This is Power Trip, a recurring series on underrated but always sophisticated experiences in our favorite cities around the globe.
While it doesn’t get the same notoriety as hedonistic beach towns like Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia’s capital is quietly on par with Eastern Europe’s most desirable urban destinations (read: Budapest and Prague).
Mixing Old-World charm with modern sights and attractions, Zagreb offers plenty of things to see, eat and drink. Think classic city views, hearty meat-filled meals and some top-notch brandy and grappa you won’t find elsewhere. And that’s before you get to the arts scene: Zagreb has more museums per capita than any city in the world, and you can access them on the go (either on foot or via the inner-city tram system) thanks to plentiful free wifi hotspots around the city.
Below, our guide to navigating the city and its surrounds, from the best museums to a UNESCO World Heritage site to where to chow down on green frogs and ham.
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Images from Hilton
YOUR DIGS: Canopy by Hilton Zagreb
Featuring boutique-style accommodations and amenities meant to make guests feel at home, this edition of Hilton’s new Canopy line is located a short walk from the city’s main rail station and about 20 minutes by car from the airport. Located in a former chocolate factory, the art within the hotel is influenced by the neighborhood’s industrial past as well as the work of Croatian inventors Nikola Tesla and Slavoljub Penkala. Just off the lobby, ReUNION Restaurant offers tasty buffet-style breakfast and an everyday Chef’s menu stocked with Mediterranean and Continental cuisine. Bookings include a complimentary Canopy Bike rental, daily tastings of local food and drink, and nightly enjoyment of the brand’s signature canopy bed frame.
CAFF UP: Cogito Coffee Shop
Located on a quaint 19th-century street, Cogito only serves brew made from the city’s prime independent importer and roaster of beans. Minimalist except for the outdoor terrace, it’s a good spot to relax with your mug or get a cup to go.
FOR YOUR SWEET TOOTH: Dubravica Bakery
With various locations around the city, Dubravica has bread and rolls but also has a dizzying array of pastries that range from strudels and croissants to doughnuts and crepes. If it’s baked, they make it.
… AND YOUR SALTY TOOTH: Kralj Kobasa
There are plenty of places to get sausage in Zagreb, but Kralj Kobasa is king of ‘em all thanks to their organic meat, delicious sauces and choice toppings. You can also grab a sausage and go heavy on the condiments at one of the numerous pop-up stands located around the city during Christmastime or a festival.
… OR BOTH: Nutelino Bar
Located in the center of the city, Nutelino offers waffles, ice cream and pancakes which can be stuffed with salty items like meat and cheese or sweet ones like Nutella and Oreos.
Image from Evan Bleier
PEOPLE WATCH: Dolac Market
One of several open-air markets in the Zagreb, this is the place where locals go to get their vegetables and fruit. Smaller indoor markets offering fresh fish and meat and cheese are also steps away. Grab a grappa and sit outside at Bistro Amfora while you’re in the area.
FEELING LUCKY: Diamond Palace Casino
Raise the stakes on one of the casino's suede playing tables or enjoy the twinkle of the glass chandeliers overhead while knocking back a cocktail at the venue’s onyx bar.
FEELING THIRSTY: Swanky Monkey Garden
Located inside an old factory, this bar offers cocktails and craft beers with a side of character thanks to its on-site vegetable garden and orchard. There’s also a hostel on the premises should you overindulge and need a place to crash.
STILL THIRSTY: Opatovina Street
Home to an annual Beerfest, Opatovina Street is stocked with bars and pubs serving up craft beers and other boozy offerings, from brewers and distillers both near and far.
Image from Evan Bleier
DAY TRIP: Plitvice Lakes National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage site, this national park offers beautiful views throughout the four seasons of the year. The centerpiece of the forested park is a set of 16 lakes which are interconnected by a series of waterfalls. The water is a shade of blue that can’t be found anywhere else or adequately captured in a photo.
QUICK EATS: Mimice
For some fast, fresh fried fish, look no further than this Zagreb institution. Come for the Croatian-style fish and chips, stay for local faves like fried sardines and anchovies and mackerel with potato salad. There’s also wine if you want to wash down your fried plate of goodness with some libations.
LOCAL FLAVORS: Konboa Didov San
Offering dishes you don’t typically see like baked squid and octopus, grilled eel, and grilled frogs with ham, Konboa Didov San is a great option to eat something you might not find anywhere else. If you’re hungry enough to eat a horse, try to finish the Grandfather’s Pan (veal scallop, pork scallop, schnitzel, homemade bacon, roasted fresh vegetables, baked potatoes).
STILL HUNGRY: Bistro Apetit
Run by Croatian chef and owner Marin Rendić, Bistro Apetit is tucked away on a residential street outside of downtown Zagreb. The seasonally changing menu offers dishes that mix takes on Croatian cuisine and more standard European offerings.
INSTAGRAM: Saša Šekoranja Gallery
Get your camera ready if you visit this floral gallery to take in the works of a local flower sculptor.
The Mimara Museum: Housing more than 3,500 works ranging from archaeological artifacts to Old Masters paintings, the collection at the Mimara is vast. However, it’s also in dispute as many experts claim it is full of fakes and forgeries. Go for the quantity, not the quality.
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The Museum of Broken Relationships: Funny, sad and even inspiring at times, this is filled with objects and accompanying story cards that explain what said object represents about a relationship that was once strong but got broken somewhere along the way.
The Croatian Museum of Naïve Art: Not a misspelling, this museum showcases pieces painted in the Naïve style: oil on glass. Powerful and colorful, the pieces are unlike any you’ll see anywhere else.
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Images from Evan Bleier
King Tomislav Square: Featuring an outdoor ice rink which is filled with skaters throughout the colder months, this downtown destination is flanked by plenty of cultural and culinary offerings.
Main image from Evan Bleier