You may be familiar with Croatia’s idyllic coastline, images drip all over social media during the summer time leaving you in major holiday envy of friends and even random people you don’t know visiting the country considered as one of the most beautiful in the world. While Croatia’s dalmatian coastline sits on it’s own pedestal of glory for obvious reasons, the country’s capital, Zagreb rivals this glory during the cooler months.
What could possibly make Zagreb a desirable place to visit during winter? Advent in Zagreb has over the years grown into a social get together for locals and a must-see for tourists visiting Europe during this period. It is also considered as the city’s most important event of the year according to the city’s Tourist Board and each year greater emphasis is placed on creating an even larger and better Christmas spectacle.
Earlier this week European Best Destinations announced Zagreb as the Best Christmas Destination in 2016, making the city the ideal place to be for Christmas two years in a row. Over the past two years numbers have increased by 50% with tourists from neighbouring countries and even overseas coming to Zagreb to experience a Christmas fairy tale unlike any other.
So what makes Advent in Zagreb the winter wonderland to see this festive season?
There is something for everyone. Yes, again.
I must have mentioned numerous times over the months that in Croatia there is something for everyone no matter which time of the year you’re visiting. In this case, the schedule of Advent in Zagreb has accommodated for people of all ages. If you’re visiting with children, Strossmayer Square has you perfectly covered with a main stage for nightly entertainment, daily workshops and also merry-go-round rides to keep children occupied and forgetting the feeling of boredom.
Zagreb’s main square, Ban Jelacic is also hosting entertainment each evening on the main stage and is also the location for the city’s new year celebrations. Surrounded by wooden houses selling local souvenirs, mulled wine and kransky sausages, Ban Jelacic Square continues play the role as the city’s social centre for all.
If you’re looking for a slightly more picturesque part of town, is that even possible? I cannot recommend Park Zrinjevac enough which is the central part of Advent and where it all began! The entire park has been transformed into a winter wonderland with white lights wrapped around trees, adding to the christmassy feel and live entertainment also means that you can dance the night away without feeling the pinch of cold.
Advent in Zagreb wouldn’t be complete without it’s million dollar ice-rink installation at King Tomislav Square. Complete with it’s own VIP area/bar, Zagreb’s “Ledeni Park” is a personal highlight of the entire advent spectacle. Although I am too terrified to get on the ice myself, walking past each day I always pause and watch the braver souls among me skating around on the ice making it all look uncomplicated and effortless. Zagreb’s stunning King Tomislav Square, just like the entire Advent revolves around good food, mulled wine, socialising, singing and dancing under the moonlight.
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My life revolves around food as I am certain yours does too being the travel loving bunch that you are! Visiting Advent in Zagreb on an empty stomach is advised because leaving hungry will be impossible. There are plenty of options depending on your appetite from local sausages, hamburgers, home-made fritule, even sarma (minced meat wrapped in sour cabbage, notoriously famous in the balkans). During my daily Advent in Zagreb travels, I’d like to believe that I’ve seen it all, however was pleasantly surprised during a recent visit to my favourite spot on Zagreb, Plato Gradec, an area of the city that overlooks the entire city. I randomly found “ChevapiRolls,” an invention by Masterchef extraordinaire Martina Županić who turned the national iconic sausage into a glamourous street-food by wrapping it in a crepe. A must-try if you’re visiting Advent in Zagreb!
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Why rush? You can stay overnight!
Hotels in the capital have finally caught on with the tourism pulling power of Advent in Zagreb and have worked in conjunction with the tourism board for overnight and weekend packages to meet the needs of those wishing to experience this magical time in Zagreb. Depending on your budget, there is a hotel in the city to help you with your needs.
For those travelling from neighbouring countries, many local travel agencies have organised day trips by bus with return tickets starting from 46kuna. Visit here for more information.
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The magic of Advent in Zagreb continues until the 8th January, 2017 and if you’re looking for a city break or to burn a few hours of an afternoon, I suggest you head on down to Zagreb and experience the winter magic for yourself. From friday noon till midnight Sunday for the duration of Advent, all public transportation is free in zone 1 of Zagreb. Take your time as you stroll through the streets and if you see me vlogging around, don’t be afraid to say hi!
Photos: Adriana Kupresak
Have you ever seen the magic of advent in Zagreb yourself? Share with us in the comments.