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The cosiest places to visit in Zagreb

Escape the cold with our guide to the cosiest places in the capital

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There are countless places in Zagreb to escape the winter chill. These enticingly cosy venues provide a welcome respite from the winter frost - think cushy sofas, low-lighting and even a library for you to peruse. Here's our pick of Zagreb's cosiest places, from cultural centres to homely pubs and cafés where you could easily spend an afternoon.

RECOMMENDED: 14 incredibly cosy bars in Zagreb

The cosiest places to visit in Zagreb this winter

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Zagreb
Founded by famous Zagreb-based journalist and writer Zvonimir Milčec, this cult, bohemian bar-cafe sits seconds away from Zagreb's central square but somehow feels like a timeless escape from the bustle of the city centre. Its small entrance gives way to a reasonably long seated area whose walls are decorated with a constantly-changing display of local art plus pictures and memorials of the late journalist's life and achievements. The premises remains in the hands of his family, who uphold the warm appeal and original ethos of the bar, welcoming anyone from students and artists to young professionals and tourists but, truth be told, nobody would look out of place here. Coffees and teas, craft beers and all typical bar fayre is available, served by friendly and efficient staff who always have some interesting but not intrusive music playing on the house soundsystem. In summer, the outdoor terrace is lively and full, in winter, there are few cosier bars in Zagreb you could hope to be in. A taste of real Zagreb.
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Lower Town
  • price 2 of 4

One of those mildly eccentric places that give the Croatian capital its distinct but hard-to-put into-words sense of character, Kulturni Centar Mesnička (“Mesnička Cultural Centre”) is a vintage-style living-room bar with a side room devoted to art exhibitions and a live gig space (mostly jazz) in the cellar. With burgundy hues, barrel-vaulted ceiling, mismatched furniture and those cast-iron column radiators they don’t seem to make anymore, it’s a great place to mellow out. There’s a full range of daytime and evening drinks, with draught beers coming from increasingly inventive local brewers Crafters.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Zagreb
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Zagreb
  • price 2 of 4

Zagreb’s prime literary club also doubles as a café. There is a symbolic membership fee of 10kn/year, but members can then enjoy WiFi, carefully chosen music, a laid-back atmosphere and regular events that include readings by the big beasts of the local literary scene – with occasional ones by visiting English speakers. One Thursday in a month is reserved for unplugged concerts by local musicians. There’s also a small library of English-language books. Good coffee and several varieties of leaf tea help to make Booksa well worth the quick tram ride or ten-minute walk from the centre.

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Quahwa
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Zagreb
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Pubs
  • Zagreb
  • price 2 of 4

A classic-looking old pub: a mirror behind the brass bar, pharmacy-related sepia photographs and vintage adverts crowding the walls, and dark wood everywhere. A couple of screens are tuned to football matches on big European nights, although they're unobtrusive enough not to ruin the evening for non-sporty types. The no-smoking section in the back is full of leather armchairs and cosy corners, perfect for an intimate chinwag. There is a wide assortment of beers but also, and importantly, a menu of Irish whiskeys, scotches and bourbons. Nice place to start the evening with a band of good friends.

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Botaničar
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Zagreb
  • price 3 of 4
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.
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Zagreb
  • price 2 of 4

Just off the first square as you walk up from the station, the Bacchus Jazz Bar is an ideal place to meet friends, listen to jazz and either have a civilised party evening or get revved up for what's to come. Relaunched as a jazz bar in 2008 after several years on the social margins, the bar exudes a homely Dalmatian feel: the owner is from Split, and there's a fig tree next to the terrace, which is tucked into a passage off the street. Inside you'll find a hodgepodge of wooden furniture: a 1960s-era television and telephone, and wooden-plank floors under a brick ceiling. It's almost always busy, so tables will be at a premium. Wines, mainly Dalmatian, have been chosen to suit the mood. There are cocktails too, but few seem to be paying them much attention. Live poetry or spoken-word on Wednesday nights, live jazz or soul on Friday and Saturday.  

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Museum of Broken Relationships café
  • Museums
  • Zagreb

Housed in one of the Upper Town's finest Baroque mansions, the thematic display takes visitors through a series of different emotions associated with a break-up. The museum café in the same building is a cosy place to collect yourself after the emotional catharsis of the exhibition.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Zagreb
  • price 2 of 4

Known by all as 'Krolo' after the writer Miroslav Krleža who lived here, this beautiful old wooden bar near the main square gives its many patrons a flavour of pre-1991 Zagreb. The bar staff are easy-going, the inviting older clientele religiously scan the day's newspapers and the younger regulars gather round the semicircular bar. No DJs, no hipster-attracting tricks, but still crowded and raucous at weekends. Timeless is the word you're looking for.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Lower Town
  • price 2 of 4

Built in 1924 and still retaining many of its period features, the 500-seater Kino Europa is the oldest still-functioning cinema in Zagreb. The grand auditorium is the main screening house for the Zagreb Film Festival in autumn, and serves as a first-run and art-house cinema for the rest of the year. For those into grappas, good beer, quality coffee and excellent wines, the Europa's other principal attraction is the café that spills from the spacious lobby to a glass-enclosed atrium with big outdoor terrace. Patrons sitting in black directors' chairs are served honey, apple, pear, fig and cherry (to name a few) brandies. Club nights fill the foyer following the final film screenings on Friday and Saturday nights, with DJs spinning an eclectic mix of rock, pop and retro-disco.

French Institute
  • Things to do
  • Zagreb

At almost 100 years old, the French Institue in Zagreb has long been building bridges between the cultural expression of Croatia and France. The welcoming space is full of interesting books and examples of design, art and other cultural forms of expression, making it a place you can chill and feed your mind for a time without getting bored.

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Lower Town
  • price 2 of 4

It's been here for years, the 'Cultural Information Centre', but still attracts a loyal, bohemian following throughout the week. It's an art school vibe. Cultural activities centre on film screenings, photo exhibitions, book presentations and lectures. Drinks-wise, there's Heineken on draught, though most settle for local bottled varieties; gemišt spritzers at 12kn, and numerous teas. Many customers seem capable of making a single espresso last a whole afternoon.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Zagreb
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Lower Town
  • price 2 of 4

Express serves direct-trade coffee from several origins (the specific farm will probably be chalked up on a board) and organic leaf teas. Decidedly mellow in atmosphere, it looks like a tiny place with room for only a handful of drinkers, but actually stretches back deep into the building with a long narrow corridor leading to a semi-hidden smokers’ lounge right at the back. Outdoor seating on the pedestrianised bit of Petrinjska, and decent on-tap beer (Erdinger and O’Hara) ensure that it’s a decent summer-evening spot too.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Zagreb
  • price 3 of 4

Just off Ilica in a passageway lined by some of Zagreb's fancier shops, Velvet displays the kind of flamboyant-but-minimalist interior typical of its co-owner, avant-garde florist Saša Šekoranja. A big mirror above the marble bar and wine glasses share space with displays of croissants, chocolate cake and quiche. A well heeled gaggle lounges on low couches or elegant wooden chairs, supping strong quality coffee.

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