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Well, hello there. How are you? If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that we headed to Zagreb for a mini-break a couple of weeks ago. Lots of people have been asking about Zagreb as it's not the typical place to choose to go to in Croatia with no beaches and hardly any guides of things to do, so I thought I'd share my little guide of how to spend 48 hours in the beautiful Croatian capital. 

Our trip to Zagreb was completely left to the fate of the Skyscanner app. I typed in our dates and chose the cheapest flight option available which happened to be Zagreb. Monarch are currently flying direct from Manchester to Zagreb for as little as £39 each way (we managed to nab ours for £54 return). With flights on Saturdays and Mondays, it is the perfect spot for a quick weekend getaway.

WHERE TO STAY




We chose to stay in Quatric Apartments which was great for price but also an excellent location in the heart of Zagreb. With the metro stop just outside the apartment we could get on a number of services which took us straight to Ban Jelačić Square in just four stops (this was our starting point for pretty much everything we wanted to do). From the widow in the apartment you can see the top of Zagreb Catherdral which shows how close you are to the heart of the city. The real perk of this apartment? It's located next to THE best ice cream shop, which is perfect for a cool down after you've been exploring the city all day.

THINGS TO DO








Zagreb is divided into old town (upper) and new town (lower). We chose to explore everything in lower town first which is more modern with high rise buildings (Zagreb Eye), shopping district, bars and restaurants. Our first stop was Zagreb Cathedral just off Ban Jelačić Square. The cathedral is currently under construction after a storm but the locals told us there is an ongoing joke that it will never be finished. We happened to stumble upon the changing of the guard ceremony which only happens on Saturdays and Mondays at midday. The two hour ceremony starts at St Mark's church and makes it's way to the Cathedral with guards, horses, drummers, flag bearers and trumpeters. After watching the ceremony and gazing up at the architecture of the cathedral we decided to get a look at the city from a birds eye view and head up the Zagreb Eye.



The 360 view at the top of the Zagreb eye was breathtaking and the Croatian capital transformed into a little town from a  fairytale or children's storybook. Unfortunately, Belle didn't come out signing "Little Town" but for just £3.50 it was well worth the trip to the top. We were also able to map out a number of places in upper town that we wanted to explore. Whilst the weather threw a little wobbler, we visited the Museum of Illusions and Fox in the Box Escape Room which were great and allowed us to try something fun whilst the showers passed. 





There are two ways to get from lower town to upper town, either by using the Funicular which is tucked away on the shopping district straight up to Lotrščak Tower or by walking down Tkalciceva Street and through the Stone Gate. We chose to walk to upper town so that we could have a stroll through Dolac Market and Tkalciceva Street to get some magnets for the nana's. 





After making our way to old town, the first stop was the picturesque St Mark's church which made me want to whip a wedding dress out of my backpack and throw a bouquet of flowers to passers by. It was probably the most touristy place in Zagreb but we only had to wait about 10 minutes before we were able to take some pictures and enjoy the views. Whilst we were in upper town we paid a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships and two spectacular viewing points, one near a mural of a whale and the other underneath Lotrščak Tower where a cannon goes off at midday each day. 





RASTOKE AND PLITVICE LAKES




Hands down, the highlight of our trip was our day trip to Rastoke and Plitvice Lakes with Maja from Petros. From the outset, Maja was friendly, professional and filled with knowledge about Zagreb, the villages we were driving through, places to eat and drink and everything we threw at her. Our first stop was Rastoke (above) which is a historic community at the confluence of the Slunjčica and Korana Rivers. We saw traditional watermills and old fashioned, riverside houses built from limestone and wood. Rastoke felt very special and a little off the beaten track. Without Petros we would never have stumbled upon this little gem so it was a lovely addition to our big adventure at Plitvice Lakes National Park (below).









Without any exaggeration, I left Plitvice Lakes with hundreds of photos. No images can do the turquoise of the lakes and the vibrancy of the trees justice. Maja took us on a walking route around the park where we got to see some of the lower lakes and then upper lakes after transfer by electric boat. We were in Plitvice Lakes National Park for around five hours but could have easily spent more and still not manage to cover the whole park. The waterfalls were absolutely breathtaking and walking through the forests was so peaceful and beautiful. The whole experience was made even better by Maja who shared so much knowledge about the park and insider tips on where to take the best photos ... for Instagram. The whole day was an incredible experience and I would wholeheartedly recommend doing this day trip from Zagreb with Petros Travel

WHERE TO EAT


We grabbed a quick lunchtime snack at Johann Franck where we enjoyed club sandwich, burger and chips with a local beer and local white wine in the sunshine on Ban Jelačić Square. This is where we realised the food in Zagreb is much cheaper than a similar meal in the UK but still tasty.


The place we saw with the biggest queue was a fast food place underneath the Zagreb Eye called Fries Factory. You can get a huge slice of pizza and fries with a choice of two dips for just a few Croatian Kuna which is a bargain and ideal for travellers on a budget.




My favourite restaurant that we stopped at was Otto and Frank which is a cute breakfast spot on Tkalciceva Street. We sat outside in the beautiful sunshine as Alex opted for eggs and bacon and I had Nutella and banana toasties. 


On my birthday eve we went for a lovely three course meal at Boban which is a luxurious but unpretentious Italian restaurant just off Ban Jelačić Square. We chose to eat from the specials menu with tomato bruschetta for starters, duck confit with deep fried cheese and bacon balls for mains and a chocolate pudding with ice cream for dessert. The food was delicious and washed down with local wines and beers which were lovely. Apparently the restaurant is owned by a Croatian footballer called Boban but I wouldn't have known any Croatian celebrities if they were sat across from me.

WHY CHOOSE ZAGREB?


With Monarch offering flights from £39 and just a short two and a half hour flight, Zagreb is the perfect city break in the sunshine. If you are planning on travelling around Europe, you can use Zagreb as a stop off to visit the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park, which could easily sit at the top of any bucket list. 

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