Visit Zagreb – Croatia’s Underrated Capital City

Zagreb has to be one of Europe’s most underrated capital cities. It has been described to us as dull by many people, yet, whilst not as lively as Paris or London, we felt that it had a definite charm with an alternative and friendly vibe, which made both Nikki and I fall in love with it immediately (since we very often have opposing impressions of cities, our like-mindedness this time was very unusual!). We were definitely glad we had decided to visit Zagreb.

A bicycle with flower baskets standing by a wall - Visit Zagreb

Visit Zagreb – Croatia’s Underrated Capital City

If you’re into un-conventional attractions, The Museum of Broken Relationships is right up your street. The museum houses an interesting (sometimes very bizarre) collection of objects, signifying failed relationships and broken promises, all of which contain tags describing the object and its role within the relationship. Some of the more notable artifacts are a hamburger toy, two real estate signs, a (positive) heroin test, an Uno game, an axe, a stun gun and bottle in the shape of the virgin Mary containing holy water.

It is good to note that non-residents are not allowed to park in the old town where the museum is located. We had no idea about this and parked there for a couple of hours but were lucky enough not to be fined.

Our hostel was a fifteen minute walk from the city centre. After turning thirty-five, I had kind of figured that my hostel days were over, but in Zagreb we chose to stay at one particular hostel based on its fantastic rating and the fact that every other accommodation within the same price range seemed mediocre. And the ratings did not lie. Hot showers with great water pressure (finally an opportunity to wash my hair properly), with simple but very clean rooms made for some much-needed restful sleep.

street art in Zagreb
statue of an angel in gold in front of the cathedral

Visit Zagreb City Center

Zagreb is divided into the upper town and the lower town and you can actually take a sixty-six metre funicular ride to get from one to the other. Dolac market in the Upper town is worth a visit. It has two sections, one inside and one outside both of which contain stalls teeming with fresh fruit, cheeses, vegetables, spices and flowers. We bought bags of apples, pears and grapes for our picnic later on in the day from the market. The main town square, easily recognised by its statue of Ban Jelačić after whom the square is named, is just a road away from the market and seemed to be full of shoppers carrying bags of clothes or food. It’s not really a good place to stop and relax in, but there are nice cafes and restaurants just a few roads away.

different flowers and plants at the the flower market on our visit zagreb tour

The gothic cathedral (which was surrounded by funky, decorated, giant easter eggs when we were there) is worth a visit. Its back wall contains an unusual script, which we later discovered is called Glagolitic Script. The script is believed to have been invented by missionaries St. Cyril and St. Methodius in the 9th century in order to facilitate the conversion of the Bulgarians and Moravians which later spread to Croatia.

a giant painted easter egg in front of the cathedral

St Mark’s Church in St. Mark’s square is also worth a visit even if just from the outside, because of its brightly coloured, tiled roof representing the coat of arms of Zagreb. Close by is the Old Stone Gate which is one of the more famous spots in Zagreb and has now been converted into a shrine with lots of people lighting candles and praying under its stone arch.

St. Mark's church with the beautifully tiled roof showing Croatia's colours - Visit Zagreb

Along our walking tour to visit Zagreb, we later found a great spot to relax in called the Gradec plateau which seemed to be very much a student hangout and we spent some time there enjoying the panoramic views of the city dominated by the cathedral.

one of the cathedral walls showing Glagolitic Script - another reason to visit Zagreb
statues forming part of the entrance to the gothic catheral, a good reason to Visit Zagreb

Zagreb is also home to many other museums, parks and even a lake, so there’s actually quite a lot to do if you choose to visit Zagreb. And if you want to try out some traditional food, get some Štrukli – it’s really good and inexpensive – but make sure you’re famished first!

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  1. Sarah

    Found your post thru #FTB as I’m also headed to Croatia! Do you mind saying what hostel you stayed at in Zagreb as you’ve given it such a nice review!

    • Cheeky Passports

      Hi Sarah, thanks for following 🙂
      We stayed at the My Way Hostel in Zagreb. Enjoy your stay there, and do not forget to go taste Struckli (see our post about discovering Croatia’s flavours)! 🙂


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