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Four years ago my then-partner and travel buddy headed from the tropics to Europe’s relatively cool temps. We landed in the Czech Republic, hitchhiked to Germany, and then worked on farms across Italy.
Exhausted, we sought a quiet refuge outside the Schengen Zone. We used Njuskalo – the craigslist or gumtree of Croatia – to find an apartment in a little village on a hill overlooking the capital city of Zagreb.
While introducing ourselves to the city and all its charms, I considered options for earning money, eventually starting a resume’ and cover-letter writing business. On days off, I soaked in all Zagreb has to offer.
The city’s architecture benefited hugely from being part of the historic Austro-Hungarian and then Yugoslavian empires. In economically-stronger parts of Europe, many gorgeous, detailed old buildings have been replaced by modern construction. Not so in Croatia!
Another benefit left over from the communist, Yugoslavian days: Croatians are guilt-free about enjoying the good life. It seems half the city’s population can be found enjoying a beverage and chatting with friends any day of the week and any time of day.
Getting around Zagreb is incredibly easy and affordable. It’s excellent, modern transport network extends far into the outskirts. The more centralized portions are free, making your inner-city sightseeing very affordable! The oldest part of the city is steep and compact, providing excellent views.
Some of my favorite spots are:
• Mirogoj Cemetery – one of largest and most beautiful in Europe
• Museums – most poular: the Museum of Broken Relationship & The Torture Musem
• Open Air Cinema every night in Uppertown (see this site for schedule)
• Drinks on the Strossmayer Promenade overlooking Zagreb
• Maksimir Park – 780 acres of meadows, creeks, lakes, wooded trails, a zoo, and recreation fields all a quick ride from the city center.
• Lake Jarun – take a stroll around the water, have a beer at a lakeside cafe, watch the rowers, and maybe even catch a regatta.
Food in Zagreb is also very affordable. Local grocery stores have fanstic deli sections, and the daily Tresnjevka Farmer’s Market in the city center is full of excellent fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and other products. Restaurant meals, especially outside the city center, won’t dent your pocketbook too deeply either. Typical Croatian cuisine can be found alongside lots of international fare.
Finally, on a few digital nomad breaks, I got outside the city. Friends took my partner and I to their childhood home, an ancient abandoned castle and to the top of Medvednica mountain that overlooks the capital.
I remember my digital nomad beginning in Zagreb quite fondly. Whether you’re visiting for a few days or a few months, I hope you enjoy the city! You can read more about Zagreb’s cultural quirks in What it Costs to Die in Croatia.