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Zagreb for Kids - Zagreb Zoo Sign

Zagreb Zoo – Visit Croatia Review

Zagreb Zoo is located in the very pleasant and tranquil Maksimir Park, in the east of the city of Zagreb. The Park and Zoo are just a short tram ride away from the main part of the city, and so very easy to reach no matter where you’re staying.

Combining a day out in this pretty park with a few hours in the Zoo is a great way to spend an afternoon in Zagreb, particularly if you have kids in tow! The Zoo is also astonishingly cheap compared to zoos in other European cities and is well run and maintained, with an interesting selection of animals.

Zagreb Zoo Sign

Covering an area of 17 acres, the zoo completed the first stage of a modernisation program in 2016. Zagreb Zoo is a member of the European and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and a participant in the European Endangered Species Programme.

Getting to Zagreb Zoo

Trams 11 or 12 operate from the main square, Trg ban Jelacic, to the road just outside Maksimir Park. Trams 4 and 7 from elsewhere in the city and also stop near the park.

Entry

Tickets for the Zoo cost just 30 Kunas for adults, and 10 Kunas for children.

The Zoo is open 365 days of the year so, weather permitting, you can enjoy it any time of year! Do note that the Zoo has different opening hours at different times of the year – obviously, longer in spring/summer and shorter autumn/winter. For example, the zoo closes at 4pm November to January inclusive, whilst it stays open until 8pm May to August. The ticket office closes about a hour before the zoo does, so make sure you make it in time to buy a ticket.

Large scale map at Zagreb Zoo
A map of the grounds, soon after entry. We are visitor number 79 that day!

What to See and Do in Zagreb Zoo

You can explore and visit the animals in the Zoo taking a largely circular route past the many exhibits. Soon after you enter you’ll walk over a bridge to get to the main part of the zoo, passing by flamingos, storks and a funny collection of capybaras.

Zagreb Zoo - lynx
Can you spot the lynx? (in the middle of the picture, to the left)

On to the main part and there’s an insectarium and lemur island and an often snoozing but beautiful lynx. The Australian section – and its wallabies – follows before you make your way over to the European brown bear enclosure.

Zebras and tapirs follow, then pygmy hippos and some very interesting exhibits in the Twilight Zone (nocturnal animals) and Tropical House buildings, including assorted reptiles and crocodiles!

Zagreb Zoo - Zebras
Zebras in a nice open enclosure
Crocodiles in Zagreb Zoo
Crocodiles in the Tropical House

The Monkey Pavillion and its chimpanzees brings you to the zoo’s restaurant, right next to the playful sea lions. Swing by the wolves before heading into the petting zoo where you can indeed stroke some of the animals such as goats.

Next you’ll see bison and camels and a large enclosed aviary before coming to probably the premier exhibit – the gorgeous lions. Nearby is also a very cute and playful red panda that is definitely worth watching for a bit!

Zagreb Zoo - Lions
The lion enclosure
Lion and lioness in Zagreb Zoo

Playgrounds

As you wind your way around, you’ll also encounter a decent number of children’s play areas which – depending on the age of your child – may delight them more than the animals!

Talks and Animals Feedings

Some days of the weeks see talks and public animal feedings take place for a number of animals in the zoo. You can see the timetable of this here, or check when entering the zoo.

Historical sights in Zagreb Zoo

The Zoo first opened in 1925 so there are a number of older structures dotted about – including a small tower (which you can climb up) just after the main entrance.

Eating in Zagreb Zoo

There is a restaurant on site called “Kod morskog lava” (which means “By the sea lion”…for the restaurant is indeed next to the sea lion enclosure. The restaurant serves traditional continental Croatian fare – think soups, Schnitzel-type meats with accompanying veg side dishes and tasty desserts.

There is also a very reasonably priced kids menu; for about 30-40 Kunas there are different ‘packages’ which contain a main, a side (usually chips) and a drink. (The more expensive ones also include a dessert.)

There are also numerous snack carts dotted around Zagreb Zoo from which you can grab a snack (ice cream, no doubt, for the kids!) or a drink.

