Dates back to 1094 A.D. // Agram // Capital of Croatia // Mini Vienna // Sava River // Croatian National Theatre // Over a million people...
For a very long time, Zagreb has been forgotten in the brochures of holiday makers. Croatia's capital would regularly be outshone by its coastal siblings, promising crystal clear water, spectacular beaches and other Mediterranean delights.
What a pity! For although Zagreb is less glamorous and, yes, less beautiful than Dubrovnik, or Split or Hvar, it is a charming place to visit. It has only recently been discovered by tourists, mainly Japanese, French and American and I hear they find it delightful. Although I was born there, I haven't been a local for some time now. I see it as a perfect weekend destination in late Spring and early autumn when the city is green, lively and at its charming best. Everything worth seeing is in the city centre (with a couple of exceptions such as the vast park Maksimir), so expect to walk.
The architecture is Central European with an emphasis on the Habsburg Monarchy legacy. They say Zagreb is a mini Vienna. I think it is different, and more than that. It is a city of pleasant experiences, rather than spectacular cultural scenes. How I would love right now to stroll around the historic Upper town and peak in its churches and old villas followed by a coffee in the Flower Square which is like a live version of Zagreb's Google – everything you need to know and everyone you need to see will emerge in this lively square. Visit the traditional outdoor market of Dolac and enjoy it's colours. And spend Sunday morning in another market Britanac (Square of Britain) and have a cup of coffee surrounded by antiques, just as the town's intellectual elite does.
Museums and Galleries There are a few good museums and galleries to visit as well as nice boutiques surviving the plague of high street brands.
If you happen to travel in the winter you will find that few cities do Christmas better than Zagreb.
Visiting Zagreb might not be a life changing experience but it will remind you of the value of simple things: people watching over a cup of coffee in the sunshine, the sight of fresh food, the legends of a town with a little known, yet rich history.
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Ana Muhar is the London Correspondent for Jutarnji list, the biggest daily paper in Croatia