1. Visit the Museum of broken relationships
The Museum of Broken Relationships is one of a kind. It started as an installation in Zagreb following the split up of two local artists who asked themselves what to do with objects that had significant memories. It then developed into a travelling exhibition in different countries where more objects were donated together with explanatory short stories of broken relationships. It now has a permanent space in Zagreb’s upper town Gornji Grad and an outpost in Los Angeles. Random objects on display are a stiletto shoe, an axe, a bass guitar and a pair of handcuffs.
2. Do a tour of the old town
You can visit Zagreb’s landmarks guided by this excellent audio tour that you can download on your smartphone via the easy to use izi TRAVEL app. From Lotrščak Tower you have an excellent view of the city and The Strossmayer Promenade has hints of Montmartre and is connected to the centre via a Lisbonesque funicular which is the shortest in the world. St. Mark’s Square is nearby featuring a 14th- Century church with a beautifully tiled roof. It is also the seat of power with the Sabor, the Croatian parliament.
3. Lay flowers at Mirogoj cemetery
This cemetery is quite spectacular in size. You can take a bus or walk up the hill to get there. It has many monumental tombs and because the city owns the cemetery rather than the church you can find people buried there from many religions including Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish and Protestant. It was opened in 1876 and was designed by architect Hermann Bollé whose other works include the Zagreb Cathedral and the Museum of Arts and Crafts.
4. Go hiking at Medvedgrad
A visit of Zagreb would not be complete without seeing the city from above, which you can do by climbing up Medvedgrad mountain. Take a tram from the city centre and then meet the bus near a kiosk and another beautifully tiled church. Stock up in water and snacks at the kiosk and follow the well-marked path that will take you to a fortress from which you can keep watch over Zagreb.
5. Sip a Kwak beer at Tolkien’s house
In the upper part of town, facing St. Francis church, there is lovely little pub serving great beers. It has a very pleasant terrace and among their selection they have the Belgian beer Kwak that is served with a special glass which helps you to get in the mood for searching for your “precious” as Gollum did. https://www.facebook.com/tolkienszagreb/
6. Eat at Ribice i 3 fish restaurant
This off the beaten path restaurant was a family-friendly but sophisticated slice of seafood dining in Zagreb with a cool, nautical vibe. The waiter was very helpful in suggesting dishes. Don’t be put off by strange options on the menu such as “monk fish.” When the meal came it was beautifully displayed, perfectly cooked and tasted wonderful.
7. Try local beers at Sedmica
Sedmica is the Croatian version of a Twin Peaks hangout. The 1950s, vintage atmosphere made it a hip place for locals to hang out and enjoy their large selection of beers. The neon signs above the entrance and the thick, smoky air made it feel like a drugged-out dream world in a place that could have belonged to any city in the world.
8. Listen to jazz at Bacchus
Located very near Zagreb’s main train station, Bacchus is a jazz bar that brings local and non-local jazz acts to the city. Be careful though; Bacchus can easily be missed. Giving new meaning to the term “underground,” Bacchus is nestled in the basement of an old building, creating a cozy setting for the talented jazz acts that perform on its stage.
9. Book Niko’s place on Airbnb
Niko, the host of a “rare find” on Airbnb, was talkative and enthusiastic, albeit with some cynical views about Zagreb. (“It’s super safe here. I love it. But I hate it! I blame religion.”) Niko rents out a charming garden guesthouse that he built himself. It is located in the common courtyard at the back of an apartment block. It used to be a tool shed until the break up of former Yugoslavia. Such an arrangement is only possible in a former Communist country, as there would be complaints from other tenants of the apartment when using a common courtyard for private use. So it is definitely a unique airbnb experience. Book the Garden Guesthouse here
10. Indulge in Burek
No matter where you are in Zagreb there likely is an open bakery selling delicious savoury pastries with spinach, cheese, or even potatoes. They have them in different sizes and they are so good warm they are difficult to resist at any time of the day. Every bakery in the world should be equipped with these tasty and filling snacks.
11. Eat a brownie at the cookie factory
Ever wanted a cookie and some cappuccino late at night but there was nowhere to get one? Well, in Zagreb you can. This weird little cafe in the city’s hippest neighborhood sold mostly cookie and brownie desserts along with beer and coffee drinks. It’s also the only place to see a nun at 10:00 pm listening to loud pop music and enjoying a coffee.
12. Check out the Graffiti
Zagreb had a ton of graffiti in general, but a sound blocking wall near the Airbnb was a popular palette and had become a stunning mural of vandalism. This “Enter Zagreb” piece was one of the highlights.
According to Lonely Planet, Zagreb is Europe’s top destination in 2017.
This piece was co-authored with Rachele Krivichi