Travelling from 25 December every year usually means we would miss most of the Christmas markets in Europe. To our pleasant surprise, that would not be the case with Croatia. In fact, we are just in time to experience the Advent Christmas Market Zagreb – crowned 2106 to 2018 as the Best Christmas Market In Europe. Join us as we explore the award-winning festive market from our base at Palace Hotel Zagreb which overlooked one segment of the market!
The amazing part about the Advent Christmas Market Zagreb was that the celebration is not limited to one part of the city. There are pockets of activities everywhere and in totality, they make up the entire festive experience. Staying right smacked in the city centre, we actually have a segment of the market which we can view from our hotel window.
Advent Christmas Market Zagreb – Strossmayer Promenade
Located right across our hotel, it made perfect sense for us to have it struck off as the first market segment explored. Rather focused on festive street food and mulled wines, you can take your pick of the selection for either a quick bite
Advent Christmas Market Zagreb – Ice Park at King Tomislav Square
Next, we headed over to one of the most spectacular segments of the Advent Christmas Market at King Tomislav Square. Named after King Tomislav (First Croatian King), the bronze statue of him riding a steed while holding his royal sceptre marks the square as it’s most dominant structure.
For someone who grew up in a city with no winter, watching the city – young, old and family skating on a giant ice skating rink was a unique and at the same time romantic experience. Not everyone on the rink is a seasoned skater. It was particularly heartwarming how friends, families and lovers hold hands and help each other keep their balance.
If you plan to skate, just queue up and rent your skates on the spot. Else, head up to the top platform where you can enjoy mulled wine and get an amazing view of the rink. Nearby, underneath the Zagreb Art Pavillion, you will find booths offering food and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options to warm up too.
Advent Christmas Market Zagreb – Zrinjevac Park
For us, we felt that Zrinjevac gave the more classic Christmas Market feel. You get stalls selling things from local arts and crafts
Of course, you can also find mulled wine and local snacks here. The Štrukli sold was a pretty far cry from the wonderful ones we had at La Štruk Zagreb. It was rather fortunate that we did not have our only experience of the traditional Croatian dish at the Christmas market.
A walk around the outer parameters brought additional surprises. Pony rides were made available for the little ones. Every now and then, we also caught Santa picking up passengers in his horse chariot.
Advent Christmas Market Zagreb – Central Ban Jelačić Square
Unlike the Zrinjevac Park, the Ban Jelačić Square gave more of a countdown vibes with its huge 2020 light display right behind the famous statue of Ban Jelačić on horseback.
There were several wooden houses with Christmas activities to keep everyone occupied. Similar to the other segments, there are mulled wine and sausages to warm you up.
Advent Christmas Market Zagreb – Christmas At Grič Tunnel
Grič Tunnel is a pedestrian tunnel built during World War II to serve as a bomb shelter and a promenade. In 2016, the tunnel was remodelled and re-opened as a tourist attraction and to host cultural and festive events such as Advent Christmas Market. As the tunnel walkway is narrow, there was a designated entrance and exit. Make sure you check where the entrance is when you are visiting or you may need to take a big roundabout walk just to go in.
You think it is merely a tunnel, but it isn’t. The creative folks at Zagreb dolled up the entire space exquisitely. It was a lovely experience but there might not be many opportunities for a good photo as the crowd is always pushing up behind you.
That’s pretty much all we got to cover at the Advent Christmas Market in Zagreb, Croatia. It is little wonder that they won the best Christmas Markets for so many years running. The entire experience is well-organised and nicely distributed across the city centre. Each segment had its own charm and there was something for everyone. Be sure to visit Zagreb and other Croatian cities from late December to early January to experience both Christmas and New Year Countdown.