housed in a new building since 2009. It was moved from the Kulmer Palace in the historic center to the new museum building to accommodate multimedia events. It currently presents its impressive collections in venues for occasional exhibitions. It has become a symbol of New Zagreb, where numerous programs take place daily, from dance and theater performances to film screenings, concerts, meetings, educational workshops, and many more.
After enjoying the displays, stop by the museum shop for some gifts and souvenirs. The Museum of Contemporary Art is open from Tuesdays through Fridays between 11 AM to 7 PM and Saturdays and Sundays between 11 AM to 6 PM.
Address: Avenija Dubrovnik 17, 10000, Zagreb
The Croatian Museum of Naïve Art
Opened in 1952, the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art is the world’s oldest museum dedicated to naïve art. It is also known as the Peasant Art Gallery since the naïve artists were then called peasant artists. Today, the museum holds around 1,500 works of art, including prints, drawings, sculptures, and paintings by famous Croatian naive artists and other world artists.
Naïve art is simple and free from inherited art ideas. It’s typically an artwork made by self taught artists who reject conventional expertise or lack formal art education. The founding of this Croatian Museum sought to collect, study, and showcase the works of what they called ‘peasant sculptors,’ or ‘peasant painters.’ Among the thousands of naive art pieces in the museum, around eighty of them can be seen in the permanent exhibition.
Address: Ćirilometodska ulica 3, 10000 Zagreb
The Museum of Broken Relationships
Even if you haven’t been to the Croatian capital, you’ve probably heard of the Museum of Broken Relationships. Located in the city’s Upper Town district, the museum evolved from a traveling exhibition to a worldwide phenomenon. The museum’s name may not sound very encouraging, but it actually provides those who experience heartaches due to failed relationships a chance to overcome emotional struggles and collapse.
As the name suggests, the Museum of Broken Relationships is about failed love relationships. It invites anyone who has experienced heartbreak to share memories or items associated with the failed relationship. So every object here is a symbolic possession with a heartbreak story from people.
This museum is a creative art project in 2006 by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić. Since then, it has brought people from around the world together to share their stories and memories. It is housed in the majestic Kulmer Palace and is open daily from 9 AM to 10 PM.
Address: Ćirilometodska ulica 2, 10000, Zagreb
Zagreb City Museum
Learn about the capital city’s past at Zagreb City Museum from prehistory until the present day. The museum itself is an impressive exhibit after uncovering archaeological excavations right under the building. It was a former Convent of the Poor Clares, but the artifacts show the city’s lifecycle through a variety of themes throughout the centuries.
A visit to Zagreb City Museum is an opener even to locals who have lived there for years. It will take you from a prehistoric settlement in the seventh century BC, the 15th and 19th centuries, and the World War II era to the socialist era and the city’s independence period. The museum reveals various aspects of the capital, showing Zagreb under the strong influence of the church, politics, economy, and town planning. It will also help visitors understand its past, art and literature history, architecture, and daily life.
The Zagreb City Museum is an obligatory stop for anyone who wants to get to know the city and what made it the way it is today. Apart from its permanent exhibitions, it hosts cultural exhibitions, cultural events, and historical performances.
Address: Opatička 20, 10000 Zagreb
Who doesn’t love chocolates? And even if you aren’t a fan of sweets, you’ll likely be converted into the fantastic world of chocolate at the Chocolate Museum. The Muzej Cokolade Zagreb invites everyone to explore the chocolate’s history from the South and Mesoamerica’s ancient Indian tribes. It’s a feast for the senses as visitors smell and taste the nine types of flavorful chocolates and chocolate liquor.
Besides the mouthwatering desserts, you’ll be amazed by the gorgeous, creative interior and the elegant baroque royal court, where you’ll be surrounded by classy centuries-old porcelain. The experience here is something you’ll only enjoy in a fairytale, so make the most of the experience.
Book a guided tour in German or English and see more of the museum. You’ll meet knowledgeable curators who will walk you through the history of the world’s most favored dessert and what makes chocolates special. If you have time, don’t miss the chance to make your own chocolate candies to take home.
Address: Varšavska ul. 5, 10000, Zagreb
Zagreb 80’s Museum
A short walk from the Museum of Broken Relationships is another cultural attraction you don’t want to miss during your visit to the city. If you’re a fan of the iconic fashion and music of the eighties, the Zagreb 80’s is the right place to go. It’s a charming museum that will take you back in time as you step into the building.
Located in the city’s historical area, this nostalgic museum recreates an 80s Yugoslavian apartment on the first floor of a building at Radićeva 34 street. If you’re familiar with that era, you’ll probably relate to numerous elements in the museum, from the legendary video games and mobile phones to moped Tomos and other objects that rose in the 1980s.
