The city of Zagreb in the beautiful but troubled nation of Croatia has long been considered a crossroads between the sensibilities of Eastern Europe and Russia and that of Western Europe. With a population of 782,000 people, Zagreb is the biggest and most metropolitan city in Croatia. Zagreb recently celebrated its 900th year of existence, an incredible feat for a city within a region that has been hit hard by war and imperial conquest. The city of Zagreb figured prominently in the First World War, which began in the former Yugoslavia and involved a clash of forces within the European continent. Considering its involvement in civil strife for the better part of its existence, Zagreb’s haunting beauty and welcoming atmosphere is impressive if not miraculous.
Zagreb acts as a central point in the tourism and transportation system that connects Western and Eastern Europe, which is important to Croatia’s economic growth. Railways cut a swath through Zagreb and other Croatian cities, remaining the most reliable form of transporting goods and materials within Eastern Europe. These rail lines converge in Zagreb from the north, west, and east, allowing Zagreb to flourish as a central marketplace and draw in workers and tourists from other countries.
However, the train is not the only way to get in and around Zagreb. Zagreb Airport handles millions of passengers per year and is expanding its terminal to handle millions more, showing the growth of tourism in the city. Once inside the city, the well-constructed tram system and roadways allow easy movement for the many Croatians and visitors who use it daily. There is no shortage of ways in which to reach your destination and for those who want to take a look at the beautiful countryside, the roadways and passenger trains out of Zagreb allow for some wonderful views. As well, there are enough tourist sites within Croatia and nearby countries to make a trip to Zagreb a fulfilling experience.
While it is good to know that Zagreb has an efficient transportation system, tourists don’t want to hear about trams and trains. Tourists want to know where to go and what to do when they get there. Zagreb has no shortage of destinations and the deep history of the city provides visitors an appreciation of the city’s role in some of the world’s most significant events. While Zagreb is like most European cities in that it has seen the growth in more modern storefronts on its thoroughfares, it also maintains a sense of its past with a significant amount of traditional stores. These stores include antiques, art, and artisan shops that allow the consumer to sample and purchase some of Croatia’s finest arts and crafts.
As well, Zagreb features fine dining from across the world, from French to Chinese and points in between, with an important nod to homegrown talent and Croatian food interspersed with foreign fare. Another important aspect of Zagreb’s tourist economy is the recommitment to athletics in Croatia, especially in the sport of soccer. Tourists should catch a game at the new Maksimir Stadium or enjoy leisure time at the beautiful Bundek, a scenic lake retreat that features aquatic and land sports for amateurs and professionals.
The final place, and perhaps the most important, for any tourist to visit are the many museums dedicated to the vast history of Croatia and the city of Zagreb. The Archaeological Museum holds hundreds of thousands of artifacts and archived pieces which demonstrate the presence of life in Croatia thousands of years ago. The art museum in Zagreb, the Mimara Museum, holds thousands of paintings and sculptures from Europe’s finest artists including Rembrandt and Renoir. All of these tourist destinations give visitors the feeling of community that has been part of Croatia for its 900 year history. The museums, however, tie all aspects of Croatian and Zagreb history into a neat bow. They give another lasting memory to those who may never return again to this beautiful and growing city.