Zagreb Croatia is like an elegant lady. She has aged well and still looks as beautiful and chic as ever. I spent much of my childhood visiting this city, my grandparents lived here until they died and my memories of visiting them and the city they lived in are vivid.
This was probably one of our shortest trips for various reasons mainly because I was so determined for Oscar Chang to spend his first birthday with family and friends. Despite our nomadic life we do have routine and rules and most importantly lots of friends and family to make him feel comfortable and some are in Europe which is great.
Zagreb is a very easy city to manage. Most of it is walkable although the local tram system is fantastic and taxis are now very affordable too so we were able to get to some great places and make some great memories. I think my waist line will remember Zagreb the most. WOW the food scene here is vibrant. There are so many great eateries from humble street stands to large modern and wildly expensive hipster hangouts. We may or may not have spent one day only eating cake, ice cream, chestnut puree and baked goods. It was a good day. Infact it was hard not to base our days around which eatery I wanted to visit next so that’s exactly what we did. The fantastic landmarks that Zagreb is famous for are there too, do not fear, its just that they are obscured by my obsession with the food. There is a real buzz and energy in this town and I left feeling optimistic and curious about what the future would hold. This always means I HAVE to go back!
I know how much social media disses food pictures and food posts but be prepared for a few coming up. You have been warned. I hope I can convince you to try a few new things too, I promise you will thank me for it later.
This place hasn’t changed since the days my grandfather took me here and it turns our neither has the owner. He has been there since 1977! This place is prize vintage Balkan cake sampling. The coffee is the type you can stand your spoon upright in and leaves you with a very sharp spring in your step. With kids this can only be a bonus. The proprietor sources all his produce locally from the cream in the frothy whipped toppings to the pumpkins and chestnuts in the ice creams, cakes and purees. The spot is charming and old school and the service is likewise. Crossing the road will take you in the right direction for your next destination.
Maksimir park was open in 1794 and covers over 45 acers of meadows, woodland and lakes. There are playgrounds, cafes and gazebos to picnic and snack in and plenty of paths to cycle around too. The Zoo was a later addition and was built in 1925 on a tiny island on one of the park lakes famously holding only two owls and three foxes. Its expanded a little since then and now covers 17 acres of land and offers what most zoo’s do in a slightly more “relaxed” setting lets say. My favorite being the waist high meerkats enclosure with a sign pointing out they should not be fed and that they bite. Love that. There is still faith in common sense in this zoo. Bravo! The petting zoo is one of the best we have been to so far with giant lop eared rabbits, goats and even a potbellied pig.
The park is stunning whatever the season, fall is my favorite its just overwhelmed with color and the light is incredible. Stroll the day away and remember you can always go back to Orient for more icecream on the way back!
Faultless traditional Croatian cooking. From the local wine, cheese, olive oil, homemade bread and frog. Yes you read that correctly. Its delicious. If your not feeling THAT adventurous try the Ustipci as a starter or the Paski Sir and make sure you dip plenty of that bread in the delicious olive oil while your at it. All the meat is cooked in the traditional “Pod Pekom” way which gives it a rich deep and intense flavor that nothing else can really replicate. The calves liver is also sublime and I highly recommend it. The setting is rustic and simple with rough stone walls and hand loomed tablecloths examples of the old Yugoslavia that this country was part of. If you can eat outside, the people watching is great and you might even rub shoulders with a few local politicians if you can spot them as the street is right next to the government headquarters. On the other side of the road your tourist destination awaits you.
Ivan Mestrovic is one of Croatia’s most renown sculptors, Rodin once said that Mestrovic was the greatest phenomenon among sculptors and an even greater sculptor then he was. He trained with a master stone cutter in Split, Croatia in 1899 a city rich in Greek and Roman culture. Age 17 he went to the Vienna academy and soon gained international recognition He took part in over 150 exhibitions in his lifetime and in 1946 was the first sculpture to have a solo show at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC.
This beautifully curated museum is well worth a visit and may serve as your first introduction to this phenomenal artist, there is no better place to start.
Within close proximity are the famous church of Sv Mark (Saint Marks church) and the museum of Broken relationships which I also highly recommend, I mean the fact that this even exists is amazing.
I had never been on a funicular until I had Oscar Chang and now it seems our word tour just keeps bringing us to them. Weird. Apparently we have now ridden the oldest one. The view from up here is spectacular and the relief of not having to walk down another set of stars is just as exhilarating.
When you reach the bottom you are right smack bang in the middle of things again and right next to my favorite new addition to Zagreb.
This shop is so so good and such a great reflection of everything that is happening in this city. Beautiful, creative, modern and chic souvenirs with ethics and conscience. The terracotta lavender grinders are genius and made by disabled people from the Institute of Rehabilitation in Zagreb.
This great spot has a few outlets now but this one on “Britanski Trg” is still my favorite. Im a sucker for people watching and this is such a great spot with the lively market and locals buzzing around. The food here is sublime and indulgent. I have one word for you PANCAKES. I will not spoil it with a photo just trust me on this one. Great pit stop on your way to see some art
Built in 1898 this stunning building was the first purpose built art space in Zagreb. This year alone it has staged both a Picasso exhibit and a Joan Miro exhibition. Always check the calendar the curators here are fantastic. A shout out to American Express here who recently sponsored the Miro exhibit and threw in a beautiful poster with your entrance ticket. Nice. Thanks! And now time for lunch.
Hands down the friendliest staff in Zagreb this October! Thank you for allowing me to enjoy my lovely meal without my ( i love him but pleeeease even I need a rest) lovely Oscar Chang.
The lady’s here were charming, the outdoor terrace, light and bright and chic and the food delicious. Wine was pretty good too! A great lunch / dinner spot small intimate and friendly just like this city.
And when your ready to do it all again.
Right off the main square Trg Josipa Jelacica with great outdoor seating this restaurant describes itself as street food. Not sure why but well whatever it wants to call itself is fine by me. According to trusty trip advisor there are 395 restaurants in Zagreb and this is ranked 2. My breakfast cost $8 and included a sublime fresh fruit and creme doughnut with a walnut and vanilla icing, a perfectly rich and delicious coffee, a giant brochette with Parma ham, Gorgonzola and pickles as well as an even more giant bruschetta for Oscar Chang to munch on. Proof that quality does not have to mean bankruptcy. Loved it.
An honorary mention about accommodation in Zagreb. There are some fabulous high end hotels in Zagreb and the mid range is OK but not that exciting. Its worth noting that Croatians are noted for there hospitality and staying in an apartment is really the thing to do here. There are tons of agency’s online specialising in this although the larger booking sites like Bookings.com and Airbnb also list them. This is the way to go. For half the price you get double the size and a far far more authentic experience. Both the apartments I stayed in once past the faded grandeur of the facade were immaculately clean, modern and well equipped. My hosts were as helpful as any hotel concierge if not more. One even picked us up from the station!