Many visitors in Croatia often ask me about the type of souvenirs that they should buy, and that are unique to Croatia. The latter having a long history and rich cultural heritage, there is a variety items that you could take home to your loved ones, friends, or acquaintances. Many of them relate to historical significance, but also architecture, food, and art. Here are the most important ones:

Licitar Hearts

Licitar heart is a heart-shaped colorful biscuit that has a tradition going back to 16th century. It is mostly associated with Zagreb and Central Croatia, and is made of a food material of a rougher kind, so not meant to be eaten nowadays. In the past, it is said that the Licitar hearts were used for many purposes, one of them being a romantic ones: the story has it that in the 16th century central Croatia, when a boy would want to make a girl know that he likes her, he would give her such a heart-shaped biscuit on which it would be written his name, and sometimes it would even have a small mirror attached to it, for the girl to know who is the ‘love of his life’. Nowadays this is a type of gift that can be given to anyone.

Croatia is a very diverse country, both culturally and geographically. At the moment it is one of the top tourist countries in the world, especially cities such as Dubrovnik, Split, islands Brač and Hvar, and national parks like Plitvice Lakes and Krka. These are probably the top destinations, but there are many more hidden gems both on the coast and in the inland of the country.

Firstly, Croatia is one of the countries situated on the 45th parallel north, which is the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator. It is said that this position would give it a “perfect” climate, where all four seasons are experienced every year. Speaking of climate in Croatia, spring comes in March or April, which is followed by summer starting in June. Summer weather then lasts until the end of September. October gets colder, and sometimes in that month the rainy season already hits Croatian, but that would happen more commonly in November. The rains generally stop in December when the weather gets significantly colder, which is then followed by snow and winter that lasts for several months, up until March. This is a typical continental climate that we experience in the inland. The coast of Croatia, particularly Southern part, on the other hand, enjoys Mediterranean climate, which gives nice weather year round, without snow.

Secondly, history in Croatia goes back far back into the past, starting from over 100 000 years ago when Neandhertals lived in the area of Northern Croatia, remnants of which can be seen in museums such as in Krapina town. The latter also hosts the Museum of Evolution, a high tech museum depicting development of the Universe and humans, based on a theory of evolution.

Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is definitely a city that stands out due to its uniqueness and all that is to see there. Often time when I guide visitors, they are stunned by its beauty. In a surprised manner they are telling me: “We have not expected this at all!”. Certainly there is a special feel to the city, and the layout of its historical center, the pedestrian zones, the calmness and cleanliness, all of that leave a deep impression on visitors. I am not surprised anymore when they tell me, “we will definitely come back!”.

I like to guide walking tours (as well as by using public transport) of both downtown Zagreb and its wider area, so to bring visitors closer to the core of the city, to its history, culture, art, and the everyday living of the people of Zagreb. By doing this, visitors start to feel Zagreb in themselves, rather than just quickly passing through its streets.

There is much to see in the area of historical center of Zagreb. Normally we start our tour from the Josip Jelacic square, which is also the main square of Zagreb, or even better, from King Tomislav square, situated next to the railway station. As we start our walk Northwards we go back in time, to the 19th century, when Lower Town was being built and when dozens of palaces arose, ornamenting the city with its beautiful shapes and facades, that tell us so much about the culture of the time. As we pass by some important buildings in the area we travel further back in time, discovering more about the history of Croatia and how the culture was shaped into what it is today. We observe the life flowing, and people going about their everyday bussiness. We see the past merged with the present.