Listen up travel addicts that have very little or not enough spare time on hand. If you’re looking to visit a small city with a big heart then Zagreb is just the place for you. I’m seriously in the business of collecting countries to pin up on my board so trust me when I say this one really did impress me.
Last month after spending a week in Amsterdam, lil baby A and I decided to fly to Zagreb to join my husband who was lay overing in the city for 2 days on a work trip. Our plan was simple – stay in and get a good nights sleep the day we arrive and explore on the city on day 2. Needless to say since it was my first trip to the Zagreb I was beyond excited.
So what’s there to see?
First of I suggest you hop into one of the local bakery’s to get yourself a Börek. Now armed with this typical Croatian meat filled pastry delight you’re ready for a whole day of adventure.
The city of Zagreb is mainly dived into 2 zones. Upper town that houses the presidential palace, St. Marks Church and Parliament and the other Lower Town that contains all of the museums and galleries set in cobbled stones. Both parts are extremely essential to visit taking you back in time to pre world war II period.
The city is small and easily walkable hence I suggest starting the day of exploring by losing yourself at the Zagreb farmers Market called Tržnica Dolac .The market is usually buzzing during early hours of the day and thats exactly the kinda vibe you should want to catch. Plenty of Croatian souvenirs are available for sale at the upper market square.
Try Kulen – flavored pork mince sausage
Croatian Chicharrón. I had a taste of it but it wasn’t my kinda thing. Its a snack that is had anytime of the day by the locals.
Croatian – BYOB how in this case its just ( Bring your own bottle) Pick a wine and fill it up for a few Kuna
Homemade cheeses sold at the market. Try Croatian feta which is completely different than the greek version. Its unsalted fresh and creamy.
Here are some pickled delicacies derived from the eastern european kitchen that are fundamentally staple to Croatian’s daily eating habits.
Different types of – Sauerkraut
Handmade wodden toys
Other important sites to visit :
The Cathedral of Zagreb
St. Marks Church
2 of my favourite things about the city are –
The Tunnel Chapel
Riding the worlds shortest funicular
Nightlife lovers head to – Tkalciceva street. Unfortunately for us young parents with our cute little attachments the street can be visited during the day for liquid refueling and to keep everyone in the family happy.
Hydrating in the winter sun with a lovely pint of Ožujsko – Croatian larger beer. Also known as Pivo in slang.
A 30-meter long Gulliver rests on the wall in Opatovina Park tied by the petty Lilliputians.
We were fortunate to get a recommendation from a friend for this place called – Konoba Didov San meaning grand fathers dream. We checked the location and it was a bit of hike given we were on Tkalciceva street. That said we had forfeited a morning workout session for more sleep and so the hike came as a blessing in disguise as it helped us burn a few calories and build an appetite.
The restaurant is this cute little place in a residential street and is very quaint and cozy just as the name suggest. The food was excellent. I am quite sure it would look even prettier in the evening. Our server mentioned that the restaurant is quite popular for dinner and so a prior reservation is required for which he suggested calling to reserve a table earlier in the day.
For starter we got a sharing platter of cheeses and meats that were all homemade and tasted like heaven. One specialty of the Croatians is Pag Cheese that comes from Pag island. This sheep milk cheese is special and is very scarce as the topography of the island is distinct and mostly harvests aromatic plants giving the cheese a uniqe taste and aroma. It is considered artisanal cheese and can be found in many markets around the country. For mains I tried a local delicacy made of frog legs and prosciutto that was delicious however if you’re more of a meat eater I don’t suggest ordering this dish for the sheer minimal quantity of meat. My husband got – Grandpa’s pan which had (veal and lamb cutlet, veal steak, bacon, vegetables now thats a dish for meatlovers.
One other dish i’ve been told to try is Pasticada – a beef stew marinated in a special mixture for 24 hours and served with gnocchi. However unfortunately I couldn’t find it on the menu at Didov San .
Head over to Ilica a classic main street that is similar to those you can find in other big European city. It’s extremly long and runs from Ban Jelačić Square westwards through the half of Zagreb.
Give the humble Croatian wines a try after all central and south Dalmatia is the birthplace of now popular Zinfandel.It may not be as sophisticated as the French or Italian wines but it is one of the oldest wine producing countries and has some decent ones on sale.
Sadly for us our trip was too short for our liking but definitely sweet. Zagreb did for sure leave a good taste in our mouth and we’re hoping to have enough time to explore the rest of the country some day. For now this trip will forever have a sweet spot in our hearts as my husband who is a pilot flew home our baby girl for the very first time.
Bon Voyage & Bon Appetit