Advent in Zagreb has been declared as one of the best Europe’s advent destinations several times, which is certainly an award that Croatians can brag about. I have previously been to Zagreb, but I have decided to visit Zagreb Advent for the first time this year. I love this time of a year – there is happines, good vibes and lots of love in the air. This is why I have decided to visit at least a few of Christmas markets this year and Zagreb was one of them. You will be welcomed by lovely people, smell of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, homemade sausages and by laughter and good mood. There is something for everyone and all of this is affordable if not completely free.
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Zagreb is visited by a large number of people, so I recommend that you visit it during the week, if time permits you to do so. Of course, most visitors visit Zagreb during the weekends, which is why the crowds are much greater then. I will share some useful tips on what to do in Zagreb, what to eat there and how to move around city.
This year, Zagreb Advent will be held between November 26 and January 7, 2023.
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How to move around Zagreb?
You can travel around Zagreb by tram or bus, or you can simply explore it on foot. If you don’t have a lot of time, of course it is easier to drive. But you will see more if you walk around the city. Since the city center is not overly large, walking from one point to another is not difficult.
If you ever find yourself in Zagreb and you are wondering what to do there, here is a list of my recommendations.
What to visit while visiting Zagreb Advent?
There are many Advent locations in Zagreb. There are 20 of them and there are three new locations in the wider city center. On Franjo Tuđman’s Sqaure there is large amusement park, the Grič park is really beautifully decorated and there is also one new location, Stara Vlaška.
This year, the large skating rink returned to King Tomislav Square. Around the skating ring there are wooden houses with foods and drinks. The ice park is not the only location where skating is possible. The ice rink is also located on Radnička, within the Hilton Winter Garden. King Tomislav Square is located in front of the main railway station in Zagreb. The rink is large, picturesque and has various trails, so the scene is really beautiful. The quiet square turns into one giant skating area full of happy kids and adults.
Upper Town – Gornji Grad
In Gornji Grad, the central locations are Plato Gradec and Strossmayer’s Promenade, which is divided into eastern and western part. Other locations in Gornji Grad, including Grič Park, are also beautifully decorated. This year, one of the locations is Tunel Grič, which is decorated according to the theme of a polar dream. Visitors are greeted by an installation that illustrates a walk through an ice cave, where there are interesting clouds and the aurora borealis above you.
The fastest way to get to Gornji Grad from Ban Jelačić Square is from the Jägerhorn Hotel, which itself is a beautifully decorated Christmas location, and climb the stairs that lead you directly to the Strossmayer’s Promenade – one of the top Advent locations in Zagreb.
The funicular can also take you to the so-called “Stross”. In any case, you will find the most beautiful views of Zagreb there. The views are especially magical in December, when Zagreb is all lit up.
One of the most beautiful views of the Zagreb Cathedral awaits you on the Gradec Plato. There is also a large selection of food and drinks. Yes, and a selfie spot where you can take some instagrammable pictures. In case if you’re prepared to wait in line for a while.
The main locations are probably more familiar to us – they include Zrinjevac, King Tomislav Square, Strossmayer Square and European Square. On Strossmayer Square traditional there is Fuliranje (“Fooling Around”) and this year Fuliranje also spread to the terrace of the prestigious Esplanade Hotel. There can be found exceptional Michelin-star street food.
Fuliranje is one of the most attractive Advent locations in Zagreb and consequently attracts a large number of visitors. It is one of the best and first Advent events in Zagreb. It is simply a synonym of having a great time, eating, singing and dancing while sipping a beer, rakija or mulled wine.
Park Zrinjevac is one of my favorite places in Zagreb. It is a little park where you can sit and relax. During the Christmas time the park transforms into something magical and even prettier. Bright lights decorate the trees and the musical pavillion in the middle. Also, there are cute little white houses. Wooden houses line the walking area of the park and there you can buy traditional Croatian foods, wines, sweets and handmade souvenirs.
Ban Jelačić Square
Ban Jelačić Square is without festive houses in the eastern part this year, but traditionally there is an Advent wreath. In the western part, near Dolac, there is a large Christmas tree by “the clock” and some houses that offer food and some products to buy. Not far from Ban Josip Jelačić Square there is European Square. Especially young people (and young at heart) who would like to experience the more “urban vibe” gather there during Advent.
Since there are really many locations and they are all worth visiting, it is difficult to decide on just a few of them. My favorite locations were Gornji Grad (Plato Gradec & Park Grič) and Zrinjevac. If you have enough time to spend in Zagreb, I strongly suggest you to explore at least half of the locations.
What to eat in Zagreb and where to eat?
If you are asking yourself what to eat in Zagreb and if you are deciding between eating in a restaurant or grab something from the stalls when visiting Zagreb, you are not the only one. The food offer in Zagreb is large, so you will definitely find something for your taste.
I recommend you that you try at least something at the stalls. It is true that it is not possible to sit there and that sometimes (during the bad weather) it is better to eat in the restaurant. But the stands have their own charm – you can listen to the music and enjoy in a glass of mulled wine. There are many stalls with food and drinks everywhere, but the richest offer is at Strossmayer Square, where Fuliranje is located.
The stalls offer different types of sausages, which are served as hot dogs. You can also choose the extras that you want to have inside. One of the common foods are germknödli, which are filled with various fillings or toppings. One of the must-treats that you will find at Advent in Zagreb are fritule. Food and drinks are quite affordable, so they are available for almost any budget.
As I have previously mentioned, this was my first visit of Advent Markets in Zagreb and I really liked it. I must say that I’ve liked the Budapest Christmas Market more, but this may be because I love Budapest more as I do Zagreb. But I still think that Zagreb is totally worth the visit! Just like the rest of the Croatia is. Have you ever visited the Zagreb Advent? Which was your favorite location?