Where to stay in Zagreb for first time: 5 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Zagreb as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Zagreb for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Zagreb for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Zagreb and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Zagreb is the capital and largest city of Croatia, located in the northwestern part of the country, along the Sava River. It has been the political, economic, and cultural center of Croatia since it became an independent state.

Zagreb is divided into two main parts: Upper Town and Lower Town. Lower Town is the newer and more modern part of the city, situated at a lower elevation compared to the historical Upper Town.

The historic upper town, known as Gornji Grad, is a charming area with cobblestone streets, medieval buildings, and landmarks such as St. Mark’s Church and the Lotrščak Tower.

Ban Jelačić Square is the main city square and a popular meeting point. It’s named after Ban Josip Jelačić, a 19th-century Croatian military leader.

Zagreb is home to numerous museums and galleries, including the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Croatian Natural History Museum.

Zagreb offers a variety of traditional Croatian dishes. Popular items include štrukli (a type of pastry), purica s mlincima (turkey with a special type of flatbread), and various seafood dishes.

The city has a well-developed public transportation system, including trams and buses. It is also served by the Franjo Tuđman Airport.

Is Zagreb safe to visit?

Zagreb is generally safe for tourists. Like any other big city in Europe, there is the risk of pickpocketing and street scams, so  it’s important to exercise basic safety precautions, be mindful of your belongings, avoid poorly lit areas at night, and stay aware of your surroundings.

There are some areas where you should avoid after dark. These include Zagreb Bus Terminal, King Tomislav Square and Ribnjak Park. If using public transportation, be cautious of pickpockets, stick to official taxis with meters and Ubers, which are generally safe to use.

Where to stay in Zagreb for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Zagreb for first-timers and tourists are Lower Town (Donji Grad), Upper Town (Gornji Grad), Kaptol, Jarun, and Maksimir. Always use common travel sense and take standard safety precautions regardless of the area you choose to stay in.

In general, Lower Town, Upper Town, and Kaptol are the most popular areas for first-timers to book their accommodations. These are central areas with good access to attractions, restaurants, and amenities. You’ll be close to major shopping streets, museums, and sights like Ban Jelačić and Dolac Market.

Maksimir and Jarun are great locations if you prefer a more residential feel and outdoor activities. Maksimir is home to the large Maksimir Park, and Jarun is the location of Lake Jarun. These areas are a bit away from the city center but offer a peaceful environment.

During my trip to Zagreb, I stayed at the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel. It was a great hotel in central Zagreb, close to the Railway Station and famous attractions in Lower Town including the city’s main square Trg Bana Jelačića and Tkalčićeva Street. My room was gorgeous with a beautiful balcony. The breakfast was lovely with lots of options.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Zagreb for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Zagreb first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Zagreb first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Zagreb, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Zagreb have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Safe areas to stay in Zagreb for first-timers and tourists:

1. Lower Town (Donji Grad)

Lower Town is a fantastic base in Zagreb for first-timers who want a central location, easy access to major attractions, shops, restaurants, and transportations. This area is the heart of the city where you find the  main square, Ban Jelačić Square, and the city’s main train station.

Many cultural and historical landmarks are located in Lower Town, including museums, galleries, and theaters. You can easily explore places like the Croatian National Theatre, Museum of Arts and Crafts, Chocolate Museum Zagreb, Mimara Museum, and Archaeological museum.

There are numerous green spaces in the area for relaxation and events. Zrinjevac Park is lined with trees and The University of Zagreb Botanical Garden is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.

The Lower Town is known for its lively atmosphere. You’ll experience the buzz of the city with locals and tourists alike, especially during the day. The area is filled with cafes, shops, and street performers.

Lower Town is a great area for shopping. Ilica Street, one of the longest and busiest streets in Zagreb, running through the Lower Town and is known for its shops and boutiques.

Best places to stay in Zagreb in Lower Town for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Sheraton Zagreb Hotel, popular 5-star hotel in a great location close to the Main Train Station and the Main Square. There are many shops, outdoor cafés, and restaurants nearby. It has an Indoor swimming pool, very good breakfast, and a fitness center.

Mid-range ($$): Best Western Premier Hotel Astoria, 4-star hotel located in a quiet area in Zagreb city center, next to a leafy park, within walking distance to everything of interest to tourists. 5-15 mins walk to the Main Train Station and Central Bus Station. It has free private parking and superb breakfast according to nearly 8000 guest reviews. 

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Dubrovnik, lovely 4-star hotel in a prime location, in the middle of the city center, close to everything.  Easy access to the Main Square, the Cathedral, Dolac open-air market and Ilica Street shopping area.

Budget ($): Hotel Jägerhorn, great 3-star historic hotel located in central Zagreb, between the main pedestrian street and the old town, near Ban Jelacic Square. The hotel has free parking, which is a bonus for those who drive. There are also paid airport shuttle services, laundry service, and 24-hour front desk.


2. Upper Town (Gornji Grad)

Upper Town is an excellent location for your first visit to Zagreb, particularly if you appreciate historical charm and a more relaxed atmosphere. This area is the historical heart of Zagreb, featuring charming medieval streets, historic sites, and St. Mark’s Square.

Gornji Grad is home to several important historical landmarks, including St. Mark’s Church, Lotrščak Tower, Zagreb Stone Gate, Museum of Broken Relationships, and Zagreb City Museum. You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history.

