Cosmopolitan culture: Zagreb
Zagreb, the inland capital, is an easy starting point for international travellers thanks to an upgraded airport. We flew Emirates via Dubai and hired a car, but if you’re not keen on driving then use the bus network or domestic flights to get around.
With strong influences of Austro-Hungarian architecture, Zagreb is dotted with smaller versions of stately buildings found in other cities like Vienna – according to my local tour guide (ahem, cousin). Many of these house art galleries, museums and theatres. But that’s not to say the city isn’t without its unique landmarks.
We stayed in a charming apartment near Ban Jelačić Square – a central starting point for exploring the city on foot – and by wandering the stone-cobbled streets nearby we stumbled upon St Mark’s Church. The thirteenth-century building is a Zagreb icon, with an amazing emblematic coloured tile roof. This impressive sight might only be surpassed by the ornately carved Zagreb Cathedral, Neo-Gothic in style, and the tallest building in Croatia.
For an excellent pedestrian street head to Tkalčićeva, a boulevard lined with eateries and bars. Here you can get breakfast at Otto & Frank; worth a mention given most places don’t serve meals until lunch. One evening we craved authentic cuisine and found, to our delight, Stari Fijaker, featuring traditional decor and a menu of North-Croatian staples such as goulash. We felt inundated with choices to eat out in Zagreb, and most places were very reasonably priced.
Other attractions to be found in and around the city include hiking Mt Medvednica (unfortunately, out of the question with a toddler) or the quirkier option of the Museum of Broken Relationships – an exhibition featuring personal break-up stories and artefacts. I hear it’s worth a visit though we superstitiously chose to give it a miss.