Zagreb is the capital and biggest city in Croatia and serves as one of the major gateways to the Balkans. Situated along the Sava River, on the northwest side of the country, Zagreb is designated as a global city and is the main transportation, education, economic and government hub of Croatia. The charming capital of Croatia is also known for its rich history, with some parts dating back to the Roman era.
Zagreb is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia and is known for its range of world-class museums (see our list of the best museums in Zagreb), historic attractions, beautiful buildings and entertainment and sporting events. While there are plenty of fun things to do in the city to keep you busy, there are also numerous spots nearby that are worth checking out for the day.
If you’re looking to visit locations outside of the Croatian capital, check out our list of best day trips from Zagreb to help with your planning. This selection includes a range of spots – from historic towns to national parks. Don’t forget to store your bags at a luggage locker in Zagreb before you head out for the day. Don't carry heavy luggage so that you can freely explore the day trip destinations we've outlined below. Enjoy the sights of this lovely area!
How to Get Out of Zagreb
Zagreb is Croatia’s most significant transportation hub and is the country’s center of road, air, and rail networks and it is also where Central Europe, Southeast Europe, and the Mediterranean meet. Needless to say, Croatia's capital city has an impressive and efficient public transport network.
Getting in and out of the city center is a breeze, whether by train, bus or car. While most Zagreb day trips can be done via public transportation, having your own rental car allows for better flexibility in your schedule.
From Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park
A popular destination in Croatia that attracts an average of one million tourists per year, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is a top choice for a day trip from Zagreb. Located in the central part of Croatia, it is the biggest park in the country, extending to over 70,000 acres, and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Plitvice National Park is known for its stunning caves and lakes that are linked by grand cascading waterfalls. The largest one is the Veliki Slap, which is connected to the 16 cascading lakes across the Plitvice Lakes Park. There are also numerous hiking trails and boardwalks that visitors can utilize in order to explore the expansive park. One of the fun activities that you can do at Plitvice Lakes is to take a boat ride across Lake Kozjak; this allows you to get an incredible view of the picturesque sceneries and wonders.
How to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park
To get to the Plitvice Lakes National Parks from Zagreb, go to the principal bus station in the city center, where you can find numerous buses making the trip to the park. The bus ride takes about 2.5 hours per way. If you have your own car, the journey will take about 2 hours or less. Alternatively, you can book one of the many guided day tours being offered from the capital.
From Zagreb to Samobor
Arguably the most accessible day trip destination from Zagreb, Samobor is a charming quaint town located in the foothills of the Zumberak Mountains, not too far from the Slovenian border. Because of its proximity to the Croatian capital, Samobor has become a popular day trip for both locals and tourists coming from Zagreb wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Found in the heart of Samobor is King Tomislav Square, the town’s historic center and main square. The area is characterized by charming cobblestone streets filled with establishments such as cafés and restaurants and is a good place to hang out and rewind. Other notable points of interest in Samobor include the historic St. Anastasia Parish Church and the Samobor Castle (also known as the Stari Grad Castle) found atop Tepec Hill. Before heading back to Zagreb, don’t forget to stop by one of the many coffee houses in town and try their beloved local cream cake, known as samoborska kremšnita.
How to get to Samobor
From the Zagreb main bus station (locally known as Autobusni Kolodvor), take one of the multiple buses making a trip to Samobor. The journey via public bus takes about half an hour per way.
From Zagreb to Osijek
Situated east of Zagreb is Osijek, Croatia’s fourth-biggest city and the economic and cultural hub of the Slavonia region. Set by the banks of the Drava River, near the Serbian border, Osijek is busy but has gradually become one of the most popular and fabulous day trips from Zagreb because of its stunning and historic buildings. Osijek is often referred to as “Baroque city” because of its collection of beautiful Baroque architecture.
One of the most notable Baroque-style structures found in the city is the Tvrđa fortress, an ancient citadel that has been around since the 18th century. Other impressive attractions include the Ante Starčević Square, the Church of St Peter & St Paul, and the Municipal Park of King Petar Krešimir IV. Osijek is also renowned for its wide range of cultural events year-round, including the Croatian Tambura Music Festival held every May.
How to get to Osijek
You can take a public bus from the Zagreb main bus station direct to Osijek, which will take about 4 hours per way. That said, if you are pressed for time, the better option would be to have your own car (which will save you about an hour of travel time) or book a guided tour from Zagreb.
