Zagreb through the eyes of Olivera

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Why Zagreb?

Olivera (discover her blog and podcast here) started studying in Serbia for four years. In the last two years, she had to do a master. So since 2022, she has been going to Zagreb for about 12 times now for educational purposes, namely Integral Personal Development International at Zagreb Therapeutical School. The courses are from Fridays till Mondays. It is the first time she has done something like this: go to a city that is not her hometown and where she doesn’t know anyone. “I had never been to Zagreb before. It is really interesting to go to one city that frequently. Now, I consider Zagreb one of my cities.”

What immediately caught your attention in Zagreb?

The first thing Olivera noticed, were the people. “They were really friendly, helpful and kind. In addition, I am from Serbia and we speak almost the same language. They are really happy when they hear you speak Serbian. They ask you where you are from and they love to share their memories – in a taxi, in the supermarket or in the restaurant. It is easy to get in contact with the people there. This really made me feel at home.”

The beautiful architecture also stood out to Olivera. “It is a really nice experience to walk through the historical city centre. It is breathtaking. Especially the part of the city centre that’s call ‘upper town’. You can take the stairs or a cable car to get there.” This is the oldest means of transport of the organised public transport in Zagreb. This cable car is the shortest one in the world. It has kept its original appearance, construction and most of the original technical characteristics. That’s why it’s a protected cultural monument. Good to know: due to an earthquake, lots of architectural buildings in the city centre are still under construction.

“Museums, great food, and walking around the beautiful city centre – That’s all I need.”

What did you not know about Zagreb?

“I didn’t know that Zagreb has lots of museums: from art to history, to technical and nature related.”

What are your top recommendations?

  1. Olivera recommends the gastronomy, from traditional food to more modern versions of the traditional food. “The city offers a great mix of restaurants. Located on Market Dolac, you have Burek Dolac which is more than 50 years old. Near the same market, there is Broom 44, which offers all day brunch. It also makes Salo-traditional delicacies made from pig fat. Sol tapas offers tapas the Croatian way, with traditional tastes from all over Croatia, well combined in an old historical building.” In addition, Olivera recommends Uspinjača and Korčula for fish and sea specialities. She also recommends Theatrium if you like seafood – but I also went here and they don’t only serve this. I would also definitely recommend this restaurant, as the food was delicious and of top quality. I only read this later, but the chef Filip Horvat assembled a team of sous chefs with experience in European restaurants with Michelin stars! And the service was great (they called me “Milady”). Read more about my 48 hours in Zagreb.
  2. As Olivera said, Zagreb has many different museums. One that she recommends is the Museum of Broken Relationships. “It is interesting because they have many objects from all over the world from people who broke up, and you can read their story there. You can read stories from people who lived during the World War, but also contemporary stories. It is not a classical exhibition, it is different. It is about ordinary people and the universal subject of love. You become emotionally involved and it is a great experience. I also went to a big Ivan Meštrović exhibition. He is a famous Croatian and Yugoslav sculptor. It was a temporary exhibition, so it’s closed now. But this was one of my highlights.”
  3. Zagreb also offers really nice museums for kids, for example the Chocolate Museum and the Museum of Illusions. These are also no typical museum, it’s more like an experience. “You can taste chocolate or take lots of different photos in the Museum of Illusions. It is nice and interesting and you can see everything within 1,5 hours.”
  4. Around Christmas time, the city of Zagreb celebrates advent. “The city is magical around that time because the whole city centre is decorated!” Read more about advent in Zagreb here.
  5. And of course, Olivera would recommend Zagreb for studies. “It’s part of the European Union, so everything is accredited. If you get your diploma here, you can work everywhere in Europe. And the city is small, but it has a lot of cultural activities and great gastronomy.”

What do you have to be aware of?

Olivera thinks that the public transportation might be a little bit challenging for tourists. “It can be a little chaotic, because they change the routes of the busses and trams. So you might be waiting for a bus that will not come to your stop. It is hard to find that information. But there are also services like Uber and taxis, which are pretty cheap.”

What is your fondest memory?

When Olivera first went to Zagreb, she had to pay with the local currency. A little later, she could pay with euros. “And the first two times I need my passport. But after that, I didn’t anymore. It was interesting to experience this transition period first-hand, to see the city and country change.”

To get from Serbia to Zagreb, it only takes four hours by bus. That’s why Olivera invited her family and friends to come visit Zagreb. “Last year, my mother and brother came to Zagreb and we celebrated my mother’s 60th birthday. We had a really great weekend, experiencing Zagreb together. My mother, who is from an older generation, went to Zagreb thirty years ago. Seeing the city through her eyes (what has changed, what is the same) was really nice.” Olivera’s education was the reason for her mother to visit the city again. “Especially for the older generation who experience the war and manipulation form politicians, there is prejudice. They wonder if other people are friendly or not. So when they go to a city like Zagreb, they are amazed that the people are super friendly. It was a good experience for her. And for my brother as well – it was his first time visiting Zagreb. It was great to combine our different experiences.”