After my two stops in Trieste (Italy) and Ljubljana (Slovenia) I finally made it to one of my the top places on my travel list: Croatia
First stop: Zagreb
I immediately had the word for Zagreb: Chill.
Everything here is chill. The People, time, the environment. Zagreb is chill, as life should be.
A very walkable city, with amazing ancient and medieval corners. Zagreb is one of those Capitals in Central Europe that has a powerful history that still lingers in the air. Very friendly locals and most of all Full of Life.
Things to see
- Dolac Market: A local farmers market full of colors and flavors. Located behind the Zagreb Main Square near the Cathedral. Bring cash and a big shopping bag because the fruit is irresistible.
- Zagreb Cathedral: Double tower Cathedral. Impotent and in the center of a medieval-street old town.
- Parks Squares: Zagreb is a city full of parks and squares. Everything happens outside, even in the cold December. Music, food stands, shops, ice skating icerink. Sausages stands, music and hot wine fill the cold air of the night in Zagreb.
- Old town: A must see, filled with hidden corners and incredible historical points. Get lost and climb up stairs of the side streets to get views of the whole city.
- Tkalčićeva – Restaurants Street: Food in Zagreb is everywhere. One of my favorite things in life is to eat. I found glorious bakeries all over town. And none disappointed. Try out the traditional rolls filled with either spinach, cheese or potato. But I believe the best choice is always to try out the local street food: Homemade sausages with horseradish and spicy mustard all-day-long.
- St. Mark Church: One trade mark of Zagreb. Picturesque church very near of the Stone Gate (which is itself an attraction… an historical gate and a prayer temple) which also acts like a passage.
- Museums: The museum of Broken Relationships. I haven’t had the chance of going in, but I read about it and its apparently one of the best museums in town. A display of memories of broken and tragic/funny ends of relationships. Will visit next time for sure.
Currency : KUNA – Croatia is very affordable for people who comes from other parts of Western Europe, including Italy. The exchange rate in Dec 2016 was about 1 KUNA = 0.13 Euros (December 2016)). Zagreb is a very affordable city for who comes from the West.
Plitvice Lakes Winter Dream
The real reason of my trip to Croatia was to visit one of the most incredible places I had ever heard of in my life. When I first saw pictures of Plitvice Park I was just a teenager in Argentina dreaming with traveling the world. I was captivated by those images and I never forgot to place this Croatian Gem on my list of places to see before I die.
This National Park becomes a whole different one in Winter from that during Summer. Colors change, nature stays still, water is frozen and there is this cold air you can breath while you let the weak Winter sun warm you up.
There are several trails you can follow but of course during Winter these are restricted, or advised to avoid. The most common trail goes from Entrance 1 to the P3 (to catch the boat that takes you to the other side of the park). At the pear you will find restrooms facilities and a restaurant/coffee shop.
How to get there?
On Bus Croatia website you will find the info about buses from Zagreb to Plitvice, schedules, and prices. During Winter Season there are fewer buses a day. The first one leaving at 7Am from Zagreb bus station.
How much it cost?
Bus ride: From 85 to 95 Kunas per way (December 2016 price)
Ticket entrance: 55 Kunas – You buy it at Entrance 1 (only entrance open during Winter -low season-)
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is a huge area of waterfalls, woods and lakes. Its divided between Upper and Lower lakes. During winter (the time I visited) the paths are usually restricted and there is a limit on what you can do, however the magic still there. Frozen and glorious.
Plitvice offers free bote rides inside the parks to take you to different sectors. On the website says that those don’t work during winter but I was there on Dec. 31st and they did work, so check at the entrance or try calling the day before if you want to make sure. They function regularly during high season.
There is also a bus shuttle service from Entrance 2 (where the bote will take you) back to Entrance 1.
By the main Entrance you can find:
Info office where they can provide you with maps, status of the trails and extra info.
ATMs and Restrooms
The bus would leave you at the Park Entrance 1. To go back to Zagreb you catch the bus right across the street (there is a bridge to cross the street right off the restaurant). The bus schedule will be published at the bus stop and at the Info office. You can always ask the staff as well.
You buy the tickets to return to Zagreb from the bus driver when heading back. Cash only.
Attention: During Winter the path is slippery. VERY. Make sure you bring the right snow shoes. I personally saw my friend’s mom falling near the entrance and breaking her wrist. So make sure you pay attention if you go during Winter Season. It can get rough if you break a bone, there is no ambulance nor emergency phone near by. You go on your own risk. Do not be afraid, just take precautions and enjoy the views.