If you ever happen to be in Zagreb on a winter morning with minus 15 degrees, please, feel free to go to Kava Tava in Tkalćićeva 12. The place is open from 7 a.m. and apart from the classic “eggs based breakfast” they have amazing pancakes (try the one covered with chocolate, you won’t regret). Moreover, their hot chocolate is something to die for.
Tkalćićeva is a colorful downtown street with traditional shops, restaurants and cafés. On the way you will also be able to meet Marija Jurić Zagorka’s statue. She was the first female professional journalist of Croatia and a champion of equal rights.
Cutting from Tkalćićeva towards Radićeva you will pass through an alley called the Bloody Bridge. This name is due to the fact that in the past here was a bridge connecting Gradec and Kaptol. This bridge was set for frequent squabbles.
Continuing straight you will descend ulica Mesnička. At one point on the left you will find the entrance to the WWII Grić tunnel. This tunnel is 350 meters long and 3.5 meters wide. It was built during the war as a shelter. From July 2016, it has become one of the main objects of interest for tourists in Zagreb.
At half of its length you will find an exit for the wonderful Art Park (better in summer, trust me). Climb the stairs in order to get to the top of the hill and enjoy the wonderful view of the city.
During winter here is one part of the Christmas market, which is located in different parts of the town. Zagreb’s Christmas Market is one of the most famous in Europe, but check it before the New Year, or you risk to be disappointed.
From Strossmayerovo šetalište you can easily reach the Museum of Broken Relationship on Ćirilometodska ulica. The museum is a collection of stories before being a collection of objects and the visit to the museum will make you experience the full range of emotions. At the beginning it was a nomadic exposition, but after European recognition it was settled definitively in Zagreb.
Continuing on the same street you will reach Saint Mark’s church dominating Saint Mark’s Square with its roof tiles decorated with the coats of arms of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia and the city of Zagreb.
From there you can decide to descend the hill passing through the Stone Gate. The arch of the gateway is a chapel dedicated to the patron of Zagreb, Virgin Mary. On the way down you will encounter one of the statues on the horse. This in particular is dedicated to Saint George the dragon slayer (not related with Buffy the vampire slayer).
Through the stairs that cut the street you will be able to reach Skalinska, a small street with a couple of small cheap restaurants selling great food. If you want to enjoy Italian food you can go to Nokturno, but I denitively suggest La Štruk. This place sells mainly štrukli, a local version of lasagna, filled with different types of cheese and vegetables. Remarkable, cheap, and… my god the smell.
After this break you can continue in the same direction. You will leave the Dolac market on your right (better to see it in the morning and not during the holidays).
You will manage to arrive at Kaptol wher you can find the cathedral. The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of Zagreb’s symbols. The construction began in 1094, but the Neo-Gothic structure is dated back to the late 19th century. In front of the façade there is the column dedicated to the Virgin Mary and her golden angels.
All around the cathedral there are the Renaissance Walls built between 1512 and 1521 to defend the city from the Ottoman Turks. You can walk around them and explore the Ribnjak park, originally the site of the Bishop of Zagreb’s fishponds, now you can see dogs with their owners.
You can conclude the day spending a romantic evening in the Bornstein winery. Here you can enjoy a wonderful degustation of Croatian wines for an affordable price. White and red, Malvazjia and Teheran, Posip and Plavac Mali. Wonderful oil to taste with bread. Just ensure yourself that your boyfriend walks straight on the way back home.
The second day can be experienced slower. Take your time. Have breakfast at the Velvet bar in Dežmanov prolaz. Just be sure to find a place, because beside being stylish, it is very crowded. After that I suggest you to take a walk in Ban Jelačić Square, where you can observe Zagreb’s second statue on horse. Here you can find the Manduševac Fountain. According to the legend the fountain was built around a natural spring. One day a Croatian war leader was coming back from the battle field and asked a beautiful girl named Manda to scoop up some water for him. The Croatian word for ‘to scoop up water’ is ‘zagrabiti’. This is why the fountain was named after the girl and the city after the scoop of water.
After a short walk towards south you will find Petar Preradović Square. The square was named after Petar Preradović, an army general who wrote patriotic verse and love poetry. His statue is in the middle of a green space, full of benches where you can eat burek with yogurt.
After meeting the big statue of Nikola Tesla, the Croatian (well it’s a debate, he was born in Croatia from Serbian parents. Jus soli or jus sanguinis? I’ll let you choose) famous scientist whose monument was placed in 2006 (after 150 years from his birth), I suggest you to go back up.
After passing Ban Jelačić Square you will find yourself in the wonderful Dolac market and you will experience a true Croatian feeling. Be sure to meet the statue of the old woman representing the market (she’s very well hidden).
You can spend part of the afternoon in the Tolkien’s House, a nice beer pub at the end of Opatovina. They have nice beers. Don’t know if you’re a fan, but you can really have a good time.
You can have dinner at Trattoria Leonardo in Skalinska. After that I suggest you to go South, towards the train station. In front of the train station you can find an amazing square and Zagreb’s third statue on horse, King Tomislav, the first Croatian king, crowned in 925. At the end of its square there is the beautiful Art Pavilion, originally conceived for the Budapest Millennial Exhibition of 1896.
Now you are ready to leave the city and you can tell your friends that you visited Zagreb.