- Where the Locals Go
Greetings city-lovers! This week Zagreb-based freelance writer Neha Puntambekar–who loves the city’s coffee culture–tells us why Zagreb is the best.
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Zagreb is My City
The first place I take a visitor is the Upper Town, Zagreb’s old town. It is home to some of the city’s most prominent landmarks and museums.
When I crave something sweet I always go to Slastičarnica Vincek, a popular pastry shop. I usually have the kremšnita (vanilla custard cake) with a cup of coffee.
To escape the city I head to the mill village of Rastoke. Coffee on the waterfall and a walk around the waterside village make for the perfect city escape.
If I want to share a drink with friends, I go toTkalčićeva Ulica, a street full of pubs, clubs and eateries, along with a number of galleries and boutiques.
For complete quiet, I can hide away at Maksimir, Zagreb’s largest park.
If you come to my city, get your picture taken with the “Well of Life“, a sculpture by Croatian master Ivan Meštrovič in front of the National Theatre.
If you have to order one thing off the menu from the local pizzerias it has to be cevapcici – small pieces of grilled mixed meat served with traditional bread. Don’t eat meat? Try burek – a pastry stuffed with cheese (it also comes with minced meat).
Dolac Market is my one-stop shop for great fresh fruits and vegetables, meat cuts, homemade delicacies and local handicrafts.
Locals know to skip worrying about food at local cafe-bars (most bars here don’t serve food with drinks, save for peanuts) and check out the small pizzerias and kebab joints instead. Cafes have no problem if you bring your sandwich or slice along.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go the Sunday antiques market at Britanski Trg (British Square), close to the city’s main square.
For a huge splurge I go to Takenoko for sushi.
Photo ops in my city include the St. Mark’s Church (left) and its beautiful tiled roof and the best vantage points are from the Lotrščak Tower.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Scarlet Johansson, modern but with a striking old world charm.
The most random thing about my city is a cannonball fired everyday at the stroke of noon from the Lotrščak Tower.
My city has the most boisterous, rakija-loving men.
My city has the most well-put-together women.
In my city, an active day outdoors involves shopping for shoes, drinking coffee and hiking in the surrounding hills.
My city’s best museum is the Zagreb City Museum but if you enjoy art, you might prefer the Croatian Museum of NaÏve Art.
My favourite jogging/walking route is along the Jarun Lake. This is a popular spot for outdoor activities. You’ll pass kids on skates, basketball and football games, and water sports. On weekends you’ll be jogging past picnics and barbeques.
For a night of dancing, go to Aquarius. Be sure to dress up. Or, for live music, check out Sax or the Jazz Club; they allow for a more casual dress code.
Local bakeries serving pastries, sandwiches, etc. known as pekarne are the places to go for late-night eats.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Spotted by Locals.
You can tell a lot about my city from visiting the local cafes, sipping coffee and people watching, a favourite local pastime. A head’s up, the cafes are usually crowded, especially when the weather is nice.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they light up every fifteen minutes; it’s no surprise the smoking ban hasn’t lasted here.
In the spring you should indulge in multiple helpings of strawberries and cream.
In the summer you should make your way to the Strossmayer Promenade, sit under chestnut trees and hide from the scorching sun. Summer is also a time to enjoy Zagreb’s longest street festival on the promenade; an event full of art, music and wine.
In the fall you should snack on roasted chestnuts available at stalls along the city’s many squares.
In the winter you should head up Sljeme, take in the views and ski down the slopes.
A hidden gem in my city is Stone Gate, a small shrine dedicated to Mary, in the arch of the only surviving medieval town gate.
For a great breakfast joint try Daily Fresh. It serves sandwiches, cereals, fruit cups, juices and more.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Don’t miss the music at the Zagreb Summer Evenings festival held every year in July.
Just outside my city, you can visit the Trakošćan CastleTrakošćan CastleTrakošćan Castle.
The best way to see my city is on foot or on a Segway.
If my city were a pet it would be a Jack Russell terrier, small, gorgeous and full of life.
If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live in the hills, with squirrels and deer hobnobbing in my backyard.
The best book about my city is Zagreb – A Cultural and Literary History, by Celia Hawkesworth.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is Guns n’ Roses Paradise City (the grass is green and the girls really are pretty).
If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the Technical Museum.
A car parked in the middle of the street (with the blinkers on) or a coffee break lasting several hours could only happen in my city.
My city should be featured on your cover/ website because Zagreb is a lesson in how to lead an ideal laid-back city life. Here we don’t chase after trams, or deadlines. Instead we enjoy multiple coffee breaks and discuss football results.
Photos: Neha Puntambekar