Though the Adriatic coast hogs tourists’ attention, central Croatia has lots of sights and activities to delight visitors. From cascading waterfalls to quaint baroque towns to romantic castles, here are a few of the finest day trips from Zagreb—including a dip into neighboring Slovenia.
Samobor – 15 miles (25 km) away
One of the most popular and easily accessible day trip destinations from Zagreb, the medieval town of Samobor serves as a tonic to urban stress with its laid-back, leisurely vibe. Historic churches, pretty pastel-painted houses, and tasty restaurants populate the town center, while the surrounding hills are threaded with hiking trails.
Varazdin – 50 miles (80 km) away
Two major sights draw visitors from Zagreb to Varazdin County: Trakoscan Castle and the city of Varazdin itself. Originally built in the 13th century, though it’s been added to and altered several times since then, Trakoscan Castle still retains its storybook allure. Under an hour’s drive from the castle is Varazdin, a former capital city filled with so many grand baroque buildings it’s been dubbed “Little Vienna.”
Plitvice Lakes National Park – 80 miles (130 km) away
Just a 2-hour drive from Zagreb, this staggeringly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage–listed national park encompasses lush forests, jewel-tone lakes, and a series of picturesque waterfalls. Follow scenic boardwalk-style walkways and bridges, take a boat ride out onto the water, and admire views from the park’s panoramic train.
Ljubljana – 87 miles (140 km) away
The charming capital of Slovenia boasts a pedestrianized historic center dotted with palatial baroque and Secessionist-style buildings. At its core is the winding Ljubljanica River, whose leafy riverbanks are lined with cafés and restaurants.
Lake Bled – 123 miles (198 km) away
With its vast forests, pristine peaks, and glimmering lakes, Slovenia’s countryside is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Day trips from Zagreb will take you the postcard-perfect Lake Bled, a sapphire-blue body of water with a church-topped islet at its center.