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May 04, 2008

Zagreb: a one day trip from Krk island - part 1

Posted in: Croatia travel and places to visit

Hotel Regent in Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is quickly becoming one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations and is easily reached from Krk Island via a 90 minute drive. If you want to take a break from the delights of the Adriatic and sample everything a large cosmopolitan European city can offer, then Zagreb is the perfect choice. From high fashion and high-end culture through to café society and rich historical sights, Zagreb can offer something to everyone.

Founded in 1094 and Croatia’s capital since 1557, today’s Zagreb is the administrative, economic, trade, cultural, and scientific heart of Croatia. Zagreb is situated in the north-west of Croatia and bordered by the slopes of the wooded Medvednica mountain on the north and the river Sava on the south.

There are three distinct areas in Zagreb – New Zagreb, Downtown Zagreb and Upper Town. For the day-tripper, Downtown Zagreb and Upper Town are the places to visit. Downtown is where you will find all the café society and shopping you’re ever likely to need, whilst Upper Town is characterised by its medieval and baroque architecture and sights.

Downtown Zagreb

Downtown Zagreb is host to numerous large squares, spacious beautiful parks and attractive promenades placed between symmetrical frames of streets. Built at the end of the nineteenth century, downtown Zagreb has a distinctive Austrian feel. Life is constantly pulsating on its lively streets and squares and the modern spirit of a developed city are evident everywhere. Zagreb’s vibrant night scene and café culture is enjoyed equally by young and old. In fact one of the best ways of enjoying Zagreb is to laze away for an hour or so sipping a cappuccino in one of the many cafes in the pedestrian area of Zagreb’s city centre and watch the world go by. Or why not try a delicious Italian style ice cream or cake in one of the many cake shops to be found throughout the city.

Cafe culture in Zagreb

If you happen to be in Zagreb in the morning, be sure to visit the open air marketplace in Dolac where villagers from the surrounding villages go to sell their fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs and other home produce - and don’t be shy about haggling over the price - its expected!

One of the more unusual sights that Zagreb offers is the main cemetery, Mirogoj. Its said that Mirogoj is one of Europe’s most beautiful cemeteries and should really be regarded as a park and outdoor gallery of masterpieces. The locals will often take their Sunday stroll through the cemetery meandering past the many neo-renaissance arches connected in the centre by King Christ church with its magnificent entrance and imposing and grand tombstones.

If you have a bit more time on your hands, you should not miss visiting Sljeme, the summit of Medvednica mountain overlooking the city and Zagreb’s playground. Sljeme is easily reached from the town centre by tram and cable car. From the top you can take in the beautiful views over Zagreb as well as the rolling hills of the Zagorje region on the other side of the mountain. If you wish, you can walk all the way back down to the city through a protected forest using one of the marked hiking paths. The descent through this green oasis takes approximately 2 hours by foot.

A must for any visitor to Zagreb is Tkalciceva street, with its restaurants, cafés small boutiques and shops. The best time to visit is in the early evening when the street becomes a lively and bustling meeting place for locals and tourists alike.

And lastly – you can shop, shop and shop. Zagreb is full of boutiques and the main shopping area is a pedestrianised area making it easy to get around. The latest in fashion can be found here, often at half UK prices. There are also many antique and souvenir shops and small art galleries where ceramics or similar artwork can be bought.

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