When summer hits the city, there’s no better place to sip your drink than an outdoor beer garden. The term is rarely used in Croatia: al-fresco drinking spots are usually called a terrace. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a shaded, leafy beer garden to escape to on a swelteringly hot day. Although some of these venues push the boundaries of what might be considered a beer garden elsewhere, each provides a nicely secluded retreat from the heat and bustle of the city centre.
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Zagreb's 20 best beer gardens
Approaching the entrance to Medvedgrad on Ilica's shopping street, you could be walking into a department store rather than a bar. Upon entering the bar you'll see the beer garden ahead, full of chunky wooden tables and benches. Enclosed and covered with foliage, this is a proper city centre beer garden and a great find. They serve decent pub grub and, with Medvedgrad being one of Zagreb's first independent breweries, the beer is a notch above the rest.
It's a bit of a trek from the centre, but the Garden is well worth the trip, particularly if you're going to one of their live music or DJ nights. The industrial location provides an intriguing backdrop, and the outdoor area is fully enclosed. Young, trendy parents sometimes bring their children. Others, their bicycles or dogs.
Whether you're after a stout, fruit beer, wheat beer, an IPA, a British ale or a classic draught lager, you'll find it here. Svijet Piva is an extremely well-stocked bar, with a multiple, ever-changing guest beer selection and several good bottle options. The indie-leaning soundtrack is often good, and it's a decent choice if you find yourself in the east of the city. The outdoor area is comfortable and capacious, its chairs are more forgiving than the wooden bar stools inside. The outdoor area also has a huge projection screen.
Tucked behind the bustling Tkalčićeva on the more sedate Opativina, this pub is an enjoyable escape from the bustle of the main drinking strip. There's a vast selection of beers on offer, and the staff make informed recommendations. The Tolkien theme is nice but minimal; it's not worth travelling internationally to see, but the beers and garden are worth popping in for. From the beer garden, you can see the neighbouring church and park, which is a better view than most in a city centre pub. Check the price of the beer before buying, some imported beers can be quite a bit more expensive than domestic options.
If you're staying at the attached and frequently recommended hostel, you really don't have to travel far to experience one of the most singular bars in the city centre. The team behind this place are big music enthusiasts and are attached to several major events in the city's calendar. There are DJ-led parties here on some evenings, especially towards the weekend. The atmosphere often buzzing, thanks to its mix of backpackers and locals, and if you like cocktails, it's a good place to drink them casually without breaking the bank.
A fabulous place to escape the busy roads surrounding, The Beertija's is one of the most enjoyable outdoor areas in the centre. You really feel separated from the car fumes just a few feet away when relaxing in one of the swinging chairs here, shaded from the sun by umbrellas or the canopy of trees. At times, it's a popular spot, and justly so, but grumbles about the service and the length of time it takes are unjustified in our experience. If you're ordering beers, why not order them at the bar, wait and take them to the table yourself (this can initially baffle the waiter, but this standard British practice might be an easy way to get served more quickly). Beertija has a great selection of beers and is particularly resourceful for large groups of people, the long tables and benches able to accommodate many. Statues of largely deceased rock stars are great, even if the attempted likenesses only make you laugh.
You can find Bacchus just across from the King Tomislav park, near the train station. Indeed, its popular, medium sized beer garden is a great first port of call after a long train journey. Its interior is dimly lit, well lived-in and a bit divey; you can sink so far into some of the chairs you might fear you'll disappear altogether. But going inside is the only way to hear the jazz. Even if you're no fan, you would probably have to hate jazz to not enjoy the music here. Classic American jazz is the order of the day; one minute it can be just the right side of a noodle fest, the next you're entranced in the most abstract section of a 10-minute Afro-inspired wig out. The beers are standard and the bar is popular with young people, students and hipsters. Some of the clientele look like they could be Marxists. They're probably not.
Located just to the northwest of the city centre in Gornji Grad, this alfresco hangout feels more like a small street market than it does a beer garden. Relax in hammocks or on deck chairs, surrounded by woods and greenery, as you sample some of the cocktails, beer or fast food that's available here. Sometimes you might be serenaded by a singer with an acoustic guitar, at others by DJs who play from the in situ DJ booth. Small art installations litter the site which, because of the natural contours of the landscape, is also a cool place to escape from the sizzling heat of the city centre. This is also the place to meet up before catching a film at the open-air cinema at Tuškanac.
Like the nearby Vintage Industrial Bar, Bikers Beer Factory is an excellent option if you want to grab a beer around Savska cesta. Yes, there are genuine leathered bikers who drink here, you can tell from the row of motorbikes often parked outside. But this near decade-old bar welcomes all sorts. Grungy-looking rock enthusiasts come are drawn by the bar soundtrack and the live music; frequently duos or full bands perform on its ample stage. The menu of burgers and ribs reflects its American influence, and there's a commendable selection of beers in bottles and on draft. The beer garden is large and sheltered by umbrellas.
