The Mercedes-Benz CLA in front of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.

48 hours in Zagreb.

A tour of discovery with the Mercedes-Benz CLA to the points of interest and culinary hot spots of the Croatian capital Zagreb.

Photos & Text: Davor Manojlovic
  • 48 hours in Zagreb.

  • A city to enjoy.

    Whether you are looking for a leisurely stroll through the city, a concert or a cup of coffee in one of the numerous cafés – Zagreb is just the right place. Until quite recently, though, the Croatian capital was a place where tourists simply made a short break on their way to the seaside. But there has been a significant change in recent years, mainly due to Croatia’s entry into the European Union. Even before, however, there was no lack of interesting sights and museums.

    Couple in a café in Zagreb, with Mercedes-Benz CLA in the background.

    A recently created museum that will surely stimulate the fantasy of many is the Museum of Illusions, where diverse optical illusions transform everyday objects into what at times are bewildering phenomena.

    Luxurious stay.

    For our stay in Zagreb we decided on something exceptional: Hotel 9. The hotel’s location is a good starting point for excursions. It is a privileged position from which to start tours of exploration of the city with its sights and hot spots.

    Couple in front of the boutique Hotel 9.

    The outside of the hotel announces its particularity as it is in stark contrast with the neighbouring buildings. Its painstakingly designed interior furnishings hark back to different design eras, enriched with modern touches.

    Coffee as a speciality for 48 hours in Zagreb.

    Coffee - more than a drink.

    In Croatia, coffee is viewed somewhat differently than in most other parts of the world. It is drunk daily in great quantities on all occasions – and at all hours. It thus comes as no surprise that the city boasts innumerable inviting cafés. They can be found virtually on every corner, and one is never more than a three-minute walk away from a place where you can order this drink and choose from a great many renowned coffee brands. Here the word coffee (kava) means more than the drink itself; it also means “meet and chat”. We decide on a traditional roast coffee about which we have already heard quite a lot of good things. This domestic brand is called “Cogito”. We try it in the Dežman Bar, a charming little café in a quiet street: this increased the enjoyment of what was probably the best coffee we have ever tasted.

    Where tradition and modernity meet.

    As today’s capital city of Croatia, Zagreb has preserved many of the best things of bygone times. With its almost thousand-year history, its architecture ranges from beautiful baroque buildings to exciting modern constructions that stand out in interesting contrast to each other.

    Couple in a Zagreb pedestrian precinct.
    Swiss chef Priska Thuring.

    A focal point for good cuisine.

    The culinary influence of numerous different political systems cannot be overlooked. And Zagreb’s position at the crossroads between Central Europe, the Mediterranean and South-West Europe is reflected in its dishes and their preparation. We plumped for the well-known restaurant Dubravkin put, where a great many traditional and exotic dishes are on offer. Duck, sprinkled with coarse salt and freshly ground cocoa, which we ordered on the recommendation of the Swiss chef de cuisine Priska Thuring, is something we would definitely not have expected – and yet it is a truly unforgettable treat for the palate.

    Confectionery as far as the eye can see.

    A relaxed stroll through the city on a busy day is the best way for visitors to experience the charming atmosphere of Zagreb really close up. A great number of interesting buildings and smiling people can be seen. Coffee is just as much a part of this cityscape as is relaxing on the lawns of Zrinski Park (Zrinjevac), the oldest park of the city, located a mere two-minute walk from the very centre of town, Ban Jelačić Square. However, the walk has awakened our appetite for something sweet.

    Poppy seed cake with marzipan filling and chocolate ganache.

    So we head for the Mak na konac pastry shop, to enjoy the house speciality: delicious poppy-seed cake with a filling of marzipan, chocolate ganache and raspberry jam. After this we enjoy a glass of home-made elderberry juice – on the recommendation of master pâtissière Petra Jelenić.

    Couple with Mercedes-Benz CLA against the backdrop of night-time Zagreb.

    A city that never sleeps.

    Those who want to explore Zagreb’s night-life can find some great places. Most of the cafés open during the day turn into clubs in the evenings and are filled with people looking for entertainment after a hard day’s work.

    Our path leads us to Johann Franck. At a late hour the café has become a lounge bar with a view of the central Ban Jelačić Square – an amazing place and a great location in which to end our stay here, one that leaves us wanting to come back for more. For there’s no question about it: we will be back soon.