Zagreb Christmas market quickly became one of my favorites! It has the perfect mix of a beautiful small city packed with festive markets and decor.
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Zagreb, Croatia was one of the first places I visited after moving to Italy! It’s less than four hour’s drive from Venice and you pass some great stops along the way (like Ljubljana and Trieste or Gorizia) so I recommend the drive if you can. If not, there’s also a major train station in Zagreb.
Zagreb Christmas Market Specialties
Zagreb Christmas Markets make a big deal of being awarded the best market of the year for three years in a row (the maximum amount of times you can earn it)! So going in, I had high expectations.
The thing they do best is create a party atmosphere. All the markets have plenty of decoration and an emphasis on space for decor and mingling, rather than cramming as many market stalls into every corner. There’s a ton of live music on the weekends, full of people singing along and enjoying themselves.
There are fewer stalls selling souvenirs or goodies, with a bigger emphasis on food & drink. This adds to the feeling that everyone’s there to enjoy themselves, not just buy stuff.
Foods to Try
One of the things I most loved about the Zagreb Christmas markets was that they had a lot of Asian cuisine on offer at their booths! Don’t get me wrong, I love eating all the traditional bites. But especially if you’re doing a Christmas market hopping trip, you need a break from the same fried food every day! So getting bao buns was perfect.
They also have plenty of Croatian food on offer. Try the cevapi – ground meat shaped around a stick and grilled, like a skinless sausage. You’ll see delicious versions all over the Balkans. It’s typically served on/with bread as a street food!
The typical dessert is fritule: fried dough balls topped with powdered sugar and chocolate! The best way to finish up any meal.
While almost all markets have a variety of liquors to try or add to your gluhwein, it’s common at the Zagreb Christmas markets to order a whiskey and coke, or other basic mixed drinks. So if you need a break from mulled wine, you can probably find your favorite well drink on offer or order a soda!
The Zagreb Christmas markets opened on December 2 and run through January 7th. Hours vary from booth to booth, but generally, they open in the early afternoon (with some booths earlier) and run until 8 or 9 pm.
How much time do you need?
You can pretty easily see the Zagreb Christmas markets in one day because the city isn’t big. I’d recommend spending a night to enjoy them after dark, and give yourself time to see more of Zagreb!
Zagreb (and Croatia in general) has seen a massive uptick in international tourism and is in the process of transitioning to using the Euro, so prices are increasing. I don’t tend to give specific price ranges when I recommend hotels because so much depends on demand, neighborhood, and time of year! But I try to group my rec’s into budget, mid-range, and splurge to get you started.
Zagreb Christmas Market Locations
Zagreb is a small enough city that it’s not helpful to break them down into major and minor markets – they’re all close together, and easily doable in a day!
The biggest Christmas market is in the city center, Ban Jelačić Square. You’ll find a mix of decorations, festive corners, and food & drink stalls. Start here, because there’s so much decor and space that it puts you in the Christmas spirit right away!
All the other markets are spread out from here. Start by going south (away from the Upper Town), where you’ll find the biggest collection that spreads through a series of parks!
First up is Park Zrinjevac, where the bandstand has live music all evening long! The bands play crowdpleasers (both Christmas music and pop), and the crowd all sings and dances along! It feels more like a festival or outdoor concert than a typical Christmas market, and I loved the camaraderie vibe!
Park Josipa Jurja Strossmayera is where you want to find dinner. There are a ton of booths here focused on food! There’s a good mix of Croatian, Italian, Asian, and more, so everyone can get what they want. I got bao buns at Izakaya and loved them, so head there if you’re craving Chinese food!
The final section, Trg Kralja Tomislava, is transformed into an ice rink! It’s a pretty big one, meaning you won’t be crammed in too close to other skaters. On opening night, they do a fun skating performance complete with costumes and props, set to songs about Zagreb!
Those four are where to focus most of your time. There is another collection that meanders out of Ban Jelačić Square into Park Međunarodnoga Priznanja. A mouthful, I know! But it’s easy to find if you head out of the square towards the Cathedral, you’ll walk straight through it. It has a mix of food & drink booths with a few souvenir stalls.
There are plenty more cute festive corners throughout the city – it’s worth wandering to see what you find! I’ve marked a bunch of these in my free Thatch guide to the Zagreb Christmas markets!
Want all of this and more, in a map format? I’ve put all my best tips into an interactive guide on Thatch! Best of all, this one is free! I want you to get a feel for what these guides can offer you. If you like my Zagreb Christmas market guide, consider buying one of my other Christmas market guides. Or snag my Zagreb city guide to get the best of the city while you’re here for the Christmas markets!!
Want all of this in an interactive map form?
Grab my free guide on Thatch:
Looking for more Christmas markets? Try Salzburg, Budapest, Munich, or Strasbourg!