Meet a top Showaround local - Ana from Zagreb
1. To start with, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
For starters, I’m a linguist with double major in French and Turkish language studies, doing translations, giving private language courses and also working as a licensed tour guide in Zagreb.
My favourite hobbies are jogging, hiking, karate, playing piano and meeting new (local but even more international) people outdoors, especially when it implies multiple language use at the same time (what else to say than - professional bias xD).
2. Tell us about your favorite place in Zagreb. What is special about it?
Personally, my favourite places are green areas. To point out just one, I’ll take Forest Park Jelenovac.
I love it a lot since it’s composed of a park, playground, big meadow and forest all around, giving you multiple chill & relax options based on pure simplicity - from sitting on a bench or laying on the grass while enjoying the authentic, natural, intact scenery, to strolling through the forest as much as you like (1-3 hours, depending on how much time you have at the moment) and ending up in a completely different (mostly residential) part of the city you normally maybe wouldn’t know even exists.
No matter where I have to go afterwards, it’s maybe 15min away from the main street near the city center, so I can reach the strict center, home and most of the surrounding neighbourhoods within 30 minutes.
3. What’s one thing that visitors can find surprising when coming to Zagreb for the first time?
What me and most of the visitors have in common is (already mentioned above) preference for mostly greenery sights, so one thing that surprises them is how many green areas there are all around the place, especially within the very strict center of the city.
Also, what amazes them the most is the fact that there are no tourist traps, which means, everything is so local. In any place you go the rate for locals will be at least 40-50%, being hard to find less than that.
Zagreb is as well very chill but never boring, always busy but also a very safe city with basically no crime rate. One of the coolest things within the city center are the lamplighters (who manually light the gas lanterns each day) and the Tunnel. Both are rare to find in any strict city center.
The bars on the upper town reflect the true local vibe, like e.g. Palainovka, Pod Starim Krovovima, Didov San, Domus, A’e .... By the way, speaking of true local in Zagreb, it means that the place will be full of mostly only locals and you will be one of the rare non-locals around ;)
4. If you had to choose a song that gives off the vibe of Zagreb, what song would it be?
For a very authentic and true local vibe of Zagreb, I consider ‘Sonja’ being the best song to demonstrate it. I actually loved that song since I first saw its music video as a kid, mostly because of it’s original Zagreb-in-the-80’s spirit in images, music style, lyrics (especially the depictions of current emotions and feelings), hair and dressing style altogether.
5. What’s the one place that you would definitely recommend every traveler to check out? (Perhaps a relatively unknown spot that you think is underrated and deserves more attention?)
If one strolls around central Zagreb on their own, I would definitely suggest checking out the passages within the buildings, since that’s something locals already take for granted but travellers find very interesting, yet not an everyday thing. These passages actually offer a lot - from really cool bars with peaceful and 100% local atmosphere to artisanal and other different types of small specialized shops.
But when it comes to (my one & only favourite) greenery, Dotršćina Memorial park is not to be missed out. It’s completely opposite from being mainstream, since even a lot of locals haven’t been there or haven’t heard of it (even I wouldn’t know if my dear neighbourhood friends didn’t take me there!). Along with its massive cultural-historical significance, its nature is even more beautiful, especially considering the fact that the park is not maintained - meaning its forest, pathways and monuments are as original and intact as they were when it was all founded. ( https://www.spomenikdatabase.org/dotrscina )
6. On the other hand, is there a popular tourist place that you would actually recommend travelers to skip?
Although not all locals would agree on this one, but personally, since I’m not a fan of overcrowded mainstream places, I wouldn’t suggest travelers to sit for a drink (mostly coffee) in our main bar & restaurant street called Tkalča. Everyone likes the sight of it, but there are other cooler places in the surrounding streets where you could do the same, but with a better balance of the coffee quality + more authentic local spirit + being surrounded by people but still enjoying the peacefulness, without the need to yell to the nearest person due to all the noise in there.
7. Finish these sentences about Zagreb:
- I’ve had the tastiest coffee at Eden Bar.
- The best place to grab lunch is Stari Fijaker (and eat mlinci!)
- On weekends I love spending my time at at Sljeme (a mountain above the northern part of Zagreb - although its real name is Medvednica and Sljeme is just its peak, locals normally say they ‘go to Sljeme’, and not Medvednica).
- The best spot for pictures/selfies would be Gradec Plateau and Lotršćak Tower plateau, although the whole Strossmayer Promenade offers similar viewpoint, just from multiple different angles.
- If I wanted to relax, I would go to Maksimir Park.
- The best time to visit Zagreb is anytime, since every season offers something related just to that particular period (although my personal preference would be spring or late summer / early autumn).
8. How did you discover Showaround?
I discovered Showaround while entering Facebook - just an add came out saying something like “Do you love your city? If yes, join Showaround!” for three times. I ignored it the first two times, but when I saw it wouldn’t leave me be, I said “oooookkkk, fiiiineee, I’ll join! Happy now??” And frankly, I’m more than happy and content up to this day that I did so.
9. Tell us about your best Showaround experience.
Well, it’s actually difficult to pick just one of so many I had so far, since each and every one is a unique story per se. I actually became friends and stayed in contact with a lot of travellers I showed around, but to take out one of them, I’ll tell you a very unbelievable, yet cool situation with Cris and Dario.
We met on the main square and I showed them around. Normally, when people stay for couple of days in Zagreb and if they have time, I take them each day to another spot. So I showed them not just the center, but also the surrounding including some neighbourhoods, and we got so connected that while spontaneously hanging out for one week, we realized we’re close and connected as siblings who just met, but shared the same spirit all the time along. Not to mention I’m looking forward to see them again and continue this coolest ever spontaneous hangout, just on a different location!
10. Do you have any tips for other locals who are just starting out?
All I can say is what travellers so far liked from my own experience - as the main Showaround motto says: make people feel like a local. That means whatever I would do myself - from walking routes to eating and drinking outside - that’s also where I take my travellers, because I want to make them feel just like me for the time we spend together.
Also, spontaneity is the key to authenticity - for example, if I’m showing around and later I meet a group of friends - I also incorporate travellers in my local friend circle, which can only make them feel more localized. That’s something everyone on both sides enjoyed so far and also me while travelling abroad and being shown around.
Book a tour with Ana.