Zagreb is a gorgeous destination in and of itself, with amazing architecture and a lively vibe. But if you plan to be in Zagreb for a few days, you can also explore its surroundings! Read on to discover 10 amazing day trips from Zagreb to add to your itinerary.
From national parks to alpine lakes and medieval towns to hilltop villages, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking day trip destinations from the Croatian capital.
And while there’s a lot to see within Croatia, Zagreb’s location allows you to even dip your toes into neighboring countries!
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THE BEST DAY TRIPS FROM ZAGREB, CROATIA
If you are planning a trip to Zagreb, consider tacking on an extra couple of days for day trips to explore the surrounding countryside.
If you love history and architecture, you’ll love visiting the medieval towns around the Croatian capital. We visited a couple of these small towns and were blown away by their beauty and charm.
And if you love natural wonders, pack your walking shoes and your camera, and get ready to see some enchanting sights around Zagreb.
Here, then, are the 10 best day trips from Zagreb to put on your itinerary!
#1 Day trip from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
If you only have the time for one day trip and you haven’t yet been to Plitvice Lakes National Park, this is definitely the day trip you should do!
Croatia’s most famous national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice receives more than 1 million visitors annually. It is one of the top national parks in Europe, a must for every nature lover’s bucket list.
A network of 16 interconnected lakes with multitudes of large and small cascading waterfalls, Plitvice is an awe-inspiring natural wonder.
The color of the water in the lakes changes based on the light: it can be anything from a tranquil gray to a deep emerald green or a brilliant blue.
You traverse the park on boardwalks over the water or pathways along the shores of the lakes. One boat ride is included as part of the entrance fee and takes you across Kozjak Lake.
If you do the longest route through the park, it will take you anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. You can start at either one of the park’s two entrances.
If you are visiting on your own, start early (be at the gates at opening time!) or start after lunch. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the park gets crowded on nice weather days.
Wear sunscreen and a sun hat, and carry bug spray. And, of course, don’t forget your camera or bring a charged smartphone!
Getting to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb
Plitvice National Park is about 81 miles from Zagreb. You can drive to Plitvice National Park from Zagreb in about two hours in normal traffic.
Croatia is a great country for a road trip. The highways were is good shape when we visited.
If you are looking to rent a car for your Europe trip, consider Discover Cars! They work with numerous car rental agencies to get you the best deal.
Check availability and book your Croatia car rental now!
If you wish to travel using public transport, take the bus! There are multiple departures in both directions, especially during high season. The journey takes a little over 2 hours.
To book bus and train tickets for Europe in advance, consider Omio. I found the booking experience easy and hassle-free. They do charge a small service fee but I thought it was worth the convenience.
By guided tour
If you like the structure of a guided tour, consider this highly rated small group fully guided tour that combines a visit to Plitvice with a stop at Rastoke.
You’ll get four hours inside Plitvice Lakes, with a guided walk through the national park, for the most efficient coverage.
Or check out this private tour of Plitvice and Rastoke, along with a local cheese tasting and a visit to the Museum of the Croatian War of Independence in Karlovac.
#2 Day Trip from Zagreb To Lake Bled, Slovenia
If your trip to the region does not include a visit to Slovenia, Croatia’s neighbor to the northwest, then you must at a minimum do a day trip to Lake Bled from Zagreb.
A fabulous alpine lake with a stunning location, Lake Bled will take your breath away.
Lake Bled is the perfect size for a day trip, because you can fit many of the top things to do at Lake Bled in one active day.
With a lovely little island in the middle of the water and a hilltop castle to explore, it’s no wonder that Lake Bled is arguably Slovenia’s most popular destination.
Walk around the shore of the lake. Ride in a traditional Pletna boat to Bled Island and ring the wishing bell in the Church of the Assumption on the island.
And don’t forget to taste the delicious Bled cream cake!
Getting to Lake Bled from Zagreb
Lake Bled is about 120 miles from Zagreb. You can drive to Lake Bled from Zagreb in a little over two hours in normal traffic.
By bus OR TRAIN
If you wish to travel using public transport, you can take the train or the early morning bus! The train takes about 3 hours and the bus takes about 3.5 hours.
By guided tour
A guided tour is likely the best way to do this day trip if you do not have a car.
