The medieval city of Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and has a charm akin to other European cities such as Vienna and Budapest. Zagreb has become a popular weekend destination for travelers from other parts of Europe. The city has two medieval hill top towns known as Gardec and Kaptol .The city of Zagreb is located on the slopes of the Medvednica Mountain Range on the banks of the Sava River in the north of Croatia. The epicenter of the city is the square of Trg Bana Jelaciça which is populated by restaurants and cafes. The city has a rich history associated with it and most of its monuments are of a historical nature.
The climate of Zagreb is characterized by four distinct seasons. The summer months from June to September are hot and dry with mean daily temperatures hovering around 20°C(68°F), summer temperatures can sometimes go up to the mid 30°C(80°F).Winter temperatures are around 1°C (34°F) and snow is common during the winter.
Kuna is the official currency of Croatia. A Kuna is made up of 100 Lipa. ATMs are available all throughout the city and credit cards are widely accepted. Banks work a six day week in Zagreb with a few open 7 days a week.
Further, a tourist is entitled to a refund of the Croatian value added tax ( PDV) when the tourist exports goods worth 500 Kuna excepting petroleum goods. There are several methods of receiving this refund.
Zagreb’s international airport is located to the south east of the city 17 km away. Croatia Airlines which is a member of the Star Alliance Network uses this airport as a hub. Other international airlines also call on Zagreb’s airport to provide links to other European cities. Low cost airlines such as German Wings, Wizz air, Tap air and BH airlines all fly to Zagreb’s airport. The Zagreb airport has all the usual modern facilities such as a bank, post office, duty free shops, restaurant, tourist information center and a left luggage kiosk.
The major Low cost players Ryan Air and Easy Jet fly into other Croatian airports of Graz and Klagenfurt, Rijeka and Ljubljana respectively. These airports have direct links with Zagreb city and often provide an alternative route to get to Zagreb.
There is a bus link from the airport to the city center. The bus is available outside the arrival hall and a single ticket costs 30 Kuna. The bus operates between the hours of 8AM and 8PM at a 30 minute interval with the first bus departing from the airport terminal at 7AM.
A network of highways links Zagreb to other European cities. The A2 highway provides a road link to Vienna while A4 leads to Budapest and A3 leads to Greece and Turkey amongst other countries. The use of these highways attracts a toll used for their upkeep and maintenance.
The bus station of Zagreb is called Autobusni Kolodvor , it is located near the railway station. International coaches from here provide a bus link to other major European cities.
Zagreb’s main railway station is called Glavani Kolodvor . Eurocity and Intercity rail services provide rail links between Zagreb and other European cities such as Berlin, Vienna and Budapest.
Getting Around Zagreb
A fairly compact city Zagreb is conducive to walking however an efficient public transport system serves the city. The Public transport system consists of trains, trams and taxis. The trams run all throughout the day with four lines running through the night as well. A single ticket for a tram ride costs 6.5 Kuna, a 24 hour ticket costs 18 Kuna. These tickets can be bought at newspaper kiosks and a single ticket provides one with travel for 90 minutes from the time that the ticket is validated. Buses provide another inexpensive way of traveling in and around Zagreb. 113 bus lines including 4 night buses serve the city. Trains operated by the Croatian Railway connect the suburbs of the city with the city center. Taxis are plentiful but quite expensive, when compared to the other modes of transport. The initial flag fall is approximately 20 Kuna and there are several other surcharges as well.
Bicycling is another mode of transport available in Zagreb and bikes can be hired from Sputnik rent a bike near the main railway station.
There are many historical attractions in Zagreb dating back to a 1000 years. Apart from the historical attractions, museums and Galleries Zagreb hosts every year ‘the Snow Queen Trophy.’ This is a major Ski event and the most expensive event on the women’s ski circuit. It is held in January and is a slalom event. It attracts 25000 spectators every year who watch the event live or on screens in the main Ban Jelacica Square.
The Botanical Gardens, Trb Marka, Marulica
Zagreb’s botanical gardens date back to 1894 and along with several species of flora they feature water bodies, an arboretum and a decorative bridge.
The Cathedral of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, Kaptol
Since 1990 the Gothic Cathedral designed by Austrian architect Hermann Bollé has been under renovation with its twin spires obscured by scaffolding. The interior of the Cathedral was renovated in 1988. It has a marble pulpit designed by Slovenian Sculptor Mihael Cussal and also a relief showing Croatian priest Stepanic kneeling before Christ.
The Croatian Museum of Naïve Art, Cirilometodska
The Museum has over 1500 works by native Croatian artists such as Ivan Generalic and Ivan Lackovic. These works though sometimes puzzling and surreal depict a colorful interpretation of Croatian life.
Mimara Museum, Rooseveltov Trg8
This museum represents the incredible collection of Croatian born artist Ante Topic Mirmara. It includes over 4000 objets d’art including works of various European masters Spanish artists such as Velasquez, Goya ,Flemish masters Van der Wayden, Van Dycke, Belgian geniuses such as Rembrandt and other German and English artists. The museum opened in 1987. However the illumination of the works of art leaves much to be desired and the captions are only in Croatian which makes it difficult to identify the works. Admission is 20 Kuna for adults and 15 Kuna for children.