Kod morskog lava restaurant
The sea lion enclosure (they’re in there, somewhere!) next to Kod morskog lava restaurant

Shopping

There is a cute little gift shop located not too far from the entrance that has a nice range of animal-themed gifts – soft toys, books, jewellery and other assorted knick knacks. Any kids in your group will probably find it hard to resist the soft toys…

Our verdict

Zagreb Zoo is definitely a wonderful way to spend a few hours in this city, whether you’re an animal lover or if you’re visiting with kids. The Zoo isn’t particularly big, but that’s perhaps best as some larger zoos can be quite exhausting to visit or are a full day experience. There are are also very modern facilities and amenities (toilets!) that add to the whole experience.

All the exhibits in the zoo are very interesting, and most of the animals seem well kept indeed – it certainly looks like a considerable amount of money has been invested in the zoo, and the recent modernisation programme has really helped.

I did think the sea lions’ enclosure was a little on the small side, however, and unfortunately it looked like the chimpanzees had learnt to sit, arms outstretched, begging for food from passers-by – I did hope that the ‘no feeding’ signs could be enforced a bit better.

But, all in all, I’d definitely recommend visiting Zagreb Zoo!

More information

Full details on visiting the zoo can be found on the official website.

About Croatia

Share your Croatian trip report with Visit Croatia and other travellers!

If you’re heading to Croatia this summer (or have already been), how would you like to share your Croatian trip report, experiences, tips and recommendations with other travellers?

Share your Croatian trip report!-trip-report

We’re asking you, dear travellers, to share your trip reports on Croatia with us and our readers. However long or short you’d like it to be, however many places you’d like to recommend (or perhaps you want to keep some secret!), we’d love to hear from you!

Whether you’ve enjoyed the magic of Dubrovnik, sailed to the beautiful islands such as Hvar or Vis, have partied at at a festival in Croatia, explored one of the national parks, or visited anything and everything in between, we’d certainly enjoy reading your Croatian trip report and are sure others would too.

We know that many of you are also very talented photographers (we certainly see the proof of that on our Instagram feed every day!) so we’d also love to display some of your gorgeous photos along with your trip report.

We’ll of course credit you fully – whether you’d like to see your full name up in lights…well, not literally…or something a bit more discreet!

Drop us a line at webmaster@visit-croatia.co.uk if you’d like to submit a piece, or have any questions.

Thank you for reading, and thank you if you’re considering sending in a report!

Note: The only thing that we ask is that your submission please be at least 200 words in length. Of course, we very much welcome reports longer than that! 

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Split

Reader’s Review: Dalmatia in September 2015 – Part 2 – Hvar & Split

Following on from part one of Neil Killeen’s excellent report of Dalmatia in September here’s the second part of his travelogue. Here, Neil recounts his experiences of visiting and staying on/in the island of Hvar and Split, exploring the sights of both destinations.

Dalmatia in September 2015 – Part 2

by Neil Killeen

Our next stop was Hvar town. We decided to take one of the day trip boats to Jelsa (their first stop) on Hvar island and then catch a bus. The alternative was bus to Split and ferry to Hvar. This was a bit quicker and nicer we thought. So you pay about 100 kuna I think it was for the transfer to Jelsa. That was our first Adriatic boat trip.

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Figure – On the way to Jelsa

On the way to Jelsa

At Jelsa harbour it was not at all obvious where the bus station was and we didn’t have a lot of time to find it. Google was not helping (and by the way my “covermore.com” global sim card worked well in all of Croatia – it came with my travel insurance). However, a very helpful man selling stuff in an outdoor stand gave us directions and we found it OK. It’s about a 10 min walk from the harbour. The bus trip was really pretty around the western coast of Hvar. Some guy in a Mercedes was not happy with the bus driver and chased about for a while (we didn’t feel any collision so we really don’t know what that was about).

At Hvar town our host and sister kindly collected us from the bus station. Nothing is very far away, but when you first arrive, finding places in the often multilply-named windy and hilly Croatian streets can be a bit tricky. We had a nice sea view from our accommodation.

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Hvar

View from Hvar apartment

It turned out we were just a few minutes walk to the nicest beach in Hvar, and from there around to the harbour. The demographic in Hvar is a bit younger and upmarket. As you head north from Dubrovnik to Split I think there is a general evolution to a more lively environment. We happened across an Orson Wells exhibition there. It turned out his last companion, the actress Oja Kodar, is Croatian. Her met her in Hvar in 1967 working on a film he never finished called “The Deep”. She lives now near Split.

There is an old fort above the town which is well worth walking up to (it’s a nice walk). Its origins are late BC with much building and rebuilding over the next 2000 years as Hvar’s strategic importance waxed and waned. In the fort is a really interesting display of pots and other relics from a ship wreck dated to 2nd century BC. How cool is that!

