We spent one full month camping in our van in Zagreb. Apart from five nights in an Airbnb, the rest of the nights we spent camping in parking lots at Lake Jarun and in Zagreb’s city centre.
Lake Jarun: van life paradise!
The best place for parking our van was Lake Jarun. Lake Jarun is a massive recreational area consisting of two lakes (a small one and a large one), islands, beaches, pedestrian and bike paths, cafes, volleyball courts, and more! The small lake (Malo Jezero) is lined with cafes and bars and the large lake (Veliko Jezero) is mainly for kayaks and watersports.
We used two parking lots at Lake Jarun. The first was located just outside the lake complex. (The entire complex is gated. Vehicles have to pay to enter.) We basically lived there for weeks and no one (not even the security guard) cared.
For this parking lot, we paid 5 kuna per entry. There was no parking attendant there and the machine only accepted coins, so bring exact change. Parking here was convenient because it’s close to public toilets and showers (located just inside the lake complex), it’s quiet during the week, and best of all: fast, free wi-fi is available!
affordable parking and fast wi-fi? yes, please!
Wi-fi is fastest if you sit closer to the cafes along the lake (specifically on the benches in between the toilets and Beach Champ Bar) but we could still pick it up from the van. The city wi-fi will log you out every 30 minutes or so but it’s very fast.
The toilets there weren’t so nice but since they were the only non-squatty toilets we found at the lake, we were happy to use them. One was missing a toilet seat and all of the toilets at the lake lacked toilet paper so remember to bring your own. At least they were cleaned almost every morning.
The cons to parking in this lot is that lakefront clubs are nearby, so it’s very loud on the weekends. We learned our lesson parking there on Friday and Saturday nights. The party at Gallery Club didn’t end until 5 in the morning.
We also parked inside the lake complex for a few nights at the end of our month in Zagreb because the parking machine broke at the first lot. The cost of parking a camper inside the lake complex is usually 75 kuna per entry but we somehow managed to only pay 5 kuna per entry for a few days.
We’re guessing the parking attendant considered our van a regular vehicle as opposed to a camper. We tried explaining but he still only asked for 5 kuna. Oh well! Our luck didn’t last our entire stay, though. On our second to last night in Zagreb, the parking attendant made us pay 75 kuna.
This lot was a better choice than the first lot because it was completely quiet at night, even on the weekend. Better toilets are located a short walk away from this lot (on the island inside the blue building). These toilets are better in the sense that they had multiple stalls and sinks (and working lights) but they weren’t cleaned that often. They also lack toilet paper so just be aware of that. Fewer people used these toilets so they weren’t too messy.
Another pro to parking in this lot is that lots of other camper vans park here. It was like a little camper van city on the weekends, with vans and RVs from other countries: Spain, France, the Netherlands, just to name a few. It’s always cool to see how others convert their vans–and how far they’ve travelled!
The one con about parking in this lot is that there’s no city wi-fi available. It wasn’t that big of a deal for us because we’d just drive to the other side of the lake complex and use wi-fi there when we needed it.
It’s important to note that you pay per entry into the lake complex. If you don’t want to pay several times, you can enter once and leave your van inside the complex for a few days. You can still drive around the lake but as long as you don’t exit the complex, you won’t have to pay for a second entry.
parking in the city centre
Even though we liked camping at Lake Jarun, we still wanted to visit the city centre every day for busking and so I could get some work done at a cafe. We had two options when it came to heading into town. The first is that we’d leave the van parked at Lake Jarun and take trams into the city. Going to and from the city centre cost us 16 kuna (4 kuna per person one way). The other option is that we’d drive the van into the city centre and park there during the day. Parking in the Paromlinska parking lot only cost 10 kuna per day (and it’s free from 19:00-07:00).
We liked parking in this lot during the day because it’s conveniently located right behind the main train station. We even slept in this lot for one night. It was quiet and no one bothered us. The closest public toilet (that we’re aware of) is located in the underpass walkway that connects the bus area the front area of the train station. I’m not sure how late the toilets are open, but during the day they’re open, clean and free to use.
We saw other free parking spaces in the city but most are in residential areas. You could probably park there for the day without any issues. I wouldn’t make it too obvious that you’re camping in the van overnight if you decide to spend the night in a residential area.