Zagreb and Croatia´s Islands make for a perfect holiday combination
Croatia's capital Zagreb is rich in history, culture, and great food. If you want to create the perfect Croatian escape, a good idea is to combine a city break in Zagreb with a couple of days of relaxing on one of the popular islands off the coast.
History and arts around the corner
Zagreb is not usually the first choice for visitors in Croatia with many preferring the beautiful coastal cities instead. That is however a shame, since the largest city and capital of the country offers an authentic and interesting travel experience. The city is especially worth a visit if you are a history buff, or into culture and architecture.
The oldest and most charming part of town is called Gornji Grad (Upper town). It is a hotspot for historical sites such as the city's impressive Cathedral, dating back to 1217 and several beautiful squares. There are even some newer additions to the city's cultural landscape. The Museum of Broken Relationships, dedicated to heartbreak stories, should not be missed!
The 19th century Donji Grad (Lower town) is the bustling shopping and leisure centre of the city, but also the home to some of the main museums in town. If you only choose to see one of them, Modern Gallery, housed in a stunning revival-style Vranyczany Palace is a good option. The museum showcases works from all major Croatian artists of the past two centuries.
The Novi Zagreb area was built during the socialist era and is not exactly known for its beautiful architecture. It is now being revitalised and one of the new buildings of the area is the highly esteemed Museum of Modern Art with a permanent collection of 12 000 objects. Novi Zagreb area even has two open-air street museums and a flea market, so it is in fact well worth a visit.
Food and fun to suit everyone
Zagreb has seen a rise in interesting eateries in the last couple of years. It can even offer you a fine dining experience — without the hefty price tag of some of the better-known foodie cities. One of the places to book a table is Theatrium by Filho. It combines atmospheric space with innovative, contemporary food making the most of seasonal ingredients. For a mix of classic French elegance and local ingredients try Mano. Or if you are looking to really treat yourself, the very creative Noel is one of Croatia's few Michelin-starred restaurants.
Great meals can be enjoyed more casually too. One of the favourites among visitors and locals alike is Heritage, a snack and sandwich bar offering traditional Croatian dishes. Vegetarians and vegans will enjoy Gajbica, a colourful, cosy, and affordable little bistro. Zagreb is also known for its bustling café culture, with hot drinks and huge cakes on every street. You can find some fabulous sweet treats at Vincek Slasticarnica and Finjak for example.
Entertainment is easy to find in Zagreb's bars and cafés. For book lovers the best spot is Booksa, a literary café that hosts plenty of events. It is also a favourite of digital nomads and other laptop workers. For gigs and DJ events you could try Vintage Industrial Bar or if you are more into blues and funk check out Booze and Blues.
Round your trip off by the sea
After a couple of days in land locked Zagreb the scent of the sea breeze starts to feel like a good idea. A few hours’ drive or train trip will take you to the coast to enjoy a different side to Croatia.
The closest island from the capital is the historically important Krk, also the largest island of Croatia. A bridge connects the island to the mainland making it very easily accessible. Krk has lots to offer from picturesque villages to fantastic beaches, restaurants, and historic sights, as well as many accommodation options.
A smaller but equally charming is the island of Rab, slightly south of Krk. It has over thirty sandy beaches and many tiny and secluded swimming coves. It is a firm favourite of everyone who is into watersports or beach living.
If you don't mind travelling a little bit further, Brac Island is a great option near Split. It is not as packed as Hvar for example, but offers an equally blinding turquoise waters, stunning nature, and cute villages. It even has the highest peak of the Adriatic islands, Vidova Gora. A climb up will give you a chance to marvel at astounding views.
Finnair flies to Zagreb twice a week during the summer season until 8 October 2023.