While coastal Dubrovnik and Split may be more well-known Croatian destinations, the country’s under-the-radar capital offers so much to explore. Go Ahead Product Development Customized Specialist Andrea made the most of her time in Zagreb during her recent tour of Croatia and Slovenia. Here, she shares her top picks for what to see, do, and eat while in the bustling, historic city.
What to see
One thing I immediately loved about Zagreb was how walkable its downtown area was—it’s perfect for exploring. I was struck with the mix of modern and ancient there. The city has a contemporary Lower Town and historic Upper Town, connected by a funicular that’s the oldest in all of Croatia.
The Upper Town is charming, and full of winding cobblestone streets to get lost in. Don’t miss seeing the medieval St. Mark’s Church, noticeable because of the colorful tiles that line its roof. Mirogoj Cemetery is another must-visit spot in the Upper Town. This burial place of many famous Croatian artists and writers is one of the beautiful cemeteries in Europe. Locals and students actually treat it like a park, enjoying outdoor time in the green spaces that surround the stunning architecture.
What to do
Museum hopping is one of the best ways to soak up the culture of Zagreb. During our sightseeing tour, we explored the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art with a local guide. The 20th-century paintings, sculptures, and drawings here were created in an intriguing, primitive style, different from what you’d see in other parts of Europe.
Just down the street is the Museum of Broken Relationships, which I paid a visit to during free time in the afternoon. The city is proud to be the original location of this unique museum, home to a collection of all kinds of artifacts that symbolize breakups. Each item on display tells a different, interesting story, and some even date back hundreds of years! This creative museum has another permanent collection in Los Angeles, California, along with traveling exhibitions around the world.
Travelers can easily stop into several museums during a free afternoon in Zagreb—a few other popular ones are the Museum of Illusions, Museum of Torture, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
What to eat
Situated at the edge of Southeastern Europe, Zagreb offers a wide range of culinary options that draw from Mediterranean, Central European, and Eastern European influences. On Tkalčićeva Street in the center of the city, you’ll find many cafes and restaurants serving regional bites. Stroll along this main street and you’ll have no trouble finding somewhere to grab some food—it’s a favorite place for locals to gather. Try ćevapi, a signature Balkan dish made of grilled sausages served with pita bread and ajvar, a red pepper and garlic relish. Sarma, or cabbage rolls stuffed with spiced minced meat, is another must-try traditional meal here. Pair either with a locally produced wine or beer for a true taste of Zagreb.
Dolac Market, located where the Upper and Lower Towns meet, is open and buzzing with activity every day. It’s best to go in the morning to have your pick of fresh fruit and vegetables, and you’ll also find other local specialties and handicrafts from vendors at the indoor and outdoor stalls.
Have you ever been to Zagreb? What are your recommendations for this Croatian city? Share them in the comments below.