When it comes to city breaks there are the usual suspects which crop up time and time again – Paris, Amsterdam, Prague… but sometimes you want somewhere a bit different.
Something new and something still culturally appropriated to its roots – somewhere that doesn’t have tacky tourism shops on every corner and that plays host to more holidaymakers than it does locals. And this such place is .
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and a real city gem. Often overlooked in favour of Croatia’s coastal destinations such as a Split or Dubrovnik, Zagreb is a destination in its own right and one more than worth of a visit. Why not head for a long weekend, or even for a couple of days as a stopover on your way to the coast? It feels like a real secret and real hidden gem just waiting to be discovered. Here are the things you need to know before you go…
The currency is the Croatian Kuna – and there are roughly 8.5 Croatian Kuna to the pound. Change your money before you go for the best exchange rate. Things aren’t overly expensive in the city – we’d suspect this is due to it not being a very touristy location!
How to get there
The flight to Croatia takes about two to two and a half hours and you can fly direct with Croatian Airlines and British Airways from London. The transfer from the airport to the city centre is only about twenty minutes – half an hour by taxi or easily accessible city bus, an airport shuttle bus, or Uber.
What to do
There are a whole range of things to do in the city. We would recommend taking a walking tour to get to know the hidden nooks and crannies and find out more about the history and culture.
There are a number of markets to head to in the main square as well as a flower market, bustling food market and large indoor food market. There are a number of art galleries to explore and one of the most famous assets of Zagreb – The Museum of Broken Relationships.
A crazy concept, this museum showcases objects sent by members of the public which are symbolic to broken relationships, each with their own past story. It is both touching and intriguing – particularly for nosy souls like me! There is also a great café here with delicious hot chocolate and coffee. The coffee scene in particular is huge in Zagreb, so be sure to take some time exploring the local coffee houses and sampling their local pastries.
This year was also host to the second Zagreb festival of Lights, which saw a range of audio-visual installations crop up all round the city. A similar concept to that already done in cities like Amsterdam, Helsinki and Berlin, it is a real highlight to the calendar and well worth coinciding with your trip.
Where to eat
Zagreb is filled with plenty of great restaurants catering for all sorts of tastes. I would recommend the Cheese and Wine bar for exactly that – you can get a sharing cheese platter and glass of wine for less than £10 per person.
Another place to dine is the Stara Vura restaurant. This used to be an old monastery and is now a museum with this eatery in the basement. It’s a beautiful fine-dining location with stone walls and contemporary furnishings – perfect for a night with the other half.
For something a bit livelier head to Johann Franck, a café, lounge bar and night club right in the centre. Dine on the top floor on a whole range of delicious dishes before heading downstairs for drinks and live music.
Where to stay
There are a range of hotels to stay in within the city, though we would recommend the Palace Hotel due to its central location and reasonable price. It is a four star hotel with traditional décor and a delicious restaurant on site with a host of local dishes. You need to try their Cheese Strukli – an authentic Croatian recipe that is delicious!
Zagreb is a city we can’t recommend enough. Head there for a long weekend and experience a secret little slice of Croatia and a city that offers the culture, the views and the vibes without the mania and the crowds. It is the best of both worlds and somewhere we can’t wait to head back to…