Zagreb

When you find yourself dreaming of a Croatian vacation, Zagreb probably isn’t the top of your list. While it is the capital city, it is inland and removed from the beautiful beaches and islands Croatia has become known for. We found ourselves with a couple days in Zagreb during our long road trip through the Balkans. It is just a couple hours drive from Ljubljana, our first stop on our trip. Here are our favorite things to do in Zagreb!

Ride the Funicular to St. Mark’s Church

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Look at that roof!

When in Europe, there is no shortage of amazing churches. After a while, many of them can run together. But this church will stand out in your memory for its gorgeously tiled roof! The bright colors and interesting design make this church very unique-it has a look all its own. Unfortunately we were unable to tour the inside because there was an event being set up. But the outside alone is worth the trip uphill. You can walk if you want the exercise or for under $1, you can take the world’s shortest funicular ride up the hill. 

If you still want to see some more churches, check out the Cathedral of Zagreb which has a fascinating history and is still under repairs and restoration. 

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Zagreb Cathedral still under reparations.

Ivana Tkalcica

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Colorful buildings and people watching!

This street is full of charm and life. The colorful buildings and cobblestoned street are lined with bars, restaurants, and shops. This is a great place to pick up a souvenir or grab some ice cream on a hot day. We even found a little playground with the cathedral peeking out behind it. This little strip is the perfect place to sit and people watch, many of the cafes have their chairs all facing the street. You can find all different kinds of food-everything from burgers to Indian food!

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Playground with a view!

Technical Museum

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Vehicles galore at the Technical Museum!

If you’re into machines or have kids who are, the Nicola Tesla Technical Museum is the perfect place to spend the morning. Go check out their displays on trains, automobiles, boats, planes, and even rockets. Most of the descriptions were in Croatian, but it is fun to go have a look at everything regardless. There is also a planetarium and some tours are offered in english at certain times through the summer.

Parks 

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Spend some time relaxing by the fountain.

We walked through several parks in Zagreb like the park near the art museum (Fontana kraal Tomislav) and Park Zrinjevac. We were there in early summer and everything was green and in bloom. We spent time here just letting the kids run and play. We would find fruit vendors nearby and pickup a carton of cherries or strawberries to snack on. The kids would go through the whole container in one sitting! With scenery like this, it’s easy to sit down, relax, and take a break!

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Zagreb

 

Top 3 Things to Do in Slovenia

Slovenia was a true gem to visit. We spent a few days here last summer as the first stop on our Balkans adventure. Flying into Slovenia was exciting, we could see green mountains, castles, and beautiful churches. It truly looked like a fairy tale. Our brief time there would only reinforce those feelings. Between exploring the modern yet charming capital city, hiking river carved gorges, and relaxing at picturesque Lake Bled there’s something for everyone. Here’s our top 3 things to do in Slovenia!

Ljubljana

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Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. It is a very clean, walkable, charming city to explore. We loved strolling through the old town admiring the candy colored buildings. In the center of the town are three bridges crossing the river. The dreamy pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation makes a stunning backdrop. There is also a castle looking over the city. Don’t forget to visit Ljubljana’s iconic dragons at the dragon bridge. We were in Ljubljana on a Sunday when there was a flea market going on. It was full of treasures, if you’re able to drive to Ljubljana you may find something special here to take home. Tivoli Park is also a great place to spend some time. There are wide open spaces for kids to roam, gardens, playgrounds, and a lakeside cafe. 

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Vintgar Gorge

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About 45-50 minutes outside of Ljubljana is Vintgar Gorge. It is part of Triglav National Park and a beautiful place for a hike. The hike we did was an easy out and back walk along a beautiful river-carved gorge. The hike was easy enough to do with kids and toddlers. You just have to keep a close hand on them for some portions without protective rails. Once you reach the halfway point, you can stop and buy a snack and a drink from the little snack stand, sit down and enjoy the view. There are also bathrooms at this point. Then you can decide to head back, or keep hiking. We chose to head back because of time constraints but a longer hike would’ve been enjoyable too!

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Lake Bled

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Just about 10-15 minutes away from Vintgar Gorge is Lake Bled. The beautiful turquoise blue lake has a fairytale castle perched above it. Bled Castle has a wonderful view of the lake. Don’t miss their outdoor restaurant where you can dine on gourmet food while taking in the breathtaking view. You can also tour the interior of the castle, which we did not do only because we didn’t have enough time. Once you hike back down to lake level, you can wander the perimeter of the lake or hire a rowboat (or row yourself) to the island. On the island is the Assumption of Mary Church where you will have to climb up 99 steps to visit it! We walked around the lake looking for fish, checking out the shops, and enjoying some gelato.

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We loved our time in Slovenia and would love to return to explore more. Is Slovenia on your travel list? Have you been there before? I would love to hear about what others have enjoyed there!

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