When it comes to city breaks I love nothing more than exploring new places. Don’t get me wrong, I have been to, and love all the classic city break destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, and even New York. But I also enjoy exploring somewhere a little less popular and off the main tourist trail. After some research into destinations I decided on visiting Zagreb, which is the capital of Croatia. I have visited Croatia twice before: I spent a weekend in Dubrovnik a couple of years ago, and one in Pula a few years before that. This time I decided to explore Zagreb, to see how Croatia’s cultural capital compared to my previous visits to Croatia.
Zagreb City Break
I booked my trip to Zagreb online with British Airways. I have booked packages before with British Airways, which I have previously found to be quite cheap compared to other companies. Quite often a flight and hotel package booked directly with British Airways works out cheaper than booking just the return flights.
My package included 2 nights in a deluxe room at the Sheraton Zagreb, with return flights in Club Europe, for £299 pp, which was only a few pounds more than the cost for just the return flights.
The easiest way of getting from the airport into central Zagreb is by taxi. I had read stories of people being charged 3 or 4 times more than it should cost for a taxi by just hailing a taxi outside the terminal, so I did a bit of research and found a taxi company which was recommended by the airport’s website. I emailed them and obtained a fixed price within a few minutes, and after another email the taxi was booked. The driver met me in the arrivals hall. The taxi company is Udruga VG Taxi and I highly recommend contacting them to pre-book a taxi before arriving in Zagreb.
Sheraton Zagreb Hotel
My package included a deluxe room in the Sheraton Zagreb Hotel. The hotel itself is located quite centrally, with the city centre and old town just a 10-15 minute walk away. The staff, and the service in the hotel were exceptional – nothing was a problem for them. There were restaurants and bars in the lobby, and the main bar had live piano music every evening, and the perfect location for an aperitif before heading out for dinner. The hotel also had a pool and fitness centre; however I did not make use of this as I was only in Zagreb for two nights. The rooms were clean and very comfortable although in my opinion a bit of refurbishment was needed.
Sights in Zagreb
Many of Zagreb’s fabulous sights can be found in the medieval style old town, such as St Marks Church with its intricately tiled roof, Lotrščak Tower and the Gradec Stone Gate; which is the only surviving gate, from the original four gates into the ancient walled city.
Lotrščak Tower, dating back to the 13th Century, was the tower at the southern most city gate. You can go in the tower and venture up its ancient stairs to the very top, to get a breath-taking view over Zagreb. The cost to go in the tower is 20kn (£2). Watch out for the cannon in the tower that is fired every day at noon, a tradition dating back to 1877.
You can reach the old town by foot, or there is the funicular railway that runs from Tomićeva ulica to the Lotrščak Tower. The funicular first opened in 1893 and was powered by steam, but was converted to electric in the 1930s. The Funicular has been given protection as a monument of culture. It is one of the steepest and shortest funiculars in the world, and takes just 55 seconds to get from one end to the other. One-way tickets are 4kn (40p).
Some other attractions in Zagreb that are worth visiting are the Cathedral and also a stroll through Lenuci’s horseshoe.
The gothic style Cathedral is not only the tallest building in Zagreb, but is the tallest in the whole of Croatia. The cathedral as seen today was opened in 1906, however the cathedral dates back over 1000 years, the first being destroyed by the Tatars and the second by the 1880 Zagreb earthquake. The 15th Century Ottoman fortifications are still present around the cathedral today. During my visit over the Easter period, huge painted Easter-Eggs were displayed in front of the cathedral, depicting scenes from around Zagreb.
Lenuci’s horseshoe is a horseshoe shaped park located in central Zagreb. The park is made up of seven squares, including Trg Nikole Šubića Zrinskog, and comprises of green park areas, Botanical Gardens and a few of Zagreb’s main museums. A walk through this beautiful park area and the Botanical Gardens is highly recommended.
Zagreb has 16 main museums, ranging from historical and archaeological, to art galleries and contemporary museums such as the Museum of Broken Relationships. During my stay to Zagreb I visited the Archaeological Museum, and also the Museum of Broken Relationships.
The Archaeological Museum is located on Trg Nikole Šubića Zrinskog, a few minutes’ walk from the main square. The museum is laid out over three floors and has over 450,000 artefacts, mainly found locally, and in the areas surrounding Zagreb, dating as far back as the Palaeolithic period. The museum also has many artefacts from Italy, Greece, Egypt and Spain. The entrance fee to the museum is a mere 20kn (about £2) and is excellent value for the huge range of items on show. It is open daily apart from Mondays.
If you are looking for an unusual museum to visit, I would recommend Museum of Broken Relationships. The museum was founded in 2010, and exhibits artefacts that have been donated by people from all over the world. The artefacts all had significance to the person’s previous relationship. A short description of what the item meant is also displayed with each item. The museum is located in the old town right by the Lotrščak Tower and is open daily all year round apart from Christmas, Easter and New Year. The entrance fee is 25kn (£2.50). I would highly recommend a visit here, as this is a really unique museum concept, and also the descriptions/stories that accompany the items make interesting reading!
If my visit had been longer, I would have liked to have visited the Zagreb City Museum, which is also located in the old town, just a few minutes from the Museum of Broken Relationships. The museum is over 100 years old and showcases practically everything you could want to know about the history of Zagreb.
Somewhere to Eat
Zagreb has a very big café culture, with cafés lining many streets and squares. One of the main areas for cafés, bars and restaurants is along Ivana Tkalčića. Here you will find some wonderful places for breakfast, such as History Caffe Club where you can get a croissant, glass of juice and a coffee for less than 20kn (£2).
Our taxi driver from the airport pick-up had suggested a good place to go for dinner, with good traditional Croatian food. He suggested a place called Kaptolska Klet, located opposite the cathedral. I ate at Kaptolska Klet on my first evening and had a fantastic three course meal, plus wine was only 195kn (£19.50)pp, perfect!
On my last evening for dinner I visited a restaurant called Agava, located about half way down Ivana Tkalčića. I had an antipasti starter, followed by Adriatic Bluefin tuna steak with dry peppers, sesame and soy sauce, Couscous and spinach. The meal including wine was only 300kn (£30)pp, and for the quality of food and wine this was such good value. One thing I have found in Croatia time and time again is the very low cost of food and drink, especially for the excellent quality of food that you receive.
My two night break in Zagreb was great, but definitely not long enough. If visiting Zagreb I would suggest a minimum of 4 nights to truly explore and appreciate this amazing cultural city.