We took a Flixbus from Graz in Austria till Zagreb. As we entered Croatia, at the border we were asked to get off the bus for passport control. This might be surprising for few but is totally normal as Croatia is EU country but not part of the Schengen area. But Croatian government have made a provision for tourist according to which a person holding valid multiple entry Schengen visa could enter Croatia as a tourist. We went to Croatia in 2018, as of 2019 it was declared by European Commission that Croatia will be part of Schengen area from 2020, so if you visit Croatia in this year, things might be different.
So after quickly refreshing ourselves at the hostel we headed out to explore Zagreb. There was so much to see and yet so little time. We had entered Croatia in peak football season when Croatia had qualified for its final against France. Two days before the event Zagreb was gearing up big time for the event and we were caught up slightly in the excitement, we had to leave a day before the final. Though I can’t imagine what fun it would have been, if we were in Zagreb and Croatia would have won 😊
Moving on, we started of by visiting the touristy part – old town of Zagreb located on a small hill. To reach the top within seconds one can take Europe’s shortest funicular ride. Tickets are cheap and available on site but require Croatian currency Kuna for it. Otherwise one can just climb up using the stairs next to the Funicular ride.
After reaching top of the hill, we enjoyed the views of the city and headed towards our first unexpected stop – Museum of Broken Relationships
Museum of Broken Relationships
Frankly I had no idea such a museum exists in Zagreb or anywhere in the world for that matter. When we reached old town, it was quite early and we saw a huge group of teenagers exiting from a comparatively small gate. When we reached near the gate, I read the name of the museum and gre curious. Since it was early in the day, my husband really needed a coffee break before exploring Zagreb, hence he quietly sat in the cafe for the coffee while I decided to give this museum a visit.
As the name suggest, it was a place with numerous stories voluntarily sent by people about a relationship which simply didn’t work out for them. Some stories were emotional but mostly reflective and some funny. Usually people don’t like to talk about past, hence this was an interesting way to see people open up and hopefully heal themselves. Now I think of it, its a good place for teenagers to visit, for them to know that the world doesn’t end (even if it seems at that time) when a relationship breaks.. and one needs to heal and move on.
There is a ticket to enter this museum and is one of its kind I would say. Don’t include it in your itiernary if you have really young kids and old adults. I don’t think it would be interesting for them.
It is a tower on top of the hill but what makes it interesting is the daily cannon blasts and an excellent observation desk. We reached the tower just in time to hear the cannon blasts, a few seconds early and could have also seen it being loaded nevertheless it was the first time I heard the sound of a genuine explosion aside from the fire crackers, so I am going to count it as a new thing! It is appropriate again for adults but kids might get scared,so families should avoid accordingly. There is a ticket for this experience and can be bought at the base of the tower.
St. Marks Church and Old stone Gate
We decided to just roam around the old town in the remaining few hours of Zagreb and see as much as we could that day. St. Marks Church is comparatively a small medieval church with interesting and beautiful tiled roof. We just clicked pictures and moved on to see the famous Virgin Mary shrine through a Old stone Gate.
Dolac Market and nearby Street for Lunch
Extremely busy open air market with numerous stalls selling local produce,especially fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. One can find many other stalls nearby market. Market is actually central and many streets surrounding the market have wonderful mini restaurants and thus this area is ideal to hang around during early hours of the day. Market closes by afternoon so visit it early and then have lunch nearby.
Cathedral of Zagreb
One of the most magnificent and iconic piece of architecture and a must visit is Cathedral of Zagreb. The building has twin spires which are around 108 meters high. This cathedral was constructed in the middle ages, but suffered huge damage during Zagreb earthquakes and was finally restored in neo gothic style in 19th century. This cathedral is few to visit and is exceptionally beautiful from inside as well. You won’t regret visiting it but be ready to witness some scaffolding as there are constant repair works going on. Infact there is a joke that people rarely see the entire cathedral without scaffolding on either of the towers.
Nikola Tesla Monument
Even though there is /was a huge debate whether Tesla was a Croatian. On Google his nationality is referred as Siberian – American. Nevertheless Croatians love him and consider him their own. We really liked seeing this almost ignored Tesla monument in one of the busy streets of Zagreb.
Submarine Burger and Vincek slastičarnica icecream
Well, we don’t always end up eating authentic national dishes while travelling. We do try local well reviewed cafes and restaurants. Because why not?
Hence, we would recommend a place called Submarine Burger. I have a very funny video on Instagram about how we heard hindi youtube video while eating our burgers in between all the western music. Burgers tasted delicious, though it is a crowded place and may take time to get a place.
We also tried the most famous confectionery in Zagreb called Vincek slastičarnica. It’s icecream served in a cup is famous. Icecream was good but another crowded place because of its popularity.
We ended our trip with some random street photography in the streets of Zagreb. It was thorough fun to see such a vibrant city specially in the wake of Football world cup 2018.
Tips for the Zagreb trip
Remember to change your currency to Croatian Kuna.
Getting a travel card is not that straight forward, it is available in selected stores and one has to be specific of their needs.
It was easy to reach to main city using these cards but otherwise they won’t be needed while exploring the old town and main streets as most of the attractions were in walkable distances.
If you are booking the Chillout hostel in the centre be assured that it is good location but you won’t love staying there for many days.