Exactly two months and one day ago now (I know, I’m the worst), the boyfriend and I went on an eight-day holiday to Zagreb, Croatia. Since it was September and Autumn was already well on its way, we didn’t have the best weather (read: we had rain 90% of the time), but we tried to make the most of it and Zagreb really is a very beautiful city – even under a grey sky. We also somehow took about a gazillion pictures, which I managed to cut down for the purpose of these blog posts (don’t worry). And yes, I said blog posts. If you hadn’t figured it out from the title, this will be a two-parter. I thought cramming eight days into one post would be a bit much, so here we are: part one of Discovering Zagreb is finally up.
This holiday was the first time we ever rented an Airbnb and I have to admit I was a little bit nervous; we had no idea how the check-in would work, and even though we’d obviously seen the pictures we didn’t know what to expect on arrival. Who says those pictures are representative!? Well, let me tell you: we were not disappointed. Turns out the pictures of The Nook were spot on! It was a very cosy, romantic apartment – perfect for a couple. The bathroom was a bit on the smaller side, and we hadn’t expected it to be below ground (so not really any natural light coming in), but apart from that we really couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay. Our host was super lovely as well and always answered our questions immediately. She also arranged an Uber for us from and to the airport. It was so lovely to really have what felt like our very own place in a foreign city, and to know that everything would be taken care of by the host if there was ever a problem. Such a different feel to staying in a hotel!
We arrived at Zagreb Airport in the late afternoon, so there wasn’t a lot of time before we’d have to head off to dinner, but we really did want to explore a bit around the neighbourhood to just get a taste of the city and our surroundings. Our Airbnb was very close to the train station (which we unfortunately didn’t take advantage of), and there was a small park around the corner as well. We also took a quick walk to the main square, before heading back to the apartment to get ready for dinner.
As we had no idea where to go for dinner on our first night and we wanted to make it special because it was our two-year anniversary, we asked our Airbnb host for some recommendations and out of the entire list she sent us (she was so helpful) we chose Maredo because it was fairly closeby and within our price range. They also served a variety of gourmet burgers – our absolute favourite. We were so happy with our choice; the burgers were absolutely delicious, as were the fries and the coleslaw salad that came with it. We were definitely completely stuffed after we finished everything – no room left for dessert, haha.
(I’m sorry for the crappy picture quality, but the lighting inside wasn’t all that so I had to make do!)
After dinner, we headed straight back to the Airbnb and basically crashed onto our bed.
We started off our second day with a bit of a fancy breakfast from Korica. We were honestly spoiled for choice and came back with way too much for just two people! In fact, we had enough left over to make some of it our dinner for that day (long story that will be expanded on shortly…). We also took the opportunity to buy our lunch for that day, since we were going to be gone for the entire day and probably wouldn’t have the chance to buy lunch anywhere else – plus, the sandwiches looked delicious, too.
Since day two was going to be our only sunny day for the entire holiday according to my boyfriend’s weather app (spoiler alert: it was mostly right), we really wanted to go to Plitvice Lakes. It’s not exactly near Zagreb, but since we were in Croatia this was definitely something we wanted to do.
To get there, we had to take the bus which was going to get us there in about two and a half hours. Okay, that’s a fairly long trip, but we were definitely willing to do that. We headed out the door at around 10, hoping to catch the 10.30 bus, but we’d kinda underestimated how long it would take us to walk to the bus stop. That was the first mishap. Then we couldn’t find the ticket station and we were basically sent back and forth multiple times, until they eventually told us we couldn’t catch another bus to Plitvice Lakes until 3 in the afternoon. That was obviously not on since that would mean we’d arrive at around 5.30, so I was already pissed about wasting our only sunny day by that point.
Then, luckily, we found another ticket station that told us the next bus was at 11.30, which was still not ideal as we’d have loved to arrive at Plitvice Lakes a little earlier, but at least it was better than having to wait until 3. So we finally bought our tickets (which were pretty expensive, I might add) and rushed to the bus stop because we only had a few minutes left to catch it.
So yeah, we arrived at the park a little later than first planned, but we were so happy we hadn’t given up on getting bus tickets. I mean, look at it!
We’d seen pictures of it online and thought it looked absolutely beautiful, but we were not prepared for how stunning the park really is. You have to go there for yourself to fully appreciate it – pictures don’t do it justice.
