One of the highlights of visiting Zagreb during the winter season is experiencing its famous Christmas markets, known also as Advent in Zagreb.
These markets are a must-visit for anyone looking to get into the festive spirit and indulge in some traditional Croatian holiday traditions.
Gone are the days when Zagreb looked like a provincial village on a fair day during Christmastime. Now, Advent in Zagreb is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
And it seems like the fun has just begun as the program gets better and more creative every year. The town becomes a Christmas fairytale with tons of fun, concerts, workshops, exciting street food, mulled wine, and craft beers. And endless opportunities for lovely photos.
The Zagreb Christmas market starts on November 29, 2023, and lasts until January 7, 2024. We bring you an overview of this year’s program and locations of Advent Zagreb.
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Advent Zagreb: A Magical Winter Wonderland
In the enchanting month of December, Zagreb’s streets and squares transform into a magical winter wonderland. The city comes alive with vibrant lights, festive decorations, and charming wooden stalls offering various goods. Zagreb Christmas markets offer a delightful assortment of handmade crafts, local delicacies, and traditional Christmas ornaments. The lively atmosphere is filled with music, performances, and captivating events throughout the city.
If you plan to visit Zagreb at Christmas to experience the Zagreb Christmas Market, we have all the details to help you make the most of your stay. If you want to fully experience Advent in Zagreb, we recommend staying in the city for at least two nights (three days).
The Zagreb Advent takes place in various locations in the lower town, all conveniently close to each other, allowing you to explore them all with ease. While each location shares a Christmas ambiance, picturesque scenery, and wooden huts offering food, souvenirs, and drinks, they each have their own unique offerings in terms of cuisine, music, and the crowd they attract.
For food enthusiasts, Fuliranja on Stross and Fooling Around on the Oleander terrace of the Hotel Esplanade features food stalls by top Croatian chefs, making them a must-visit. If you’re looking for ice-skating fun, head to the Ice Park located exclusively on King Tomislav Square as part of Advent in Tomislavac. Matos’s cats on Masarykova Street evoke the nostalgic atmosphere of old Zagreb, while the Zagreb Christmas Fair on European Square focuses on creative workshops for the youngest visitors.
As you can see, Christmas in Zagreb offers a diverse range of experiences. Fortunately, you can easily explore all these locations and choose the one that suits your preferences.
So, let’s dive in and discover each location in detail.
Christmas Markets in Zagreb Locations
There are eight main locations of Christmas Markets in Zagreb.
- Jelačić Square
- European Square
- Zrinjevac Park
- Strossmayer Square
- King Tomislav Square
- Hotel Esplanade
- Masarykova Street
- Hotel Jagerhorn
1. Ban Jelacic Square
The most imaginative and photo-perfect scenography, a real Christmas fairytale, occurs at Zagreb’s main square. A large Advent wreath makes a ring around the Mandusevac fountain, while the entire area between the fountain and Johann Franck bar becomes a magical white forest.
Add to that exciting food and drinks offer, DJs, live music at nighttime, and a special children’s program in the morning, and you have loads of reasons to hang around Zagreb’s main square during the festivities.
Ban Jelacic Square hosts Bas Nas Advent Program.
2. European Square
During the Zagreb Christmas celebration, a small pedestrian square next to Ban Jelacic Square, European Square, is a popular hangout spot for the young and creative crowd of Zagreb.
The European Square offers a combination of music, art, and food. Visitors can check out interesting clothing and souvenir stands, food stalls, and an everyday program packed with live music, concerts, dancing, exhibitions, puppet shows for children, and other similar events.
3. Zrinjevac park
Zrinjevac is a small park in the center of Zagreb and the place where you’ll find a fairy-tale Christmas. The park has a charming alley of plane trees and a nice music pavilion in the center of the park. During the festivities, live music plays all day long. The lighting and decorations are beautiful.
Local artisans offer handmade crafts, unique souvenirs, and ornaments. Food stands offer Zagreb classics: Kaiser sausages, beans, pork knuckles, and some international favorites like Italian porchetta and Spanish churros.
The Christmas market officially opens with the lightening of Christmas lights on Zrinjevac Square.
4. Strossmayer Square
Squeezed between Zrinjevac Park and King Tomislav Square, Strossmayer Square is a place for foodies with an endless offer of exciting food stalls, from soups served in bread buns and homemade sausages to dim sum, bao buns, Hawaiian poke, and gourmet hotdogs.
