After leaving Split, my friend and I decided to stay a couple of days in Zagreb. We needed to fly out of the Zagreb airport and decided to take the time to see the capital city while we were passing through. We really did not know much about the city and came there with no expectations. Below are some suggestions on what to do, what to buy, what to eat, where to stay, and how to get around based on our experience.
Things to Do:
St. Mark’s Church. This church has a distinctive tiled roof that is worth taking a peek at. The church is located near other sites so a visit to this place is not out of the way. We stopped here to take pictures. The church was not open when we visited so I am not sure what the inside looks like. Plan to spend 15 minutes here to take pictures.
Museum of Broken Relationships. The title of this museum sounds crazy and depressing, but this unique museum is actually worth a tour. It is located in a small space so there is a limit to the number of visitors at any time. When we stopped by, we there was a wait so we got a ticket with a time to come back. We had to wait about 30-40 minutes, and during that time we walked around outside and came back. The exhibits are in English, and the museum also offers companion guide books in multiple languages. All museum items are donated along with stories about the break up of a relationship. Some of the stories are funny. Some are thoughtful. Some are sad. In general, this museum is an interesting concept and set up. Plan to spend about 45 minutes going through the whole space.
Croatian Museum of Naïve Art. This small museum features works by Naïve artists from Croatia. It is another interesting concept and displays some great works. The space is very small so it does not take too long to go through the whole thing. It is located across the street from the Museum of Broken Relationship so we were able to do both at the same time. Plan to spend about 45 minutes here.
I did not do a lot of shopping in Zagreb, but there were some items that I kept seeing in gift shops. One is the necktie. Croatia is where the tie was supposedly invented so this is something the city is proud of and touts as a souvenir. For those who wear ties or need a gift for someone who wears ties, this could be a good option. Although I am not sure that the ties here are of high enough quality or uniqueness to be a good gift. The other item that Croatia is proud to tout is the Licitar Heart. This is a heart shaped cake that is painted bright red and decorated with sugars. I am not sure if this would last well enough to bring back, but I did not really investigate these too much. I think the best things to bring back from here might be food items that will travel okay, such as local olive oils, chocolates, etc.
What to Eat:
We did not really hear much about must try dishes so we did not seek out any particular foods, but we did try to go to a couple of restaurants that served local cuisine and asked for recommendations. We enjoyed Otto & Frank, which is a good restaurant to try local fare. It has a specials menu that changes daily and when we went we both tried different specials recommended by our server. This restaurant is located in the upper and lower towns area, where a lot of other restaurants and bars are located.
Where to Stay:
We stayed in an Airbnb near Slavonska station. There were lots of good deals for this city so finding a place should not be a problem. This area was safe and close to grocery stores, cafes, and a couple of restaurants. It was also close to a tram stop so it was easy to get around to the city center and to the bus station.
We arrived to Zagreb by bus from Split. The bus ride was about 5.5 hours. We chose to travel by bus because trains were not an option, and this was cheaper than flying. There are a number of local bus companies that make this trip throughout the day. The bus station in Zagreb is located across from a tram stop so it was easy to get to our Airbnb. The public transport is linked to Google maps, which also makes it easy to get directions. Travelers can buy single trip tickets at newsstand kiosks located in the bus station complex. Tickets must be validated on the trams. Like most European systems, Zagreb public transport is a bit of an honor system. Tickets are not needed to board but getting caught will come with a fine. It is better to buy tickets just in case since ticket inspections are random. When traveling within the city use the trams, walk, or bike (a lot of locals bike to get around, and our Airbnb did have bicycles for us to use). Since we were staying close to a tram stop, we chose to mostly take the tram or walk. When we left Zagreb, we departed by plane to fly to Greece. To get to the airport, we took the airport bus, which picks travelers up at the central bus station and drops them off at the airport. The ride takes about half an hour.
Overall, Zagreb was a cute and relaxed city. It might not be somewhere I would recommend going out of the way for, but I would recommend stopping by here if passing through or near it. The highlights can probably be seen in a day but plan to stay longer if taking some day trips outside of the city. We were here in August and it was not too crowded, but it was very hot. For travelers coming here in the summer, get a place with air conditioning. This city is probably best suited for travelers looking to see a cute town and to get away from the bustle and tourists of the busier coastal towns.