To finish off the day, we found out there’d been a little miscommunication with the lady who’d sold us the bus tickets, because she’d told us the last bus was at 6. But it turned out the only bus we could take with the tickets we’d bought was at 6. Which meant we had to kill about two hours after finishing our tour of the park. To top it off, the bus was late which meant we got home way past what we’d expected – and it’s also the reason we had our leftover breakfast for dinner: we really couldn’t be bothered to buy or prepare dinner after such an exhausting day! Nevertheless, we were so happy we got to see Plitvice Lakes in all its beauty – it was definitely worth it.
For our third breakfast we decided to go to Otto & Frank, where they serve a modern-day take on the traditional Zagreb breakfast: cottage cheese, sour cream, horseradish, grilled ham, crispy poached eggs, radish, raddichio and spring onions served on a piece of toast. I have to admit we were a little sceptical about the fried poached eggs, but it was honestly a very tasty dish – be it a little on the small side. Which is exactly why I decided to order a piece of carrot cake too.
Because we’d booked a walking tour with Secret Zagreb in the evening and we had to meet our tour guide at a specific location in the old part of town, we thought it would be a good idea to already go and explore so we knew exactly how to get there.
For dinner we decided to cook a stay-at-home meal since we still had plans for the night. Because neither of us speaks Croatian we didn’t have a clue what to buy at the supermarket, so we chose the safe route of pasta and pre-made sauce. It doesn’t sound all that fancy, but it was a lot of fun to prepare this meal together and it actually did taste quite nice. I also loved how it made our evening a bit more relaxed and gave us plenty of time to get ready for the activity ahead.
Our evening activity was the Ghosts and Dragons tour organised by Secret Zagreb. It was basically a walking tour taking us through various parts of Upper Town while the tour guide told us ghost stories and initiated us into the world of the secret dragon society of Zagreb. We also visited an old cemetery, which actually did creep me out a little since it was late at night and quite dark (did I mention I’m afraid of the dark? because I am). Oh yeah, our Friday nights are always this crazy! Please also note how our tour guide seems to have disappeared in the first picture we took… Right before we took it, she joked that she “might not appear in the picture”. Creepy, right?
The next day was pretty relaxed as well. We were on holiday, after all. First on the itinerary was the botanical garden. It wasn’t too far from our Airbnb, and we were eager to explore this patch of nature in the middle of such a big city.
Although the rain and grey skies did put a bit of a damper on the day, the botanical garden was still a sight to see. It was giving off major Autumnal vibes! I think I stopped to take pictures every five seconds, haha.
After taking 1001 pictures of rainy flowers and plants (as you can see, I narrowed it down for you guys), we headed to Kava Tava for lunch. We’d read about their pancakes online, so how could we resist? The interior was quite cosy and quirky-looking, and the staff were all very friendly. It was quite busy when we arrived since it was around lunch time, but we managed to find a nice little table for two and we placed our order for the most scrumptious pancakes – Nutella and strawberries for me, and Nutella and banana for my boyfriend.
Although the picture might be deceiving, the pancakes actually weren’t all that big and were a little on the dry side. I mean, we were kinda disappointed after reading such raging reviews and after a very long walk that took us from the botanical gardens to the British Square. At least the milkshakes we ordered were fine. It might be the fact that we’re both quite spoiled by foom’s delicious American pancakes, but we really did expect more from this quirky eatery in Zagreb. I’d recommend going there for the interior alone, but maybe order something other than the pancakes!
Our last stop of the day was the Dolac market, a fresh fruit and vegetable market organised every day from 6am to 3pm (except on Sundays, when it ends at 1pm). It’s located just a little off the main square and can be easily recognised by the statue of a market vendor carrying her wares in a basket on her head, and the little red umbrellas covering the stalls. Unfortunately, it started raining just as we got there so I didn’t get the chance to take a whole lot of pictures, but it is a very good idea to go to the Dolac market if you want to get a taste of the local Zagrebian lifestyle and pick up some fresh produce to prepare a lovely home-cooked meal.
I apologise for the lengthy post, but I do hope you enjoyed reading it and if you got to the very end – thank you. There is a part II that will be going up later this week, but in the meantime you can already check out part I of my Zagreb vlog. It was my first time ever vlogging, so I’d love it if you could watch it and give me some feedback!