This highly rated full day tour covers both Lake Bled and Ljubljana. At Lake Bled, you have enough time to do a boat ride to the island and to visit the castle for great views over the lake.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget your passport when you go on day trips that involve border crossings!
#3 Day trip from Zagreb to Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana is one of the most fun European capitals we have visited.
The Ljubljanica River, lined with lovely cafes and restaurants, runs right through the Slovenian city. The lively city center is compact and walkable.
Ljubljana is the perfect sized city for a day trip. Plus, there’s a wide variety of things to do in Ljubljana, making it easy for travelers of all kinds to enjoy it.
Ride the funicular to Ljubljana Castle, or take the elevator to the top of the Skyscraper, for panoramic views over the city.
Take a cruise down the river, admiring Ljubljana’s pretty embankments.
Enjoy walking along the river, traversing the many historic bridges on the river.
Getting to Ljubljana from Zagreb
Ljubljana is about 85 miles from Zagreb. You can drive from Zagreb to Ljubljana in one hour and 45 minutes in normal traffic.
By bus OR TRAIN
If you wish to travel using public transport, you can take the train or the bus! There are several daily departures, especially in high season. The train or the bus takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes.
By guided tour
A guided tour is an efficient way to do this day trip if you do not have a car. Check out this popular full day excursion from Zagreb that covers both Ljubljana and Lake Bled.
With a maximum of 8 participants, the small group experience includes a walking tour of Ljubljana and visits to Bled Castle as well as Lake Bled.
#4 Day trip from Zagreb to Samobor, Croatia
The charming medieval town of Samobor is located very near Zagreb, and makes for an easy and lovely day trip from the Croatian capital.
Not only is the town pretty, it is also surrounded by the Nature Park Žumberak, with options for a variety of outdoor activities.
Once in Samobor, wander the pretty streets of the city center, and hang out in the squares, admiring the gorgeous Baroque architecture.
The beautiful steeple of the Church of St. Anastazia can be seen from everywhere in town. If you enjoy churches, you can step inside to view the interior.
Walk up the hill to the ruins of the Samobor Castle for great views over the town. It’s about a 20-30 minute stroll one way, not too difficult.
If you have the energy, climb further up the mountain to the Tepec Vista viewpoint, another 20-25 minutes, for wonderful panoramas. This climb is steep!
After you are back in the main square, reward yourself with a slice of Samobor’s famous cream cake: custard cream sandwiched between two layers of pastry. We had it at Slasticarnica U Prolazu, on the main square.
Getting to Samobor from Zagreb
Samobor is about 17 miles from Zagreb. You can drive from Zagreb to Samobor in about 25 minutes in normal traffic.
If you wish to travel using public transport, you can take the bus from the Autobusni Kolvodor Zagreb, the main bus station! There are several daily departures in both directions. The bus ride is about 30 minutes.
At Samobor, follow the signs from the bus station to the city center, about a 10-minute walk. We took the bus both ways and found it very convenient to do this trip independently.
#5 Day trip from Zagreb to Varaždin, Croatia
Varaždin is a beautiful town not too far from Zagreb. It was the capital of Croatia from 1756 to 1776, when a fire ravaged most of the town, causing the capital to be moved back to Zagreb.
Our day trip from Zagreb to Varaždin is one of my favorite memories from our visit to Croatia.
The Baroque and Rococo architecture everywhere in the town is spectacular. Admire the Sermage Palace, built in the mid 18th century in the Rococo style…today it houses the Old and Contemporary Masters Gallery.
The Town Hall, in the main square, is built in late Baroque style.
The pale pink Varaždin Cathedral was built in the mid 17th century. There are several other gorgeous churches all around town. Wander the streets to see the many Baroque and Rococo palaces and houses. Each street will have you exclaiming in excitement.
At the edge of town is the Stari Grad, the old fortress. It looks like it belongs in a fairy tale, with its whitewashed walls and pretty red roofs. If you walk a little bit out of the town, you can walk through the beautiful cemetery, built to look like a park.
Getting to Varaždin from Zagreb
Varaždin is about 54 miles from Zagreb. You can drive from Zagreb to Varaždin in about one hour in normal traffic.
By bus OR TRAIN
If you wish to travel using public transport, take the bus! There are several daily departures, especially in high season. The bus takes about one hour and 45 minutes. The bus station in Varaždin is a very short walk from the city center.
