Zagreb, CROATIA – we knew we’d be back in Croatia after our first trip Dubrovnik. This capital city was always on the radar, but we struggled to fit it in due it’s northern position and PTO days. The solution: rent a car and add a stop in Plitvice Lakes National Park in route to the Dalmatian Coast (+ unused PTO from quarantine).
3 days / 3 nights
Our Airbnb was in a nice residential area, but still in the core of the city. We loved the local feel and at $55/night you can’t beat the value. Just be mindful, that many Central/Eastern European apartments do not have an elevator. Safe to say we got our workout climbing to the 5th floor with 100 pounds of luggage.
Getting around is easy because Croatians are multilingual. With a population of only 4 million in the country, learning another language is important not only tourism but for overall communication. It’s not uncommon to find someone who speaks German, English, Spanish, or French. Not to mention, the Croatian language is very difficult to learn.
Dolac Market – find flowers, fruits, vegetables, homemade cheese, homemade pasta, meat, fish from the Adriatic (downstairs) here everyday. My favorite find however was the stand with handmade Croatian textiles. Beautiful, rich colored table clothes and traditional clothing, all at very affordable prices. Tip: This is not a market for bargaining. It’s considered rude. The price you see is the price you pay.
St. Mark’s Church – the colorful tiled roof looks strikingly similar to the one in Vienna and Budapest. One of the oldest buildings in the city!
Grič-Tunnel – built during WWII as a bomb shelter, these well kept network of tunnels can be accessed by the public under Upper Town. You can find the tunnel entrances as they are marked with Zagreb coat of arms.
Lotrščak Tower – great views of the city, Upper and Lower! Don’t be alarmed: the cannon fires everyday at noon!
Cathedral of Zagreb – according to the tourism board, it is the most monumental sacral building in Neo-Gothic style southeast of the Alps.
Museum of Broken Relationships – voted best museum in the country, funny enough! It’s full of breakup stories and donated personal objects from former couples around the world. Ironically, it’s located across the street from a popular pink interior church where everyone gets married and the romantic gas lamps.
Stop to buy local souvenirs – Licitars are traditional heart shaped ornaments that you can find in every Croatian home. Make sure to buy from a stand like this one below outside of Lotrščak Tower.
Dubravica– best bakery (“pekara”)in Zagreb! My favorite was the mini burek with meat because it reminded me of a Russian pirozhok. One of these and you are full for less than $1.50 USD. Korica is another option!
Dubrovkin Put – WOW! This was the best dinner in Zagreb. If it’s not a Michelin star, it should be. It’s upscale dining with butler-like service, but in Zagreb you pay a fraction of the price. Dinner for two (3-4 dishes) with a bottle of wine and dessert cost about $120. The pictures just don’t do it justice. Great spot for a date night!
Bornstein – best wine bar a little of the beaten path. About a 5 minute walk from our Airbnb in a more residential area – it’s quiet and relaxing (until your third bottle is ordered). We did the Tour of Croatia wine tasting for the full experience. Pours are generous and if you aren’t careful, you’ll walk home with 4 bottles of wine and have to figure out a way to pack them and get them home. Really friendly staff, nice outdoor area, and a historical wine cellar inside.
La Štruk – Zagorski štrukli is a unique traditional Croatian dish served in most households across Hrvatsko Zagorje and Zagreb. It’s made from special dough and fresh cow cheese. We ordered the sir slati (salty cheese) gratinated štrukli to share as it’s quite heavy and washed it down with beer.
Lanterna na Dolcu – the friendliest staff and peaceful ambience. This place was literally next door to our Airbnb. We made a reservation for dinner on the patio where they had live music.
Basta – a friend’s family restaurant! Great pizza and cocktails with a trendy vibe.
Now on to the road trip and Plitvice Lakes!