If you’re still trying to decide how to spend your Christmas season this year, we suggest you add a visit to the Zagreb Christmas Market to your Christmas travel wish list! This award-winning celebration might be less well known than German or Austrian Christmas Markets, but no one beats Zagreb when it comes to Christmas cheer!
The Zagreb Christmas Market has been awarded the Best Christmas Market in Europe three times. The award, given out by European Best Destinations, recognizes the utter spectacle that Zagreb Advent seeks to put on every year. We spoke with Vladimir from Visit Zagreb to get the best insider tips so you can plan a flawless visit to Zagreb at Christmas.
>> Read Next: 11 Magical Things to Do in Croatia in Winter <<
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Where to Stay in Zagreb
Here are our recommendations for where to stay in Dubrovnik. We’re in the process of creating comprehensive guides on where to stay in other Croatian cities, but for now, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible or taking a look at the following places to stay in Zagreb.
Budget accommodation in Zagreb: If you are looking for a cool apartment to stay in town, with sun-drenched spaces, modern furnishing, and even a barbecue, we recommend Apartment Spectre, it has great reviews on Booking.com. Another option is Centar Guesthouse, just steps from the main square, you can read reviews and book here.
Mid-rage places to stay in Zagreb: If you can spend a bit more, then we suggest you check Timeout Heritage Hotel Zagreb, in the heart of the lower town, here you can check prices and reviews. If you prefer the comfort of a rental home, discover Houzz21, not far from the city zoo. You can book a stay here.
Luxury accommodation in Zagreb: Upgrade your days in Zagreb by staying at Art Hotel in the center of town. From this hotel, guests love the friendly staff and amazing location, check it here. Alternatively, check the newly opened Manda Heritage Hotel here.
How to Visit Zagreb Advent & Christmas Market
Vladimir was kind enough to answer all of our questions about how to visit. Here’s everything you need to know to attend Zagreb Advent & Christmas Market.
What are the dates and times for the 2021 Zagreb Christmas Market?
The market opens on November 29th and ends on January 2nd, 2021. Opening times vary by venue, with special hours on holidays. Many places do stay open quite late, so there’s always something to do!
Where is the market located?
According to Vladimir, numerous events spread throughout Zagreb. He recommends checking out their guide to the Christmas Market’s events to help plan your visit.
A few can’t-miss spots include the Ice Park at King Tomislav Square, the over-the-top festivities at Strossmayer Square, the events around the gazebo at Zrinjevac Park, the delicious foodie paradise at European Square, and the “Winter Magic” at Ban Jelačić Square. Want to see its beauty from above? Then why not check out this funicular ride?
If you’re counting, that means I’ve already listed five must-see Christmas events in Zagreb, and that doesn’t even include the live nativity scene at Zagreb Cathedral! When it comes to celebrating Christmas, Zagreb is truly an over-the-top destination!
What kind of entertainment will there be for adults?
There’s so much more to Zagreb Advent than shopping! (Though I do love Christmas shopping…). Vladimir highlights the numerous concerts, music events, and live dancing, not to mention going ice skating, and of course, the food! Zagreb’s Christmas Market has an intense (read: delicious) focus on food.
What kind of entertainment will there be for children?
Of course, traveling families will want to know what there will be for kids to do at the Christmas market. In addition to the delicious sweets available and ice skating, make sure you take your children to see the Live Nativity Scene at the cathedral, visit the Christmas Tale, take them for a ride on the Christmas Tram, and see the Backo Mini Express.
What kind of goods will be for sale?
Since I do love to shop in Croatia (especially for Croatian souvenirs), I just had to ask what kinds of shopping is available at the market.
Vladimir shared that local treats, souvenirs, great food (if you can keep yourself from eating it before you leave town!), and locally crafted Christmas ornaments are just some of what’s for sale in the Christmas booths.
What kind of food and drinks will be available?
If you’ve gotten anything from this article so far, I hope it’s that the Zagreb Christmas Market is delicious! When I asked Vladimir what there is to eat and drink, he let me know that “the better question would be what will not be available, and I cannot answer that.” So get ready to give your tastebuds a workout!
Of course, there are traditional Christmas market foods available as well, like mulled wine (Gluhwein) and sausages.
