Visiting Zagreb, Croatia with a Dog

Zagreb surprised us. Pleasantly at that. As I reflect on our time there, I think it is safe to say that it’s one of the most undervalued capital cities of Europe, and that’s a real shame. Not only are Zagreb’s three historic zones—lower town (Donji Grad), old town (Gornji Grad), and upper town (Kaptol)—ridiculously pretty, Zagreb also has an insane amount on offer in a walkable radius.

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Indoor shops!

For a capital that has only been around since 1991, you’d be stunned to discover that the city boasts over 20 museums, 10 theatres, and over 350 libraries.  It has a university and more artistic and cultural events than you could possibly fit in during your time there.  Zagreb will woo you with its worldly charm, consistently good food, and charming markets.

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Here is the map from our guide book to help you visualize!

History

Once upon a time, two settlements on adjacent hills were constantly at war: Kaptol, the centre of religious power, and Gradec, the centre of politics, favoured by the Croat-Hungarian King Béla IV.  The stream that separated the two hills was where most of the clashes occurred. In fact, there once was a bridge over the stream, called the Bridge of Blood. Chilling, isn’t it? But as fate would have it in a morbid way, there was a mighty earthquake and it sort of put a stop to all of that.

Visiting Zagreb, Croatia with a dog Montecristo Travels

I was not lying about the museums and such … one of MANY signs!

The earthquake also means that nearly all the monuments and architecture you will find in Zagreb are a lot younger than in many cities in Croatia.  Nearly all the buildings in Zagreb were built after 1880, when the post-earthquake rebuild started.

Lower Town (Donji grad)

Because we were staying not too far from this part of town, we came to know it quite well. We’d often walk toward lower town, but on the way home, we’d take the subway back, giving our tired legs a break.  I liked the vibe we found there. There are really fun coffee shops and restaurants …

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Maximizing space! Love these window bars!

And there is the very pretty Croatian national theatre, which often acted as our compass when we needed to sort out what direction we were facing. The theatre was designed by a Viennese architect and you can see that in the building’s lines. The theatre also marks the start of some lovely and very profusely flowering gardens. A perfect place for any dog with a sniffer to explore!

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They go all out with the flowers!

But the part that we enjoyed a great deal more than expected was a small strip a bit further east where you will find the Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters, the Art Pavillion, and the Modern Gallery, all around a stellar park.

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Zagreb does green spaces very well!

Even if these museums are not pet-friendly indoors, the long walk in the gardens is, and the gardens are really beautiful.

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gorgeous right? Even on a rainy day!

And we loved seeing many Otto-Hungarian inspired buildings freshly restored to their glory.

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Details baby!!

I also really liked the bike path; and we found a weird little bar with funky art …

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Really clearly marked bike paths!

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Hello Mr. Lennon!

And then there were the Smart police cars…

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LOVE IT!!

Upper Town (Kaptol)

Separating Donji grad from both the Kaptol and Gornji grad is a great square.  Here the trams pass and stop and pick up and drop off a lot of Croatians going about their daily business. The coffee shops and restaurants here are pricier but if you like to people watch, then you may want to sit down and order a treat.

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I LOVE a new city!!

We headed off to Dolac Market instead. At the foot of the pretty Church of St. Mary’s, I was overwhelmed by good smells of local flowers, both fresh and dried, and foods. (Oh, tell me, what canine does not like to stick his nose in food!)

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End of day for the market….

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Still so much to see! Olives, Pomegranate and figs!

I really liked the statue of the old lady on the steps leading up to where the two main sites awaited.

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Someone gave her flowers!

The cathedral is absolutely breathtaking. You don’t have to be of that faith to appreciate the beauty of the Cathedral of the Assumption and Blessed Virgin Mary (woa… looong name!).  I enjoyed the elaborate spires, the magnificent large and ornate door, the new Neo-Gothic façade.  It’s a pretty place and you feel the historical importance it holds.

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I like that they were putting a cover that looked like what was covered!

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after the tour bus left…

Right next door is the Bishop’s palace.  I wasn’t allowed inside any of these so we just walked about, enjoying what we could see from the outside.  But my favourite part of this section of town was Radiceva street.  Here, in this fun and curved pedestrian street, we found wonderful restaurants, boutiques, and just a happy sense of wellbeing.

