Best Tours and Day Trips from Zagreb

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and offers many activities, but it is also an ideal destination to use as a base to discover nearby sites. Here I tell you what are the best alternatives you can find.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

8 min read

Best Tours and Day Trips from Zagreb

Zagreb | ©aboode

Zagreb is one of the most visited destinations in the Balkan Peninsula and a city that offers a great variety of attractions, but it is also one of the main places to use as a base to discover the surroundings of the Croatian capital. From there you can also visit the most emblematic cities of other neighboring countries, such as Slovenia.

Some of the best things to do in Zagreb include touring the lakes of the surrounding national parks, discovering the most striking Croatian castles, wine tasting in the wine destinations, exploring Croatia's Roman history in the picturesque villages of Istria and sampling the regional cuisine in Plesivica.

1. Excursion to Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke from Zagreb

Plitvice Lake| ©Vicki Law
Plitvice Lake| ©Vicki Law

If you want to get to know one of the most popular places in Croatia, you can't miss an excursion to Plitvice and Rastoke from Zagreb. These experiences will allow you to discover the Plitvice lakes that make up a national park that was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. There you will find a natural paradise composed of 16 lakes interconnected by waterfalls and surrounded by lush forests.

The Plitvice Lakes are distinguished by their unmistakable shades of blue and green, which create a captivating landscape for visitors. There you can explore the trails that wind along the lakes and enjoy panoramic views from strategically placed bridges and viewpoints. In addition, you can also visit Rastoke, known as The Mill Town. This settlement is characterized by its waterfalls and by being built on water streams.

Also, these tours in Plitvice Lakes National Park will allow you to discover the biodiversity of the local flora and fauna that have made this destination one of the most popular and visited natural sites in Croatia.

Details of interest

  • Price: approximately 85 euros per person.
  • Duration: about 10 hours.

Book a tour to Plitvice Lakes

2. Excursion to Ljubljana and Lake Bled from Zagreb

Ljubljana| ©Nicanor Martinez
Ljubljana| ©Nicanor Martinez

One of the best alternatives that Zagreb will offer you, due to its Mediterranean geography, is to visit the nearby cities among which is Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. This destination will captivate you with its historical and architectural charm, which includes the old town with the Ljubljana Castle, its famous cobblestone alleys, baroque buildings and squares where you can find cafes and small restaurants.

Also, in these experiences that include a guided tour of the main points of the city, you can also visit Lake Bled, which frames the Bled Castle on top of a surrounding hill and is one of the most photographed sites in the Balkans due to its central island that houses the Church of the Assumption. There you can embark on the traditional pletnas, wooden barges that will take you to contemplate the panoramic views of the lake.

These excursions, then, will take you to discover two of the most beautiful places in the Balkan Peninsula, where you can take some of the best pictures of your trip and discover the contrasts between the bustling urban life of Ljubljana and the natural landscapes of the surroundings of the Slovenian capital.

Details of interest

  • Price: approximately 115 euros per person.
  • Duration: between 10 and 11 hours.

Book a tour to Ljubljana and Lake Bled

3. Tour of castles from Zagreb with wine tasting

Trakoscan Castle| ©Croosterpix
Trakoscan Castle| ©Croosterpix

The surroundings of Zagreb hide a medieval charm and one of the best ways to discover this profile is to participate in a tour of the most representative castles of the region, which will take you to visit Sveti Kriz Zacretje and Trakoscan. Just a few hours from the Croatian capital, Sveti Kriz Zacretje sits atop a hill and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

This castle, built in the 13th century, has witnessed several historical epochs and has undergone several architectural transformations. It is also one of the few Croatian castles that you can explore inside, where you will find halls decorated with period furniture and discover the intriguing history of its former owners during the Middle Ages.

At the Trakoscan Castle you can learn about the romantic architecture of the late medieval period and find a museum that houses exhibitions of art, armor and furniture from the Middle Ag es. During these tours you will also have time to stroll through the well-preserved gardens of this monumental building.

Finally, during these excursions you can also participate in a wine tasting experience that will allow you to discover the wine culture of the region and also several of its culinary specialties.

Details of interest

  • Price: approximately 181 euros per person.
  • Duration: about 8 hours.
  • Disadvantages of these excursions: these experiences do not include the tour of the villages around the castles.

Book a castle tour from Zagreb

4. Excursion to Pula and Rovinj from Zagreb

Pula| ©Jean Michel
Pula| ©Jean Michel

If you want to discover the coastal beauty of Croatia, you can't miss an excursion from Zagreb to Pula and Rovinj. Located about 3 hours drive from the capital, Pula is known for its Roman amphitheater, the Arena of Pula, one of the best preserved arenas of its kind in the world. This coliseum, built in the 1st century, is a testament to the region's Roman past and you can explore its galleries and arches.

Rovinj, meanwhile, is a picturesque seaside town noted for its narrow cobblestone streets, colorful facades and the Church of St. Euphemia, a Baroque building flanked by art galleries and restaurants overlooking the Adriatic Sea. In addition, the port of Rovinj is home to fishing boats and traditional ships that rescue the port spirit of this destination.

