If you get pleasure from locations which can be a bit overshadowed by their neighbors, you are going to love Zagreb. This metropolis of about 770,000 folks is Croatia’s capital metropolis and, in my view, a vastly underrated European journey vacation spot!
While Croatia’s primary vacationer trails coax guests to discover coastal areas like Split and Dubrovnik (thanks, Game of Thrones), Zagreb is commonly missed by vacationers who do not know what they’re lacking. The metropolis is filled with allure, has a protracted checklist of distinctive sights, and is inexpensive besides. Zagreb steadily makes an look on lists of Europe’s least expensive capital cities and is equally well-liked on rankings of the very best locations to go to on the continent, because of its favorable crime charges, air pollution ranges, and customer facilities.
Located in northern Croatia, town is just some hours from Vienna, Sarajevo, and Venice, and transportation hyperlinks are straightforward. From Zagreb, there are every day trains to Split (and from there you’ll be able to catch buses to Dubrovnik or the Adriatic Islands). If you are day tripping, Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital, is a brief, scenic prepare journey away. Zagreb can also be linked to Munich and Zurich by in a single day sleeper trains. Croatia Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, Iberia, and extra fly into Zagreb’s airport.
There are numerous causes to go to Zagreb, Croatia, and I’m blissful to share. But first…
Based on my expertise, town is extraordinarily walkable, and it is simple to seek out your method round, but it surely’s by no means a nasty thought to get a primer on the principle neighborhoods the place you will be spending most of your time.
Zagreb’s previous city developed as two separate hilltop communities. Kaptol is the place the clergy was based mostly and is appropriately dwelling to the Zagreb Cathedral. Its neighbor and rival, Gradec, was dwelling to artists and tradespeople. It nonetheless has the texture of a really public area with plenty of outlets and galleries. Gradec additionally contains the Croatian Parliament, Constitutional Court, and the lone remaining previous city gate. Finally, Lowertown is way more trendy and is dwelling to stylish outlets, modern lodges, and well-reviewed eateries and museums.
And now, with out additional ado, the explanations you must add this beautiful city to your journey checklist.
1. Crowds Are Few (Especially In The Shoulder Season)
I first visited Zagreb in the midst of summer season. Europe in summer season — that should imply I endured loopy crowds, proper? Not in any respect! Sure, there have been loads of folks out and about in the principle public squares and hottest purchasing streets, like Tkalčićeva, but it surely definitely wasn’t oppressive. It felt precisely what you’d anticipate of a energetic metropolis on a sunny summer season afternoon when locals and guests are purchasing and sightseeing. It was bustling however not congested. If you are considering all European capitals are crowded like Rome and Paris, you will be pleasantly shocked by Zagreb.
During the shoulder season (late spring and early autumn) there are even fewer folks within the metropolis. I personally assume Zagreb has a little bit of a pupil vibe — there are many college-age of us round, studying in cafes and strolling with knapsacks. It’s a comfy, relaxed ambiance, and the delicate climate is great.
2. The Architecture Is Amazing
Zagreb sits at that proverbial crossroads, being influenced by the West and the East on the similar time. As such, town’s buildings showcase centuries of affect from competing forces and international neighbors. The result’s that Zagreb has a glance that is all its personal. Those with a eager eye will spot Belle Époque influences from the Austro-Hungarian empire, in addition to Art Nouveau design and modernist minimalism. The tourism board has a useful pocket information to native structure accessible for obtain.
3. The City Is Full Of Blooms
Zagreb appears to simply come alive in spring, when all the metropolis is roofed in blossoms and blooms, however backyard lovers will admire that there is a lot occurring right here all 12 months spherical. The Zagreb Botanical Garden, which dates again to 1889, is dwelling to 10,000 species of crops. Visitors will particularly admire the Botanical Garden’s Arboretum, which is usual after English-style gardens and is particularly fairly.
The Zagreb Botanic Garden presents free admission and is open from April 1 to November 1. If you need an English-speaking tour, you’ll be able to name the executive workplace at the very least 5 days prematurely to rearrange a time. These excursions value about €5 per individual (an actual discount when you ask me).
