Europe’s undiscovered city break, an old city with a young soul
Croatia has been gathering some well-deserved attention as a holiday hotspot over recent years, and it’s easy to see why. The beaches of Split and Cavtat rival the famed sands across the Mediterranean, while the city of Dubrovnik and its red roofed buildings have been made famous by the TV blockbuster Game of Thrones. Tourists flock in their thousands to experience the beauty and culture of Croatia.
But with so much attention being paid to the south’s popular coastal regions, it seems one of Croatia’s hidden gems remains relatively undiscovered – the northern, inland capital of Zagreb. A delightful city, with so much to offer, visitors are often surprised by the rich experience to be found here with quirky museums, stunning architecture, and not to mention mouth-watering cuisine.
The Cathedral of Zagreb exudes a gothic beauty that dates back to the 11th century and is the tallest building in the capital – in fact it can be spotted from almost anywhere in Zagreb so you can always find your bearings. Inside there’s impressive marble altars, one of the finest organs in the world, and the tomb of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac.
Another significant religious building is St Mark’s Church, which if you are visiting from Lower Town can be reached by a jovial funicular ride, taking around ten minutes and costing just small change.
St Mark’s iconic rooftop is not to be missed and is one of the most photographed spots in the city.
It depicts the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia on the left and the emblem of Zagreb on the right.
For a truly unique experience head to one of the strangest museums, not just in Zagreb, but possibly within Europe – The Museum of Broken Relationships. That’s right, it’s a museum dedicated to housing and preserving the artifacts and personal objects left behind to tell the tales of failed relationships. Some are light-hearted and perhaps even giggle inducing, while some will tug at the heartstrings of even the most un-romantic visitor.
As with most European capital cities, Zagreb boasts a bountiful shopping district blending high end fashion stores with traditional market stalls. The main street – Ilica Street – is almost six kilometres in length and houses well-known retail brands alongside local names. There are also plenty of cafes and delis to stop for refreshments.
Speaking of dining, it would be remiss to visit Zagreb without indulging in some of the city’s delectable dishes. Despite being inland, fresh seafood is present on most menus, as is a homely local favourite Cuspajz – or meat and vegetable stew, often cooked in large quantities and dished up family style. Or for those with a sweet tooth check out some traditional skoljkice shell cookies.
So, when you next think of a city break and the likes of Paris, Barcelona or Rome spring to mind, take a moment to consider a city break with a difference in Zagreb.
Kirker Holidays offers a three-night break at the glamorous Art Nouveau Esplanade Zagreb, built in 1925 for passengers travelling on the Orient Express, from £628 pp, including flights, private car transfers and concierge service. Call 0800 412 5678 for a quote or to book.