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Figure – Prison Cell in the Fort, Hvar

Prison Cell in the Fort

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Hvar

Pots from 2nd century BC ship wreck

We couldn’t go to the green caves and other marine destinations, as it was a bit too windy. I think the operators were all a bit relieved to have a day or two off! Most nights there was music in the main town square. We enjoyed a band and singer who performed energetically and well for a couple of hours. We even had a little dance (Salsa) in the square to some of the music to enormous acclaim from some of the other listeners (but see Split!).

From Hvar we took the fast cat to Split. Our host met us at a church near the harbour and took us to the apartment. Nice and close to the main part of the city at the harbour. Split is a fabulous city, although, as a short-term tourist I think we get a rather protected slice of life. Split is especially famous for its Roman palace founded in the 4th Century. The emperor (Dicolesian I think was his name) was very unusual because he retired still living. Almost all of the Roman emperors were assassinated. I think it was the third century which saw 100 emperors come and largely go. (I learned this in a Rome museum).

Ri decided to have a sleep and I went out to explore the day trip options. One of the spruikers was a young woman, with whom, for some reason, I immediately found myself deeply engaged in a conversation about the history of Split and the Balkans in general. After 45 minutes she declared she really didn’t want to sell me day trip! She advised me that we should do one of the palace tours with a certain company, so we did. The palace is amazing. It’s large and is still lived in. It’s seen 1800 years of cultural and architectural change, and that’s all charted through its living buildings. You can see the edge of a roman road inside of the bank for example!

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Split

The Bell Tower in the Palace

We experienced more traditional Croatian music here. This time it was a military band and all male-choir. To be honest it was a bit dull. The musicians were very polished (and look great in their lovely all white uniforms) but the music was very ‘samey’ (too much of anything is not a good thing) with endless Croatian folk songs. Worse, although the choir was some 15 strong, the arrangements weren’t very interesting with virtually all the men singing the same part in unison. I happen to sing in a choir, so I know I’m picky, but I really felt their talent was not being used as well it could have been. However, the locals appeared to be loving it, so we were happy to leave them to their fun.

Now the main square inside the palace under the bell tower is a fabulous place to be in the summer evenings. There is a Café that opens onto the square, and they hire musicians to perform every night. People sit around on the steps and the waiters zoom around making a fortune on drinks! Note, it is unwise to order “a beer”. What you will get is a very large vat of beer. If you want one that won’t last a week, ask for a “very small beer” please. We trotted out our little Salsa act here too – the musicians were brilliant every night; usually duos with really varied repertoire. One evening, a young couple got up to dance. The man was dressed in fairly ordinary ‘travel clothes’, but the woman was very elegantly dressed. Then they danced. Phew. It was HOT. They didn’t actually do a lot (in terms of ‘moves’) but their ‘moving’ was really sexy and beautiful to watch. We didn’t get up to dance again after that, you can be sure!

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Split

More of the palace

We finally managed a day trip from Split. We went to the ‘blue lagoon’. The trip consisted of 1) going to a bay on an island and jump in and swim, 2) going to another bay on another island, where the water was slightly blue-er, jump in and swim. The boat had a couple of face masks which you could use to admire the seaweed and a few desultory fish, 3) go to a small town on another island and have a really bad lunch (we reckon it had been sitting on the bench a long while). Thanks heavens I did not select ‘fish’ as the fish was whole oily Mackerel (eeeeew), 4) wander about this tiny place (and it was REALLY hot) with absolutely nothing to see, 5) go back to Split. Actually, despite not being the most awesome experience (it wasn’t very expensive), it was a nice lazy day out on the water. We made friends with a couple of other folks over “lunch” and chatted with them for a while also.

Dalmatia in September 2015 - The ‘blue lagoon’

The ‘blue lagoon’

On our last day, I gave my partner, Ri, control. Normally I seem to be the one who ends up deciding where we go, and how we get there and all that stuff (I don’t particularly want to, it just works out this way). Anyway it was her turn I decided; I was soon not sure about this decision as we walked all the way around the peninsular to the west of the city (mostly through the Park Suma Marjan). However, It was a lovely day out. First we walked up to the lookout (near the cemetery).

