36 hours in Zagreb: Pandemic Style

Navigating through COVID restrictions to visit Zagreb

T.H. Lee
10 min readNov 26, 2020


Photo by Sara P on Unsplash

Beautifully set at the base of Mt. Medvednica, Croatia's capital city Zagreb is located in the northern mountains not far from the Slovenian border. The extraordinary coastal towns of Rovinj, Zadar, and Split are a short drive away and usually inhale the huge numbers of western tourists that visit Croatia each year. This leaves Zagreb’s unique atmosphere of cafes, public parks, and cobblestoned historic districts lightly touched by those who would rather try and glimpse Jay-Z’s yacht along the coastline.

This year has impacted Croatia and its crucial tourism sectors just like the rest of the world, with over 50% of tourism from 2019 not being able to return. In late summer 2020 Croatia made the dramatic decision to break with the rest of the EU and allow Americans to travel there with a few regulations in place for safety. Here is my experience getting to Croatia in Sept. 2020 and my first few days in beautiful Zagreb before I too went looking for HOVA on the coast.

Getting there

The first rule about getting into Croatia during a pandemic is figuring out if Croatia will allow you to enter Croatia during a pandemic. The US Embassy in Croatia provided all the necessary steps that I would have to follow to enter the country, the biggest requirement being a negative result on a PCR Covid-19 test.

Croatia’s time frame is a little bit tighter than most countries allowing Americans in right now, 48 hours from a swab in the brain to landing in Croatia. This is pretty tight when you factor in 10ish hours of travel and sleep, leaving just 36 hours to figure out if I’ve got the Vid.

Through an hour or two of googling I was able to locate a testing facility in Queens that for a little extra cash ($200), could get a test turned around for me in 24–48 hours. I got the results first thing Monday morning after a restless sleep the night before, leaving me ready to embark.

My ticket was from JFK to Zagreb and then my return flight was Split to JFK and it ran me about $700 a few weeks before the trip. Navigating JFK on a Monday afternoon in a pandemic was a breeze, the airport was slow and the boarding procedure from Delta was quick…



T.H. Lee

Owner of hippityhoptravel.com. Just trying to find my happy place