If you are looking for a city break and just wanna go to a place where you can slow down a bit and break the monotony of your fast pace loud daily routine life, then Zagreb is a place for you.
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia but may not be the most exciting city, as what I have heard from people is that Dubrovnik on the other side is more touristy and an active city. What makes Zagreb interesting, are the nearby attractions which you can read about in the later part of the blog.
What to Expect from Zagreb?
Zagreb has a small city center, made to be explored on foot. Stroll around the old town on the cobblestone streets, enjoy a drink in the bars and cafes lined up on the street. Beat the feet by taking a walk to the upper town and enjoy the city view from the top. Take the world’s shortest funicular ride, walk through the historic Grič Tunnel located in the city center from the World War II, which was used as a bomb shelter, but today it is transformed into a tourist attraction. Enjoy the local cultural markets and relax your thoughts in the calm air. This city has a laid-back attitude and sleeps quite early as compared to European cities like Prague, Budapest, Vienna, and others. It’s a place for someone who is looking for an escape from the city hustle.
Still interested? Keep reading…
Useful Information about Croatia
Tourist Visa: You can travel to Croatia if you have a multiple visa from a Schengen state, UK or US. Otherwise you need to apply for Croatian tourist visa.
You must change your money to local currency (Croatian Kuna) from any exchange shop as you won’t be able to use USD or Euro anywhere. Credit Cards are widely accepted.
Tap water is drinkable water. If you go to any bar or restaurant they’ll serve you free water with everything, even if you order only a beer or a glass of wine.
All the stores (grocery, pharmacy, shopping) close by 9 pm in Zagreb.
Last order in the kitchen is acceptable until 10:30 pm in Zagreb.
Bars are usually open till 1 or 1:30 am in Zagreb.
Best time to travel to Croatia is May and June or mid August and September when the weather is pleasant.
How to Get Around?
You can mostly walk around the whole city center and when you feel lazy you can take a tram, which cost only 4 Kuna for a single ride. To go back to the old town square from any point take Tram No. 6. You can buy the tram ticket from the small shops selling newspaper, cigarettes and handy stuff near the tram stations.
Zagreb has a well-connected train system, which gives you an easy access to some of the most popular European cities like - Munich, Budapest, Ljubljana, Venice, Zurich, Innsbruck, Vienna and Salzburg.
Nightlife in Zagreb
Honestly it’s pretty boring after 10 pm in Zagreb. Night clubs are open only on the weekend and there are a few small bars/clubs which runs on the weekdays too but they are really small and always overcrowded. Club Opera in the Old Town is the most famous and the biggest club in Zagreb. Besides, you might enjoy a walk up to the Upper Town and take a drink in a bar having a shining night view of the city.
Where to Eat?
There are many nice restaurants in and around the city center but if you are in the Old Town then follow Ivana Tkalčića Street, where you’ll find plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants serving local and many international cuisines like Indian, Italian, Sri Lankan and others.
If I ever go to Zagreb, I would go to these 2 places again - Plitvice Lakes National Park and Mrežnica River Rafting. The experience is exceptional and you may want to thank me later, if you visit these places after reading this blog. They should be the main highlight of your trip in Zagreb.
Plitvice National Park - it’s about 2.5 hours drive from Zagreb to this world-famous and the largest national park in Croatia and the entrance ticket for the park is 250 Kuna. It would be half day tour and if you are a photographer then it might take you longer. In this park, there are 16 crystalline lakes connected through a series of waterfalls and cascades. Here, nature invites you for a treat to your eyes. You can club this tour with another interesting activity, if you are not scared of height. At a drive of 40 minutes from the park, there is a place called Pazo Medo, where you’ll find the longest Zip-line in Europe. It’s a great experience and would add a thrill to your day.
Mrežnica River Rafting - if you are an adventurous soul, then this is for you. One of Croatia’s finest and clearest rivers, unspoiled woods, magical landscapes and pure untouched nature - this is what Mrežnica river rafting is all about!
Plitvice National Park
Places to Visit / Things to do in Zagreb
Segway Tour of the Old Town
Take a Tour of Upper Town
Visit Museum of Broken Relationships
Visit Museum of Naive Art
Vegetable Market in the Old Town (opening hours : 7 am to 2 pm everyday)
Experience the Folk Dance Show in Zagreb
Budget for the Trip
Currency Exchange : 1 USD = 6.7 HRK (Croatian Kuna)
Hotel Stay - Prices may vary depends on the season and hotel ($70 to $150 approx.)
Cost of an Average Meal - $5 to $8
Soft Drinks/Juice in a restaurant : $3
Craft beer or wine - $2 for a pint/glass
Data Sim Card - $12 for unlimited Data plan for 30 days
Zagreb may not be on the list of my favorites, but I would still consider it worth a visit, if someone is looking for a slow vacation in a city, away from the city hustle. The best way to plan a visit in Zagreb is by combining it with Slovenia or other cities in Croatia. If you ask me, 3 days are ideal for Zagreb.