It’s early. Church bells fill up the morning air. Trams are chugging along, cars are filing out, and at the cafés, office goers are sharing gossip over coffee. That’s Zagreb for you; it’s unhurried and always has time for kava.
Zagreb is cradled between the River Sava and Mount Medvednica, and while the city doesn’t compare to the more illustrious Croatian coast, it has plenty to offer.
Zagreb’s historic core lies in the Upper Town area. Here the city’s medieval charm can be explored along the narrow, winding cobblestone streets. Between the Baroque architecture, art galleries, museums, and majestic churches, you can spend many a pleasant hour wandering around this quarter.
At the heart of the Upper Town is the Church of St. Mark. Built in the 13th century, it is known for its tiled rooftop and the great works of art it holds inside. Close to the church is the Croatian Parliament building, armed guards and all. Straight down the road stands the medieval Lotrscak Tower. For a small entrance fee, you can climb the tower and catch a bird’s eye view of the city. This area is also home to the 17th century St. Catherine’s Cathedral, a Baroque marvel not to be missed, and Stone Gate, the only surviving medieval entrance to the city and a popular Miriam Shrine. Closer to the Main Square is the spectacular St. Stephen’s Church; its twin gothic spires can be seen from across the city.
Zagreb Squares and Markets:
Zagreb is a city of lively squares and fresh, busy markets. The Main Square, Trg Bana Jelacica, is one such vibrant spot. You always find a concert, exhibitions, performers, street markets, etc., set up here. Just behind the square is Zagreb’s biggest open air market, Dolac. This rooftop market is known for its sunburnt peasants, fresh fruits and vegetables and local handicrafts. Right across the road is the Flower Square; on the weekends, Zagreb’s most fashionable gather here to mingle and be seen. And then there is Britanski Trg, which holds everything, from cafes and flower stalls to a farmer’s market, and a fascinating Sunday antique market.
Zagreb Museums and Galleries:
Zagreb is a city of culture, full of museums, galleries, music halls and theaters. Some must-see museums include the Mimara Museum, the Croatian History Museum and the Ethnographic Museum . Also be sure to stop by the Gallery of Naïve Art (with its impressive collection of naïve artworks) and the Museum of Contemporary Art . Also interesting is the work of famous Croatian artist, Ivan Mestrovic .
While you’ll find great coffee almost anywhere in the city, the most charming cafes are along the main street, Illica and the squares around it. Another popular haunt is Tkalciceva Ulica (Street). Just off the Main Square, Tkalca, as it is popularly known, is full of cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars. The party here continues late into the night.
Zagreb Parks and Slopes:
This is a green city. Be it the Strossmayer Promenade and the botanical gardens in the heart of the city or the stunning Maksimir Park just beyond the city limits, the city is in full bloom come spring. Other fascinating stops include the stunning Mirogoj Cemetery and the Medvednica Park, where the summers offer cable car rides and hiking trails while the winters offer pristine white skiing slopes.
No matter where you go in Zagreb, you will be welcomed by its friendly and hospitable natives.