The elevated position of Upper Town offers panoramic views of the city. You can enjoy stunning vistas of Zagreb from viewpoints like Lotrščak Tower or the Upper Town walls.

Gornji Grad is known for its artisan shops, galleries, and boutiques. You can explore unique and locally crafted items, making it a great area for those interested in arts and crafts.

Upper Town has traditional Croatian taverns and restaurants where you can savor local cuisine in a cozy setting. It’s an excellent place to experience authentic Croatian dishes.

Best places to stay in Zagreb in Upper Town for first-timers:

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Academia, 4-star hotel conveniently located on the vivid Tkalčićeva Street, within walking distance from the city’s central square, Ban Jelačić Square, Zrinjevac Park and Cvjetni Square. Easy access to bars, pubs and nightlife. It has fabulous breakfast, airport transfer, and 24-hour front desk.

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Republika, a beautiful sustainable aparthotel in a quiet area next to a park in Upper Town. Easy access to major sights such as the Museum of Broken Relationships and Croatian Museum of Naive Art. It features free parking, full-day security, family rooms, and luggage storage.

Budget ($): Main Square Hostel, popular backpacker hostel located in Upper Town – Medvescak, near Ban Jelačić Square,  Dolmac market and Ilica Street. The hostel has 24-hour front desk, laundry services, free breakfast, big lockers, and dorm rooms with shared bathrooms.


3. Kaptol

Kaptol is home to the Zagreb Cathedral and is a historic area with a mix of religious and cultural landmarks. It’s centrally located and well-connected.

Kaptol is steeped in history, and the area exudes a historic and cultural atmosphere. The winding streets and historic buildings provide a charming backdrop for exploration.

You can explore traditional markets in Kaptol, where you may find local products and souvenirs. Dolac Market, located nearby, is a popular spot to experience local flavors and purchase fresh produce.

Best places to stay in Zagreb in Kaptol for tourists:

Budget ($): Grand Bells Bed And Breakfast, great 3-star hotel situated on a quiet street in the historic heart of Zagreb, a short walk from Zagreb Cathedral and Tkalčićeva pedestrian zone where you can find various bars, cafés and restaurants.

Mid-range ($$): Apartman Kaptol, 4-star accommodation set on Kaptol ulica, very close to the Zagreb Cathedral and Ban Jelacic Square. You can choose to stay in rooms with a fully equipped kitchen. Easy access to Archaeological Museum Zagreb and King Tomislav Square.

Mid-range ($$): Pod Zidom Rooms, great 4-star hotel centrally located in the middle of the city center but quiet for a good night sleep. Close to all the major sites, 5 mins walk from the start of the Blue bike tour of Zagreb, and a 15 mins walk from the railway station.


4. Maksimir

Maksimir is a great area for local atmosphere, proximity to Maksimir Park, and Maksimir Stadium. It is a predominantly residential area, offering a more quiet atmosphere compared to the city center.

The highlight of the area is Maksimir Park, one of the oldest public parks in Europe. This expansive green space offers a serene environment for leisurely walks, jogging, or simply enjoying nature. The park is home to lakes, sculptures, and a zoo, providing recreational opportunities.

Maksimir has its own selection of local cafés and restaurants, providing a more laid-back dining experience. You can enjoy a meal in a relaxed setting away from the tourist-heavy areas.

Best places to stay in Zagreb in Maksimir for visitors:

Budget ($): Rooms at Zajčeva 34, popular 3-star modern guest house located in a quiet neighborhood in Maksimir, between the city center and the huge Park Maksimir. It has  free private parking, paid airport shuttle service, a garden, and a terrace. Next to Merkur Hospital.

Mid-range ($$): Madison Luxury Apartments & Rooms, 4-star accommodation in Maksimir, close to a tram stop, grocery store, Green and fish market, and many restaurants. 

Budget ($): Apartments Petrova170, 3-star apartment located next to Maksimir park, featuring accommodations with a patio and fully equipped kitchenette. 


5. Jarun

Jarun can provide a unique and enjoyable experience during your time in Zagreb if you prioritize outdoor activities, water sports, and a more relaxed atmosphere.

The main attraction in the area is Lake Jarun, a large artificial lake surrounded by parks and green spaces. Jarun offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as jogging, cycling, and rowing. The lakeside promenade is a scenic spot for leisurely walks.

Consideration: It is a bit farther from the historical and cultural attractions in the city center.

Best places to stay in Zagreb in Jarun for travelers:

Mid-range ($$): Admiral Hotel, popular 4-star hotel close to Jarun lake that has a casino, fabulous breakfast, and free parking. 

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Antunovic Zagreb, 4-star accommodation situated on Zagreb’s main street, offering Superb breakfast and an Indoor swimming pool.

Budget ($): Hotel Jarun, 3-star accommodation located near Lake Jarun, offering an exceptional rich breakfast, free parking, and 24-hour front desk. Close to bus and tram stops for further exploration.


In conclusion, Lower Town, Upper Town, Kaptol, Maksimir, and Jarun are the best places to stay in Zagreb for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe areas that provide a variety of accommodations for all budgets, and easy access to major sights.

You can continue reading about other destinations in Croatia in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Zagreb. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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