by Tanja Gulija Jujnović
Zagreb wasn’t actually on many tourist maps. It was more like a great half way stop on the way to the gorgeous Croatian coast. The city was quiet and, I would dare to say, deserted during the high season. You could have seen more tourist than locals. Not anymore! We are proud to say that the last few years Zagreb did wonders in the offer for its visitors.
TIMING – WHEN TO VISIT ZAGREB?
Haven’t met a traveler that actually enjoys walking and exploring the city in the rain so we definitely wouldn’t necessarily recommend early spring (March) and late autumn (November) due to the weather conditions. But of course, there are no exact rules and the weather surprises us sometimes…
Besides the weather situation, you can plan your visit during the famous festivals in Zagreb. To name just a few: Advent in Zagreb for Christmas lovers, InMusic Festival for the music fans, Zagreb Summer festival with different offers all over the city center (i.e. Summer on Stross), Zagreb Burger festival for the foodies, Cest is the Best – international street festival with performers from all over the world, Vinart grand Tasting or Zagreb beer Fest for the vine or beer lovers, Snow Queen Trophy for the ski fans, Pop Up Summer Garden over the summer or ZeGeVe Festival of Sustainable Living in early September. These are just the “famous” ones.
WHAT TO DO? WHAT NOT TO MISS?
First, do a Zagreb walking tour of the city. Zagreb is a small city and to get to know the basics you need a two-to-three-hour walking tour. Yes, you can do it all on foot without any problem. It will give you the most important information on the history of the country and the city, you will know how to get around and the guide will be more than happy to fill you in on the current events in the city.
Coffee time! – if you did some research on Zagreb you probably know that the citizens of Zagreb love their coffee, their coffee shops and sitting on the terraces and hanging out with friends. It’s absolutely true. So, don’t just run around “like a tourist” and rather sit down in a local coffee place and feel the vibe. You are also free to comment on new fashion statements and good-looking women and men from Zagreb. Even more, if you are in Zagreb over the weekend you have to have a coffee at Špica – the Flower square and the streets around it bring out the famous and known citizens, musicians and TV stars having coffee on a Saturday morning. On Sunday one of the best locations to enjoy mooring coffee is British square during the antique market.
Local markets – even if you are not a foodie to visit Dolac market, we would definitely recommend a visit to local markets in Zagreb. Dolac market is full of fresh local products and you can even taste some of the local foods and specialties.
A hike to Medvednica – not many capitals have a nature park on the outskirts of the city. Zagreb gives you an opportunity to escape in the pure nature. Even more, the Zagreb cable car will soon open giving you a chance to go straight to the Mount Sljeme and see the surroundings from above.
Museums – let’s name just a few: Museum of broken relationships, Naïve art museum, Zagreb chocolate museum, Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, Zagreb city museum, Archeological museum, Arts & crafts museum and many more. Just to add, Zagreb has over 20 museums so we are sure you can find one that will interest you.
WHAT TO EAT?
We already mentioned Dolac market. It’s actually a great place to see what the locals like to eat and even do a bit of food tasting.
Here are a few traditional specialties – do not miss! Yummy!
Štrukli – popular traditional Croatian dish in the northern regions of the country. It’s actually dough with different types of filling (cottage cheese & cream, apples, nettle, cherries…).
Zagreb Shnitzel – When you add a slice of ham and cheese to the veal cutlet (or the typical Viennese steak), you get the Zagreb steak!
Sarma – minced meat, which is rolled into sour cabbage leaves and cooked along with more sour cabbage (traditionally a winter specialty)
Purica & mlinci – Turkey with mlinci (traditional pasta).
Okay, if you are not the type of person that explores things like this on your own, we recommend you book a Zagreb food tour and do this with a professional.
DRINKS ANYONE? WINE? BEER? RAKIJA?
If you heard that Croatian people are drinkers, well, you heard right. We do love all sorts of drinks – the traditional ones and the modern versions.
Rakija – you probably heard about this traditional Croatian drink. It’s actually fruit brandy popular in this area. You have strong ones: šljivovica (plum), loza (grapes), travarica (herbs) or the fruity sweet ones: višnjevac (cherry), medica (honey), borovniček (blueberry)…
Beer – craft beers are popular all over the world. The same thing is in Zagreb. But there are Ožujsko/Karlovačko, the ‘’old’’ ones that the most of people in Croatia drink daily.
Wine – Croatia has small quantity of wines but the quality is superb. You have great wineries in the city center where you can taste the Croatian wines but again, if you want company, you can always book Zagreb wine tour, where you can taste and learn more about the Croatian wine scene.
RECOMMENDED / BEST DAY TRIPS FROM ZAGREB
What is perfect about Zagreb is his location. If you are done with the city, you can explore its surroundings. So many things to explore that are just an hour away from the city center:
Plitvice Lakes National park tour to check out the UNESCO heritage
Zagorje history tour with castles, legends and fairytales
Istria tour with Roman heritage
Varaždin city and Trakošćan castle tour – full dive into the history
Samobor baroque city tour with kremšnita cake tasting
Even if you like you can visit Slovenia on a tour from Zagreb.
“You can always contact us for more information and more ideas on how to plan your unique Zagreb city break. We will customize the itinerary to your interests and travel plans. See you in Zagreb,” the team at Zagreb Day Tours say.