While Advent this year warmed the hearts of everyone in Zagreb with a fine touch of Christmas spirit, outside was and will be (for a little while longer) too freezy at times. With many bars sprawling all over the city and especially in the centre, however, there is no fear of getting left in the cold. To find the most comfortable one, check out our list of the cosiest cafes for winter in Zagreb.
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Botaničar is a stylish café, bar and sometimes art gallery near the botanical gardens. One of Zagreb's best-looking venues, the café is like a lookbook for retro furnishings; the well-lit room is scattered with '70s hairpin-legged tables and bright velvet sofas. The cafes aesthetic theme is inspired by the nearby gardens: leafy plants are everywhere, with hanging creepers flowing out of oak cabinets The drinks-only menu features coffee from Zagreb roasteries, a selection of craft beer and a respectable list of domestic wines. A soundtrack of gently jazzy music and the occasional chanson provides a relaxed, low-key atmosphere. The café gets buzzier when the after-work crowd arrive. An outdoor terrace overlooking the National Archives provides further inducement to visit in summer.
The extravagantly decorated, cutesy Finjak is unique enough to attract custom from anywhere in the city centre. A courtyard also helps. The drinks selection is extensive but geared towards daytime consumption: exotic teas, fine coffees, San Servolo and sought-after beers.
If quirky, imaginatively-designed cafés are what you’re after then Martićeva is the place to find them. Just a few doors away from local cultural hub Booksa, Program is run by the same people who brought you the late, lamented Divas, the famously eccentric living-room-gone-bonkers café that arguably set the whole Martićeva trend rolling. Program goes for a rather novel refurbishment-in-progress look, with (totally unnecessary) scaffolding in the middle of the room and bags of builders’ cement stacked under the tables. Artwork on the walls and pink chairs on the ceiling provide an additional degree of abnormality, without taking anything away from the café’s eminently comfortable and relaxing vibe. The coffee is good; the cakes look a bit on the heavy-duty side at first sight but turn out delightfully soft and springy when they’re on the end of your fork.
Hidden in an off-street courtyard, this mellow café next to a music shop has quickly built a regular clientele since opening in mid-2011. 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.
Quahwa treats coffee with the reverence it deserves. One of the few independent roasters in town, Quahwa an easy walk from the main square, located in an attractive courtyard on Teslina. The beans, organic Arabica, are imported from Ethiopia and roasted in the café downstairs. Upstairs, the minimalist interior is cool without feeling cold: cushy ‘70s armchairs and hairpin-legged tables are strewn haphazardly about the polished parquet. Coffee is slightly more expensive than what you'll find in the cafés clustering around nearby Cvjetni Trg. The difference in quality is obvious and worth the few extra kuna. Beyond coffee, Matcha-lattes, specialty liquors and excellent craft beers from The Garden provide a respectable list of alternatives.