Mirogoj Cemetry, Mirogoj
Accessible by bus no 106 from Kaptol and tram 14 from Trg Jelacica towards Mihaljevac the cemetery is another work by Austrian architect Hermann Bollé. The cemetery is one of the most magnificent cemeteries in the world with a neo-renaissance arcade, domes, trees and shrubs flanking a variety of gravestones belonging to all communities Christian, Jew and Muslim. Graves of famous Croatians are to be found here.
Maksimir Park, Maksimirirski Perivoj
This patch of green spread over 3.2 km is the biggest park of Zagreb and is a popular center for recreational activities for the residents of the city. It has in its environs the Zagreb city Zoo. The Zoo can be accessed by paying an admission fee but the park is free. The park can be reached by Tram 11 or 12 from Trg Jelcica.
The Museum of Arts and Crafts, Trg Marsala
It has an exhibit of over 160,000 objects that depict Croatian culture and heritage. Interactive displays and Audio Visuals help highlight the collections further.
The Croatian National Theater, Trg Marsala
This is a building which displays Neo Baroque style and it was inaugurated with much pomp in 1890 by Emperor Franz Josef. It was designed by Ferdinand Helmer and Hermann Feller both Austrian architects.
The Croatian Natural History Museum,Demetrova
Not a terribly exciting Museum. It has several animal, plant and vegetable exhibits. It also has an exhibit of the remains of a Neanderthal Krapina Man found in Krapina to the north of Zagreb.
The famous open air green market of Zagreb is the Dolac Market It opened in 1930 and the chief market days are Friday and Saturday. It is located north of Trg Jelacica square and it has stalls of fruits, vegetables, textiles and plants on one level while stalls of meat, cheese olive etc are located on the lower level. It is touted to be one of the best open air markets in Europe.
A cobblestone street leads up from Dolac market. This street has the majority of bars, restaurants and galleries of Zagreb which are housed in restored 19th century houses. This is the heart of the Café Society of Zagreb.
Ethnographic Museum, Mazuranicev Trg 14
This interesting museum is devoted to the working life of Croatia and contains exhibits of implements used for the cultivation of olives and grapes, aprons and tunics from all over Croatia and even a Gingerbread collection.
The artificial Jarun Lake covers 2km and is the party central district of Zagreb with restaurants and bars lining the lake front. There is also a beach, facilities for jogging and sailing. Jarun Lake can be reached by tram 17 from Trg Jelacica.
Museum of the City of Zagreb Opaticka
The museum is located in the convent of the order of St Clare and illustrates life in Zagreb from the Medieval Ages to the present day. The exhibits consist of furniture, weapons, costumes and photographs which catalogue the evolution of the present day city of Zagreb.
Klovicevi Dvori Gallery, Jezuitski
This museum is the sister museum of the Croatian Museum of Native art and has displays of works on loan from private collections as well as other galleries. It includes works of Native as well as contemporary Art.
Zagreb Archaeological Museum, Trg Nikole Subica Zrinskog
A fascinating collection of Greek, Macedonian and Croatian exhibits dating from prehistoric times to the present fill the display cabinets of this museum. The most famous exhibit is the “Zagreb Mummy” with bandages inscribed with the oldest Etruscan inscription in the world.
The most opulent and luxurious hotel in Zagreb is the Regent Esplanade, famous personalities such as Richard Nixon, Pierce Brosnan and Elizabeth Taylor have stayed here. It is a grand hotel which opened its doors in 1925. This old world hotel has many of the modern conveniences such as spa treatments, wireless internet access and great service. The hotel boasts of a great Croatian Fusion restaurant. It is located at Mihanoviceva and the hotel information can be accessed at the website www.regenthotels.com. The Dubrovnik is a hotel located off the main square of Trg Jelecica ,it first opened in 1929 but has undergone renovations which saw an addition of a new wing in 1982 . The hotel is sleek and modern and well priced to serve the needs of the tourist as well as the business traveler. The website of the hotel can be accessed for more information at www.hotel-dubrovnik.hr. The Zagreb Sheraton at Kneza Borne is yet another hotel tailored for the business traveler equipped with superior service. The information for this hotel can be accessed at www.sheraton.com/zagreb.
One of the best restaurants on ulica tkalciceva is Bagueri which serves wonderful Italian fare in an authentic setting accompanied by great service and a good wine list. Gallo is another good Italian restaurant located a few blocks from the city center at Andrije Hebranga. Pinguin Sandwich Bar located at Nikola Teste is a popular snack shop for hearty sandwiches. Vallis Aurea located at Tomiceva serves hearty rustic fare while Vinoteka Pantheon also at Tomiceva and Pod Grickim Topom are well known for their Croatian delicacies.
Residents and tourists both frequent the Hrelic Flea Market every Sunday. Most of the global fashion brands have a presence in Zagreb. Picture postcards and souvenirs made of crystal and ceramic are popular buys amongst the tourists.