You will certainly be pleasantly surprised by Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, even if only because you know so little about it.
Zagreb, a stone’s throw away from the Slovenian border, is the cultural, economic and political centre of Croatia. The city has a large number of imposing buildings, the best example of which is certainly the Mimara Building. Just try to fit this art gallery into a single photograph. It is virtually impossible, because of the size of the building!
Zagreb is a quintessentially European city with magnificent buildings and an abundance of sights. It is also a shopping paradise. There are only a few department stores, but there are a lot of small boutiques, an enormous number of shoe shops and a shopping street that is the equal of the best in Europe. The Llica runs through the city from west to east and is continuously lined with shops.
SLEEP The Regent Esplanade (1 Mihanoviceva, regenthotels) was opened in 1925 to accommodate Orient Express passengers. On entering the lobby you’ll likely be blinded by the gleam of marble and crystal. It’s hosted Queen Elizabeth II and Louis Armstrong, among others, and is utterly lovely.
EAT Restaurant Kerempuh (3 Kaptol) grabs all of its ingredients from the nearby Dolac market, its specials changing depending on what was good that morning. There are some tables, a chalkboard menu and a busy waiter serving excellent food. What more do you need?
- The Museum of Broken Relationships (Cirilometodska, www.brokenships.com/en) is the greatest name for a museum ever, and describes perfectly the contents. Every exhibit uses everyday objects to chronicle true stories of failed relationships. Some are funny, some are sad, but they’re all exquisitely explored. Even museum haters will love this place. It’s basically a massive book, the stories told in pieces and scattered throughout.
- About 20 minutes outside Zagreb is the Medvednica Nature Park (www.pp-medvednica.hr), 56,000 acres of mountain trails filled with deer and foxes, trees and peaks. Come winter the entire thing is buried beneath snow, which makes it even more beautiful but a lot trickier to explore.
- The local drink is rakija, which comes in every flavour mad brewers can possibly devise, including honey, blueberry and walnut. Cica Bar (18 Tkalciceva, www.facebook.com/CicaBar) has a wide selection, and is a comfortable place to collapse when you’ve tried them all.
The best way to get from the airport to the city centre is with a pre-booked transfer. It’ll cost €35 for up to three people and takes around 20 minutes.
The airport bus is parked outside the main arrival terminal and takes 30 minutes to get to the city’s main bus station, from where you can take a tram to the city centre and the train station. A one-way ticket is HRK35/€5.