If you’re a seasoned traveler, then you already know that the best trip advisers are often locals, and particularly people who work in hostels and are themselves travelers. A short while ago, we had a very interesting interview with Goran from the Chill Out Hostel in Zagreb. I really recommend reading the interview, lots of valuable insight there. But among other things, Goran mentioned what are the best things to see and to in Zagreb – in other words, he shared a small travel guide with us. Here’s what he suggests:
Nature Park Medvednica. Altar of the Homeland
The ‘Bear Mountain’ (Medvednica) is just north of Zagreb. Its highest peak is over 1,000 meteres height and hiking is definitely one of the best ways of spending holidays here. Even if your visit to Croatia is no longer than a few days, you shouldn’t miss this destination. It offers you everything from peace of mind to a spectacular landscape. And there’s the castle – an imposing construction from the 13th century, guarded today by a natural spell made of rabbits, deers, woodpeckers and rich vegetation perfect to run away to on a torrid summer day.
The sculpture in this medieval city, The Altar of the Homeland, along with the entire atmosphere surrounding the place, gives you the impression that you’re witnessing the entire history of the castle – a few minutes of silence and you’ll almost hear the knights on the horses returning home from the battlefields. Near this spectacular, almost mystical place, there’s a monument devoted to the soldiers who fought for the country’s independence.
Jarun & Bundek lakes
Jarun is the absolute heaven in Croatia for water sports lovers: fishing and chilling out while admiring the surroundings, sailing like the pirates of old times or just swimming. Speaking of pirates, there’s an entire tradition in Jarun – when, in June, the blue flag is seen rising, it’s the sign of opening the swimming season: the clean, safe and gorgeous beaches are ready to welcome and accommodate all the visitors.
Sand volleyball and handball can be played, and even a softball field. Just everything to make sure that no one will ever leave these lands otherwise than happy, peaceful and well rested. And although there’s much to this destination than sports, table tennis and mini-golf are always an option here. As about the rest of it, the lakes are a perfect destination for any holiday. The spectrum of services is so wide that the locals literally don’t remember anyone ever complaining about the conditions or services. Ask locals from Croatia, just like we did, this is a place you shouldn’t miss visiting.
Bundek, just like Jarun, is the kind of place where you head to after a long time of waiting for a holiday to happen. Although this is almost exclusively a summer destination, the swimming season didn’t hear any complaints here either. A skateboard park is also functional since the beginning of this summer – and you should know that roller blades, skates, and bikes are one national popular way of spending time in Croatia.
Getting there is easy; since Zagreb has got a very well managed network of buses, there’s no problem in using public transportation – it’s safe, it’s comfortable and it’s cheap. Just south of the main railway station of the city, there’s the main local terminus for public transportation and everything you need will be on the timetable.
It’s on the slopes of Medvednica mountain, so after visiting the Altar of the Homeland you could as well stop by. Paying homage to the loved ones is sacred in Croatia and this cemetery will only show this statement is true. There’s an old Chinese saying – if you want to know a people walk their cemeteries. According to it, the Croats are some of the most culturally attached, emotionally involved in their history people there are. The place is not opulent, but it does state the eternal respect for the deceased.
Rich ivy covering the architectural beauty of the monument, and lime-green cupolas to complete the shades of green make it look like an old, yet respected building, holding the cultural majesty of the country. Visiting this place is really a unique experience, the cemetery is not only beautiful – if the word would ever be appropriate in such a context, but the entire experience stands between solemn and impressive.
Maksimir Park & Zoo
It’s almost two centuries old and its cultural heritage would be a huge asset even for the most popular countries in the world. Only a 5 minutes tram ride separates the town center from the park, and walking the Maksimir forest is one of the favorite local activities. The park’s so popular that there are numerous laws protecting it from any possible harm, so that the visitors along with the locals would experience its magnificence as much.
The Zoo is as spectacular as the forest and the best thing that recommends it is the natural state of things – the breezy, debonair atmosphere. There’s plenty of space for the animals as well as for the visitors, so you could take an entire day (or at least half of it) to walk through this place.
The museum of broken relationships
It should be an example of exhibits and ornaments, accessibility and dynamism, with a nice, bourgeois café where you can rest while talking about the wonders of sight. It’s not only for girls, it’s innovative but it’s depressing even for the happiest of us. The stories aren’t plain, sobby break-up stories for adolescents, but rather serious experiences. Some moving, some funny, but detritus from varied range of perspectives, speaking of broken love stories from all around the globe.
The theme around which the concept of the museum gravitates is related to a range of objects which are associated with separation. What makes them reliable is the fact that the stories behind every exhibit are so strange and different, that the theme hardly corresponds to all the items. It’s not only fascinating, but it’s a landmark of the place and this makes it a must for every single tourist in Zagreb.
Hrelić market on Sundays
It’s clearly not the typical touristic place to go. Although, if you want to learn about the culture, the people, their interactions and get some cheap, awesome things to go home with it’s definitely something to attend. It’s good fun especially if you’ve got no problem with waking up early in the morning, because otherwise you’ll miss the best stuff. And the objects often come with their stories, so this is the kind of culturally meaningful social interaction anyone should wish to have.
This nice inter-cultural interaction is also facilitated by the public transport. A direct bus line from the Main Railway Station bus terminal should get you there with absolutely no problem, and although the flea market is not easily comparable with the ones you see in Western Europe, it’s such a dynamic place with a lot of attitude.