Located just off Tkalčićeva, this bar used to enjoy a cult status in Zagreb, but these days, its perhaps more hipster than hip. The unusual interior, a curious collection of secondhand trinkets, and it's non-mainstream playlist sets it apart from anything else on this central bar strip. Melin often hosts live music events - the accent used to be on jazz, but its expanded its repertoire to include spoken word, open mic nights and even the occasional dance party. There's a reliable selection of wines available here alongside beer.
A top choice in the Savska cesta area, this deliberately eccentric bar flaunts its quirky Alice In Wonderland theme. Impressively lit at night, the garden features a painted mural, a checkerboard floor and a white-picket-fence treehouse. They make a mean gin and tonic, which can be served in a teacup, consistent with the theme. Cosy outdoor seating means you can laze around beneath the trees. Sometimes there'll be a DJ entertaining you; better that than the staff's radio choices, which at times stands in sharp contrast to the clever consideration that has gone into this venue.
Just across from Zagreb University’s Student Centre, the expansive yard area constantly teams with students and young people. The space is filled with wooden benches and often accommodates a few hundred people, friends often preferring to drink standing in this buzzing rather than find a quieter bar with free chairs. It has a decent rock soundtrack, but when seated outside the real treat is being able to chat while drinking beer at affordably average prices.
CaffeTin commands a loyal clientele. For many, this unassuming bar is the best hangout in the city. The outdoor area isn't exactly the main draw, although its a good place for a breather, or to catch a moment of calm during one of the music nights. The bar is a strong supporter of live music and in particular jazz. You can often find very talented, seasoned musicians playing' the laugh lines on their faces attesting to many years of late nights playing here.
This Zagreb theatre's programme and contributors are often students, including many previously unpublished authors and first-time actors. This makes its often edgy and alternative shows, exhibitions, festivals and concerts a popular hit with the city's creative youth. Because of the varying facets of arts supported here, and the way in which they sometimes spill out from the regular stage, the place is also a popular hangout outside of show times. You can get a drink here and enjoy their outdoor area before 11pm. What the concrete courtyard lacks in greenery it more than makes up for with the surrounding murals and interesting types you can meet here.
The outdoor seating area at Time Bar is big enough to warrant its own bar, but it still manages to retain an intimate feel. Surrounded by hedges and lush green foliage, this has the feel of a beer garden but offers a lot more. The bar provides quality food, and they also make fantastic juices and smoothies. It's a great daytime meeting point for coffee, and they occasionally hold special events in the evening, when this outdoor area is capable of offering an atmosphere wholly different from that of its daytimes. The bar is quite close to the cult club Močvara, making it the perfect place to meet with friends before heading to a gig.
The address of this bar may be on Ilica, but it actually lies some way beyond the actual street. The outdoor area is the first thing you see, and when its busy, customers don't just congregate here, they sit and sprawl up the metals stairs leading to the neighbouring business. As its name suggests, the bar has a moped theme. In contrast to some bars or entire swaths of Zagreb, Vespa does not try to appeal to visiting tourists. This is very much a local’s bar, but that's not to say they don't make strangers feel welcome. Vespa occasionally has live music inside, and sometimes DJ nights. Rock music appeals to the regular clientele and usually there are craft beers available alongside standard lagers.
This hideaway on Frankopanska has a relaxing, comfortable interior, nicely lit with plenty of woodwork. But in summer, it's the outdoor area that makes this such an enjoyable and lively spot, particularly on weekends when it's brimming with customers, drinks in hand, standing underneath the tree. Beyond beer, this bar has a stellar selection of cocktails, spirits and soft drinks.
Part of the (Russian owned) largest chain of Irish themed pubs in the world, the Zagreb franchise of Harat's has a prime position above Dolac market. It's comfortingly familiar Irish-pub interior is ample enough reason to visit, but its huge outdoor area, replete with giant bean bags, provides further inducement to take a trip here in summer. You can pick from ten draught options, with plenty more in bottles.
Hidden in an off-street courtyard, this mellow café next to a music shop has quickly built up a regular clientele. They take their (free-trade, Ethiopian) coffee very seriously, and serious caffeine addicts will trek halfway across the city to get their regular fix. With poetry readings, jazz in the evenings and art on the walls, it's something of a cult cultural hub into the bargain. The discerning drinks menu marks this spot out as more than just a regular boozer; with Erdinger, Fischers and O'Hara stout on draught.
This popular community eaterie in the direction of Sljeme is within easy reach of the city centre. Two playgrounds keep the kids entertained while the grown-ups tuck into steaks, chops and grills or the house special of spit-roasted meats. If you feel like pushing the boat out, there's krvavice, blood sausage. Unless you go mad on the decent selection of draught beers, you can't spend more than 150kn a head. Its outdoor area, surrounded by greenery and extending over two sides, is a great place to sit in summer, whether just drinking or while eating.