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Split panorama

Panorma from the Split lookout

Along the walk we encountered a beautiful tiny old church from the 13th Century. Although we couldn’t go in, there was a hole in the door through which I could take a good picture. The very basic interior of this church rather contrasted with the excessive basilicas of Rome a few days later.

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Split church

13th century (1219) church

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Split church

13th century (1219) church

We also encountered these very cool dwellings built directly into the cliffs. The occupants must have lived incredibly austere lives. We didn’t manage to learn anything else about when these were built and occupied.

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Split

Rock-face dwellings in Park Suma Marjin

From here we wended our way down the hill to a beach that we had been eyeing keenly for a while. We had brought some sandwiches along with us and scarfed them down soon before finding our way to the beach. I was a bit surprised to learn that this was Ri’s very first peanut-butter and cucumber sandwich (I made them). These are a staple of mine and I was sure that in the last decade since we met one would have come her way….

Dalmatia in September 2015

Mmmm yummy

After a very nice cool swim (it was pretty hot this day) at the beach, we headed onwards along the coast back towards Split. This took us to the famed Gallery Mestrovic, the legacy of the famed Croatian artist Ivan Mestrovic. You can read the history here in Wikipedia. The gallery is wonderful and there is also a piece by Rodin, who supported Mestrovic. Here was where I had another nice encounter with a local. I always get through the galleries faster than Ri (her artists’ eye has a lot to see), so I was chatting with the gentleman checking tickets at the front door. Again I had found another person with a passionate interest in history and culture. We had a long discussion, taking in most of the Balkan political history of the 20th century!

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Gallery Mestrovic

One of the many wonderful casts in the Gallery Mestrovic

From the gallery (and the small chapel on the other side of the road with Mestrovic wood panels) we headed on to another small beach for another dip.

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Split Beach

Our last beach swim in Split

Finally, we made our way back to the harbour (the fancy end). There were many amazing yachts here. The most impressive was the “Polar Star” which you can see in the figure. I later googled it, and discovered that it cost 60 million Euros to build, and costs 380,000 Euros per week to charter (crew of 17, 12 passengers)! Some things are really a long way out of reach and you really wonder how that’s within anybody’s reach (or philosophy).

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Split

The Polar Star in Split

Finally, Ri decided to take a “short cut” back to our apartment. Here is the rather daunting view of that short cut. On arrival back at our apartment, our feet needed a lot of attention, so foot massages were again the order of the day.

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Split

The short cut

We took the airport bus (the other end of the harbour), and flew to Rome with Vueling airlines. We had a bit of a worry when I could not find our booking online. It turned out that this was because of some confusion between the parent company Iberia and Vueling. When our booking was made, our tourist agent (FlightCentre in Australia), only supplied codes for Iberia. But these did not work on the Vueling site (nor on the Iberia site). Anyway, there is a 24 hr hotline for FlightCentre, and the consultant resolved it efficiently for us (she had to call Iberia to sort it out). I hope FlightCentre have now changed their process!

So off we went to Rome, but that must be a story for some other website – do you run a Roman website also Anna?

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Makarska

Reader’s Review: Dalmatia in September 2015 – Part 1 – Dubrovnik & Makarska

Earlier this year, we were contacted by a friendly gentleman, Neil, who needed a little assistance in planning his trip to Croatia. After a few emails back and forth, he had set out a plan for visiting Croatia with his partner – specifically the towns and islands of Dalmatia in September. He was kind enough to keep in contact with us during his trip and has even more kindly written a wonderfully informative trip report, complete with some stunning photos, to share on the Visit Croatia website.

As well as writing extensively on the sights and experiences of these locations in Croatia, there’s also plenty of other useful tips that Neil shares – including using AirBnB for accommodation, and how to handle having particular dietary requirements when visiting Croatia.

Read on below for the first part of his report, featuring Dubrovnik and Makarska. Part two – covering the island of Hvar and Split – will be posted very soon!

Thank you ever so much for sharing your experience of Croatia with us, Neil!

Dalmatia in September 2015

by Neil Killeen

We decided to go to Croatia at rather short notice; it was part of our trip, in the end, of 10 days in the UK, 10 days in Croatia and 4 days in Rome. Fortunately, I discovered the Visit Croatia website and even better (for me) wrote to Anna for some advice. This was along the lines of “I’m too lazy to work anything out for myself, please tell me what we should do in our 10 days” !  Anna was so incredibly generous with her time and ideas; I was truly amazed and appreciative.  Later I discovered she runs many web sites and wondered how on earth she found the time and energy to bother with me.

