Summer travel: All you need to know about the Croatian capital Zagreb
Change has certainly been good for Zagreb and over the last few years, the Croatian capital has carved a position for itself as a must do European city break, so much so that Lonely Planet even revealed the destination as the ‘Best in Europe 2017’.
The city’s eclectic architecture, rich history and proud traditions make it clear why Zagreb should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Below is a breakdown of what Zagreb has to offer:
Zagreb certainly has its quirks. At noon every day the Grič Cannon is fired from Lotrsčak Tower and the inhabitants of Zagreb set their watches by it. In order for the bells from Zagreb’s many churches to chime at the same time, the Mayor of Zagreb introduced the idea of firing the Grič Cannon in the 19th Century.
Museums across the city tell the story of Zagreb and bring to life the city’s past, present and future. The Croatian Natural History Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art are a couple of old favourites, however over the last few years, new quirkier museums have emerged to include the Museum of Torture, Museum of Illusions and the Mushroom Museum. A highlight of any trip to Zagreb is the Museum of Broken Relationships. Here, mementos and love tokens donated from broken-hearted lovers after a relationship has ended are showcased to give visitors a glimpse into real relationships from around the world.
Food & Drink
In recent years Zagreb’s culinary scene has changed dramatically. Along with traditional and sophisticated restaurants there are now eclectic wine bars serving both Croatian and Spanish style tapas. Zagreb’s culinary scene features fresh seafood and modern European cuisine with traditional dishes including kotlovina (stewed meat), štrukli (a thin dough stuffed with cottage cheese) and traditional cakes.
Zagreb’s café culture rivals those of other European cities. Coffee is almost a religion here and locals will often spend hours in their favourite café sipping on their favourite brew while catching up with friends. It is such an important ritual to locals, that it is known as ‘špica’, which translates to ‘gathering of friends’.
Arts and Culture
Zagreb has around 30 theatres and numerous art galleries dotted around the city. The Croatian National Theatre is a key symbol of Zagreb with ticket prices as low as £10, and is the national home of ballet, opera and drama. Housed within a neo-baroque building it is the centrepiece of Marshal Tito Square. The impressive Museum of Contemporary Art is the most significant museum to open in Zagreb for more than a century and displays works by celebrated Croatian contemporary artists as well as local artists.
Zagreb also hosts various festivals throughout the year including the Summer on Stross which is celebrated from the middle of May until September. This festival is held on the Strossmayer Promenade in Zagreb’s Upper Town which becomes a stage for films, art installations and nostalgic live music.
As with any city break, visitors will always need to fit in a spot of shopping. All the major luxury brands can be found within the city as well as boutique shops such as local hat makers and shops dedicated to the necktie, a garment invented by the Croatians. Visitors can also wander around the many colourful markets in different parts of the city. The most famous market is the Dolac Market which was once used as a border between the Upper and Lower towns. Dolac is the most visited farmers’ market in Zagreb with colourful stalls, delicious homemade food and handcrafted ornaments. Visitors can also peruse the several covered malls, situated in both the city outskirts and in the centre. The distinct Zagreb blue trams make it easier for visitors to scale the city in search of the top shopping spots!