When we visit Zagreb during Christmas, we spend most of our time at Strossmayer Square. The atmosphere is fun, and this place has the best food stalls.
The program in Strossmayer Square is called Fuliranje (Fooling Around), and it is a gathering place for Croatian food startups and young and established Croatia chefs.
This year’s hits include a pulled lamb sandwich from RougeMarin, dry age burgers and pork cheek burritos from Deni Srdoc, a Sausage Burger from Damir Tomljanovic, and skinless sausage burgers by Mate Jankovic, 5 types of cronuts from Boogie Lab, shrimp and coleslaw buns from Izakaya. I am getting hungry just thinking about that!
5. King Tomislav Square
Watch as the entire King Tomislav Square becomes a huge ice skating rink. Add to that good music playing in the background and about 20 wooden food stalls serving anything from homemade sausages, goulash, and street sarma to pancakes, fritule, and other sweet delicacies, mulled wine, and warm drinks.
Popular sweets include fritule, a traditional sweet pastry topped with powdered sugar or chocolate sauce; knedle, boiled dumplings filled with plums and rolled in bread crumbs.
6. Oleander Terrace, Hotel Esplanade
Fuliranje, or Fooling Around program, is so popular that it has two locations: Stross Square, mentioned above, and the Oleander terrace at the Esplanade Hotel.
The Oleander Terrace transforms into one of the nicest Christmas spots in town, offering a top-notch gourmet scene led by famous Croatian chefs and an excellent musical program with DJs and live shows. This is the place for all foodies, where high-class cuisine meets street style in the elegant and stylish setting of the Hotel Esplanade.
This year’s offer includes Esplanade chef Ana Tomic Grgic’s famed Zagreb strukli, Slavonian croquetas, and cod crostata, Deni Srdoc’s sea hot dog, and yummy burgers, Italian porchetta sandwich by Mario Mandaric, and middle eastern delicacies prepared by Matija Bogdan and Mario Palfi. Fritula by Graso is responsible for sweet delights with its small traditional donuts, called fritula, that come with various flavors, fillings, and glazes.
Location | Working Hours: Mon-Sun: 12 pm-10 pm
7. Masarykova Street
A fun downtown street with quirky street art becomes home to the Matos Cats program during Christmas in Zagreb. Here, you will find more food and souvenir stalls, but also daily live music, DJ-enriched evenings, and weekend arts & crafts workshops. This location brings the spirit of old Zagreb.
8. Passage of the Jagerhorn Hotel
This lovely passage between Ilica and the Upper Town is fully decorated with lights and the Nutcrackers, and it makes you feel like you are walking amidst a winter wonderland. If you are into funk, soul, jazz, and other urban rhythms, this is the place for you!
Location | Working hours: Mon-Thu: 4 pm-10 pm, Fri: 4 pm-11 pm, Sat: 10 am-11 pm, Sun 10 am-10 pm
For more info on Advent in Zagreb, check the Zagreb Advent official website.
Food at Zagreb Christmas Markets
Zrinjevac Park, Strossmayer Square, and Terrace Oleander at Hotel Esplanade are three Christmas Markets in Zagreb with the most exciting food offers. In these three locations, you will find famed Zagreb chefs and restaurants with their own food stalls.
At Zrinjevac Park, you can indulge in the delectable creations of Melkior Basic, Rougemarin, Boogie Lab, Mario Mihelj, and Kai Street Food Bar. Strossmayer Square also features Rougemarin and Boogie Lab, along with the culinary expertise of Deni Srdoc, Damir Tomljanovic, Mate Jankovic, and Izakaya. Meanwhile, the Terrace Oleander at Hotel Esplanade presents the mouthwatering dishes of Ana Tomic Grgic, Vid Nikolic, Matija Bogdan, Marko Palfi, Deni Srdoc, and Mate Jankovic.
These Christmas Markets in Zagreb offer an unforgettable gastronomic experience that showcases the best of Zagreb’s culinary scene.
The winter food selection at the Zagreb Christmas markets includes a variety of savory and sweet delicacies. You can enjoy international dishes like burgers, sausages, bao buns, and empanadas as well as local specialties like cevapi (skinless sausages), sarma (sauerkraut rolls filled with minced meat), mazalice (ground meat spread on a slice of grilled bread), and buncek (pork knuckles). The range of food options is diverse and exciting.
