Language(s): Croatian, some English
Currency: Kuna (1 kuna = $0.15)
Must-See: Plitvice National Parks, Croatian Design Superstore, The Museum of Broken Relationships
I’ll be honest: we didn’t really want to go to Zagreb. We did want to visit the infamous Plitvice National Parks, but Zagreb was really just a side-thought as our jumping off point for the park. We spent the whole first day in the hostel recovering from weeks of travel, but that’s what made Zagreb so nice. It lacks the hordes of tourists that the coastal cities suffer from, yet it still boasts the comforts of a big city. You can wander for hours through its cobblestone streets, cafe hopping like a local (coffee is such a thing here) and coming to terms with the fact that Croatia isn’t the Eastern Europe you thought it was. IT’S A SAFE PLACE WITH NICE PEOPLE AND I WANT YOU TO TRUST ME ON THIS ONE. I honestly felt safer here than in Paris. Real. Talk.
Ok, so off my pedestal and back on topic. Zagreb is beautiful. It’s not made for tourists, but you can still have a great time here. For instance, there’s the Museum of Broken Relationships. It’s a collection of items donated by over 6,000 souls with broken relationships, romantic or otherwise. It will give you all of the feels, plus a few laughs. It’s relatable to literally anyone who has ever been part of a relationship (we’re humans, so that includes you). For over 10 years, the collection traveled the world without a permanent home. Now the main location is in Zagreb, and there is another in LA. Fun fact: For all of you who attended my lovely alma mater Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, the museum actually made a stop there a few years ago. Now, there are quite a few objects in the museum from Bloomington all the way in Zagreb, Croatia. It’s such a small world.
There’s also the Croatian Design Superstore. If you’re an IKEA freak like I am, you’ll love it. They’ve got clothes, accessories, home goods and a cafe with great coffee. Happy hour is from 11am-1pm, so get yourself an 8 kuna cappuccino in one of the coolest spots in Zagreb.
Other than that, cafe culture is huge here. Outdoor cafes line every street and you’ll find people enjoying a cup at all times of day and in all weather. Check out the cathedral and the Old Town, as well.
As I’ve said, Zagreb isn’t the place you vacation to for an entire week. However, it is a nice spot to relax in a city with a history unknown to most of us American millennials. Stop by if you’re in the area.
Now to the grand finale of our little trip to Croatia: the Plitvice Lakes. I once saw a picture of them on Twitter and I immediately added them to my bucket list. I’ve never seen anything like them. They are a series of lakes that create a stair step effect, thus emptying into each other via a ton of waterfalls. The water is bright blue and green and as clear as could be. The place has great hiking, too. There are around 6 paths of varying lengths, but we chose to take path C from Entrance 1. This was a 8-9 km hike that took us just a few hours. H is also a nice walk for those who want to extend their hike a bit.
Entrance to the park is 110 kuna (80 kuna for students) and includes two rides on a boat across the largest lake and two rides on the tram that takes you from one entrance to the other. Many people stay overnight near the park, but we felt satisfied with one day. However, THE TOURISTS COME IN MOBS. Guided tours are available and so large groups of tourists are constantly moving along the skinny paths that follow the water. If you’re smart, you’ll arrive early in the morning to avoid this or wait until later in the day when they begin to thin out. Buses leave Zagreb for the park fairly frequently (we left at 7:30am and got in around 10:15), but be warned that the last one returns to Zagreb at 5:20pm. A round-trip ticket costs around 100 kuna and can be bought in advance from Autotrans or aboard the bus in cash. Pro Tip: Many people get conned into joining a tour to the lakes. It is TOTALLY doable for any age or ability to arrive on this bus, take a hike and return in one day. No guide needed. Don’t get dooped!
That’s about all I’ve got to say about that. Oh, stay at Hostel Chic. It’s a perfect distance to both the bus station and the center of town. Plus, the owner brings his dog Beck and he’s a cutie.
As always, comment with questions.
Bye, Bye, Bye,