We ended up having 3 nights in Dubrovnik, 3 in Makarska, 2 in Hvar town and 3 in Split.  If we hadn’t booked so late, we might have spent the time on a cruise around the islands (easy set and forget), but by the time we started to look, the prices were quite expensive. If you book early, they can be pretty cheap and probably a nice way to see the Dalmatian coast.

We decided to use AirBnB for all of our accommodation.  We like to Couch Surf as a great way to meet the locals and learn about a country. However, CS is not very big in Croatia – there were very few couches to be seen !  AirBnB worked out very well for us. We rented self-contained apartments (so we could cook for ourselves because of dietary restrictions).  We typically paid Aus$70/night, which was pretty cheap.  All the hosts were lovely and helpful. All the apartments were just as advertised (you have to do your research of course and select carefully). The main variable is beds and pillows. It’s hard to know what you will get, as hosts will generally tell you their bed is very comfy. I happen to have an unhappy neck, and so bed (and more importantly pillow) quality is important. I even contemplated dragging my special pillow around the planet! I did have a bit of pillow trauma, but usually we were able to improvise something with towels and other cushions that might be in the apartment.

Regarding food, my partner, Ri (“Ree”), is fructose (including wheat) and dairy intolerant.  Two of the main fructose bearers are onion and garlic, which can be problematic when eating out.   So although we did eat in a lot, when we did eat out, we were expecting pain (either stomach or waiters) in finding food she could eat.  It turned out to be quite the opposite.  The attitude everywhere was ‘Of course we can do that’, and they could.  Perhaps food is less pre-prepared than in Australia to help this along.  Even better was that we found the BEST EVER dairy-free ice-cream in Dubrovnik (at the harbour).  We hardly believed the server when she said it was milk free (as it tasted just like normal and was so thick). But no stomach trauma occurred so it was true.  We went back for more.

We flew from London to Dubrovnik.  Because this trip was in September, flights were not so frequent.  We didn’t want to get on a dawn flight, and I think the only afternoon flight (that we were prepared to take) was only 1 or 2 times a week (that was EasyJet).  Some of the budget airlines also stop flying these routes around this time (e.g. EasyJet stopped flying Split to Rome mid September before we departed).    Although we arrived in the evening, we took the frequent Airport bus (much cheaper than a taxi) into the old town to one of the main gates. From there we took a cab to our destination.  Our host was working but he lined up his daughter to meet us. She took us for a little walk to orient us, which was sweet of her.

Like most people, we focused on the old town. We did buy a 3-day Dubrovnik card (museums and some bus tickets).  However, really, many of the places supplied by the card are not exactly world class, so I don’t think it’s really worth it. On the other hand, you could say that it does give you an interesting and useful cultural perspective and one should not get too snobby. There are of course plenty of great cultural buildings and experiences; it’s just that not many are on the card.

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Dubrovnik

Panorama of the Dubrovnik harbour

I was interested in the (very complex) history of the Home Land wars of the 90s and both in Dubrovnik and at the top of the hill (in the old fort now museum which was a defensive stronghold in the siege of Dubrovnik) there is lots of very worth while material.   I reckon it’s worth taking the cable car up to the fort rather than a tour in a 4-wheel drive (they have a long list of reasons why they are better of course).  Really, we like to do things at our own pace, not have deadlines to meet (20 min here, 30 min there).   Because it was September it wasn’t too busy which was great – neither did we suffer the arrival of a cruise ship and several thousand people clogging the place. The weather was lovely; I reckon September is good to be in Croatia.

We went to an Art Gallery with a large exhibition of one emerging artist. Now my partner is an Artist, and we are very familiar with the process of writing the words for those cards that sit next to the art work so that you, the observer, can appreciate the incredible intellectual effort that is behind the art work. In colourful Australian vernacular, we call this “Art Wank” (I am quite good at writing it). We encountered the best example ever of this in this gallery which you can see for yourself in the picture.

Visiting Dalmatia in September - Gallery

“Art Wank” in the gallery

I particularly liked the “personal invisible musical scales” (being a musician). We did also find a very small, almost invisible gallery with a photographic exhibition. The pictures were all of a single family, and the photographer was one member of that family. They were a quirky lot and the exhibition explored how that particular (all grown up) family came together and created their own fun. There was no art wank at all, so we got the guy looking after it to explain it to us !

