Bars

The best places to drink in Croatia – reviewed undercover by our expert critics

Irish-themed bar Harat's opens two new boutique outlets in Zagreb
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Irish-themed bar Harat's opens two new boutique outlets in Zagreb

Beer lovers can rejoice this month as Irish-themed bar Harat's has opened two new boutique outlets in Zagreb. Harat's is the largest chain of Irish-themed pubs in the world, its original Zagreb franchise being positioned above Dolac market in the city centre. This first outlet has been a popular addition to the city centre, holding a large and ever-changing range of craft and imported beers both on draft and in bottles. Its large outdoor seating area was particularly popular during the World Cup competition, when the bar was serviced by a huge outdoor screen, with customers sitting outside on beanbags and around tables located on the forecourt. However, Harat's two new locations aren't attempting to have such a huge impact on those visiting the city centre for a night out. The two new outlets, which are located in the city centre at Gajeva 26 and at Lastovska 2A at the Savica indoor market, are much smaller than the original. They will offer a similarly large range of craft and imported beers like the one on Dolac, but unlike the original, there is an emphasis on take away at these bars. Positioned more like neighbourhood bars, customers will be able to pop in for a drink or two with a friend, or just drop by to pick up some specialist beers for drinking at home.

ELFS open new champagne bar in Zagreb
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ELFS open new champagne bar in Zagreb

An exclusive new bar ELFS & bubbles has opened in the centre of Zagreb. Located at Amruševa 4, near the main square and Zrinjevac park, the upscale bar is a luxurious place for a daytime coffee or a glass of fizz in the evening. The bar has been established by the Croatian fashion brand ELFS, who make clothes, footwear and accessories which are all Croatian designed and made. The other half of the bar's name is taken from champagne bubbles, the bar offering the perfect opportunity to indulge sparkling wines. The opening of ELFS & bubbles follows the recent re-opening of classic Zagreb bar, Kafkaz, which, although it holds a completely different ambience and clientele, is also a high-end bar with impeccable service and impressive interior. There's no shortage of new places to go to impress your date in Zagreb. all photos by Danijel Galić photography

The best non-smoking cafés and bars in Zagreb
Bars and pubs

The best non-smoking cafés and bars in Zagreb

Do your clothes smell like they've been hanging by a bonfire of cigarette smoke? Sick of feeling like you've rolled around in an ashtray after a night out in Zagreb? Let this list guide you to the best smoke-free cafés and bars in the capital where the air is clean and breathable.  RECOMMENDED: The coolest coffee shops and cafés.

Legendary Zagreb café Kavkaz reopens after refurb
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Legendary Zagreb café Kavkaz reopens after refurb

The Kavkaz café (Kazališna Kavana) is something of a Zagreb institution, and it's just reopened its doors following a revolutionary refurb. The café has been closed for many years but it was once one of the most popular in Zagreb, particularly in the '80s. The café is located just opposite the Croatian National Theatre and previously courted a reputation as the hang out of artists, poets, writers and Zagreb's intelligentsia and bohemians. But, its once-popular looks faded from fashion, and though placed right in the heart of the city, it somehow lost its place in the heart of Zagreb's residents. The stunning new redesign will surely fix that and return Kavkaz to its rightful place among Zagreb's premier cafés. Architect and designer Mirta Mujačić Đaković, in collaboration with the cafe's new owner Tomislav Rajić, has addressed every corner of the building, reopening all three of its floors and restoring the building's oldest architectural details. The development of the building's full potential has allowed a restaurant and wine bar to be added to its features. Comfortable, modern seating is paired with vintage-looking features such as the generous marble bar and a mixture of contemporary and classic lighting features to make the space not just inviting, but one you'll wish to stay in and return to. This jaw-dropping interior design has been handled by Luka Kuharić, Bojan Matoš and Pavao Kuharić of Zagreb-based designers Kuharić Matoš.

Croatia opens its first zero-waste café
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Croatia opens its first zero-waste café

The first zero-waste cafe has opened in Croatia. Život, which in Croatian means 'life', opened two weeks ago in Vrbani, to the west of Zagreb city centre. The café-bar actively looks to reduce all of its waste, refusing all unnecessary packaging on the goods they buy (such as plastic wrapping) and compost all organic waste. The café reuses as much as they can and handles no plastic at all. All of their purchases are organic, locally bought and stored in bulk. The café is situated on the site of Vestigium, a green association from Zagreb which hosts educational workshops and lectures about ecology and sustainable living, and is run by the Zero Waste Croatia initiative. Their menu is completely vegan and offers coffee, teas (both served with optional hazelnut milk, which is homemade), natural juices, smoothies and even a vegan beer, made by Zadar based co-op brewery Brlog. Also available are vegan snacks and decadent cakes.  Aside from its green credentials, the café also holds another distinct business practice; they operate as a private, members-only club, serving only members of the Vestigum group. Café manager and waitress Anamarija Prgomet is keen to stress that everyone is welcome at Život. They just need to first join Vestigum, which they can do so online or at the café. Vestigum membership cards are, of course, digital only, in keeping with their zero-waste philosophy. Život can be found at Rudeška 142 and is open from 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday, with a second shift

Best bars in Croatia

The 50 best bars in Croatia
Bars and pubs

The 50 best bars in Croatia

The best bars in Croatia are an eclectic bunch, each drawing character from the towns or regions they call home. The best Zagreb bars concentrate on music or design; the best bars in Split lend themselves to a night around Diocletian’s Palace; whereas the best bars in Dubrovnik take advantage of the city's jaw-dropping Adriatic vistas. Throw in a few quality wines and cocktails in Istria, a couple of happening spots in Rijeka, Opatija and Zadar, and the picture is complete. Check our expert's guide to the best bars in Croatia.

