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A Rising Star

Overlooked in the past with people flocking instead to the Adriatic coast, the capital of Croatia is a bright new star on the tourist radar. Zagreb offers the best of Eastern and Western Europe with elegant Austro-Hungarian buildings, tasty restaurants, fashionable boutique shops, scruffy pubs and pumping lakeside clubs. Do as the locals do while you’re here and head outdoors! Head to a café to soak up the midday sun and watch the world go by, or head to one of the city’s many parks. This is a city you do not want to miss as it throbs with energy day and night.

Fun Facts

  • There are more museums per square foot than any other city in the world.
  • It is the only city in Croatia with a population of over one million.

1. The Quirky museum of Broken Relationships.

It’s exactly what it suggests, featuring items and stories of broken relationships collected from around the world, some funny, others sad. Take along your own items to put in the museum!

2. Funicular

Ride the shortest cable car in the world for a quick thrill, or just walk up beside it and admire from afar. On the weekends you might catch a glimpse of one of the many newlywed couples doing a photo shoot in the funicular with the city skyline in the background.

3. St. Mark’s Church

This is not just any old church! This is a building with a colourful tiled roof that looks like Lego, and the inside is pretty spectacular too. You can catch the changing of the guards here outside on the weekends at midday!

4. Stone Gate

Not too far from St. Mark’s Church you’ll find the Stone Gate, gate to the old medieval Gradec Town. After a great fire in 1731, every part of the wooden gate was destroyed except for the painting of the Virgin Mary and Child. Nowadays the locals believe the painting possesses magical powers, so they come to pray and light candles at the gate where the painting is kept. A surreal sight to witness.

5. Lotrščak Tower

This 13th century tower was built to protect the city. Don’t get scared by the loud bang that happens at midday! It’s the locals firing a cannonball from the tower like they have every day for the past 100 years. This is to commemorate a moment in the 15th century when the town was surrounded by Turks. Legend has it a cannonball that was fired at noon managed to hit a rooster, blew it to bits and scared off the Turks, thereby saving the city. A less exciting story is that locals do it to make sure their watches are synced. We’ll let you decide. There are fantastic views sweeping over the city from the top of the tower.

Eats

1. Pivnica Mali Medo Restaurant

A Croatian style pub with the local Medvedgrad microbrewery beers on tap. There is some well-priced regional food such cevapi, goulash, homemade pasta, meat platters and much more.

2. Kava Tava

A kooky café and breakfast bar. They are well known for their pancake towers with many mouth-watering toppings like grated coconut with dark and white chocolate sauce.

3. Trilogija

Not to far from the Stone Gate, you’ll find this heavenly restaurant. All the meals are prepared using fresh Croatian ingredients in a Mediterranean way that will indulge all your senses.

4. Farmer’s Markets

Nibble your way through the ‘belly of Zagreb’ at a Farmer’s Market. There are plenty of Farmer’s Markets in Zagreb, but the most popular one is Dolac Market with its colourful red umbrellas that spread out over two floors. One floor is an open-air section with a green market, souvenirs, clothes, bars and restaurants serving fast food (‘marenda’). The other is an enclosed fish market with bakeries, dairy and specialty food stores. Make sure to check out the dairy and bakery sections downstairs with all the homemade cheeses and breads.

5. Vincek

Croatians love their sweets and Vincek is a family run establishment that is a bit of an institution around town. They have a few locations in the city, but the original shop is right round the corner from the funicular. Hit up the famous cream cake or try a few of the 40 varieties of the best ice cream in the city. Make sure you sample the dark chocolate!

Drinks

1. Sip on a Croatian Coffee

Coffee culture is pretty strong in Zagreb, so get in on the act and choose a café to sit down, relax and meet some locals. The main spots around town are on Tkalciceva Street, Bogoviceva Street, and Cjetni Trg. Try Velvet Café and Bar on the corner of Dezmanova and Tuskanova Street.

2. Cafe History Club

On the main street of Tkalciceva, you’ll find Café History Club spread out on three floors. There’s something for everyone from the occasional live music, to football games on the TV, to a dance floor to boogie the night away. There’s a huge selection of beers and cocktails for you to try.

3. Zagreb 360 Café

Want to have a drink on the top floor of the tallest building in Old Town? At Zagreb 360 Café you can for a small fee - and you get a pretty spectacular view over the city from its observation deck whilst sipping your cocktail. Your ticket up lasts all day so you can keep coming back!

4. Pepermint Club

Located centrally and not too far from the funicular, this place is popular with the laid back clubbers who just want to dance the night away with basic decor. There’s a mixture of live music and DJ’s during the week, soul and R&B on Thursdays and pop on Fridays and Saturdays. Make the most of free entry until 10 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 11 pm at weekends, after which a small cover charge applies.

5. Aquarius

Aquarius is without doubt one of Zagreb's most popular clubs and one not to be missed. Internationally renowned DJs are known to frequent this venue, so make sure to check out the program to see who’s in town. The club is set in a pretty cool venue next to lake Jarun with a few other venues nearby.

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Recommendations

Croatia's capital is totally captivating, so glad I stopped here."

Anna, South Africa