Zagreb Side Trip Itineraries
To explore Croatia's interior, begin with Zagreb and work your way outward from there. If you have just a day or two, stick to the capital, but the more time you have beyond that, the more you will want to explore. If you're headed to the coast anyway, you'll pass by Plitvice Lakes National Park; keep that natural wonder on your radar for a daytime visit at the very least.
If You Have 3 Days
Stick to Zagreb, with a side trip to its immediate environs. As compact as it is, compared with other regional capitals such as Budapest, Croatia's capital nonetheless invites long strolls and more than a fleeting look into at least a few of its museums and parks. This alone can take three days; but you can probably cover most key sights without feeling rushed in two days, leaving a bit of time to spare for a half-day excursion to the charming village of Samobor, for example, or to the scenic hills of Sljeme north of the capital. Renting a car will allow you to cover more of the castles and towns of the Medvednica hills and the Zagorje region, but even if you have only one full day at your disposal, you can take in a couple of these nearby sites by bus.
If You Have 5 Days
Start as above, devoting at least two or, better yet, two and a half days to Zagreb, with a half-day excursion to the Medvednica hills on the third day. Visit a castle or two in the Zagorje, such as the recently renovated Veliki Tabor, on the fourth day, and spend the night either in the nearby countryside or else in the ancient town of Varaždin before making your way back for a fond farewell to Zagreb on the fifth.
If You Have 7 Days
Do all of the above, but take in both a castle in the Zagorje and an afternoon and evening in Varaždin; throw in a one-night visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park, with a daytime stopover to visit the Old Town center of Karlovac on the way. This one-week option will work well if, for example, you wish to spend the second (or first) week on the Adriatic coast.
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