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Just loved this street!

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How pretty is this?

We stopped for lunch, and had a wonderful meal with a most helpful and pleasant waiter.

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DESSERT!!

We had such a great time that we returned more than once over the course of our stay in Zagreb. It sort of became our favourite place to hang out and watch the locals and tourists under patio heaters.

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So many pretty buildings!

Old Town (Gornji grad)

Back at the bottom of Kaptol, where the tramways come and go, we followed Ilica street and turned onto the tiny street of Tomiceva. Here, you can take the little funicular up (or down) to Gornij grad. Give yourself enough time for this part because this is where a lot of the main sites are.

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Enjoying the view with Dad from the funicular in Zagreb

First we visited Lotrščak Tower. At noon every day, a cannon is fired from the tower.  We climbed all the way to the top for a stellar view!

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Staying safe in my sling!

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Zagreb from the rooftops!

By that point, we were a bit cold so we went to visit the Museum of Broken Relationships. It sounds depressing but it was actually a highlight of our visit.  First of all, it’s pet friendly!

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Pet friendly museums? That puts a city in the 5 paws category!!

And the coffee shop was lovely and warm and had copious supplies of honey for Mom’s tea. (Yep, that darn cold of hers!). And the exhibit? Rather fascinating. We left feeling lucky in our little loving family. But we also found a certain comfort in seeing that no matter where in the world you may live, a broken heart and a failed love story seems to be a rite of passage in life.  And there is something comforting in that.

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Comfort speaking kiss!

We walked up to the spectacular Church of St. Mark and its unmistakable roof. The coloured tiles on this Gothic church form the coat of arms for Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, and Zagreb. Two on each side.

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St. Mark! Can you even see me?I am looking at you!

It takes a while to soak it all in. And then we wondered on to see the Sabor, or Croatian parliament building.

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They are rather pretty and understated!

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Love the shape of the roofs!

To head back down into the Kaptol, we had to pass by the stone gate. Now the stone gate is fascinating, Dear Reader. See, in 1731 a fire destroyed all the houses, but, somehow, a painting of Mary with child on the gate remained completely untouched.  A chapel was subsequently built around it. Right there. Under the wall of the city, in the open space.  You can just stop as you pass by. Very unusual.

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Don’t mind me just walking past the gate … and chapel…

And this is also where you will find the oldest pharmacy in Croatia, in existence since 1350.  Interestingly, it belonged to Nicolo Alighieri, the great-grandson of none other than … the writer Dante.

And I will leave you there, Dear Reader. Not because there was nothing else to see, but because we ran out of time in this wonderful city. Oh, how I wish we had time to see the botanical gardens or the unbelievably beautiful Mirogoj Cemetery with its fanciful arches.  I would have liked to have taken a walk in the Maksimir Park and visit the famous Ivan Meštrović Gallery. But alas, time was not on our side and neither was the weather.

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They do parks well in Zagreb!

In review: A must-stop on any trip to Croatia. Visiting Zagreb, Croatia with a dog is a must and do take the time to visit instead of using it only as a stopover to Spilt or Dubrovnik. Zagreb is a wonderful city and very pet friendly. We ate, we walked, we dined and visited museums, all three of us, together. Would we go back? Absolutely, yes.

 

For more photos visit our FB page! 

34 Comments on “Visiting Zagreb, Croatia with a Dog

  1. Wow, you aren’t kidding… ridiculously pretty indeed! I had no idea! Your photos are stunning!

  2. Loved the photos, and the narrative was just the cherry on top! What a fun city to explore! Lots to see, and the history presented would be really interesting to me!

  3. Never been there, however after reading our blog I just might put it on my bucket list. Looks like it’s a very pet friendly country.

  4. Wow looks lovely and your photos are brilliant. I have never been to that part of the world but it definitely seems worth exploring. Thanks for sharing your travels X Susie

    • It is beautiful. The whole country really. Everyone focuses on the Dalmatian coast with famous towns like Dubrovnik but Zagreb is a gem!

  5. I have never heard of Zagreb before, but it looks like an amazing place to visit! I haven’t been to Europe since I was a little girl, but these photos make me long to go again. I’d love to see Zagreb for myself.

  6. WOW what wonderful pictures, my brother was there last year and he said it was one of the most beautiful countries he has visited.

