An up-and-coming European tourist destination, Zagreb is the vibrant capital city of Croatia. Perfectly blending modern innovation with historic charm, the city is filled with European flair Walkable streets, hidden alleys, gorgeous architecture and a sleek metropolitan feel make Zagreb is the perfect place to explore on your next trip.
The best place to stay in Zagreb is the centrally located city centre. Canopy by Hilton opened their first European property here in late 2018, with 151 rooms and 8 spacious suites. Formerly Croatia’s first confectionary factory – Union, which opened in 1911 – the hotel has kept its unique charm and draws inspiration from Croatia culture and industrial influence. Providing guests with a unique travel experience, the hotel features local artwork, regional textiles and unique surprises, like hallways are lined with posters of Croatian inventor Nikola Tesla.
The rooms are artfully designed yet function, and one of the most striking pieces is the exclusive bed canopy. The Utmost comfort and functionality has been thought of, with every space featuring free WiFi, a 49-inch TV, Nespresso, and refrigerator. A filtered spring water station on several floors, with in-room refillable glass bottle is a nod to sustainability.
At ReUnion Restaurant you will find takes on Southern classics with fresh local ingredients direct from the Dolac Market, served in an upscale-bistro setting. The restaurant features art work from famous Croatia labels, adding a fun twist to the space. Innovative menu items include traditional specialities such as Croatian chard pie, Croatian-style black cuttlefish risotto and a selection of local cheese, craft beer and wines.
Located in the fashionable design district, Noel caters to a swanky crowd that appreciates the best of top-quality Croatian cuisine mixed with culinary experimentation in a polished atmosphere. A choice of either four or seven courses are offered, with specialties dominated by local and seasonal ingredients. Do not miss the Adriatic sashimi tuna with cucumber and wasabi, Cheese risotto with white truffle and Schneenockerl ( a cold creamy treat made with egg and milk).
With 4,500 cafes and restaurants in Zagreb, the ratio is an astounding 1 restaurant to 75 guests. Croatian food is a diverse mix of cultural influences from all over the world. Something is available for everyone in the city, from street food stalls, international fare, vegetarian-friendly to Michelin starred cuisine. Look out for these local specialties in Zagreb:
Apple Strudel- A classic dessert made with fresh grated apples, cinnamon and a touch of rum.
Paprenjak- This traditional peppery biscuit was once made by the women of Zagred and is a combination of honey, walnuts and pepper.
Licitar is another popular sweet honey dough biscuit of Zagreb, heart shaped, colorful and traditionally given as a symbol of love on special occasions.
Štrukli- The dish for any occasion! The most popular is made with filo pastry dough, eggs, cream and cottage cheese. Can be served so many different ways, and all are acceptable. sweet, savory, boiled or baked for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or a snack.
Walking distance from the hotel some of the city’s best shops, restaurants, attractions and culture. One of the first stops you will want to make is the Zagreb Cathedral. The tallest building in the city at 77 meters tall, the history of the calming structure dates back to the 13th century, and has been rebuilt several times.
Zagreb has around 25 different farmers’ markets, but the best one is The Dolac Market. Located around the corner from the Zagreb Cathedral, the market was founded in 1930 and it is the biggest farmer’s market in Zagreb, selling rows of brightly colored flowers, vibrant fruits, leafy vegetables, fresh dairy products, eggs and souvenirs. The fish and meat markets are located in separate buildings surrounding the square, and feature a daily bounty from local purveyors. Specialties include Neretva Valley mandarins, Istrian Olive Oil, Zagorje cottage cheese and cream and cherries from Zadar. Traditionally, women from nearby villages would come in to sell their goods, and were called “kumica”. The “kumica” is honored today with a statue at the top of the entrance stairs, paying homage to the longstanding tradition.
Continue walking and you will hit historic Upper Town, home to St. Mark’s Square, Croatian Parliament, Croatian Government, breathtaking views and a few museums. This area of the city has hardly changed since the 13th Century, and features two intact medieval towers. The Lotrščak Tower is located on the southern side, and fires the cannon everyday at high noon. The Priest’s Tower formerly provided a safe place for hiding clergymen in the midst of enemy attacks. Look around, and you may see the former palaces of nobleman with their beautiful courtyards. If you look up, you may notice the gas lamps that line the streets. Providing an old-world ambiance, these 214 lamps have been lighting the way for visitors and residents alike for the past 150 years.
Zagreb has more museums per capita than any other city in the world, and the museum scene in spans all ranges, from tender to contemporary to fanciful, depending on where your interests lie. A total of 3.6 million exhibits can be found all together, with 12,000 curated pieces alone in the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The highly popular Museum of Broken Relationships showcases items donated from around the world- from parachutes to old pizza boxes and toasters to funny, sad and heartbreaking stories. The artist/founders were once a couple themselves, and the birth of the idea for the museum came after the end of their relationship with their joint possessions. A world tour brought many more items and stories, and the items now have a permanent home in Upper Town.
Zageb is home to several events like the Zagred Classic, Inmusic Festival and The Festival of Lights. One of the most popular is the Advent Christmas Market. Beneath twinkling lights, Christmas Market stalls line the winding streets and squares, with Ban Josip Jelačić and European Square being two of the most popular areas. Stalls sell everything from international foods, handmade items, novelties and local specialties.
The magical experience is not only good for a festive night out on the town with local food and wine vendors set up around DJ’s and band stages, but it is the perfect place to get all of the Christmas shopping done. Specialty bites include “ fritule” (deep-fried dough balls) and several kinds of sausages. Sip local craft brews, mulled wine or Pelinkovac- the most famous Croatian herbal liqueur. The ice rink in Tomislavov Square is one of the family favorite attractions, and can be seen softly glowing at night. Zagreb Advent begins the day the first advent candle is lit, and ends on January 6th.
Kimberly Fisher is a Pursuitist contributor. As a freelance writer and on-camera host, Kimberly has traveled the world and has published over 400 articles in over 44 publications including Sherman's Travel, Huffington Post, JustLuxe, Luxury Lifestyles UK, eHow, Examiner, Food Wine Travel Magazine, Luxe Beat, NiteGuide, Ocean View, and USA Today. Disclosure: Kimberly is under contract with Casa Del Sol.