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Zagreb vs. Amsterdam

We are taking a transatlantic cruise, arriving in Copenhagen early on April 23rd. Our Rick Steves Croatia tour starts the afternoon of April 26th in Ljubljana. Trying to decide whether to spend that time in Zagreb (never been there), or in Amsterdam (been there twice but would focus on the tulips/flowers this time, which we haven't done before).

Advice? Thanks!

Posted by
6052 posts

Well, the two places have very little in common besides being on the same continent!
This said, Copenhagen deserves a day, and I wouldn't want to travel from Amsterdam to Ljubljana on the day my tour starts (Zagreb is close enough so I would not have the same issue from Zagreb). Hence, I do not think you have time for Amsterdam, and Zagreb makes more sense to me.

Posted by
468 posts

I'd always choose to go somewhere new - life is too short to keep on going to the same places

Posted by
5255 posts

As mentioned, they are two very different cities and it all depends on what you are looking for. But why not spend the time in Copenhagen as a third option? It is a lovely city well worth a few days.

Posted by
3398 posts

I would go to Zagreb. There is a stronger chance during future trips you would have an opportunity to visit Amsterdam again, but Zagreb probably not. It is not a transfer hub. And 2 days there is enough to see the city.
PS I’ve been to all three cities. Copenhagen was a disappointment for me, been to Amsterdam 2x and Zagreb a few. Would go back to both cities but not Copenhagen.

Posted by
3962 posts

Since it is only two days, I would let the transport logistics dictate the decision, whichever is the easiest and gives you the most time in one place. You might pass through Amsterdam again, but will it be during the tulip bloom? (which I missed by a day back in the 00s, still bitter about that!)
Plus, if you fall in love with Croatia like many do, you will be back, most likely via Zagreb. But I would mostly want to reduce travel time, and that most likely means Zagreb.

Posted by
706 posts

I think Zagreb is an underrated destination. It's got a number of interesting museums, including the Mestrovic atelier. There's a museum called Museum of Broken Relationships, which is funky, yet compelling. Exhibits are donated momentos and each is accompanied by a short explanation. The museum of Naive Art explores art form that emerged in the early 20th century. The artists are self-taught, generally farm workers who painted during the winter, when they were less occupied with work. I don't know if it's the only museum, but I do remember that it is the first of its kind. The Zagreb City Museum is interesting in that it covers the history of the city from Roman times to the present, including a short news broadcast videos, which I found fascinating. Copenhagen is a great city, but definitely Zagreb for something European, yet not quite in the same mold as big European cities like Copenhagen..

Posted by
24804 posts

In addition to the museums Wanderlust mentioned (I seek out museums of naive art, and Zagreb's is exceptional, though quite small), there's a very attractive, bi-level historic center. I like Zagreb a lot. Amsterdam is also great (if more expensive), but I think the point about future accessibility is significant. It takes effort to get to Zagreb, whereas Amsterdam is on the way to many European destinations.

Posted by
1349 posts

I vote for Zagreb! We loved it! As other posters have mentioned, Zagreb has quite a few interesting museums. We enjoyed the Museum of Naive Art very much. Really interesting and strange looking art! Loved walking around, exploring, and taking photos of the bi-level city center.

I haven't been to Amsterdam so I can't compare the two. But Zagreb really is lovely and interesting and under-rated, IMO.

Posted by
2620 posts

Since there are no nonstop flights from Copenhagen to Ljubljana, I suggest going to Zagreb too and stroll along Tkalčićeva Street when you’re ready for a bite to eat. You can then take a direct train from Zagreb to Ljubljana (2h 15m).