The best Zagreb bars
Bars and pubs

The best Zagreb bars

People in Croatia's capital city always give themselves time to linger and socialise over drinks. Whatever the time of year, new Zagreb bars are always raising and lowering their banners across the city centre and beyond, while traditional landmarks stay firm. Time Out's experts discover the best places to sip across town.

The best bars in Rijeka
Bars and pubs

The best bars in Rijeka

There's seemingly a bar on every corner in Rijeka. Proud of its Mediterranean café culture, the city's streets are lined with bars of all stripes. From classic downtown bars to grungy pubs and trendy nightspots, here's our pick of the best bars in Rijeka. RECOMMENDED: Your ultimate guide to Rijeka.

The best Dubrovnik bars
Bars and pubs

The best Dubrovnik bars

By day, Dubrovnik and its overcrowded Old Town seem the perfect place for sandal-wearing coffee-sippers. But by night, Dubrovnik bars spring to life, with a number of atmospheric spots serving up anything from fine Dalmatian wines to fancy cocktails. Dip in to our essential drinking guide.

Great places to drink in Dubrovnik

Buža II
Bars and pubs

Buža II

The more well known of the cliff-face bars; tourists follow the 'Cold Drinks' sign from the open square of Rudjera Boškovića. Prices are a little steeper but you get a thatched roof and table service. Buža II also the same jaw-dropping view – if you can find a table in high season.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
D'Vino
Bars and pubs

D'Vino

Opened in 2008, Dubrovnik's first real wine bar is presided over by Australian-Croatian Sasha and his friendly and informative team. D'Vino manages to stock more than 100 varieties, 76 available by the glass. Every decent Istrian, Slavonian and Dalmatian label is here, including Grgić Plavac Mali and Zlatan Plavac. The house wine begins at 25kn and the venue lays on wine tours. Savoury meat-and-cheese platters are tailor-made to complement the wine. It's a comfortable, modern, intimate space to enjoy a drink – with a few seats outside in summer.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Sunset Lounge
Bars and pubs

Sunset Lounge

The titular sunset view is in full panorama here in the chic surroundings of the five-star Hotel Dubrovnik Palace. On a clear day you can see Mljet. Afternoons mean happy-hour drinks, evenings a piano player. Cocktails (60kn) comprise 35 standards, there are specialist Perković brandies (carob, fig, nut) and wines run from a basic 20kn to the best local labels rarely found by the glass.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Banje Beach restaurant, lounge & club
Nightlife

Banje Beach restaurant, lounge & club

Occupying a lovely beachside location, guests travel by land and sea to get to Banje – there’s even a private pier to anchor your dingy, boat or yacht. During the day, this is a superb, seafood-orientated, fine dining Mediterranean restaurant. By night, Banje transforms into a clubby beachside cocktail bar. It's hired for fashion parties – but the place is far from intimidating and prices are reasonable.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars

Great places to drink in Zagreb

Alcatraz
Bars and pubs

Alcatraz

This place has been around for a few years and it's a real locals' hang-out. The interior of Alcatraz is crowded with American number plates, beer flags, and mannequins – one of which wears a Mick Jagger mask and seems to be a part of the party. The weekends see it packed with locals, who stop by for a myriad of bottled beers – loads of Belgian speciality brews alongside the excellent local Velebitsko – and the DJs jamming rock and dance tunes. There are also a slew of home-made rakijas (grappas) such as honey, cherry or blackcurrant.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Sedmica
Bars and pubs

Sedmica

Cult bar Sedmica does little to advertise its presence on the street. The clue is a small sign above a residential doorway. It's the meeting place of people from the creative arts, an obvious rendezvous spot before a private view at a trendy gallery or for an impromptu cast party. You enter through a corridor lined with concert and exhibition posters. Inside, a small room contains a crowded bar counter upon which stand taps of Fischer's and Erdinger. Long, thin marble tables provide a place to prop, otherwise you can join the boho crew on the wrought-iron mezzanine behind.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
The Beertija
Bars and pubs

The Beertija

Opened in autumn 2012, the Beertija was one of the winning courtyard terrace locations of the 2013 outdoor drinking season. While the terrace sits behind trees and shrubs protected from the busy road, main body of the bar itself is in a neighbouring basement. Decked out in a mixture of red-brick and grey, it’s pretty post-industrial – there’s a glass-wall smoking tank in one corner for days when it’s too cold or wet to light up outside. As the name suggests (Beertija is a play on words based on the term ‘birtija’, a kind of Balkan pub), the accent is on amber liquids, with a simply mind-boggling choice of local and imported ales. This is probably the only place in town where both Newcastle Brown and cult Montnegrin Nikšićko pivo crop up on the same menu, alongside all manner of heady dark liquids dreamt up by crafty Belgian monks. There’s also a list of beer snacks that run from garlic bread to smoked pork hock, and a rock/alternative soundtrack that seems to go perfectly with this kind of food and drink.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Craft Room
Bars and pubs

Craft Room

Is Zagreb finally getting the craft beer scene it deserves? The recent popularity of Craft Room would imply so. This elegantly styled boozer stocks progressive beers from near and far – and it’s always packed with punters. The vibe is more gastro-pubby than your standard Zagreb café-cum-bar. This theme is accentuated by a modern day hunting lodge aesthetic, and food here tends towards the classic, pairing beer with brew-tavern favorites like burgers, chips and stew. Make this your first stop for new releases from regional breweries. There are 12 beers on tap – around half of these are local, with one or two from the UK and Germany. If these don’t take your fancy, there are over 150 bottled options. The atmosphere gets a bit headier on weekends. A DJ plays from a catalogue of funk, blues and rock and roll, and the place fills up quickly. Phone ahead to reserve if you’d prefer not to jostle for a table.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars