Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia Celebrating Advent

Zagreb Christmas Market: Advent u Zagrebu

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As the crisp air brightens my cheeks and little puffs of breath escape from my mouth, I inhale the scent of sizzling meat being cooked to perfection. The tantalizing aroma drifts on a light breeze from the cheerfully decorated wooden huts at the Zagreb Christmas market. I wonder how many minutes will pass by until we succumb to buying a sausage. Festive lights and Croatia decorations hang in a canopy over the street, casting a warm glow onto the revelers swaying to the music as they peruse the wares for sale. It was our first time celebrating Christmas in Croatia and we were only getting our first peek at the Advent u Zagrebu event, but it was already putting us in a festive mood.

{Find details for this year’s Advent Zagreb Program at the end of the post!}

Although I felt foolish, I couldn’t wipe the giddy grin from my face. Advent Zagreb had begun – and there is nothing quite like a European Christmas market to usher in the holiday spirit. With a steaming cup of spiced, mulled wine in one hand and my other hand tucked into the crook of Kris’s arm, we navigate our way through the merriment as we celebrate the beginning of Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia.

Christmas tree on Ban Jelacic Square during Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb Advent: Christmas in Europe

Lesser-known than the long-standing and famous Christmas markets like those in Germany, Austria and France, Advent in Zagreb caught our attention last year when images from the celebration flooded our social media news feeds. Unlike the usual coastline summertime photos of Croatia we are accustomed to seeing, these featured an entirely different scene: Croatia in winter. Most people don’t think of Croatia as one of the best European cities for Christmas, but the Advent u Zagrebu event is changing that. Zagreb, Croatia in December might just be one of the merriest places to be for the holidays. 


Why Is Zagreb Worth the Time to Visit for Christmas? 

The pictures we saw of Zagreb in December revealed the capital city adorned with bright Christmas lights, theme-festooned streets and an outdoor ice skating rink. The Zagreb, Croatia Christmas Market, which began as a modest affair in 2002, grew in just a few years to something utterly spectacular. In fact, the Advent Zagreb event garnered so much attention that it was bestowed the honor of Best Christmas Market in Europe by European Best Destinations for three consecutive years. (Read more about the European Best Destinations Zagreb Award.) With Croatia often on our minds, we couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than with Advent in Zagreb, Croatia. 

{Use this link to find other Best European Christmas Destinations}

Our Zagreb Christmas Market Review

Unlike some Christmas markets that cluster solely around the main square, the Zagreb Christmas market location is appealingly spread throughout the city. In a scavenger hunt style, we searched out the different markets in Zagreb happening daily during Advent. Booths selling classic Croatian Christmas gifts line the streets and sit in clusters at the center of multiple squares – not just the main Jelačić Square. A live Croatian nativity scene is set up in Kaptol. The Gric Tunnel is turned into a festive wonderland.

Each district is thoughtfully designed to create a specific ambiance and to attract a certain audience. From kid-friendly corners celebrating Croatian Christmas traditions to streets for shopping and eating Croatian Christmas food to a lane just for ‘fooling around,’ we wandered the transformed squares and streets until we found the one that fit our mood.

22 Terrific Things To Do in Zagreb, Croatia by

22 Terrific Things To Do in Zagreb, Croatia


What We Loved Most about Zagreb Advent

Often, we were drawn down the cobblestone lanes of the oldest part of Zagreb into one of the five enclaves for the Advent Edition of Dvorista. Dressed up for the holidays with Croatian Christmas decorations – white lights, garland and Christmas trees – the intimate courtyards presented a cozy retreat from the lively celebrations elsewhere in the city. Complete with lounge singer style performances and mulled wine, Dvorista was our favorite part of the Zagreb Christmas market. 


What is the Best Things To Eat in a Christmas Market in Zagreb

Wherever our wandering trail took us – from Klovicevi Dvori and Gric Tale in the Upper Town to Zrinjevac Park and the Zagreb Ice Rink on Tomislav Square in Zagreb’s Green Horseshoe or across the Sava River to Novi Advent – we always found rows of little huts selling holiday gifts and serving Christmastime fare. Heaps of sausages – of which we ate our fair share – were displayed alongside tempting bowls of goulash and plates of charcuterie. Croatian Christmas cookies cut into stars and wreaths were packaged prettily for sale. More than once, we were lured to booths cranking out hot fritule (doughnuts drizzled with warm chocolate sauce, which are popular treats at every Croatian Christmas market). The real treat for us, however, was the kuhano vino (mulled wine), which seemed to flow in an endless stream from nearly every booth, making evenings all the merrier.