Is there a ticket price to get into the events?
With so much going on during the Christmas season, it’s hard to believe so much of it is free! But the markets don’t have tickets, all are free to attend.
There are some exceptions, like the Ice Park and a few of the sites, but the cost for these is kept to a minimum. My suggestion would be to keep some cash on you since most of the booths will only take cash anyways.
Are there any other special festivities in Zagreb this December or January that travelers might want to attend?
This year there is an Enrique Iglesias Concert, performances by the Ukrainian Classical Ballet, Masters of Dirt, and a Snow Queen Trophy. There are also Christmas Shows at the Croatian National Theater.
Zagreb has over 12 Advent spots throughout town every year. Each one organizes special events throughout December. You won’t ever be bored!
Is there anything else you would want a visitor coming to your town this winter to know before they visit?
According to Vladimir, his best advice is to pack warm clothes! See below for our recommendations on what to pack for Croatia in winter!
How can travelers learn more?
We have our recommendations and resources for visiting Zagreb below. I want to thank Vladimir from Visit Zagreb for answering our questions about this spectacular event! For more detailed information about the market, check out Visit Zagreb’s website.
Accommodation in Zagreb
We are working on our complete guide to where to stay in Zagreb, but for now, we have two suggestions. If you love gorgeous, photographic hotels with beautiful views, we have several hotel recommendations on our post of the most Instagrammable places in Zagreb. Each of the hotels that made this list is just stunning!
If you are looking for a different kind of accommodation, we like to use Booking.com. Make sure to book as early as possible. Zagreb is a popular winter destination, so rooms can sell out earlier than expected.
What to Pack for Croatia in Winter
We have a full Croatia packing list here with winter sections for men and women, but here’s the quick version!
A Guidebook – While travel blogs are great, we also definitely see the benefit of having a good paper guidebook in hand to refer to in your on-the-ground travel. We recommend the Lonely Planet Croatia book.
Winter accessories: Bring a winter scarf like this one (women’s) or this cashmere scarf (men’s) to help block out the wind. We recommend women’s gloves like these which are compatible with your smartphone (for a men’s version, check these). You also lose a lot of heat from the top of your head and ears, so a fleece-lined knit hat (women’s) that you wear tight, like a beanie, is a fantastic choice. Pick a colorful one for cute photos! Here’s a men’s version as well.
An ultra-light down jacket: You can wear this on its own or pair it with a warmer jacket for colder days. This rolls up and packs easily in your day bag so it’s good to bring along – I have one similar to this (women’s) but there’s a men’s version as well. If you want to be warm, or if your trip is mostly focused on Zagreb, the mountains, and northern Croatia, I recommend a winter jacket like this North Face parka which I’ve owned for years and years.
Winter boots: It can be snowy any icy throughout Croatia even at times in the south, as it can snow in Dubrovnik and even get below freezing. For snowy days and super cold weather when you still want to be comfortable, I love these knee-high waterproof Blondo boots and have owned them for over a decade. For men, I suggest a waterproof boot with good traction, like these Timberlands.
Motion sickness pills: Great for bus rides if you’ll be visiting any mountains – I buy these non-drowsy ones. You can also try these natural motion sickness bands which use acupressure to reduce nausea – they work pretty well.
More Croatia Travel Resources
Headed to Croatia? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Croatia, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Croatia packing list with a detailed winter section.
While in Zagreb, check out our list of the city’s best photo destinations. Many of these are decorated even more lovely at Christmas!
If you’re still putting together your itinerary, here’s a great list of places to visit in Croatia, our Croatia national parks guide, and Croatian waterfalls guide to help you choose. We also have a day trip guide for Dubrovnik and Spit if you’re to be visiting these cities as well.
Next, check out our Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Croatia and local tipping customs.
Of course, if you’re coming to a Christmas market you’ll have lots of opportunities to shop! Read our guide to shopping in Croatia so you know which souvenirs are truly local gems.
If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan bus, road trip, and itinerary guides.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Croatia (or really, any part of the world)! Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel – especially during the winter! – so it’s better to play it safe.
Pin this Guide to Visiting Zagreb Advent & Christmas Market for Your Trip to Croatia!
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.