Not so long ago, Christmas markets in Vienna and all around Germany were the most popular places to visit during the advent. Then appeared Budapest, Bratislava, Ljubljana… and Zagreb. Since I was a child, there was a small market in the city center, where you could buy Christmas ornaments and winter clothes of all kinds. It was the only place where you could feel the Christmas spirit in the city, besides seeing the lights on the main square and surrounding streets.
Why visit Zagreb in December?
Slowly, year by year Zagreb was getting more and more facilities and it turned into one of the most attractive winter destinations. Last year, Zagreb Christmas market was voted to be the best one in Europe, leaving many much more popular and traditional cities behind. The story of the rise of Advent in Zagreb is quite impressive and the fact it became the most important event in the city says a lot.
You need to experience the special atmosphere Zagreb offers in the time of Advent. It’s streets and squares invite you explore local traditions, sample traditional delicacies and enjoy fun activities everywhere in the city. The city looks classy and elegant, it is lively and joyful.
Read more: Winter activities for couples
When to visit Zagreb Christmas Market?
This winter, Zagreb Christmas Market is going to be the best one and the biggest one yet. From November 26 until January 8, in more than 20 locations around the city, you can enjoy everything Christmas brings: comfort food like sausages and fritule, drink hot mulled wine, heat up dancing and see few concerts and performances, all accompanied by your dear family and friends. This year, Zagreb Christmas Market is so wide and diverse that everybody can find something for themselves.
What is the best way to visit?
Being spread all around the city center, a walking tour around Christmas markets will give you the chance to see many popular locations in Zagreb as well. Last weekend we visited most of the locations in five hours and, even it is doable, I would recommend spreading it in two or three days for the first time visitors. If you are not sure how to plan your visit, what to wear and how long to stay, check out this amazing How to plan your Christmas market trip.
When the most of the events happen?
The most of the concert and performances are happening during the weekends or in the evenings, so the best time to visit is after 7 pm. However, keep in mind the city gets pretty crowded (especially on weekends) and it is hard to find a parking space (extra tip: parking is free on Saturday after 3 pm and Sundays). For most of the popular food stalls, you will need to wait in line too. If you wish to skip the crowds, we advise you to come a bit earlier.
We started our stroll around 4:30 pm, right after it started to get dark. By 8 pm city was already full. We had an opportunity to visit some of the markets, browse their offer and take pictures without many people around. Of course, more people means more fun so make sure to attend some event later on as well.
Read more: Christmas traditions in Croatia
Zagreb Christmas Market Walking Tour
Our walking tour started at the Museum of Arts and Crafts, where we check out the new Nutcracker exhibition. It served as a perfect intro to the Christmas fairy tale and we decided to see the ballet, showing in the nearby National Theatre, soon.
Christmas in the Tunnel
From the Museum we walked up on Frankopanska and Mesnicka street until we reached the newly opened Grič Tunnel. They say there are many tunnels under Zagreb’s Upper Town and this one is the first and only opened for public. It is the newest addition to the Christmas market as well! From December 16 it will be decorated with lights and a perfect venue for creative concerts.
Advent on Stross
A little brother of Summer on Stross, the Christmas market in Zagreb’s most beautiful promenade has a special charm. White wooden chalets decorated with Christmas ornaments, selling traditional foods and drinks as well as souvenirs and music in combination with the best views on Zagreb cannot go wrong.
Concerts on the Gric Meadow
Right behind the Strossmayer promenade and Lotrscak Tower, you can find a small market on Vranycyzany meadow. Being one of the newest additions to the Christmas offer, those two places are ideal for the ones who would like to escape the crowds – at least until the people discovers them. And it will – because some great concerts will be performed right here. It is also said to be the most romantic advent location!
St Mark’s Christmas Tree
The least popular square (a reference to the government buildings) in the city got one of the biggest trees this year. Stop by and take photos of Saint Mark’s church in the even more beautiful setting.
The Courtyards – Winter Edition
One of the most popular summer events got its winter edition! The Upper Town magical courtyards are always a fun place to visit and this advent they became even more magical. It is a unique experience because most of them are normally not open for public – some of the courtyards you can visit this winter are Palace Balbi, Zagreb City Museum, and Palace Amade.
Advent in Klovicevi dvori & Plato Gradec
The free concerts, ice sculptures, and the most attractive selfie location in the whole city. Come and visit the coolest skate rink, workshops and performances for the whole family and stand behind the photo frame. Don’t forget to press the button for the snow to start 🙂
Fuliranje in Tomiceva Street
After having a great time in the Upper Town, we took a funicular back to the downtown. During the advent period, the rides are completely free! After stepping out from the oldest vehicle in town, you will find yourself in Tomiceva street. A few years ago, “fuliranje in Tomiceva” (often wrongly translated like “fooling around” – actually means “flirting” in old city slang) became one of the most popular locations during the advent. Lots of fun and food – this winter in Tomiceva the Croatian celebrity chefs are cooking for you.
Christmas Fairy Tale in the Main Square
City’s main square is a home to the main Christmas tree, a concert venue (the biggest New Year’s concert is hosted here as well), small Christmas market in the western part and various food stalls on the east. Last year, they set up a magical forest decorated with snow, which looked very attractive and it soon became people’s favorite.
The Nativity Scene and Cathedral
In front of the Cathedral, you can experience the real, live nativity scene. If you have some spare time, make sure to pay a visit to the beautiful Cathedral as well.
A Food Heaven in European Square
When you get hungry, you should head to the European square, the only square in the world decorated with the million hearts. In the square filled with more than 30 wooden houses, you will find something for yourself for sure. Many fun concerts, art expositions, and hot mulled wine will heat up your heart in no moment.
Fuliranje in Kurelceva Street
Fuliranje in Tomiceva got a younger brother – disco manifestation in Kurelceva, right next to the European square. We tried some tasty sausages here – Jaime the spicy one and I had a Debrecener sausage. If you are in the mood for other kinds of food, here you can visit our favorite Submarine and try their new Christmas burger.
Zrinjevac is the central point of Christmas market, where everything started and the most visited part of the market. The musical pavilion is a true symbol of Advent, hosting various performances and concerts almost every evening. Here you will take some of the most magical photos of Zagreb Christmas market for sure.
Visit Rudolph in Strossmayer Square
In Zagreb, there is something for every age. Strossmayer’s Square is turned into the North Pole for kids, with interactive workshops, music and stage shows for different ages.
Ice park in Tomislav Square
The biggest hit of Zagreb Christmas Market is for sure the ice park! This huge skate park is probably one of the biggest ones you have ever seen – and certainly the most stunning to skate on. Located right in front of the beautiful Art Pavillion, surrounded by cute wooden houses and the fountain, the skating here definitely will be memorable.
Read more: Salaj’s Family Christmas Fairy Tale
Christmas Markets in Gajeva and Bogoviceva
The markets in the city center are the perfect place to finish your walking tour. Buy handmade Christmas ornaments with Zagreb details and grab the last portion of fritule with sugar before heading home.
If you still have some energy left, you can head to Novi Zagreb. This year’s newest locations are in a new part of the town: the New Advent in the Museum of Contemporary Art and Santa Claus’ Frozen Fairytale in Zagreb Fair are just some of the newest additions.
So, if you have always thought about Croatia like of a country of sea and sun, you might change your mind. Croatia is so much more and the great way to start exploring it is to visit the best Christmas market in Europe – Zagreb Christmas market.