Musement takes a look at Zagreb and offers some tips for visiting the Croatian capital.
Chances are if you visit Zagreb it will be on the way down to the sun-drenched Adriatic coast. Destinations such as Dubrovnik, Pula, Rijeka, and Split are very appealing for those seeking good weather and gorgeous beaches…as well as for Game of Thrones fans.
At first glance, Croatia’s neighboring capitals are perhaps more appealing than Zagreb. Sarajevo is full of rich bazaars, interesting architecture, and Bosnian delicacies while Ljubljana is green and tidy with plenty of activities to keep travelers happy.
But Zagreb offers plenty, especially around Christmas time. Here are some of the best ways to get under the skin of Croatia’s unsung capital.
1. Visit Dolac Market
The distinct red umbrellas of Dolac Market stand out in aerial photographs of Zagreb, and at one point were complemented by a series of graffiti murals painted on the floor rendering it best admired by drone.
Everyone who shops at Dolac has their favorite babuška who they buy their produce from each weekend. It is this sense of familiarity and routine that comes across on a first visit to the market.
Tea picked fresh from the gardens of Croatian families along with vegetables from their personal patches are on offer. So too are spirits and alcohol-specific to this region of the world.
2. Take a stroll around Novi Zagreb
Across the river from the center of Zagreb lay Novi Zagreb (New Zagreb). The area provides housing to the population of the city on a vast scale.
In fact, the area at one time boasted some of Europe’s largest housing blocks. Mamutica, or the mammoth, the Rakete, or rockets, and Super Andrija, are three of the best-known examples.
Occasionally you will spot a lone photographer passing through, gazing in wonder at the socialist-realist architecture from the Yugoslav period.
A great destination for fans of brutalism, Novi Zagreb is just a short bus ride from the center of the city.
3. Remember lost love at the Museum of Broken Relationships
Sometimes old wounds are worth scratching. At the Museum of Broken Relationships, one of the world’s most unusual museums, Olinka Vistina and Drazen Grubisic, two Croatian artists, have collected the breakup-related items and put them on show.
The most mundane items become charged with significance when viewed in this context. Walking around the white space, you might spot an old brassiere exhibited on the wall and burst into tears. Happy couples, on the other hand, pass through the museum quickly.
This is one for the contented and light of heart. For anyone else, a drink at the neighboring House of Booze is recommended.
4. Take part in some urban exploration
Croatia Infiltration was founded in 2009 as a way to indulge the founder’s love of military architecture and history. Since then, he has visited Chernobyl and Fukushima with his friends for urban exploration but rates Croatia as an unexplored hotspot. “There are still leftover mines from the war in Croatia, so many of these sites are far more dangerous to visit than others in Europe.”
The one rule is that you do not take anything from the disused properties.
When the group discovered papers at a once prestigious Zagreb school detailing the grades of ex-Yugoslavian officials they were tempted to take them but kept their promise. When they returned a year later, though, the files had mysteriously vanished.
Hit up the group directly and tag along. There are plenty of bunkers and abandoned sites throughout Zagreb just waiting to be rediscovered.