Explore Croatia – Go Before it Becomes Too Popular

Compiled by Mary Lou Clark and Evelyn Hannon

Mary Lou Clark is a Journeywoman who lives in St. Louis, USA. She travelled from Italy to parts of Croatia with friends and submitted these tips about travelling through northwest Croatia to Zagreb

Journeywoman Editor, Evelyn Hannon travelled to Croatia with Overseas Adventures Small Ship Cruise ‘Hidden Gems of the Dalmation Coast & Greece. Zagreb was the final stop on the itinerary. She loved the complete journey.

Together they offer 15 tips to entice other women interested in exploring Croatia on their own or with a group.

Zagreb in the fall

Mary Lou writes…

#1. We travelled to Croatia in the month of June and stayed at a seaside village called Porec. Why Porec? It is directly across from Venice, Italy which was our starting point. Here’s a bit about it. Click!

#2. We had two choices to get from Venice to Porec. Take the bus (5 hours – $US15) or the ferry (3 hours – $US60)

#3. We took the bus and I recommend it. The landscape was beautiful and it was fun travelling with the locals.

#4. Lesson learned about the ferry – We took the bus in part because the ferry didn’t run that day. If you want to take the ferry book your ticket before you book any hotels, etc. The ferries run from April to October. Reserve tickets at ca.directferries.com

#5. In Porec, we rented a car. It’s very easy to drive in Croatia using a GPS. We travelled all throughout the northwestern part of Croatia testing the restaurants that are outside of the towns, right on the side of the road. Have your camera ready; you will pass many olive groves and lavender fields. You will also see roadside stands – pull over and buy some first press olive oil and some lavender sachets. You might even spot some lace for sale – It is all delightful!

#6. Zagreb – We flew home from Croatia’s capital, Zagreb so we took the opportunity to spend a few days there. Our evaluation? It’s a great city, with wonderful friendly people and by comparison to other capitals, it was inexpensive.

#7. We stayed at Irundo (formerly known as Zig Zag Apartments). Our accommodation was central, very reasonable and roomy and clean. Two nights for 4 people cost us $US333 (about $US40 per person per night). The company has single units as well at about 60 euros average per night and 80 euros per double at the time of writing. You can find out more and reserve at irundo.com/en/

#8. We did a walking, sightseeing food tour with Viator.com. It was 3.5 hours long and cost about $US58. There was more than enough delicious tasting and drinking and we got a good layout and history of the city.

#9. One last tip. You must try the local beer, Karlovacko. We really enjoyed it with our Croatian meals. The other ‘must try’ is Zagreb strudel with apples, cheese or cherries for dessert.

Journeywoman writes …

#10. A fun fact! Zagreb boasts the shortest cable car in the world (66 meters long). It has been transporting people between the Upper and Lower Towns for the last century. The lower station is located on Tomićeva Street which leads to Ilica – the longest street in Zagreb, while the other station is located at the base of Lotršćak Tower, on the Upper Town’s Strossmayer promenade.
#11. Outdoor markets are very popular in Zagreb …

There are small markets everywhere in the city so as you walk about you are sure to encounter one. However, the main market is called Dolac. This is the daily outdoor market bursting with fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy products and flowers. Nicknamed ‘The belly of Zagreb’ it can be easily spotted by the colourful red umbrellas that offer merchants protection from the elements even in the winter. The open section of the market sells lace, honey products and toys. When I was there I watched some outdoor baking demonstrations. Keep your eyes open for these special treats.

#12.   The Arts and Crafts Museum …

It wasn’t planned. I simply happened upon the Arts and Crafts Museum at Trg Republike Hrvatske 10. I entered because I was curious and was rewarded with a lovely experience. Founded in 1880, the building boasts eight floors of one hundred thousand items (no elevator so be prepared to walk the stairs). I loved the wrought iron railings, entry arches, small columns and plaster ornamentations on each floor. Truly old world! There’s textiles, photography, furniture, sculpture, ceramics to be seen and much, much more. Don’t even try to see it all. A side room full of synagogue silverware and ritual candlesticks harkens back to the heritage of Zagreb’s pre-World War II Jewish community. My visit included seeing a featured exhibit of prize-winning Russian photography. Website: en.muo.hr

#13.   The Museum of Broken Relationships …

The Museum of Broken Relationships (located at Ćirilometodska ul. 2, 10000) is one that almost everybody can relate to. This small couple of rooms in a baroque palace displays donations of personal objects connected with formerly lost love affairs. Some cheeky, some sad, visitors will read these posted notes and understand how someone’s heart was broken. I laughed at objects on sale in the souvenir shop. All were connected to the ‘lost love’ theme. One box of chocolates was inscribed with ‘Forget love. I’d rather fall in chocolate’ and there was an eraser stamped with the words, ‘bad memories eraser.’ And for solo travellers I spied a postcard that read, ‘I’m having a great time all by myself.’ Perfect to send home to friends and family, Plan on a short visit. Don’t forget your camera. The museum was founded by two Zagreb-based artists, Olinka Vištica, a film producer, and Dražen Grubišić, a sculptor. After their four-year love relationship came to an end, the two joked about setting up a museum to house the left-over personal items. Find out more at: brokenships.com/

#14.   Amazing Naïve Art …

The Croatian Museum of Naïve Art (located at Ćirilometodska ul. 3, 10000) was my favourite stop in Zagreb. It’s a fine art museum dedicated to the work of naïve artists of the 20th century. The museum stores over 1,900 works of art mainly by Croatians but also by other well-known international artists in the genre. What fun to compare the naïve art in this museum to that of American, Grandma Moses. Website: www.hmnu.hr/en

#15.   Did you know this about Mama Mia?

MamaMia, the latest movie was not shot in Greece locations as the original one was. This new film was shot almost entirely in Croatia on the island of Vis. Vis is known for having one of the best beaches in the world. Called Stiniva, it is a cove surrounded by high cliffs and views of pure, clear water. Click!

Evelyn Hannon

Evelyn started Journeywoman in 1994, and unknowingly became the world's first female travel blogger. She inspired a sisterhood of women, a grassroots movement, to inspire women to travel safely and well, and to connect women travellers around the world. She passed away in 2019, but her legacy lives on.

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