These experiences will allow you to discover the historic architecture of Istria and its panoramic platforms to discover the best views of the sea. They will also take you on a full-day tour of some of Croatia's most beautiful scenery.

Details of interest

  • Price: approximately 207 euros per person.
  • Duration: about 12 hours.
  • Advantages of these excursions: if you plan to visit Croatia during the summer or during the warmer months of the year you will be able to take a swim off the shores of Istria.

5. Gastronomic and wine tour of Plesivica from Zagreb

Wine tour in Plesivica| ©Premshree Pillai
Wine tour in Plesivica| ©Premshree Pillai

One of the best ways to get to know an alternative profile of Zagreb's surroundings is to participate in a gastronomic and wine tour of Plesivica. These experiences will lead you to discover the exceptional flavors of the region and immerse yourself in the Croatian wine tradition.

Typically, these excursions will include a stop in Samobor, a town located about 1.5 hours from Zagreb that is popular for kremsnite, cream-filled pastries that are considered a Croatian delicacy. In addition, in the streets of Samobor you can explore the rich cultural and gastronomic heritage of the region.

You can also visit the Plesivica vineyards, known for producing exceptional wines in the hills near Zagreb. The predominant grape varieties in this region are mainly white grapes, such as grasevina, riesling and chardonnay, which thrive in the moderate continental climate typical of the area's soils. These vineyards also offer panoramic views and guided tours to learn about the elaboration and fractionation of the beverage.

Details of interest

  • Price: approximately 290 euros per person.
  • Duration: about 8 hours.
  • Disadvantages of these tours: during the winter or rainy seasons the panoramic views of the region could be affected by the weather.

How to book an excursion from Zagreb?

Book Online| ©Glenn Carstens-Peters
Book Online| ©Glenn Carstens-Peters

You can book any of these excursions from Zagreb in advance or book them once you are in the city.

You should keep in mind that if you plan to visit the Croatian capital during the summer or during the high season months, the places on the tours may sell out or suffer a rate increase due to last minute bookings, so I advise you to book them in advance of your trip.

On the other hand, if you book in advance you will be able to organize an itinerary for your trip. Keep in mind that most of these excursions are full day tours, so if you also plan to book a guided tour of Zagreb during a short stay in the city, it is best to organize an itinerary to combine the tours around the city with the visit to the Croatian capital.

Book a guided tour in Zagreb

What will I see on this type of excursion from Zagreb?

Rovinj| ©Ewa Kurowska
Rovinj| ©Ewa Kurowska

This type of excursions will allow you to explore various facets of Croatia's cultural, historical and natural heritage, especially if you choose to book an excursion to Plitvice and Rastoke lakes. At these sites you will not only be able to discover the beauty of the tributaries, waterfalls and forests located just outside Zagreb, but also get to know some of the most picturesque villages in the surrounding area.

On the other hand, excursions to Ljubljana and Lake Bled will immerse you in the vibrant city life of the Slovenian capital and you will marvel at the serenity of Lake Bled and its namesake village.

Keep in mind that all these experiences will also help you discover the Mediterranean charm of the Croatian coast and its Roman heritage.

Book a tour of Plitvice Lakes

Tips for an excursion from Zagreb

Comfortable shoes| ©Alexandra Tran
Comfortable shoes| ©Alexandra Tran

Most of the excursions from Zagreb are full day tours, so I advise you to carefully research and choose your destinations and also take into account the following recommendations:

  • Analyze distances: although many destinations are within a few hours' drive from Zagreb, it is crucial to calculate the time needed to avoid rushing. Also consider that organized tours will offer you comfort and a guided experience.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear: if you plan to explore natural areas on an adventure tour make sure you are prepared for weather changes with seasonal clothing, as it is not the same to book a Zagreb castle tour in summer than during winter.
  • Immerse yourself in the local culture: Zagreb offers a complete experience, so try the regional cuisine, interact with the locals and take advantage of opportunities to learn about Croatian history and traditions.

Book a castle tour from Zagreb

What are the advantages of taking a guided tour vs. visiting the best sites from Zagreb on my own?

Lake Bled| ©Michał Huniewicz
Lake Bled| ©Michał Huniewicz

Taking a guided tour from Zagreb offers a number of significant advantages over exploring these sites on your own:

  • Take advantage of specialized guides: the guides are experts in the history, legends and specific details of each destination, so your experience will feature insights into Croatian culture that you might miss on an independent tour.
  • Optimize your tour: the convenience and efficiency of guided itineraries will allow you to visit multiple destinations in a single day, avoiding logistical worries. This will allow you to book a tour to Ljubljana and Bled from Zagreb or to Plitvice Lakes without having to worry about delays and transfers.
  • Enjoy a safe experience: Experienced guides not only know the best sites, but can also provide assistance in case of any unforeseen events, giving you peace of mind during the tour.
  • Get priority access: guided tours often include exclusive entry to certain sites, activities or experiences, giving participants a privileged perspective and unique opportunities. By choosing a guided tour from Zagreb, you can enjoy a more complete experience.

Book a tour to Ljubljana and Lake Bled