The artistic and cultural hub of Croatia, Zagreb is quickly emerging as one of central Europe’s prime holiday destinations. The pocket-sized capital is bursting with green gardens and sprawling park forests, which contrast beautifully with the pervasive industriousness of other parts of the city.
Zagreb has experienced a business and tourist boom in recent years, giving way to thriving arts, fashion and restaurant scenes and other major tourist drawcards. Zagreb also hosts an eclectic mix of music, theatre and art festivals that bring droves of visitors to the city from spring through autumn every year.
Now the seat of the Croatian government and parliament, St. Mark’s Square was once the epicentre of medieval Zagreb. The charming square is home to the iconic St. Mark’s Church, and its colourful rooftop is one of the most emblematic sights in the city.
The Botanical Garden is a serene haven of calm among the bustling city, and is the perfect place to while away a sunny afternoon with a good book, a picnic and friends. The Museum of Contemporary Art is a newly established city icon, and boasts a wealthy selection of more than 600 artworks, as well as film, performance art, concerts and theatre.
Regardless of the season, Zagreb is perfectly positioned for a range of outdoor activities. Enjoy waters sports in nearby Jarun Lake during the spring and summer months, or skiing in Mount Medvednica and hiking in nearby Samobor in winter. Lastly, the Mirogoj Cemetery, situated at the base of the beautiful Mount Medvednica, is one of the most architecturally stunning cemeteries in Europe. Its aesthetics are well worth the visit alone, and the grounds are littered with sculptures and artful tombs.
Eat and Drink
Positioned at the crossroads between Eastern and Western Europe, Zagreb’s cuisine comprises a distinct fusion of both regions. Culinary influences stem from Italy, Bosnia, Turkey, Hungary and Austria, to name a few. Traditional cuisine tends to be chicken or veal with a rich sauce, hearty gnocchi or a robust stew with meat and vegetables.
The authentic Croatian dough-based dish of Zagorski Strukli is made with pastry, soft cheese, cream and butter, and consistently delights visitors from all over the world. Zagreb is surrounded by vineyards, meaning the majority of wine served in the city is local and of great quality. There’s also a long history of brewing in the region, so local beer is just as popular as the wine.
Where to Stay
Due to the arrival of some of Europe’s budget airlines to Zagreb, the amount and quality of accommodation in the city has flourished. From modest digs to more elegant hotels, there’s certainly no shortage of staying options to suit every need and pocket depth.
The main square (Jelacic Square) serves as the centre of Zagreb, and the majority of wallet-friendly guesthouses, upscale hotels and modern apartments are located around this area, making it an ideal base for your visit.
As an emerging contemporary design hub, jewellery, art, photography and fashion are what Zagreb’s shopping scene is all about. Start your search around Tkalciceva Street and Ilica Street for your fashion fix, or barter for jewellery around Jelacic Square.
Check out the beautiful art shops around the historic part of town, and make sure you save enough time for a market or two. The Britanski Trg weekend market offers souvenirs of Balkan history, and the Hrelic Flea Market boasts the best clothes and typical market souvenirs.
Zagreb Like a Local
The colourful, open-air Dolac Market offers the unique opportunity to mingle with Zagrebians from all walks of life and to taste the bountiful seasonal goods of the region. Locals flock to the market from all over the city, as village farmers come to sell their homemade foodstuffs and produce. The vibrant, busy market serves as both the city’s major trading place and meeting point, and offers an authentic glimpse into the life of the Zagreb locals.