Christmas fair booths line the streets during Advent in Zagreb, Croatia


Live Music at Advent Zagreb

To further enhance the festive mood, live music drifted down the streets from stages around the city. Entertained by the varied performances – we were astounded by the sheer number of musical acts at the Zagreb winter festival. We witnessed rock bands, brass bands, jazz singers, women’s choirs, children’s chorales and folk dancers performing everything from holiday tunes to classic hits of every decade. 

We spent 11 nights celebrating Advent u Zagrebu 2016, but didn’t actually stay for Christmas in Zagreb. However, we can say with certainty that Advent Zagreb got us in the holiday spirit!


Zagreb Christmas Market 2018 Dates

The upcoming Zagreb Advent program dates for the Zagreb Christmas Market 2018/2019 are December 1, 2018 through January 6, 2019. However, not all of the individual Zagreb Christmas Markets start at the same time; some of the Zagreb Christmas Markets open after the start of the event or only run on weekends. You can find all the details on the official website.


Where is Zagreb Christmas Market

The events of Advent u Zagrebu take place all over the city – in squares, down lanes, through tunnels and in courtyards. You can find a Zagreb Christmas Market map on the event website. The Zagreb Tourist Office also provides information about the events occurring in December, such as the Zagreb Christmas Lanterns.


Ice Skating Zagreb

The Zagreb Ice Skating Park is a popular part of the Zagreb Christmas market holidays. The open-air ice park is illuminated by the glow of Zagreb Christmas lights and is located next to the Art Pavilion on King Tomislav Square. You can find more information here


Zagreb New Year’s Eve

If you are spending the New Year in Croatia, then Zagreb is the place to be! The Zagreb, Croatia New Year’s Eve program can be found here.


How Do You Say ‘Merry Christmas in Croatian?’

Merry Christmas in Croatian is Sretan Božić (SRE-tahn BOH-zhich)


Need more tips of what to do in Zagreb? If you are visiting Zagreb in winter – or any time of year! – use our guide of 22 Terrific Things To Do in Zagreb, Croatia!


Other Christmas Markets in Croatia

While the Advent u Zagrebu festival is the largest in the country, there are other cities where you can spend the Christmas holiday in Croatia. Croatian Christmas markets take place in city centers around the country and along the coast. The weather in Croatia at Christmas varies, with more mild climates along the Dalmatian Coast. 


Christmas Markets in Split, Croatia

Celebrating Christmas in Split, Croatia is a lovely idea! The Split Christmas Market is set up along the Riva and lights decorate the streets and parks. You can find more information about the Riva Christmas Fair in Split on the Split Website

{Read our list of Top 10 Things To Do in Split, Croatia}


Christmas Market Dubrovnik

The Christmas Markets in Dubrovnik are located in the historic city center along the famous Stradun. Winter is a great time to visit Dubrovnik as the city is almost completely void of tourists (possibly because it’s so difficult to get there in winter!). Although we missed the Dubrovnik Winter Festival, you can read about our impressions about the city in the off-season in the Dubrovnik Times

{Read our tips for Visiting Dubrovnik on a Budget}


Zadar Christmas Market

The Advent Zadar Festival fills the streets of the old town – and runs from late November through early January. Get all the details on the Official Website

{Read our Self-Guided Walking Tour to 24 Zadar, Croatia Sights}


Advent in Osijek, Croatia

After visiting the Zagreb Advent event, we traveled further east to Osijek in the region of Slavonia for their Christmas market. We were pleased to find a traditional, festive holiday event in Osijek.

{Read our Top Reasons to Visit Osijek, Croatia


Looking for other places to visit in Croatia in Winter? Read about Visiting Plitvice Lakes in Wintertime


Travel Tips for Visiting Zagreb in Winter

Use our top travel tips for your Zagreb, Croatia Christmas trip!


Advent in Zagreb has quickly become one of the city’s biggest events. Although celebrations take place all over the city, we chose accommodations in the city center. For our longer stay, we opted for a vacation rentals apartment through Airbnb, but there are many hotels to choose from, as well. If you are looking for place to stay during Christmas in Zagreb, take a look at these top-rated hotels and resorts (based on reviews):


When you are on the move and want to stay connected, a wifi hotspot is the way to go. If you are traveling to Advent in Zagreb, you can stay connected with reliable wifi from Roam Free Ninja. The personal mobile wifi hotspot can be rented for days or months at a time and allows you to easily share your Advent in Zagreb experiences with friends and family on social media. 


We want to know: Have you been to the Zagreb Christmas Market? What did you like best about the Advent Zagreb festivities? Tell us in the comments! 


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Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia

Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia
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4 thoughts on “Zagreb Christmas Market: Advent u Zagrebu

  1. It seems like you had a great time! Your photos are fantastic and I’m so happy you loved my dear hometown. 🙂 If you would like to be a part of collaboration about Croatia and write a paragraph of two about Zagreb, please let me know.

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