While the millennials might find the place sentimental, the museum provides the Gen-Z with an opportunity to experience what it was like in the 80s. Visitors can also buy souvenirs and unique gifts at the gift shop.
Address: 1st floor, Radićeva 34, 10000, Zagreb
Nikola Tesla Technical Museum
The Nikola Tesla Museum is an impressive museum of science and technology established in 1954. It first opened on October 20th, 1955, making it the first Yugoslavian technical museum. Visitors could see models built according to Nikola Tesla’s drawings through a permanent exhibition during its opening.
Today, the Nikola Tesla Technology Museum is a cultural and scientific institution unique to Serbia and the world. It’s the only museum that preserves the personal legacy of the legendary inventor. It boasts over 160 thousand original documents, 2,000 periodicals and books, 1,200 technical and historical exhibitions, and 1,500 photos and photographic glass plates of authentic instruments, original technical items, and devices.
Address: Savska cesta 18, 10000, Zagreb
Museum of Arts and Crafts
Established in 1880, the Museum of Arts and Crafts is one of Europe’s first museums of its kind. It became one of the country’s fundamental national cultural organizations, boasting outstanding applied and fine art collections. It is dedicated to preserving the national crafts’ traditional values while providing new cultural standards for the middle class.
With more than 100,000 items, the Museum of Arts and Crafts now holds Croatia’s largest and richest fine and applied art collections from the 14th and 20th centuries. They are made by many local Croatian artists and international artisans worldwide.
As you attend the permanent exhibitions, you’ll have the chance to witness almost 3,000 items in the expansive exhibition area. It includes textiles, glass, metal, ceramics, furniture, photography, clocks, and watches. Besides the amazing exhibitions, the museum hosts programs, promotions, theatrical performances, and concerts at the museum each year.
Address: Trg Republike Hrvatske 10, 10000, Zagreb
Museum of Illusions
One of the modern museums you should see in Zagreb is the Museum of Illusions. It opened in 2015, welcoming Croatians into the magical world of illusions to experience the extraordinary and impossible. Be ready to be mind blown, as it offers intriguing visual and sensory experiences. It also allows you to learn through its fascinating exhibitions and spend fun and exciting time with friends and loved ones.
Check out the Kaleidoscope and be amazed by the jolly patterns created by no one but you. Of course, there are also holograms, a collection of more than forty optical illusions, a hollow face illusion, and a rotating room for incredible photo opportunities. If you’re visiting with a group, you can always organize a group visit to the museum and book a guided tour with the resident illusionist. The sky is the limit to what you can do at the Museum of Illusion.
Address: Ilica 72, 10000, Zagreb
What are the best free museums in Zagreb?
While most museums in Zagreb require a minimum entrance fee, there are ways to check out those cultural sites and see their countless exhibitions for free. Go to the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb every first Wednesday of the month for free admission for all visitors. If you’re a student of art history, design, and art, unemployed, or a member of the media, you’re welcome to the museum without paying a dime.
Which are the best museums in Downtown Zagreb?
Suppose you don’t have time to go to other parts of the city and prefer to keep your adventure within the downtown area. Thankfully, multiple museums in Zagreb are just within a short distance from one another.
You can begin your journey at the Croatian Museum of Naive Art and then make your way to the Museum of Broken Relationships, a stone’s throw away from Naïve Art museum. The Museum of Illusions is also nearby for those looking for extra excitement and fun.
Are there any cheap museums in Zagreb?
Some might think visiting museums is expensive, but that’s not the case in Zagreb. One of the perfect destinations in the Croatian capital for travelers on a budget is the Zagreb City Museum. For only under $4, adults can explore and discover the city’s heritage. The entrance fee for temporary exhibitions is also half the price, so you can take the entire family or your friends without breaking the bank.
Another budget-friendly sight is the Museum of Broken Relationships. You can visit this inspiring and quirky museum by paying under $7. It also has a shop, café, and restaurant if you’re looking for a quick break and delicious bites while touring the museum.
Discover Zagreb’s Past and Culture
Dotted with spectacular architecture and exquisite museums, Zagreb should be next on your travel list. It isn’t the biggest European city, but Croatia’s capital guarantees a delightful experience every time you visit. It has everything for everyone, so you’ll never run out of things to do and places to see from shopping to dining and more, no matter what time of the year you visit. Even if it’s only a quick city trip, don’t miss the chance to explore its cultural attractions and picturesque museums that will take you to a world of wonder, learning, and discovery.