A Day in Zagreb
Landing into Zagreb, Croatia was beautiful. My first impression from the airplane was that Croatia is a very lush, green country with a quaint and traditional ambiance (seen through the terracotta roofs and cobbled streets). Zagreb airport (Franjo Tuđman Airport) is the largest and busiest airport in Croatia, however when we arrived it seemed more quiet and spacious. The airport itself is an amazing piece of architecture designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, unlike Zagreb’s modern city centre buildings which weren’t works of art, the airport is something to admire.
Getting from the airport to Zagreb city centre is super easy and efficient. As you step outside the airport turn to your right and look for the big white buses, roughly $25 NZD will get you to the tram lines which will then get you to the centre of town.
Zagreb was the first city I have been to in Croatia and after a day of exploring, eating and trying my best to learn Croatian, these are my top things to see and do if you have only a day in Zagreb.
The Zagreb Cathedral
The cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia so is not hard to find at all. It is also the most monumental sacral building in Gothic style southeast of the Alps. The outside is just as beautiful as it is on the inside, with two tall spires and a large entrance portal, and although some of the cathedral was covered in scaffolding it was still worth visiting.
Make sure if you are going to visit the cathedral and have a look inside to dress appropriately, wearing clothing that covers your shoulders and goes over the knee. When you are inside take a moment to look up, the ceilings are like the night sky painted a deep blue and are adorned with gold stars. If you have change available, donate to the church and light a candle.
The Mirogoj Cemetery
After a visit to the cathedral, take a bus up to the Mirogoj Cemetery (the bus is located roughly 200m from the cathedral, take bus 106 and ride for about 10 minutes).
The walls and entrance to the cemetery are monumental and truly represent the size of the cemetery. Mirogoj felt like more than just a cemetery, its arcades, tombs and pavilions were like masterpieces that each told a story, lying beneath some of the most beautiful architecture I have ever seen. The cemetery itself is massive, so my advice would be to choose one side and walk alongside the inside walls and through the main halls and loop through the forrest filled cemetery back towards the entrance.
Upper town is a great way to escape the crowds, although still bustling with locals and some tourists, the space feels more open and peaceful. Overlooking the entire city of Zagreb, make your way to the little cobble stone walkway of Strossmartre, have a drink and some traditional Croatian food and simply relax and take in the view. Afterwards head towards the buildings and explore St. Mark’s square; located here is Zagreb’s Croatian Parliament and Government offices. The St. Mark’s church is a sight in itself, the stunning 13th century Romanesque church is centre stage with it’s colourful roof tiles.
Museum of Broken Relationships
Also located in Upper Town, the museum of Broken Relationships is something I had heard of some time ago (although I had forgotten it was in Zagreb, so this was a nice surprise). The museum is dedicated to failed love relationships by exhibiting personal objects left over from former lovers, each with it’s own brief story. The museum takes approximately 1 hour to look around and is an interesting concept, I highly recommend going whether you are falling into love or falling out, it is relatable and entertaining.
Exploring a city in just one day can be tiring, especially in the height of summer (June 2017), so be sure to wear summery pieces and keep protected from the sun. Also take breaks and stay hydrated and energised with local drinks and food. I highly recommend starting your Croatian journey in Zagreb, stay updated for more Croatian guides and feel free to contact me for more travel tips.