From Zagreb to Trakoscan Castle
While there are a number of impressive castles in Croatia, there are none more popular and stunning than the Trakoscan Castle. This 13th century castle is a fairytale-like palace that used to serve as the seat of the prominent Drašković family from the 1500s until the 19th century when it went through an extensive restoration. During this restoration, the castle was transformed into a Romanticist manor house and museum with a sophisticated garden arrangement.
Today, the Trakoscan Castle is open to the public and is one of Croatia’s most famous tourist attractions. It now functions as a fascinating museum with a permanent exhibition of items related to the Drašković dynasty, including portraits, furniture and weapons. Aside from the historic collection inside the castle, guests can also explore the lovely grounds and pretty views of the mountainside and lake.
How to get to Trakoscan Castle
Unfortunately, there is no direct bus that can take you from Zagreb to Trakoscan Lake; you would have to take a bus from Zagreb to Varazdin and then take another bus to the castle. If you want a direct and more convenient option, you can either rent your own car or book one of the many guided day tours being offered from the city.
From Zagreb to Ljubljana
Slovenia is Croatia’s neighbor to the northeast and its capital, Ljubljana, has become one of the most popular day trips from Zagreb. Ljubljana is a busy city that serves as Slovenia’s cultural, educational, political, and economic heart and is one of the best places to visit in the country. In the city, visitors can take in scenic riverfronts, check out a range of historical buildings and sample some of the unique local cuisine.
The Old Town in Ljubljana is the best place to start as it is home to some of the most recognizable landmarks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in the city. Some of the noteworthy attractions in the Old Town include the Franciscan Church, the Hauptmann House, and the Prešernov Square. While here, you should also visit Ljubljana Castle, a former medieval fortress located atop Castle Hill. The Slovenian capital is also known for its collection of picturesque bridges, including the famous Dragon Bridge and Triple Bridge.
How to get to Ljubljana
Despite having to cross the border, getting from Zagreb to Ljubljana is actually pretty easy via public transportation. You can either take a direct bus or train from the city, which will take roughly 2.5 hours per way. If you want to avoid the hassle of organizing everything on your own, you may want to consider booking an organized tour instead. In doing so, the tour company will take care of all the necessary arrangements and you get an experienced guide to show you around.
From Zagreb to Kumrovec
One of the most idyllic day trips from Zagreb is Kumrovec village, a historic peasant town situated on the eastern side of the Sutla Valley in northern Croatia, not too far from the Slovenian border. Considered a traditional Croatian village, Kumrovec is best known as the birthplace of Josip Broz Tito, the former president of Yugoslavia. It is also a great way to learn about and see the village life of the residents of the Croatian region of Zagorje.
Today, Kumrovec has built a reputation as one of the most unique Zagreb day trips. The village is one that you can easily enjoy exploring because of the range of attractions and interesting sights to discover. One of the must-visit spots in town is the Old Village Museum, which is an open-air, ethnographic city museum that showcases the life of the Zagorje people before the First World War took place. Another point of interest is Tito’s former home, which now serves as a museum dedicated to his life and work.
How to get to Kumrovec
There are public buses from Zagreb city center that take direct trips to Kumrovec, with the journey taking less than two hours. Another option is to take the train from Zagreb train station to Veliko Trgovisce and then take a taxi to Kumrovec. You also have the option to drive your own rental car or book an organized tour from Zagreb.
From Zagreb to Rastoke
Located in the town of Slunj, just a short distance from the Plitvice Lakes National Park, is the picturesque village of Rastoke. Though often overlooked for its neighbor, the former milling village is definitely worth the day trip. One of the most special characteristics of Rastoke is that the Slunjčica River flows through the village and into the River Korana, producing over 20 different cascades and smaller waterfalls. The idyllic village also features several old-fashioned houses and mills sitting on small islands, all connected by lovely footbridges.
How to get to Rastoke
Numerous public buses are available throughout the day and go directly from Zagreb to Rastoke, with the journey taking about two hours. However, because of its proximity to the Plitvice Lakes National Park, you may want to consider booking a guided tour that covers both locations so you can see both places within a day.
Enjoy a Zagreb Day Trip
When you visit Croatia with its cobbled streets and beautiful architecture, you'll find plenty to do meandering the pretty streets. Still, a day trip from Zagreb is always a terrific adventure. Put on your walking shoes and take a road trip to main attractions like a nearby nature park with green hills to climb, or an intriguing museum or castle. And don't miss the opportunity to explore restaurants and shops in these areas too.