If you have a sweet tooth, you will love the Christmas markets favorites like fritule (small rounded donuts with various fillings, sauces, or glazes), krostule (traditional Dalmatian dry and fried pastry), churros, french toast, and germknedle (yeast dumplings with various fillings and sauces).
Zagreb Advent Run
If you want to experience the festive spirit of Zagreb in a more active way, you can join the annual Zagreb Advent Run. This is a 5- and 10-kilometer run, with all proceeds going to humanitarian organizations. This year, the race takes place on December 10th. It starts in front of the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, passing through the main Advent locations in Zagreb. It’s a great way to see the city and support a good cause simultaneously! So put on your running shoes and join in on the holiday fun!
Registration for the race is available online or on-site before the start of the race. Upon race completion, participants will receive a T-shirt, refreshments, and a medal. And don’t worry if you’re not a competitive runner! Everyone is welcome to join in and walk or jog at their own pace. So come join this festive event and experience Zagreb Advent like never before!
See you at the Zagreb Advent Run!
New Year’s Eve in Zagreb
If you are planning to spend New Year’s Eve in Zagreb, get ready for an unforgettable night! The city offers a variety of entertainment options, from concerts and parties to food indulgences and traditional customs. One of the most popular events is the New Year’s Eve Party on Ban Jelačić Square, where thousands gather to welcome the new year with live music, food, and drinks. The square is also decorated with colorful lights, creating a magical atmosphere. This year, Let 3, a Croatian rock band from Rijeka, will take the central stage on the Ban Jelacic Square along with Zagreb Philharmonia.
Other places to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Zagreb under the stars include two other Christmas Markets in Masarykova Street and Strossmayer Square. At Strossmayer Square, you can enjoy the festive vibes with a DJ and a live concert by the Croatian Hip-Hop band TBF until 3 am. Meanwhile, in Masarykova Street, a DJ will be playing some fantastic beats until 2 am. Both locations offer various delicious food and drinks and traditional Christmas decorations.
If you want to celebrate in a more intimate setting, there are many restaurants, bars, and clubs offering special New Year’s Eve menus and parties. You can also take a romantic stroll through the city’s beautifully lit streets or Zagreb’s picturesque parks and viewpoints.
Best Places To Stay In Zagreb During Advent
Christmas in Zagreb is a major attraction for tourists, especially on weekends. People from all over Croatia and neighboring countries flock to experience Zagreb Advent. With the regular influx of tourists, the city buzzes with activity.
During this time, many streets are closed to traffic, and a special driving regime is in place. To avoid any traffic congestion, we highly recommend staying in downtown Zagreb. Additionally, keep in mind that as the demand for accommodation in Zagreb rises, so do the prices. If you want to save on accommodation during your Advent Zagreb visit, consider planning your trip for weekdays rather than weekends. You may also want to explore vacation rentals as an alternative to traditional hotel stays.
For a luxurious experience, the Hotel Esplanade, located near the central train station and the ice park, offers unparalleled comfort. If you’re seeking something new, the Hilton Canopy in Branimirova Street or Amadria Park Hotel Capital in Jurisiceva Street, right next to the main square, are excellent choices. For a budget stay, check out the charming Hotel Jägerhorn, tucked away in a lovely courtyard just off Ilica Street, or the centrally located Hotel Jadran, on bustling Vlaska Street.
If you prefer the convenience of fully-equipped apartments, there are excellent options in downtown Zagreb. Consider Zagreb Sleep & Eat Apartments or Apartments Lisinski with Private Parking. Both offer a variety of apartments centrally located, allowing you to easily explore all the Zagreb Advent locations on foot.
For those seeking budget-friendly accommodation, downtown Zagreb has some fantastic hostels. Swanky Mint, Main Square, and Chillout Hostel not only provide dorm rooms but also offer double rooms with private bathrooms.
Car rental in Zagreb
You basically won’t need a car to visit the Zagreb Christmas market. Even more, the car can be a great trouble in Zagreb during Christmastime. However, if you plan on visiting surrounding villages or towns or making it to the coast for a day or two during Christmastime, here is our full guide on car rental in Zagreb.
What to do in Zagreb In Winter
There are plenty of things to do on Advent Zagreb alone, and there is no real need to look for those extra things to do. However, maybe this is your only time in Zagreb, and you want to experience the best of it, not only Christmas Zagreb. If that’s the case, head to our full post on the best things to do in Zagreb.
Have you visited Zagreb at Christmas? How did you like Christmas markets in Zagreb? Let us know in the comments below.