Last autumn, my family and I travelled to Europe, as the kids had a school exchange in Italy (more on that in a future post). After a few days in South Africa, we spent 5 days travelling around Slovenia and Croatia before settling down in Italy for a few weeks. Today I will share with you my Zagreb – Croatia Guide.
After leaving the beautiful Plitvice Lakes, we made our way towards Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Even though I had visited Croatia as a child, I had never been to Zagreb and I must say I was absolutely impressed with it.It is a really beautiful city. Some areas even reminded me of Prague.
We only had a few hours to visit Zagreb, so we only managed to see the main sights. However, I would say a couple of days are a must to explore this city.
We started our visit from Zagreb’s main square: Ban Jelačić Square. Jelačić Square is the most common meeting place for people in Zagreb. Being a part of the pedestrian zone, it is inaccessible by car, but it is the main hub for trams – so be careful when crossing the road!
The square is huge and with plenty of stalls selling food, local produce, and crafts. It makes for an interesting stroll.
We were also quite lucky as we got to see a folk song show with people dressed up in traditional costumes. We loved it.
After that, we visited the Cathedral and its square. The Gothic Cathedral is the tallest building of the city and apparently you can see it from anywhere in town!
The interior is just as beautiful and impressive.
We also saw the sarcophagus of blessed Alojzije Stepinac, the Archbishop of Zagreb between 1937 and 1960, who remains a very controversial personality even today.
Then we walked to the funicular that we used to reach the upper part of the city.
There we saw the Lotrščak Tower, a fortified tower that dates to the 13th century and that was built to guard the southern gate of the Gradec town wall.
From there, we walked to St. Mark’s Church, one of the symbols of Zagreb. On the roof, the tiles are laid so that they represent the coat of arms of Zagreb (a white castle on red background) and Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia.
We then walked through the Stone Gate – Kamenita Vrata – the most significant oath site in Zagreb. The legend goes that during the last fire (in 1731), the Stone Gate was damaged badly but one painting remained miraculously intact – the painting of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus. That painting has been enshrined in a little chapel built inside the Stone Gate, guarded by an impressive baroque fence.
Now the Stone Gate is a place where people go to pray and light candles. Many people whose prayers have been answered have left ex voto’s – plates describing the tragic event and giving thanks for the divine intervention.
From there, we reached the statue of St. George and the area where all the restaurants are – Tkalčićeva ulica.
Tkalčićeva ulica is the place to go for good food!
We had dinner at Mali Medo on Tkalčićeva ulica.
It is a “pivovara” – a pub famous for its beer and good food.
The food was really tasty and the ambiance rustic and hearty! We all loved it.
I had a delicious rump steak with potatoes and mustard.
My husband had Ćevapčići with French fries and ajvar. YUM.
The kids had… pizza.
In a food stall in Ban Jelačić Square, we also had some of the best fritters I have ever had: fritula. We had some in the afternoon and then we went back for more after dinner. They were THAT good.
We stayed in a beautifully appointed apartment a 3-minute walk from Ban Jelačić Square: Barcode Apartments. This place is a gem.
We booked a studio apartment with a queen bed and 2 single beds. There was also a kitchenette and a big enough bathroom.
It is very clean and practically new. Highly recommended – I think a place like that right in the centre of the city is hard to beat!
I had heard that Zagreb was a beautiful city, however, it absolutely outdid my expectations. It was a little gem. I really recommend a visit if you are ever in Croatia… don’t limit yourself to the coast.
If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will be happy to help out!
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