With a buzzing night life scene, restaurants galore, a stunning cathedral, and photogenic parks the Croatian capital of Zagreb serves up a smorgasbord of things to explore and places to stay, bookable with Culture Trip.
Zagreb is perfectly designed for strolling around, and the expansive city squares are a top place to watch the world go by and sit back with a shot of rakija. One of the city’s more unusual attractions is the Museum of Broken Relationships, with items displayed from former lovers. To make your money go further than the first date, check into one of these hostels, which serve up comfort and style for less.
Slap bang in the heart of Zagreb, you can walk to the main square from this modern hostel in just a few minutes. The cathedral is 1km (0.6mi) away while the station and the tram are 300m from your doorstep. But when you’re not exploring the city, the hostel has all your needs catered for, with its brightly coloured green and purple dorms, free use of its computers, hairdryers and reading lights for quieter nights with a good book.
It may be in the heart of downtown Zagreb but the Boutique Hostel Shappy is aiming for a much quieter, well-heeled vibe than some of its rowdier neighbours. The slickly designed property offers private rooms with their own bathrooms or dorms for four or six. Female travellers can also opt for a women-only dorm. The Bustan Bar, set in a hidden garden, is an oasis of calm with freshly ground coffee and local craft beers on offer.
Why sleep in a building when you could sleep on a train? For those not sure, rest assured this hostel, which is housed in four disused rail carriages, still boasts all the mod cons you’d expect, including air conditioning, private bathrooms and a living room. The hostel is right on the train tracks, 180m from the main station, but as no trains run at night you’re pretty much guaranteed a good night’s sleep.
With its no noise after 11 pm policy, Old Town Zagreb appeals to travellers who’ve had their fill of sleepless nights. Recharge here in this historic baroque building which has been renovated in a Croatian-Japanese style. With low-slung Japanese beds and a relaxing room with traditional tatami (woven straw) flooring, the emphasis is on cosiness. Best of all, the manager, Ana, is happy to share sightseeing tips and she remembers all her guests by name.
Fresh and modern, the Dots Hostel is a beautifully decorated home-from-home in the centre of Zagreb. Most of the main attractions are within walking distance and the station is just 800m (0.5mi) away. There are super-squishy, comfy chairs in the common area in which you can chill out and enjoy a fresh sandwich from the hostel bar. There are even a couple of rooms with en-suite facilities up for grabs.
More of an art gallery than your standard hostel, the dorm walls are covered in pictures from young artists across the world. Tastefully decorated, the rooms offer views of the beautiful Zagreb cathedral and when you’ve had enough of people-watching in Ban Jelačić Square, which is a three-minute walk away, you can challenge your fellow backpackers to Foosball, billiards or a battle on the PlayStation.
All the rooms at the Funk Lounge Hostel offer en-suite accommodation, so you won’t have to queue in your PJs for your morning shower. The hostel is on the large side, with 80 beds available, so it’s a great option if you’re travelling in a bigger group. The Lounge Bar is the perfect place to try a shot of the local rakija, or a pint of local beer if you’re not brave enough.
Whether you’re treating yourself to the Royal Room, lording it up in the Noble Suite or sticking to the Vagabond Quarters, there’s no slumming it in the Hostel Kings N Queens. Its five floors each represent a different region in Croatia, and it is decorated to reflect the country’s history. Check out the daily green market and the Sunday antique market in British Square, which is just steps away from the hostel.
WWH&B is a hive of activity where you’re guaranteed to find some fun. With a happy hour every evening between 7pm and 9pm, as well as pub crawls, games and activities, this is very much a hangout spot for drinkers and fun-seekers, owned and operated by former backpackers who did a lot of that kind of thing back in the day. The dorms are spacious and other perks include a communal kitchen, laundry facilities, free wifi and pancake Tuesdays.
Swanky Mint is not your average hostel. Set on Ilica, historically the city’s main street, this superior budget lodging is housed within a converted Habsburg-era textile factory. There are slickly designed dorms of various sizes, a summer-only pool, and a funky bar that operates in its own right, Swanky Monkey Garden. Female travellers can choose a women-only dorm and groups of three can have a bedroom to themselves. The main square is less than a 10-minute walk away.
This is another hostel that enjoys a prime location right on Zagreb’s main bar strip of Tkalčićeva. This place could have gone for the full-on party approach but instead serves up a little extra comfort and quality. Room furnishings have a slightly Japanese feel about them, the coffee in the morning is freshly ground and the bar has a life of its own beyond the backpacker crowd. This is the kind of hostel for travellers who need a city-centre location but aren’t looking for the communal, booze-fuelled experience. Pleasant staff, too.
Any hostel that offers discounts to left-handed travellers obviously has something different about it. Such is Mali Mrak. Away from the bars and party lodgings of the city centre – management actively encourages loud, heavy-drinking types to stay away – Mali Mrak offers yoga, hiking and bike tours. Entertainment might be a poetry recital or a jazz show, and artists can enquire about residencies. Décor and furnishing have been created with good taste, and are geared towards the more mature budget traveller.
This popular five-floor hostel pushes the envelope as far as facilities are concerned. It’s not enough that it has a central location, 24-hour reception and fast wifi. DJs spin in its bar, where happy hours and theme nights are the norm. Check-out is noon – no hungover rush at 10 am here. Security is provided by CCTV cameras. All rooms are en-suite, so no padding down the corridor in your pyjamas. There are free walking tours, free computers, even free earplugs. Staff are welcoming and more than happy to help you arrange tours.
As its name suggests, Main Square is a hop and a skip from Ban Josip Jelačić, in the very centre of Zagreb. More than that, it’s also located just where the atmospheric, bar-lined thoroughfare of Tkalčićeva starts, meaning that this is very much a party hostel, with 24-hour reception. As well as the usual facilities of communal washing machine and dryer, lockers and free wifi, there’s also a scanning machine and cycle hire. A couple or two travelling companions would do well to book the twin room, either with or without an en-suite bathroom.