Although Croatia has a beautiful coast that is not to be missed, many travelers skip the beautiful capital and head towards Dalmatia. If you’re the type that likes to uncover a less visited city, meet friendly locals that are less overwhelmed from the crowds, and get a picture with it’s famous cathedral, you definitely need to add Zagreb to the list!
Zagreb is an affordable, walkable, and delightful city for travelers. On a whim I decided to live in Zagreb for a few months as a base while I explored the rest of Croatia. Luckily, I can say it is one of my most memorable experiences. The longer I was in Zagreb the more I fell in love with it! I happened to be there during the Euros (football championships) and Croatia was doing quite well. This made the entire center of Zagreb a lively party on most nights during the summer.
Currently, Croatia is not part of the Schengen Zone. This makes it a wonderful place to stay awhile if you have the desire to stay in Europe for longer than just the allotted 90 days as an American in the Schengen Zone. With it’s immense cafe culture, trips you’ll be taking to the coast, and festivals almost every weekend, you will definitely not be short of things to do!
I was a bit worried making Croatia my base for a few months because of the vegan organic options. Fortunately, I found that it wasn’t a problem at all! I will have a blog post up in the future with my favorite spots to get organic vegan food in Croatia. If you love coffee, you won’t be lacking coffee shops at all. It is very common for Croatians to just hang out at a cafe, relax, and chat with friends for hours. Get a cup of coffee, then relax at one of it’s many parks, and you’re pretty much living like a local.
Getting around Zagreb is extremely easy! Visiting the sights is completely doable by foot. If you want to get a bit further out of the old town, the tram system is efficient, inexpensive, and very easy to use. Have your cash (Croatian Kuna) ready and make sure to purchase your tickets from one of the kiosks around the city. That is the only way to get your tram tickets! It took me a bit to figure this out.
What should you see while in Zagreb?
My favorite way to see a new city is by just walking around and getting a feel of what it’s like. I especially feel this for Zagreb! Head to the main square, Ban Jelačić (pretty much impossible to miss) first and people watch. If you’re there early enough in the day stop by Dolac farmers market. Be amazed by the immense amount of red umbrellas and fresh produce. Then head to the old town. Let it take you back in time, and marvel in it’s beauty. Walk to Croatia’s tallest building, the Zagreb cathedral Next visit the beautiful tiled roof of the iconic St. Mark’s Church. You will also find the parliament building in the same area and a few souvenir shops on the way. Don’t forget to stroll down the most adorable street in Zagreb, Tkalciceva. Live like the locals and enjoy one of the many cafes.
Making Zagreb a base for me was an easy choice. Mainly due to the cost, vegan choices, and of course a bit faster internet. Little did I know, this city would become one of my favorite places in the world. It allowed me to visit the rest of Croatia very easily! I was able to use the comfortable and reliable bus system to visit the Adriatic and national parks. Then come back to the less tourist filled capital which made my time so much more relaxing and authentic! If you are planning your trip to Croatia, take a day or two to visit Zagreb!