During my two-week trip to Europe, I spent quite a bit of time in the small but beautiful country of Croatia.
before that trip, the only thing I knew about the country was that several places had been used in the making of popular HBO series Game of Thrones. I quickly learned though, that this country was full of unique experiences and unforgettable attractions.
Besides enjoying the sights and sounds of this Adriatic country, my twin sister and I also took in our fill of yummy food, delicious beer and good company across several different cities that I suggest everyone find time to visit at some point in their lives.
When I was doing my research for my trip through Croatia, I knew my friends and I are going to start in the country’s largest city, the capital Zagreb, and after combing through several guides online, I was surprised by what I found.
For one, this city is at an interesting crossroads between Eastern and Central Europe, with food and architecture that’s a unique mix of influences from Vienna, Prague, and even Budapest.
If you ever find yourself in this charming city, here are some great ways to spend your trip:
1. Explore Kaptol
Zagreb’s Old Town is quite the curiosity, given that it’s built on two hilltops and made up of two different settlements that didn’t integrate for several hundreds years. Kaptol is where the clergy were based and where the diocese was established in 1094. It’s also where you can find the famous Zagreb Cathedral and admire its centuries old fortifications that were built during the Ottoman wars.
2. WIND YOUR WAY THROUGH GRADEC
As Kaptol was the religious section of Zagreb’s Old Town, Gradec is was home to artisans, tradesmen and other types of laborers who made up the secular portion of the population. If you have time to linger, take some time to meander down the cobblestone streets, admire the St. Mark’s Church, and gawk at the gothic architecture.
3. ENJOY NIGHT LIFE ON TKALČIĆEVA STREET
If you’re looking for live music and good food, Tkalčićeva Street is where you need to go. Locals are drawn to this place for romantic occasions, or just sitting on one of the many balconies and enjoying a drink as the evening unfolds around them.
4. GO SHOPPING AT THE DOLAC MARKET
The Dolac Market is open each morning and stocked with delicious vegetables, dairy products and meat that are all locally grown. If you’re doing your own cooking while you’re staying in Zagreb, be sure to make a stop here each day; you can even take your pick of the fresh seafood that’s brought in from the coast.
5. VISIT THE MIMARA MUSEUM
The Mimara museum can be found in Lower Town, and is named for the 20th-century art collector named Ante Topić Mimara. While the permanent exhibits were donated by Miramar, she has since become associated with art theft during World War II, as well as forgery. If nothing else, it’s an interesting way to spend an afternoon.
6. PLAN A VISIT TO THE ARCHEOLOGY MUSEUM
In case you forget that Zagreb is an interesting union of Eastern and Western cultures, their archeological museum is a great reminder. You can spend hours exploring the various remnants and artifacts that come from all different eras and cultures.
7. WANDER AROUND LENUCI HORSESHOE
Give yourself plenty of time to visit the horseshoe shaped attraction, full of squares, fountains and buildings that are reminiscent of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Plan on enjoying the day at the Botanical Garden, and the Croatian National Theatre if you’re a fan of ballet, drama or opera.
8. SPEND A DAY AT JARUN LAKE
If you visit Zagreb during the summer, you can cool off in Jarun Lake where there’s plenty of activities like kayaking, sun bathing and swimming. There’s also competitive rowing, skateboarding and cycling if you want to get in a workout. Jarun Lake also hosts a series of bars and night clubs that all line the lakeshore, so be ready to hit the town!
9. TOUR KARLOVAC
The small town of Karlovac is an ideal visit for any history buff or military connoisseur. The 16th century complex was built as a military stronghold against the Ottoman empire, and if you explore the Old Town, you can see the Citadel, defensive system, trenches and moats. It’s also ideal for a stroll since the pasture, forest and gardens that sit outside the city walls were never developed.
10. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO SAMOBOR
Try and schedule time for a day trip to Samobor, the medieval town that sits between Zagreb and the Slovenian border, which has been attracting visitors for nearly 200 years. Most of the architecture is dated to the Baroque era, but you can also visit the Samobor Castle ruins, and even explore the remnants of the moat, walls and gatehouse.