We arrived in Zagreb on a Thursday afternoon after a very comfortable flight with Croatian Airlines, grabbed Croatian Airlines bus into the city and got promptly lost trying to find the tramline to our apartment.
A classic example of how much we rely on being able to readily look things up at home, we just stood around, hopelessly perplexed, for a few minutes. Eventually our long-dormant common sense woke up and kicked into action and we figured it out. It was not difficult – our 4 days in Zagreb made us big fans of their public transport system of trains, trams and buses, which are cheap, efficient and easy to navigate.
Much of Zagreb is concentrated in two areas. The older, upper town at the top of a small hill contains some small churches and museums and a lot of municipal buildings. The newer, lower town below houses larger museums and parks, main squares and the Zagreb Cathedral. The centre can all be done on foot, and on a budget.
We made use of the cheap public transport to make 3 trips a little out of town: to Mirogoj Cemetery, Maksimir Park and Lake Jarun. I can recommend all 3.
Mirogoj Cemetery is humbling in its vast beauty, and as it is still being used your visit will be made all the more real as you walk past families leaving flowers and candles with lost loved ones.
Maksimir Park offers a lovely break from the city, with open grassy spaces, shaded woodlands and small lakes. You can walk here for hours (or just sit with a good book).
Lake Jarun is something magical to those of us who crave the seaside, even on a tour of inland capital cities. The pebble beach is not the most comfortable in the world, but nor is it as mental busy as its seaside counterpart. We shared the beach on a Sunday mid-morning in August with maybe 40 other people. Come prepared with a towel to lie on and you can sunbathe and swim in the Croatian sun, less than an hour from the city.
We were comfortably under our £40 per day budget in Zagreb, and this was while sparing no expense in the bakeries. We even fed The Vegetarian with relative ease (specific recommendations to follow). There isn’t a huge amount to do, so it was the perfect place to ease into our European adventure.