We might be slightly biased when we say that Zagreb is a wonderful advent destination, but we are not the only ones who think so. Croatia’s capital has just been voted the best Christmas market in Europe for the third year in a row. Hundreds of thousands of travellers cast their votes and decided that Zagreb, with its magical atmosphere and excellent events at affordable prices, is the European capital of Christmas.
You will immediately notice the festiveness when you arrive in the centre of Zagreb. The air is filled with the sounds and scents of Christmas, the streets are lined with tasteful decorations and the people are friendly and welcoming. Everything is within walking distance and the best thing of all is that the city doesn’t feel too crowded.
Zagreb on Ice
If you arrive by train, the first thing you will see when you leave the train station is the ice rink in King Tomislav Square, one of the favourite advent locations in the city. After performing tricks on the ice, you can warm up next to the rink with some hearty seasonal delicacies and a glass of champagne or mulled wine. Plenty of entertainment and cultural events for all ages are organised till late in the evening, from early December till the 7th of January, but there are reduced opening hours on the actual holidays, so please check the schedule for each location before you make plans.
Magic in Zrinjevac Park
If you have seen pictures of advent in Zagreb, you have probably seen the beautifully decorated Zrinjevac Park, with its lovely fountain, bandstand and trees covered with thousands of lights. Besides strolling down the beautifully lit park promenade, you can also enjoy live music, concerts and dance events under the centuries old plane trees. Looking for some nice handmade Christmas decorations or souvenirs, such as licitar hearts? You will find them here. And if you get hungry you can try some traditional Christmas classics, such as fritule or sausage and sauerkraut. Want more magic? Take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage around the park.
Fun for all ages
The fun doesn’t stop there, as there are plenty of other advent locations throughout the city. On the city’s main square, the Ban Josip Jelačić Square, a fun children’s program is offered, with games, crafts and much more. This is where you will find the biggest Christmas tree in the city, where you can enjoy even more music events and if you get cold, you can experience the Christmas spirit in a cosy, heated conservatory where food and drinks are served.
In the streets surrounding the square, the traditional Christmas fair takes place. There is a Christmas Tram, driven by Santa Claus and his elves, that takes visitors on a 30-minute ride through the centre, there are workshops for all ages and you can hear choir groups performing.
Join the party…
The European Square is the meeting point for young people during the advent period, because of its urban vibe and modern atmosphere. Every evening from 8pm there are DJ sets, concerts or movies to enjoy, while drinking cocktails and eating international street food. There are plenty of other party locations in the city as well, with DJ sets and après ski parties.
…or just relax
Are you looking for something more quiet or intimate? Don’t worry, Zagreb offers plenty of other options too, such as beautifully decorated alleys and courtyards, cosy restaurants, a live nativity scene next to the cathedral and plenty of interesting museums. Our tip: experience advent in the Croatian railway museum, with outdoor exhibitions and a chance to ride a historical train.
Christmas isn’t Christmas without Charles Dickens
Finally, we want to share a hidden attraction with you that you really shouldn’t skip during your visit to Zagreb. The Grič Tunnel runs under the city and gets beautifully decorated during Christmastime. Take a 10-minute walk through the tunnel and enjoy interesting light and 3D installations, Charles Dickens-themed displays and choirs singing Christmas songs.
Come and share the good vibrations in Europe’s capital of Christmas!