Exploring the heart of Croatia for the first time
It’s not news anymore that traveling solo can be an incredible opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth. This summer I have experienced one of my longest solo trips ever, a month of traveling through the Balkanic Peninsula. One of the highlights on my itinerary was Zagreb – the small, but so beautiful capital of Croatia. Not only because of it’s amazing, super friendly inhabitants, also because of the special and unique vibe and rhythm of the city which makes you fall in love with it almost instantly.
I spent nearly 4 days in Zagreb but didn’t feel like leaving even after discovering all the main attractions of the city (two days were enough for this). I guess it’s because of the people, or maybe because the mood of the city is so contagious that even after a very short period of time spent here I began to feel like an inhabitant. And the think that I was Couchsurfing throughout the trip, has emphasized this feeling even more! I was delighted by the hospitality of the people of Zagreb.
Public transport in Zagreb
The public transportation works pretty well in the capital of Croatia. There are 15 daytime trams lines that can get you anywhere you want in the wider center, and all of them pass through one of the three main hubs: the main square, the square in front of the railway station and the street in front of the bus terminal. Tram stations are clearly marked and many also feature electronic displays listing incoming trams.
Night trams run from 00:00 to 04:00, every 45 minutes or so, but sometimes they are replaced by buses, going through the same stations.
Tickets can be bought at newspaper stands or from the driver. Ticket controls are very common in trams, so unless you’re terribly charming or a talented actor, you better pay for your ride 🙂
Ticket price is 10 KN (=1,5€), valid for 2 hours of rides.
Full day ticket is 30 KN (=4€).
Croatian currency is KUNA. This is the Croatian word for marten, a cute furry animal, whose fur was used by people centuries ago as a payment method, hence the name. One Kuna is divided into 100 LIPA. I would advise you to make sure you exchange your currency into Kunas as you will not be able to use them much for paying, except for some personal services, but even that is not strictly legal for the recipient.
At the time of writing, one Euro is equal to approx. 7,5 Kn.
Credit and debit cards are universally accepted, except in cafes and stalls/kiosks.
For an idea on prices in Zagreb, here are some common items:
Drinks: Coffe 8-12 Kn, beer in bar 12-20 Kn, cocktail 40 Kn;
Food: Burger 30-40 Kn, pizza in a restaurant 35-50 Kn;
Cigarettes: 20-25 Kn;
Short taxi ride: 30 Kn .
Wireless internet is available almost everywhere in Zagreb, from cafes and restaurants to hotels and squares. Some of them are free and open to everyone, others require network passwords. They are usually written on bills, price lists or above bars.
Here is a little tip for you: In case you are in a hurry and need a fast access to the internet, there’s a Facebook page with a list of WiFi passwords in Zagreb – “Wi-Fi passwords Zagreb” 🙂
My TOP 5 sights of Zagreb
The main sights of the city are distributed between two parts of the city: The Upper Town and The Lower Town.
- In The Upper Town, some of the main sights are: The Ban Jekacic Square, Captol, Dolac, Tkalciceva, Bloody Bridge, Radiceva, The Stone Gate, Opaticka, St Mark’s Square, Catherine’s Square, The Strossmayer Promenade.
- In The Lower Town: The Nikola Subic Zrinski Square, King Tomislav Square, Marulic Square, Marshal Tito Square, Masarykova, Petar Preradovic Square, Ilica, Jurisiceva.
Here are some of the most well-known sights of Zagreb, and some of my favorite places, as well 🙂
1. The Zagreb Funicular
The Zagreb Funicular is definitely worth a try if you are in Zagreb! It’s known as one of the shortest public transport funiculars in the whole world, with a track of only 66 meters long. And it still has its original aspect and technical characteristics! It is currently protected as a monument of culture in Croatia.
Open every day: Summer 9:00 – 22:30, Winter 9:00 – 21:00;
Admission: 4 kn.
Adress: Tomićeva ul., 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
2. Museum of Broken Relationships
The Museum of Broken Relationships is so unique that most guidebooks list it as “Top 10”. I agree- definitely worth a visit. The idea behind is not to burn, shred or nuke your ex’s stuff, but rather donate it to the museum, together with your story. Some of these will make you laugh, some will make you cry, but the artifacts will make you ROFL – a garden dwarf, a stun gun, ecstasy pills, a toaster, an axe – just to name a few.
Open every day: Summer 9:00 – 22:30, Winter 9:00 – 21:00;
Admission: 30 kn.
Adress: Ćirilometodska ul. 2, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
3. The Old City of Zagreb
Spending a day in the city does not necessarily mean you have to go somewhere specific. Forget about planned sightseeing, festivals, and exhibitions- at least for one day. As soon the sun appears in the sky, the streets become promenades. So, the best way to experience the city is to sit back on one of the numerous coffeehouse terraces in Tkalciceva, Bogoviceva Street or at the Flower Square and soak up the vibe of the city!
4. Zagreb Underground tunnels
They say there are secret tunnels under the medieval part of Zagreb that lead all the way to the old castle Medvedgrad. I was happy to catch one of them open to the visitors and it was breathtaking. And there was no entrance fee, as well 🙂
5. Mirogoj cemetery
Outside the City Centre, at only 30 minutes by walk distance from the Old part of the city, there is one of the most well-known landmarks of Zagreb, the Mirogoj cemetery. According to the records, this is the most visited place by tourists, a wonderful example of a 19th-century civic graveyard, featuring unique monumental works which are giving the whole place the appearance of an outdoor art gallery.
So, here you have some of my recommendations for making the most of your trip in the capital of Croatia. A lot of things remain to be told! Zagreb is an amazing city which I believe, is worth visiting at least once in a lifetime!