Zagreb in 48 hours – Places to visit in Zagreb
Sitting on his horse with a sword brandishing over his head, is Saint George, cast in bronze, about to slay a deadly dragon. The Roman soldier turned martyr and saint has two statues dedicated to him in Zagreb. In the second statue, he is portrayed more as a victorious knight while the dead dragon lies vanquished under his feet. The legend of St George slaying the dragon to save a princess is a story that you will hear all over this Croatian capital and the square where the statue stands is one of the places to visit in Zagreb.
However there is more to Zagreb than just dragons and knights. The city is divided into two parts – the Upper Town or Gornji Grad and the Lower Tower or Dornji Grad which have all the Zagreb tourist attractions and you can zip across these two in a quaint funicular in barely a minute. With romantic churches and quirky museums Zagreb is home to just 8,00,000 denizens and is unlike any other European capital. Dubbed the city of love, here is a 48 hour guide to this Croatian capital and the things to do in Zagreb Croatia.
Day 1 – Things to do in Zagreb Croatia
1.Explore the “kissing spots” of the medieval cathedral
One of the oldest areas of Zagreb is the Kaptol, one of the places to visit in Zagreb which was the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop since the 11th century. Towering above every monument in the city stands the medieval Gothic Cathedral, one of the Zagreb tourist attractions and which is formerly known as St Stephen’s Cathedral. The twin spires dominate the skyline of the Croatian capital. The frescos here are one of the oldest, although the cathedral has been renovated several times. The Croats were threatened by invasion from the Turks and the Bishop built fortifications around Kapitol. However I was told that the cathedral is known more for its “kissing spots” than its military history.
2.Shop for the Licitar at Dolce Market
Be prepared for an assault on your senses at one of the oldest traditional markets in Zagreb, one of the places to visit in Zagreb. The Dolac Market is a daily farmer’s market, where you can buy everything from fruits to vegetables, fish to cheese, flowers to souvenirs. While most of the market is open, there is a small section which has a shelter as well below the traditional market. Red umbrellas greet you the moment you step in here as you can see statues portraying scenes from a market.
This is where I shopped for Licitar, the symbol of Zagreb as the pretty wooden red hearts are found everywhere. The city beats to the rhythm of these hearts which were actually “gingerbread hearts” gifted as tokens of love during the medieval era. If you are in the city for just a short time then one of the things to do in Zagreb Croatia is to just hang around the Dolac Market.
3.Walking tour of the Lower Town
The Lower Town, one of the places to visit in Zagreb is a montage of museums and monuments where you can see the stamp of the Austrian Hungarian Empire in the Baroque monuments. Statues and sculptures greet you everywhere surrounded by lakes and parks. The Lower Town designed by Milan Lenuci is shaped like a Horseshoe and it includes six squares with monuments and gardens. You cannot miss the artistic corner of Zagreb with its Art Pavilion, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Museum of Arts and Crafts besides the National Theatre with the beautiful sculpture, Well of Life, one of Zagreb tourist attractions.
4.Listen to the story of the Cravat
I was at the Craota store where I heard that there was a National Cravat Day on October 18, celebrated in the honour of the cravat or the neck tie that dates back to the 16th century. It was the Croatian military who put the cravat on the fashion map of the world. According to the story the scarves of the Croatian soldiers caught the fancy of the French army as well. These scarves were love knots tied by the girlfriends of the soldiers as a parting gift before they went to war. As the staff do a demonstration of the famous knot, I could see patterns of Dalmatian coastline to dogs printed on the scarves and neckties. One of the things to do in Zagreb Croatia is to shop for scarves and cravats.
5.Try the famous Croatian truffles with wine for dinner
The Croatians are proud of their cuisine but it is their truffles that brings foodies to Zagreb. No meal is complete without the prized black truffles. There are three kinds of them that grow in the forests of Istria besides the white truffle as well. Sipping Croatian wine at Trilogija, a quaint restaurant, located near the Stone Gate in Upper Town, I was lost in a world of dreams as the lights of the city came up.
Day 2 – Zagreb Tourist Attractions
1.Lose yourself in the romantic churches
Everything in Zagreb is extremely charming and quaint including the medieval churches. Start your tour of the Upper Town with the romantic St Marks Church, one of the must see places to visit in Zagreb located in a cobbled street square named after the church. The church painted in white has ceramic tiles on its roof that represents the Zagreb Coat of Arms and the flags of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavania and Dalmatia.
2.A date with a firing canon at noon
Every noon, the silence of the Upper Town is shattered by a blast from a canon that signifies the time but also recounts a tale from the past. The imposing Lotrscak Tower with the Gric Canon takes you to the era when the Turks were planning to invade the town. The blast from the canon landed on the enemy camp, just as they were having lunch. The Turks apparently fled and the canon has been firing every day at 12 pm as a tradition. This is one of the famous Zagreb tourist attractions.
3.Let your heart break at the Museum of Broken Relationships
There are several museums in Zagreb, but if you have time for just one of them, then it has to be the Museum of Broken Relationships, one of the popular Zagreb tourist attractions. Stories of heart break are narrated from all over the world. The personal objects like shoes, gloves, wedding dresses, letters, toys that are on display here narrate heart wrenching stories as my eyes welled up with tears.
4.Lose yourself in the silence of the Mirogoj Cemetery
Mirogoj Cemetery, one of the places to visit in Zagreb is one of the most oldest and serene landmarks of Zagreb and was established in the 19th century. With arcades and cupolas, the cemetery owned by the city of Zagreb is where most of the famous Croatians from artists to industrialists, architects to writers , scientists to politicians lie buried. The cemetery with its parks is an oasis of silence and is a resting place of people from all faiths.
5.Feel the buzz of Zagreb in its cafes
There is only one way to feel the buzz of the city and that is to be a part of its coffee culture. In Zagreb, coffee is more than just a drink. It is where locals meet and greet and spend hours in animated conversations. The café culture here takes you into an old world charm as the coffee is influenced by both Turkish, Italian and Viennese flavours. Some of the iconic cafes that you must visit are Eli’s Café, Kino Europa Café, Velvet among others. This is one of the best ways to experience the city according to me
Do you have any suggestions for any of the top things to do in Zagreb Croatia ?