4. You Can Join Locals For Sports And More At Maksimir Park
Another stunning public area is Maksimir Park, Zagreb’s oldest public park. Opened in 1794, it was as soon as primarily a forested area, and plenty of old-growth timber do stay. But now the park additionally comprises Zagreb zoo, 5 lakes, meadows, and numerous plant and animal species. There are greater than 100 species of birds that go to Maksimir Park, and you’ll even be a part of a bird-watching tour!
Visitors to Maksimir Park can even take part in Nordic strolling, sport fishing, and yoga courses (in addition to get pleasure from climbing, jogging, and biking on their very own). If you’d somewhat be taught a bit of bit about all elements of the park, there are guided excursions of the realm that embody info on historical past, tradition, and ecology.
5. Zagreb Gourmet Provides Delicious Food Tours
Zagreb’s meals scene does not get the press it deserves. The metropolis is completely crammed with scrumptious choices and the Zagreb Gourmet meals excursions are among the finest methods to seek out your new favourite flavors. Their traditional Zagreb Food Tour lasts as much as 4 hours and contains stops for cheese, cured meats, wine, cake, espresso, a tasting of pumpkin seed oil (a regional delicacy), and a go to to town’s oldest bakery.
For these with rather less time, there’s a 2.5-hour Brunch and Wine Tour that features a go to to the Dolac Market. Brunch is a really huge deal in Zagreb, and this tour offers worthwhile perception into one of many metropolis’s favourite pastimes.
The similar firm additionally presents cooking courses that permit members to discover totally different elements of Croatian delicacies (resembling dishes which can be well-liked alongside the coast and people who replicate conventional Zagreb fare). Additionally, there are themed courses for introduction and Christmas.
6. Dolac Market Is Amazing
Even when you do not be a part of a meals tour or cooking class, Dolac Market needs to be in your journey checklist. Sometimes nicknamed the “Belly of Zagreb”, that is the place to go to seize native produce, meat, dairy, and even seafood from the Croatian coast (plus to observe locals catching up on gossip!). Nearby is the flower market, Opatovina — an important spot for folks watching and pictures.
7. It’s Rich With Folklore
My favourite factor to do in Zagreb is to get pleasure from a tour with a twist. Secret Zagreb’s “Ghosts and Dragons Tour” is an absolute delight. From May to October, it showcases a facet of town’s previous city that you just possible would not uncover by yourself. It covers all the things from folklore and mythology to ghosts and spooky tales.
While there are some reasonable hills, stone steps, and uneven streets, that is typically a simple stroll and proceeds at a delicate tempo. And you by no means know what you may see. At the tip of my tour, I crossed paths with a ghostly white cat. Was this a customer from the past or simply one of many metropolis’s many feline residents? I’d prefer to think about that the spirits of Zagreb had been further blissful to see me!
More Secret Zagreb Tours
Secret Zagreb additionally presents a Christmas tour from late November to early January and a “Badass Women” tour from May to August. They describe the latter tour as follows: “Opera singers, automobile drivers, fashions, scientists, troopers… Learn about uncompromising, robust, daring, gamechanging girls of Croatia, who lived or labored in Zagreb throughout their lifetime.”
(*8*)8. It’s Home To A Fun, Funky Museum: The Museum Of Broken Relationships
The Museum of Broken Relationships is an enthralling, unconventional, and somewhat bittersweet take a look at failed romantic relationships. But that is no foolish cease. In 2011, it was awarded the Kenneth Hudson Award for Europe’s most progressive museum.
So what are you able to anticipate to see whenever you’re there? It’s a lot greater than torn pictures and discarded marriage ceremony rings! There’s a clothes iron that was used to neatly press a marriage go well with, a caricature of a pair sketched by a stranger on a prepare, and even an ax (don’t be concerned — it was used to show a former lover’s furnishings right into a tidy pile of firewood, nothing extra). It’s exhausting to think about that anybody would have the ability to stroll by means of the museum and never see one thing that tugs at their heartstrings. Visiting is each a cathartic and enjoyable expertise.