There are trains that connect Zagreb and Varaždin, but they take considerably longer, so it’s better to take the bus for a day trip.
By guided tour
If you prefer a guided tour, consider this full day tour that combines Varaždin with Kumrovec and Trakoscan Castle.
Trakoscan Castle is arguably the most attractive castle in Croatia, and Kumrovec, as the birthplace of Tito, holds an important place in Croatia’s history.
#6 Day trip from Zagreb to Rastoke
Rastoke is a small village located a few miles from Plitvice Lakes, just outside the town of Slunj. At Rastoke, the Slunjčica river flows into the Korana river, creating waterfalls similar to Plitvice but on a much smaller scale.
Historically, the village is important because many watermills were built here, to grind corn and grains into flour. The first mill was built in the 17th century, and many generations of families made their livelihoods with the mills.
Today the village and its surrounds are popular as a recreational area. You can go swimming in the water here, whereas Plitvice does not allow swimming.
River rafting is popular, over the many falls in the Korana river. Hiking and mountain biking are options as well.
You can view the waterfalls from viewpoints along the road. You can also visit Pod rastočkim krovom, where you can view many waterfalls up close, tour a watermill (one of the remaining two mills), and dine on fresh caught fish and homemade bread at the restaurant.
Getting to Rastoke from Zagreb
Rastoke is about 65 miles from Zagreb. You can drive from Zagreb to Rastoke in about 90 minutes in normal traffic.
If you wish to travel using public transport, take the bus! There are several daily departures, especially in high season. The bus takes about one hour and 45 minutes. The bus station in Slunj is about 0.25 mile from Rastoke.
By guided tour
Check out this highly rated full day tour that combines a visit to Rastoke with a tour of Plitvice Lakes National Park. The tour also includes a stop at the Homeland War memorial in Turanj.
#7 Day trip from Zagreb to Rovinj, Croatia
Rovinj is an incredibly picturesque seaside town in Croatian Istria. If Istria is not part of your Croatian trip, definitely put this day trip from Zagreb to Rovinj on your itinerary!
In Rovinj, walk the harbor to admire the views of the town. Climb the hill to the Church of St. Euphemia, with its tall bell tower. Rovinj was under Venetian rule for many centuries, and you’ll see the Venetian influence in the architecture of Rovinj.
Wander the streets of the town or take a boat cruise to look at the beautiful town from the water. Istrian cuisine is renowned, and you must definitely try pasta with Istrian truffles when in Rovinj. And seafood is plentiful and fresh.
If you like, you can combine your trip to Rovinj with a visit to nearby Poreč, where the Euphrasian Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Or with Pula to the south, where the amphitheater will remind you of the Colosseum of Rome.
Getting to Rovinj from Zagreb
Rovinj is about 155 miles from Zagreb. You can drive from Zagreb to Rovinj in about 3 hours in normal traffic. Rovinj to Pula is about 23 miles, a 40-minute drive in normal traffic. Rovinj to Poreč is about 22 miles, about a 40-minute drive in normal traffic.
Although you could travel to Rovinj and back by bus, it’s not ideal for a day trip because you’ll get barely four hours in Rovinj and spend the bulk of the day in the bus. If you do not have a car, a guided day tour is your best option.
By guided tour
Consider this highly rated private tour of Istria from Zagreb. The tour combines a visit to Rovinj with tours of both Pula and Poreč (or Hum) for a long but comfortable and productive day trip!
#8 Day trip from Zagreb to Istrian villages, Croatia
The Istrian villages of Croatia are incredibly cute. If you do not have Istria on your Croatian itinerary, plan on seeing three of the most beautiful Istrian villages on a day trip from Zagreb.
Your first (quick) stop is at Hum, the smallest town in the world. With a population only in the low double digits, Hum is tiny. Enjoy the beautiful views from the town and visit the church.
Next you’ll visit Motovun, where you should have lunch: make sure your meal features the flavorful Istrian truffles and olive oil! Our lunch in Motovun was one of the best meals we had in Croatia.
Walk around Motovun: it’s a very scenic little town. You can walk the entirety of the old town walls, which are beautifully preserved. Visit the Church of St. Stephen with its lovely bell tower.
Your final stop is Grožnjan, another charming Istrian village. With lots of arts and crafts shops, and pretty alleys, the little town makes for a delightful wander.
