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Our first steps onto Croatian soil were in Zagreb, the capital city. It’s not a well-known city compared to many European capitals, and therefore relatively tourist free, which for us was one of its alluring features.
Shortly after landing in Zagreb, (following a stop over in Frankfurt) we took the airport bus to the main bus station located a walkable distance to downtown and to our Airbnb apartment. Actually the 20-minute walk to our accommodations took us an hour since I decided to stop at the Plitivice Lakes tourist office on our way because my guidebook said it would be closed on the weekend. Turns out it no longer existed, and the detour got us off track, but it was refreshing to walk after the long flight.
After checking in with our host, we showered then dashed out the door to begin our exploration of Zagreb, our enthusiasm compensating for any jet lag. It was late afternoon with still plenty of hours left in the day to check things out.
The Kuna is the currency of Croatia. While we were there $1 = 6.5 Kuna. Zagreb was one of the least expensive cities we visited. A cup of coffee or a glass of wine was about 12 Kuna.
We first headed up to Jelacic Square, the main hub of the City.
The electric tram system in Zagreb traverses throughout the city, stopping at Jelacic Square. During our 3 days in Zagreb we walked everywhere but on the morning of our departure we squeezed onto the tram during the morning commute taking up more than our share of space with our luggage and backpacks.
From Jelacic Square we walked toward the old town (Gradec) without an agenda. We had just arrived and were ready to explore. Narrow flights of stairs beckoned us and our efforts to climb to the top were rewarded with a breath taking view of rooftops and the Catheral. It was a beautiful, clear day.
We climbed even higher to a spot where local teens convened. The early evening sun spotlighted the Cathedral and Clock Tower. A truly magical moment.
We followed the road
which led us to St. Mark’s Square. On a Friday evening the square was deserted and peaceful. We returned to the square on Sunday morning and it was bustling with tourists.
Near St. Mark’s Square is a monument to Nikola Tesla.
Zagreb boasts dozens of outdoor cafes on several pedestrian promenades with Tkalciceva Street being the most popular.
Cafes in Zagreb serve coffee and beer from morning to late at night. We discovered that most of the cafes do not serve meals and our first night we were famished by the time we found a tiny place that served a traditional Croatian casserole-type dish. Several places did serve pizza and sandwiches but we hadn’t yet realized that Croatian pizza is superb, similar to Italian pizza, and we passed it by. There are plenty of great restaurants in the City but we researched where they were for future meals because it wasn’t all that obvious just walking by.
More on Croatia: Saturday in Zagreb