My Zagreb in 24 hours

July 09, 2023

Only a short stopover in Zagreb? Here are some hidden spots - told by a local

Who knows a city better than a local or someone who has lived there for many years? Professional MBA Finance alumna Ivana Zmikić shares her favorite bars, places and hidden spots in Zagreb which give it such a special flair. Discover the city from a very personal and, most probably, very different perspective.

This photo was taken at Gornji Grad (Upper Town), which is located on a large hillside overlooking much of Zagreb’s main center. Gornji Grad is famous for historical sites, one of which is the Church of St. Mark. The church is famous for its roof, on which the placement of tiles represents the coat of arms of Zagreb and the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia.

Eat, drink and breakfast

What is your favorite restaurant / bar / café in Zagreb andy why? What definitely needs to be tested (food, drinks, meet people, etc.)?

I enjoy spending my evenings in small bistros in the city center. My favorites are Mali bar, Pod zidom, Chees Bar and Bestija. I like the fresh food and good wines these places offer. In each, the atmosphere is friendly and cozy, so you always feel welcome.

I recommend having a coffee or even a brunch in the coffee restaurant KavKaz, where you’ll enjoy a view on one of the most beautiful city squares, Theatre Square. Try a variety of freshly roasted coffees in Quahwa; this specialty café offers many coffee drinks – and you should definitely try Quahwa’s Turkish coffee prepared in glowing sand.

Hidden spots

As a native of Zagreb, what places do you recommend visiting which can't be found in a tourist guide? Please share your hidden spots.

Take a stroll in Ilica Street from the central square, Trg Bana Jelačić, to British Square and feel the busy vibe of the street. Ilica is the longest street in Zagreb and connects the central square with the west part of the city. You can explore many shops, bars, pastry shops, and restaurants in Ilica. At British Square, experience the friendly commotion of the lovely outdoor market and have a coffee in one of many hidden coffee bars that surround the square.

Many street festivals take place in the city during the summer. The festivals create an atmosphere of joy and sense of the city’s vibrant cultural life. People gather at the festivals to enjoy warm weather, live music, good food and drink, and good company.

For the last couple of years, Zagreb has successfully organized one of the most famous European Christmas Markets, attracting many winter tourists and boosting the local economy. Of course, all the Christmas treats, the live performers, and the hot wine on sale everywhere help promote the holiday spirit!

Visit at least some of the seven parks located in the city center. The parks are part of the The Lenuci Horseshoe or The Green Horseshoe, which is a U-shaped system of city squares with parks created in the 19th century by famed architect Milan Lenuci. The most beautiful, in my opinion, are Zrinjevac Park and The Botanical Garden.

Zagreb at its best

Why is Zagreb one of the coolest places in the world? What makes it special?

Zagreb has an exceptional location compared to other capitals in the region. It is located less than 2 hours’ drive from the sea coast and also just 15 minutes’ drive from the Medvednica mountain, where one can go hiking or skiing during the skiing season.

Hiking in Medevednica is very popular. There are many different mountain paths in the woods of Medvednica that lead to the area’s famed mountain huts. The mountain huts offer tasty domestically prepared food.

Try to find time to stop at Maksimir Park, founded at the beginning of 19th century as one of the first large public parks in South-East Europe. I like the place because of the beautiful landscape and the extensive walking trails. The park has a wood, several meadows and five lakes. I love to spend time there because it’s a haven of tranquility near the heart of the city.

Zagreb is a city with a warm and relaxed atmosphere and friendly, outgoing people. I particularly like the city during the summer, when the streets become empty as residents leave for their summer vacations. I like to walk through the streets and feel the breeze in my face and the heat of the asphalt under my feet. I enjoy the peace and quiet, even though it will last for just a few weeks. Then my fellow citizens return home from their summer vacations and the happy hubbub starts again.

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