Zagreb in winter? I bet you never imagined it could be so much fun, what with an Advent programme that embraces pre-Christmas markets and live music in several destinations. Sausage vendors, mulled wine stalls and igloo-shaped rakija bars help to stimulate the senses. Stalls on the pedestrianised streets around Cvijetni trg sell everything from craft toys to traditional sweets, fruit preserves, speciality biscuits and gingerbread hearts. The music programme features a month-long season of outdoor gigs and DJ high-jinks.
Watch a video of Zagreb Advent below.
Advent on Fuliranje: Fooling Around
Fuliranje, which translates as 'fooling around', encourages passerbys to do just that. Split between Tomislavac Square and Zrinjevac Park, leading chefs will present their culinary expertise, while DJs will stick to classics from the likes of Donna Summer, Marvin Gaye, Bee Gees, Kulušić, Saloon and Studio 54, with the aim of getting you all to drop your Christmas shopping and dance in the street.
Advent on Stross
The tree-lined Strossmartre parade, which looks out over the city, is a romantic spot at any time of year, but it's all the more magical in winter. Enjoy gingerbread by the truckload, while guzzling craft beer and mulled wine from fairy-tale styled kiosks. Musical guests include Balkan Jazz band, Gramofon band and La Papa. The full lineup is listed over on their website.
Advent on Zrinjevac
The leafy Zrinjevac looks spectacular dressed up in fairy lights. Advent here consists of market stalls selling warm food, with a particular emphasis on traditional Croatian dishes - here you can try goulash, sour cabbage rolls, smoked leg of pig or braised cabbage with home-made pasta, and a sweet strukli for dessert. Zrinjevac's stand-out centrepiece is a majestic pavilion that hosts a regular programme of live musicians and children's entertainers.
Advent at the Klovićevi Dvori
Set in the gorgeous Habsburg-era old town, Advent at the Klovićevi Dvori is very much a family affair with daily workshops to keep the kids busy and plenty of free concerts. A cluster of wooden kiosks serves mulled wine and traditional festive fare, with sweeping views over Zagreb Cathedral and the Upper Town.
Advent on the Main Square
Ban Josip Jelačić, Zagreb's opulent central square, is the beating heart of the city's Christmas festival. Kitted out in lights, it looks like the front of a Christmas card. With happy crowds milling between mulled wine stalls, giant Christmas trees and choirs singing carols, you'll struggle not to feel a warm festive buzz.
Advent on European Square
Pitched as the young person's Advent, the programme at European Square is decidedly more modern than traditional Advent happenings with concerts and DJ sets every night. Just by the main square, this little corner tends to attract young, creative types, and there's always a real buzz. Here, you can warm your cheeks with a hot toddy or warm cocktail - alongside the usual mulled wine and traditional festive fare. The festival's showpiece is a giant party on Christmas day and New Year's Eve, where the cream of Croatia's electronic music scene play to an appreciative crowd, wrapped up in giant coats, huddled around the orb-shaped stage.
Whether you glide across the ice like an Olympic figure skater, or clutch onto the sides for dear life, ice skating is exhilarating fun. The spectacular Tomislav Square serves as this ice-rink's setting, and entrance fees start at just 10 kuna - a fraction of the cost of skating in other capital cities - and there are family discounts. But if the very thought of ice-skating fills you with dread, you can retreat to the food and live music tent. Here, you can watch the skaters falling over as you sip mulled wine.
Backo Mini Express
Billed as the greatest model train in south-east Europe, this three square metre model includes the cable railway to Sljeme, a miniature ice skating rink at Tomislav Square, and plenty of other nice details. Special holiday trains in festive colours will also run, on top of the usual programme.
Christmas in Zagreb
25 amazing things to do in Zagreb in winter
This attractive, Habsburg-era city is a grand place for a winter break in Croatia. The month-long Advent festival transforms the city into a lively celebration of Christmas, with several major locations dressed up with wooden chalets and glittering canopies of fairy lights. On crisp winter days, the snow-tipped Sljeme mountain range is an enjoyably bracing hike - and an unbeatable location for a beer once you've reached it's summit. Cutting-edge modern art, wonderful boutique shopping and sightseeing opportunities aplenty complete the winning mix. RECOMMENDED: more great things to do in Zagreb.
The best food and drink festivals in Croatia this autumn and winter
Some think that summertime is the only period of the year in which Croatia is worth visiting. Food and drink connoisseurs know that not to be the case. Croatia's gastronomy scene happens all year round, and some of its highlights surely occur in autumn, during and immediately after the harvesting season, and in winter, which boasts its own, special menus and also the extended, food and drink-rich festival of Advent. Here we select just some of the many food and drink events you can visit all over Croatia during the autumn and winter.