There is a very cool café just outside the old town walls which looks out over the sea. Great to have a local beer there for a while – you have to be alert to get a seat closest to the sea. There were some young men jumping into the sea from the rocks. They were swanning about in their boardies attempting to look cool/tough/attractive as they attempted a free beer by flirting with the waitresses. No free beer ensued, but the waitresses were nice to them. Throughout our trip, people were invariably friendly, positive and helpful, even though it was the end of the season and probably they were totally over the tourists. We didn’t do any boaty things in Dubrovnik – we left them for later in the trip.

Visiting Dalmatia in September - Cafe

The Waterside Old Town Café

From Dubrovnik we took a bus (there are lots of buses in Croatia and I usually used an App on my iPhone to book tickets – that worked well) to Makarska, sometimes dubbed the “Riviera of Croatia”. The bus trip provides some beautiful coastal scenery and our host kindly picked us up at the bus station (he even deferred his shift at the fire station by 45 min so he could collect us).

Visiting Dalmatia in September - On the way to Makarska

On the way to Makarska

Visiting Dalmatia in September - Makarska Harbour

Makarska Harbour with mountains in the background

Our apartment was about 10 steps to the harbour – which is pretty darn handy.

Like much of the Dalmatian coast, Makarska is jammed in between the mountains and the sea. But here, the mountains are extra beautiful exuding this steely grey strength. I really just had to stare at them a lot to soak in the beauty. We sampled our first pebbly beach here and found it pretty comfortable, even without a mattress (the experienced travellers could be detected easily by their pebble-beach preparations).

Visiting Croatian in September - Makarska mountains

Makarska mountains

Visiting Croatian in September - Adriatic

The beautiful Adriatic

We also found a nice park right next to the beach with lovely grass out of the wind to lie on, gaze at the mountains and read books – I did a lot of that here. Strangely, nobody else took advantage of it in this way! There were no “Keep of the grass” signs, so I don’t know why nobody else did; perhaps a little over-obsessed with becoming a lobster at the beach.

Visiting Dalmatia in September - Makarska Park

Makarska Park

The tourist demographic in Makarska was very middle-aged couple (like us!). However, we were struck by the huge amount of obesity that we saw (in the tourists), especially, but not only the men. Australia has an obesity problem, and I thought I could stand to lose a Kg or 2, but I felt like a wraith there. We noticed also the huge amount of food people packed away when they went to dinner. We might share a meal and be sated – we observed one guy (not so large – yet) eat more for dinner than I could have managed all day. We wandered around the back streets of Makarska and found some nice fresh food (cheaper and nicer than the supermarkets). The supermarkets did however cater for gluten free bread and the like.

We also had our first real taste of Croatian music making here. We happened to be in Makarska for their Fish Festival (could have been a weekly event for all we knew!). So in the evening down at the harbour there was lots of traditional music making. It seems all Croatian men know all the songs as they all sing along with great gusto (and some with rather fine voices). The degree of gusto seemed to be correlated with the rapidity with which wine glasses were recharged…. The melodies for many of the traditional folk songs are simple, so I gusto-ed along as well, spouting pseudo-Croatian as needed.

There is a famous beach, Zlatni Rat, on the island of Brac. You can take a ferry from Makarska to Sumartin, then a bus to this beach. The only problem is you can’t get back again. In September the time tables change to something unhelpful. Basically, the bus back to Sumartin arrives after the ferry departs back to Makarska. Take an earlier bus you say. Well if you do that, then you arrive back at Sumartin before you have even arrived there in the first place (it’s all a bit Dr. Who). This was the point in time where we discovered that some of the tourist information folks were a bit tired and weary of a long season. Mainly, when you go into their office, they grudgingly get off Facebook to talk to you. Then mono-syllabic answers can be dragged from them with great effort. This particular person in Makarska knew that the timetables change, that they are dodgy, but didn’t really want to tell us. It was only because I had googled before and found inconsistencies that she grudgingly called the bus line on Brac (“you can call them, or I suppose I can if you really want”) to confirm the above transport conundrum. So, needless to say, Zlatni Rat, with its 5 degree (I think) side-to-side temperature differential remained a delight for the future.

Stay tuned for part two – with Neil travelling to Hvar and Split – very soon!