  7. Wow, so much to do! Zagreb looks like such a fun place to explore and super walkable, which is great when you’re traveling with a dog. I can’t believe the capital is that “young” with so much going on. And seriously, that roof on the Church of St. Mark. Gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your travels with those of us who are much less well traveled!

    • I was surprised to find it so young as well but then given the constant border changes and country lines in recent history maybe it isn’t such a surprise – let us not forget that the country was at war in the 90’s. Still, perhaps it’s mixture of 1800’s architecture and resent war are in fact what give it that vibrant “must live to the max’ vibe we got while there.

  8. Davinia and Indiana were born in Europe and I would love to be able to take them back for a visit before a plane trip like that would be just too stressful for them. That and I want Davinia to be able to see her twin sister. I think it would be great to be able to spend a few weeks traveling around and visiting a few countries and getting to see all of the history there and of course the amazing architecture. Your pictures of Croatia looks like a mix of Munich, Berlin, Vienna, and maybe a little bit of Paris too. We might just have to add Croatia to our list of must visit countries. Thank you for sharing your visit!

      • Absolutely — I think Cavis are one of the breeds that must travel in-cabin.

        Info for traveling with pets…

        If they’re under 20 lbs they can fly in the cabin (in a carrier, under the seat) with you for a fee of ~$150-200, depending on the airline, though of course you’d need a human traveling companion to bring both your pups (i.e., one non-human per human). You can also go the ESA route, which’s incredibly easy and really the only way to travel in-cabin with critters over 20 lbs. My baby-girl and I have flown to the Caribbean, out west in the US, and to Europe; she’s a service dog (for hypoglycemia) so she flys in-cabin for free and she doesn’t love take-off but she’s a very good girl and Mommy drugs her with acepromazine (prescribed by tge vet), which makes her sleepy and extra snuggly and particularly into whomever we’re sitting next to… We’ve flown with and without drugs and I HIGHLY recommend the drugging, for their sake (I’ve tried Benadryl too but Ace is better for zonking them out). Once she’s snoozed and adjusted to the plane we always go to the back to meet the flight attendants, who usually give her kisses and cheese, so that part’s a lot of fun for her.

        Getting ’em from the US to Europe is annoying but actually quite simple; you see a USDA-accredited vet (you can call your state’s USDA and ask for a list of those in your area) about 5 days in advance of your flight; s/he does an exam and signs off on your critters’ health and rabies vaccination, and then you overnight the vet’s paperwork to your state’s USDA and they overnight it back to you and voilà. Bringing them back is usually even easier — restrictions for the US are minimal and don’t even mandate documents from a special government-accredited vet for import, but obviously check the export requirements with the USDA-equivalent organization from whichever country you’re leaving from.

        Good luck! Traveling with your dog(s) is a ton of fun!!!

  9. What wonderful photos! My brother lived there for a year helping with the Syrian refugees so it was cool to learn more about this interesting city-until he moved there I didn’t know anything.

  10. I can’t even remember everything I wanted to comment on – there was SO MUCH and all so amazing!
    What a beautiful place and so lovely that it is dog friendly!

  11. That’s pretty crazy about the earthquake stepping in and putting an end to the fighting. I love the statue of the old woman – reminds me of a statue of Mary Magdalene that I remember seeing in Florence, I think? Not sure why, but that’s what I thought of.

    Curious, when you visit places (like the museums) that are now dog friendly. Do you skip those locations or take turns going in?

  12. These are really beautiful photos that give you a sense of the E European/Mediterranean feeling of the city. And, as usual, seeing how you make the best out of travelling with a dog

  13. That bike path is pretty neat. It would be nice knowing where the bikers are, especially on an urban walk. I love the little cop cars.

  14. The architecture is stunning! I can’t stop pinning your travel posts to my Pet Travel board, they’re all so wonderful. I love that statue, it’s so sweet that someone gave her flowers.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  15. Another beautiful find! If I ever get to go to Croatia, I’ll be making up my must see list from your blog!

    I think you are right about broken hearts, I think it is a rite of passage. Almost everyone gets their heart broken once.

  16. The pictures are just amazing, loved reading the post. Croatia is truly magical and the fact that they have pet friendly museums that is definitely a big positive!!

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