Zagreb, the largest city in Croatia and its capital, is also one of the few without a glimmering sea at its doorstep. No beaches, no boats. What’s a traveler to do?
Fear not weary globe-trotter, for what Zagreb lacks in sea meeting sand, it makes up for in museums, nightlife, and architecture.
Although never wielding the power of the Roman Empire, in Croatia, it might be said that all roads lead to Zagreb. Located in a valley called the Pannonian basin, Zagreb is ideally situated for travel connections between Europe and the Adriatic and the city knows how to entertain those passing through.
Zagreb is considered the cultural center of Croatia, and it has a fine selection of museums within walking distance of a tram. The Zagreb City Museum (link), founded by the Brethren of the Croatian Dragon Society offers an interactive history of Zagreb, photography archives as well as a Woodworking and Preservation Workshop.
If working with wood goes against your grain, the Archaeological Museum is full of ancient ruins of the Greek and Roman variety and the nearby Andautonia Archaeological Park is an active excavation site where you can see an archeological dig up close.
A restored version of sculptor Ivan Metrovic’s studio is on display near the museums where you can learn anything you ever wanted to know about Metrovic.
If the idea of a day in a museum doesn’t light your afterburners, work out your “museum legs” hiking Medvednica mountain just outside Zagreb. Or check out one of the many arts and culture festivals in the region, including the animated films fest Animafest or the Music Bienniale festival, the yearly avante-garde music festival.
But if experimental music is not your idea of a foot-tapping good time, a walk through the city reveals one of Zagrebs most under appreciated qualities, the architecture. Within a few miles, the interested traveler can see a range of architectural achievements spanning from the ancient castle Varazdin to the modern rectangular design of the Euro Tower to the curved glass and sculpted steel of the HOTO tower.
Zagreb’s blend of interesting and informative sites should make your trip to Zagreb an enlightening mix of relaxing and enjoying the region’s culture. It may not be New York or Paris, but it is a stimulating break from yet another day on the Adriatic.