Destination Guide: How To Fall In Love With Zagreb

Zagreb, Croatia's chief city has more often than not been considered a layover on the way to the country's island studded coast. There is an imaginary "two-day" bubble around Zagreb. Pop it - because something magical happens to people when they linger on in the city, like I did. 

Here are a few recommendations to make the most of your stay in Zagreb without feeling rushed.

What To See:

01| Cathedral of Zagreb : This Roman Catholic Cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia and you can see it's spires from several locations in the city. The Cathedral features Gothic architecture and contains a beautiful relief of a Cardinal by a prominent Croatian sculptor. 

02| St. Mark's Church : This 13th century Church has a colourfully tiled roof constructed in 1880.  It features the medeival Coat of Arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slovenia on the left and the emblem of Zagreb on the right. 

03| The Museum of Broken Relationships : By far the most interesting places to visit, this award winning quirky museum features trinkets that people keep that remind them of their past relationships. Every item has a story of the person who donated it and what it meant to them. 

Kaptol Zagreb
Cathedral Of Zagreb
St. Mark's Church

What To Do:

* Ride the funicular (in operation since 1893!) to the Upper Town, where lies the historic district.  The vantage point is one of the best views of Zagreb. * Listen to the canons go off from the Lotrscak Tower sending shock waves through out town at noon. * Eat like a local at what they call "the belly of Zagreb". Head to the Dolac Markets, an enormous traditional outdoor market full of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats and other tasty treats. * Take a stroll through the Zagreb Horseshoe, its U-shaped outline leads to the Botanical Gardens, an 11.5 acre garden with over 10,000 plant species surrounding secluded benches and grassy pond-side alcoves - the perfect place to wander aimlessly or lay down a blanket and people watch. * If you are a History buff Mirogoj Cemetery warrants a visit because it consistently ranks as Europe's most beautiful cemeteries. * At night, stroll with the locals along Tkalciceva Street (a pedestrian only avenue). Melin Cafe is a Jazz lounge with multi-tiered terraces. Settle down one for soulful grooves under the stars.

Zagreb Kaptol
Dolac Markets Zagreb
Horseshoe Garden Zagreb

Where To Eat & Drink:

01| Cafe Amelie : Zagreb is a town of traditions. Every Saturday the locals don their best threads and head to cafes in the main square Jelacic to see and be seen. Cafe Amelie sits in the shadows of the spires of the Cathedral. The Torta Amelie at this French-ish cafe is layered with custard, almonds and wild berries and is absolutely heavenly.

02| Pod Starim Krovovima : Zagreb's oldest tavern, situated in a 14th century building and the unofficial clubhouse for artists, actors, poets and thinkers. Try  a shot of Rakija (fruit brandy) or  Slavic schnapps here. 

03| La Struk : Sample the local strukli at this lovely little restauarant in the heart of the city. (Strukli is a baked pastry filled with tangy cottage cheese and assorted stuffings.)

04| Melin Cafe : Their signature Blakey's coffee which combines espresso, Amaretto di Saronno, Kailua, cherry liqueur. Jameson, brown sugar and milk is a must-try.

Zagreb Croatia

Where To Stay:

Esplande Hotel - Built in 1925 as a luxurious layover for travellers on the Orient Express, this iconic hotel is a melding of European styles - Baroque, Art Deco, Art Nouveau. The hotel is within walking distance from the city's centre Kaptol. The hotel itself is pure luxury. Sit in one of the plush leather chairs of its lounge under chandeliers, framed by huge bay windows with views of the sunny green horseshoe or book a dinner at the hotel's restaurant Zinfandel, Zagreb's finest and most expensive restaurant.  

Hotel Esplande

Where To Shop: 

Head to Radiceva Street for some retail therapy. Stop in at Boudoir, which has a striking collection of women's wear. Dora is another local designer shop with elegant in-house designed dresses and coats.  Also check out Croata, Croatia's multi chain tie store. 

What To Take Home:

There is so much to love about Zagreb. Something about this place just clicks with my personality. The coffee culture, the local creatives and thinkers, the rich history, not to mention the food and wine. I loved so much about this city, I even loved the things no one else does - like the grey days and the crumbling facades. Visit Zagreb with an open mind and discover it on its own terms. Do not compare it to Paris or London and you will find that it is a city of hidden treasures - if you know where to look...

Zagreb Upper Town

I hope you find this guide useful. If you enjoyed it, please do share it with any of the social media buttons located under the post. Thank you.

{Follow me on Instagram to see more of Croatia. All images taken by Persis for At First Blink. Please do not use without permission.}