Boutique Hostel Forum Review

Review: Boutique Hostel Forum, Zadar

Boutique Hostel Forum in Zadar is one of the hostels that’s joining a relatively new trend in Croatia and elsewhere – of the upmarket kind. For often times much less that even a half decent hotel, you get a fun and funky place to stay that’s usually rather new, has great facilities and is well located. What’s not to like?

Review Boutique Hostel Forum

Gorgeous view from a dorm room!

The Boutique Hostel Forum is all of these things. Located right on Kalelarga/Siroka ulica, you can’t miss it. Well, actually, you can as we did – stumbling off the bus from the airport, we wandered up and down Siroka ulica a few times before we finally found a door for the hostel. And then felt a bit stupid because it was quite obvious. (The hostel’s opposite the bellower of the Cathedral, in case you find yourself equally challenged.)

Two things strike you when you first enter – ORANGE and BLUE. It’s all very orange and blue. But it’s also very friendly – the young staff check you in quickly and give you a few pointers for the premises, including a little welcome leaflet that contains hostel information, plus a map of Zadar and a few local recommendations.

Private rooms are available but the shared, mixed dorm rooms are certainly comfortable enough – albeit compact – and offer a good deal of privacy.There’s two ‘bunk beds’ either side of the room, so if you and a friend are travelling you can easily have half a room without needing to mingle much with your dorm mates. Having said that, one side of the room is home to a small toilet and the shower room is on the other – so you do need traverse over to the other side occasionally. (I suppose you can always use the ‘public’ toilets in the hallways if you want.)

Review Boutique Hostel Forum

Left: dorm hallway Right: Floor hallway…. See – orange and blue!

A couple of chairs feature in each corner of the room, plus hooks for hanging up your coats and what-not, and each guest gets a large (really a good size) drawer unit to store their ultra-private but expensive and essential travel kit- iPads, cameras, Christian Louboutin heels. (Just joking on that last one, of course.) This inventive drawer opens with your room card key, which makes it pretty secure and easy to manage.

Each bed is more like a little cubby hole than merely a bunk bed. Inside your bed unit you’ve got a light, a mirror (for checking yourself out as soon as you wake up, I suppose), a LAN socket (?) and – oh yes! – two charge points. For every traveller’s most important needs are a) wifi and b) electrical sockets! There’s also plenty of other sockets dotted around the room too, in case you’ve decided to bring every electrical item with you on holiday. These cubby hole-type beds have their own blinds, which you can shut for complete privacy. The bed and bedding is more than comfortable, although the actual duvet is perhaps a little too thick for a typical Croatian summer. (Especially as – given the tight bed space – things get a little stuffy!)

Review Boutique Hostel Forum

A bunk bed

Review Boutique Hostel Forum

Breakfast is served! (Sort of)

The rooms actually overlook Kalelarga/Siroka ulica, and beyond that you can easily see The Forum and the twinkling Adriatic sea. It’s a simply gorgeous view! Don’t forget that as good a sight as you have of the outdoors, people outdoors have a good sight in…make sure you shut the blind before you, y’know, get into your PJs or whatever. (There’s actually a friendly warning by the window to this effect!)

There’s not a great deal of storage overall in the room – you have to squeeze your backpack/suitcase into the corner or hallway of the room as best as you can and there sure isn’t a good deal of space to ‘hang’ out. But you’re in the beautiful town of Zadar – who needs to hang about indoors?

There are, of course, a number of common rooms, including kitchens where you can store your own food or opt for breakfast if you want it, although a ‘breakfast in a bag’ (see below) is included in your room price. There’s an outdoor terrace out back, and a relatively large TV room – with two TVs – that reminded me a little of a children’s soft-play zone, with the bright colours and the sofa seating on different levels.

My favourite bit – waking up in the morning, pulling up the bed bunk blind and finding a breakfast bag had been delivered by my bunk. How did they do that? Who cares, there’s a sweet burek pastry inside! Pop down to the harbourfront for breakfast with a view.

Most importantly, the hostel’s wifi is strong and FAST – yay!

I’d highly recommend Boutique Hostel Forum – friendly, clean, comfortable, fun, decent value and superb location. Give it a try if you’re visiting Zadar!

Boutique Hostel Forum
Siroka ulica 20, Zadar
en.hostelforumzadar.com

Disclaimer: Visit Croatia stayed at Boutique Hostel Forum anonymously and paid for her own stay.