Skating to success
Many European capitals now go big on Christmas markets. Stalls are set up around a downtown square, a little yuletide decoration draped in place and seasonal music piped over the speakers. Not so Zagreb. Seizing the opportunity to lure tourists here for one major attraction over the course of the year, the powers that be have created the award-winning Advent in Zagreb, an annual extravaganza that takes over the city centre from December 1 until early January. Seeing off the competition from nearby Budapest and Ljubljana, beating Vienna on price, Zagreb has found itself the perfect niche. Central European but laid-back about it, the Croatian capital pulls out all the stops to keep visitors entertained for days at a time. Naturally, there are the yuletide cabins and seasonal stalls, ranged around the statue of Ban Jelačić on the main square, down the nearby streets of Gajeva, Bogovićeva, Varšavska, Petrićeva and beyond, proferring sausages, mulled wine, roast chestnuts and hand-crafted gifts. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Alongside on Europski trg, you find stalls and more, with live bands and film screenings providing regular entertainment through December. On the slopes of the Upper Town, overlooking the city below, jazz acts play beside the Lotrščak Tower, and DJs spin on adjoining Strossmayerovo šetalište, a family-friendly promenade with activities for kids also scheduled. Fuliranje Accessed through the illuminated, tree-lined tunnel of Marićev prolaz,
Find your perfect Advent experience
When temperatures plummet and the winter ennui creeps in, Zagreb's Christmas extravaganza Advent laps on enough yuletide joy to cheer up any Scrooge. Every year, the best Zagreb attractions are transformed into illuminated winter wonderlands, decked in acres of fairy-lights and huge Christmas trees; ice-rinks, nativity scenes: if it's Christmas-themed, you'll find it here. As the award-winning festival grows ever popular, Advent has undergone a dizzying expansion and the sheer range of locations and activities on offer is frankly mind-boggling. Navigate the festivities with this guide and carve out your perfect Advent experience. RECOMMENDED: Christmas in Zagreb.
Zagreb lights up for Advent
Of all the exciting changes that have taken place in Zagreb over the last few years, few have had quite so much impact as Advent. Deftly transformed from a corny Christmas market into a cavalcade of yuletide cool, the new-look Advent season has been a huge hit with locals – and looks set to become a key tourist draw too. Zagreb has for years hosted a traditional pre-Christmas offering of souvenir stalls, mulled wine and sausage stands on the main pedestrian strip. The addition of rakija bars, speciality street food, outdoor music stages and a constellation of twinkly lights has taken it into another dimension. Advent activity no longer takes place just around the main square, but has spread to a scattering of nearby piazzas and parks, all in easy walking distance of each other; and the whole thing runs from the last week in November until the first few days of the New Year. If you’re looking for a month-long winter street party, then Zagreb is the place to find it. This updated Advent is also getting better and better as a shopping opportunity, with the vast majority of stalls delicious Croatian deli products including jams, liqueurs, honeys and olive oils. Many souvenir sellers are offering their own hand-made wares; from stuffed toys to kooky ceramics and hand-painted greetings cards. Zagreb’s winter makeover is not something that happened overnight. The reinvention of the pre-Christmas template has come gradually, thanks to a sequence of individual, sometimes entirely u
Where to eat, drink and sleep in Zagreb
Amazing things to do in Zagreb
Compact and easy to navigate, Zagreb contains plenty of historic sights and fascinating galleries, complemented by destination restaurants, clusters of busy bars and numerous live-music venues. The main square divides the hilly Upper Town – museums, institutions of national importance, panoramic views – from the flat, grid-patterned streets of the Lower Town, with its gastronomic landmarks, designer boutiques and art galleries. Spread out east and west are areas of bucolic greenery while south over the Sava river stretches the post-war residential blocks of Novi Zagreb. Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere. Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.
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 cafés and coffee shops in Zagreb
Coffee-drinking is taken seriously in Zagreb. In the city centre, you can barely move for coffee houses spawling into the streets. Inevitably, some of these similar-looking joints are lacklustre, and it's surprisingly hard to find cafes with menus that extend beyond drinks. But once you've found your cafe, you won't be disappointed: the finest offer expertly-made coffee, and treats to have a sweet-tooth grinning for hours. Here are the best cafes and coffee shops in Zagreb.
The best Zagreb hotels
The problem with Zagreb hotels in the past was the dearth of venues between the bunk-bed and smoking-jacket ends of the spectrum. This is no longer the case, given attractive range of options available. As Zagreb continues to spread its wings as a destination in its own right – rather than a spot to lay over before the coast – hotel options continue to grow. Here are the best.