Free Alcohol, Free Museums. Is Zagreb, Croatia, The Best City On Earth?

zagreb street photography
Illica, Zagreb.
roma kids zagreb
Roma kids in downtown Zagreb.They clutched each others hands as I took the photo.
zagreb street photography croatia
I’m old enough to remember the 1980’s. Fashion hasn’t changed much since then. Ban Jelacic Square, Zagreb, Croatia.
ban jelacic square zagreb
Ban Jelacic Square, Zagreb. It’s quite the scene.

T hey had been sitting at that bar for twenty years, and this was day one for me. Tony, Nino, Lydia, the Ref, the Boss – I had walked into a real life Cheers, and nobody knew my name. And, they wouldn’t take my money. I tried to pay for the substantial tab Phillipa and I had racked up. Oh lord, how I tried. Nope. It’s on us they said. Come back and see us again one day, they said.

Last night, almost every Museum in Zagreb was open, along with many galleries, and they were all free to enter. With most staying open until 1am, The Night Of The Museums is a hugely popular night in Zagreb. Some Museums had thick lines going down the streets, and had to hire crowd-control security. I’ve never seen burly bouncers inside a museum. Fact – Zagreb has more museums per square foot than any other city, on Earth.

cheers zagreb
Nino, The Boss, and Big Tony. Cheers, Zagreb style.
noc muzeja 2013
Crowds outside the Archaeological Museum of Zagreb, on Noc Museja – the Night of The Museum.
modern gallery zagreb
Zagreb Modern Gallery.
zagreb mummy
Later that night, over a slice of Pizza, a local man asked us “do you know which Museum the mummies are in?”. Yes, we knew. Backstory to this mummy – it was donated as an assumed fake, made in the 18th century. Carbon dating was performed, just to be sure, and it turns out it’s around 2500 years old. “Now listen up children. This is an actual dead person from 2500 years ago. The hole in the nose, is where the brain was extracted.” Of course, the kids loved it. As did I.

The “Noc Muzeja” was a little too popular. As the novelty of the crowds wore thinner, I decided that a stiff drink, or two, would be a great idea. Phillipa spotted what appeared to be a locals-only bar, and walked on in.

We spent hours inside this bar. Our drinks were being replenished automatically. I was never without a cold beer, Phillipa never without, well, we weren’t entirely sure what spirit is was that she was drinking. I was happy to just sit there and chat in broken English. You know the conclusion of this story. We made some friends, and we weren’t allowed to pay.

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street dog photography - Illica, Zagreb
After a few beers, getting in the face of a proud Doberman didn’t seem such a bad idea. Illica, Zagreb.

Zagreb is my kind of city.

More importantly, Croatians are my kind of people. Welcoming, friendly, and just a little crazy. I like that.

I’ll be here in Croatia for a little while yet, so any tips – fire away.

Nate.

PS, exactly one year ago today, I quietly launched Yomadic. 

This life, it’s not so terrible.

My personal thanks goes out to you, just for being here today.

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19 thoughts on “Free Alcohol, Free Museums. Is Zagreb, Croatia, The Best City On Earth?

    1. Cheers Eugene. One year down. Thanks for the link! It led me to reading about all sorts of abandoned buildings around Croatia. Hopefully I can get to one of them…

  1. Zagreb is on our list to visit too and I hope we can find people who will also pick up our bar tab! I just don’t know why you say you want to meet nice people and “shoot them”. If you’re going to shoot people at least shoot the ones who are nasty, not the nice ones! ;)

  2. Hi Nate, I am loving reading about your adventures in each email update. As always, your photos do every location absolute justice! I want to just dive into each image. Safe travels to you both. Can’t wait for the next installment :o)

  3. Oh I miss this place while I was in Croatia last time. In next month i will go with my family so i will visit this Free Museums.

  4. Ok, totally belated but, HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY!!! I’m so glad I stumbled upon your website through Twitter. I’ve been hearing so much buzz about Croatia over the last 5 years or so, it sounds like a great place to lose some time. And now that it has the Yomadic stamp of approval, it’s definitely going on my list. Love the experience in the bar, those are what make traveling worth while. Cheers!

  5. Museum of broken hearts is interesting too. Love taking a stroll through the nearby forest and cemetary. The lakes were great during the summer. So much activity. Rakija is always nice and plentiful. You plan on going to Plitvice too?

    1. Hi Cheryl – I did visit the Museum of Broken Hearts – loved it. Didn’t get to check out the forest and cemetary. As for the lakes, they may be nice in summer but I think they might have been frozen when I was in Zagreb (a lot of heavy snow and cold days!). I may head back to Plitvice, I hear nothing but amazing things about the area, perhaps when the temperature warms up a bit.

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