“Zdravo” and welcome to another Croatian instalment of Kaptain Kenny.
Very recently I was in Croatia to visit Plitvice National Park and to do a day trip to Lake Bled in Slovenia. We decided to use Zagreb (Croatia’s capital) as our base. Did I see much of Zagreb? Nope. Did we tap into some sort of foodie and coffee haven there? Sort of! Am I still glad I chose Zagreb as our base? Yes!
For those who have been to Croatia before, you’ll know it’s pretty diverse. Zagreb has the same climate pattern as continental Europe which means outside of summer, it’s rainy and cold whereas Croatia’s Adriatic south has that classic Mediterranean heat. While Zagreb certainly wasn’t similar to the Croatian coast, I was happy to be based there because it was in such a practical location for all the trips we had planned.
We stayed at The Hilton Doubletree which was such a reasonable price, we almost fell over. I think in the end it was around 90 euros a night including breakfast. Now I’m not sure if we got it at some sort of special price but the hotel was gorgeous – it was pure luxury, especially at that price.
We ate at the hotel restaurant called OXBO on the first night after reading on many food blogs that this was one of the best places in town. Our ultimate feeling was that they do entrees and deserts very well. We also ate lunch there once and it was nice. The big plus here goes to the atmosphere and vibe at night. It’s got quite a cosmopolitan feel to it.
One other night, the hotel staff sent us to another restaurant, said to be one of the best in town. Overall, our food experience in Zagreb was okay but a friend of mine who is a fan of this region told me my mistake was made by not trying the local food and instead looking for modern cuisine restaurants. Ah well. There’s always next time! On the plus side, Zagreb has a very nice speciality coffee scene.
The location of the hotel was a little odd – it certainly wasn’t in town and it wasn’t possible to walk anywhere without a cab BUT on the plus side, it was within walking distance to Zagreb’s art wall. The location of the hotel didn’t actually matter anyway because our two-day trips were booked with hotel pickups.
During the entire 3 days we spent in Zagreb, it didn’t stop raining so that didn’t exactly make me want to jump out and explore. However on the final day, our flight wasn’t until 6PM and at around 2PM, the rain had finally stopped. During some taxi rides to and from town, I had seen this long, stretchy art wall leading into town and I knew I wanted to go out and take photos of it.
I was quite impressed by it – it was a big and colourful display and it reminded me somehow of the Berlin Wall. Obviously I don’t speak Croatian so I’m unable to understand any of the humour in the art, nor the political messages but it was great to photograph! What do you think of the wall?
Why locals love it?
This was the first organised Zagreb street art project of the new millennium. But the painted history of this wall is even longer. It dates back to 1987 when young artists were gathered to paint the wall and thus welcome the international university games.
Street Art Museum, Zagreb, Croatia
Graffiti Wall, Branimirova Street, Zagreb
“This project is dedicated to forming a more coherent street art scene in Croatia, raising people’s awareness about street art and its values, and marking the city of Zagreb on a global map of cities that support this kind of artistic expressions.”
Ivana Vukšić, Director of Street Art Museum, Zagreb
Overall, if you’re looking at visiting the Plitvice National Park, Ljubljana (Slovenia’s capital) and/or Lake Bled, I’d highly recommend basing yourself in Zagreb as the flights were much cheaper doing it this way and the hotel was a real steal. Plitvice was a 2 hour car trip from Zagreb and Ljubljana was only 1.5 hours. Lake Bled is about 2 and a half hours away. So all locations are perfectly possible to do during a day from Croatia’s capital. Secondly, you’ll get a HEAP of new passport stamps! Weeeeee!
We only used Zagreb as a base and I’m 100% sure there are some delightful parts of town with cute little winding streets and great food but as we didn’t have too long there sadly. In the end I didn’t spend much time there besides eating out and looking at the art wall.
End result: Zagreb is a great option if you want luxury accommodation at a reasonable price and you want to use it as a base for lots of exciting day trips in the region.
What I did love about Zagreb were the people and the art wall. I’m even someone who likes wandering through graffiti-laden streets and Zagreb was great for that. The people I encountered were very friendly and if I ever want to return to Croatia to discover more of its amazing nature and scenery, I’ll probably give Zagreb another chance.
Have you been to Zagreb? What did you think of it? What sort of places did I miss out on seeing? I’m sure there are some great suggestions out there 🙂 I also stumbled across this fantastic blog about Zagreb’s entire street art network and scene – looks like there’s a whole heap more to discover.
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