Getting to Istria from Zagreb
Hum is about 124 miles from Zagreb. You can drive from Zagreb to Motovun in about 2.5 hours in normal traffic. Hum to Motovun is about 20 miles, a 40-minute drive in normal traffic.
Motovun to Grožnjan is about 11 miles, about a 25-minute drive in normal traffic. Grožnjan to Zagreb is about 150 miles, and should take you about 3 hours in normal traffic.
By guided tour
Check out this private tour that combines a visit to Hum and Motovun with a visit to Pula, on the Istrian coast. The price is by group (up to 7 people).
#9 Day trip from Zagreb to Graz, Austria
The Styrian capital of Graz in southern Austria makes for a great day trip from Zagreb. Austria’s second largest city, Graz is home to the world’s largest historical armory, with over 30,000 objects in its collection!
The historic center of Graz and Eggenberg Palace are a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Hauptplatz, the main square, is the heart of the city. Lined with beautiful buildings, including the Town Hall, the square is close to major attractions.
You can stroll Sporgasse, a cobblestone street with lovely facades. Visit the Cathedral of Graz, and the Mausoleum.
Take the funicular or the elevator to the top of Schlossberg, a hill right in the heart of the city, for magnificent views over Graz. Visit the Clock Tower, which used to be part of a castle that was destroyed by Napoleon.
End your day in Graz with a visit to Eggenberg Palace. If you arrived by bus, take a taxi to the palace from the city center. The Baroque palace is beautiful and the grounds gorgeous.
Getting to Graz from Zagreb
Graz is about 114 miles from Zagreb. You can drive from Zagreb to Graz in about 2 hours and 20 minutes in normal traffic.
If you wish to travel using public transport, take the bus! There are several daily departures, especially in high season. The bus takes about 3 hours. The bus station in Graz is about 1 mile from the Hauptplatz, about a 25-minute walk, or you can take the tram or a taxi.
#10 Day trip from Zagreb to Osijek, Croatia
Osijek is located in northeastern Croatia, on the bank of the Drava River. With its beautiful Baroque architecture, the city center makes for a great day trip from the Croatian capital.
In Osijek, the Co-Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul is a must-visit. The tower is the second tallest in Croatia, after the Zagreb Cathedral The church used to have 40 stained glass windows, but some were damaged in the Croatian War of Independence.
Wander the main square, Trg Ante Starčevića. Visit Tvrđa, the citadel of Osijek, located on the bank of the Drava River. It is the largest complex of Baroque buildings in Croatia. Walk along the riverfront. If you like green spaces, stroll the Kresimir Park.
Getting to Osijek from Zagreb
Osijek is about 176 miles from Zagreb. You can drive from Zagreb to Osijek in about 2 hours and 40 minutes in normal traffic.
Although you could travel to Osijek and back by bus, it’s not ideal for a day trip because you’ll spend the bulk of the day in the bus: it is 4 hours one way. Consider renting a car, or hire a car and driver for the day.
So there you have it: my suggestions for the best day trips from Zagreb. If you’ve done any of them, or if you know of another wonderful day trip destination from Zagreb, comment below: I would love your thoughts.
If you are planning to visit Zagreb, I hope I have inspired you to consider adding some of these fabulous day trips to your itinerary for Zagreb!
And don’t forget to check out my post on the best things to do in Zagreb, in just one day.
Looking for places to stay in Zagreb?
If you are looking for accommodation in Zagreb, so you have a comfortable base from which to explore, Zagreb has many great options!
We stayed in the classy Esplanade Zagreb. It is a wonderful choice if you’re looking for luxury and ambiance, and fabulous onsite restaurants. Our room was fabulous, and the marble bathroom decadent.
Bonus: it is very close to the train station and a short taxi ride from the bus station.
Check prices and availability
In the heart of the city center, Hotel Amadria Park Capital Heritage Zagreb is highly rated. Rooms are elegant, with contemporary furnishings. Some rooms have city views.
Planning a trip to Croatia? Check out some of our other articles!
- Croatian Coast Road Trip Itinerary
- The Best Things to Do in Zadar
- The Most Exciting Day Trips from Zadar
- One Day in Zagreb
- Best Things to Do in Rovinj, Croatia
- Croatia’s 8 Spectacular National Parks
- What to Do in Trogir, Croatia
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