More than Words

Christmas magic in the air: Zagreb's Advent 2023

Greetings from the enchanting city of Zagreb, where the spirit of Christmas has gracefully settled into every nook and cranny! With Advent 2023 just around the corner, I'm thrilled to dive into the magic this city offers during the festive season. Grab your hot cocoa mugs and wrap yourselves in colorful scarves, because I am taking you on a journey through the wondrous experiences I've had here over the past few years.

Can you feel the winter chill?

The air is crisp, and the streets are adorned with light installations in the form of Christmas bells, wreaths, and candles, winding through the narrow streets between the old Zagrebian buildings. These are, without a mistake, the first heralds of the beginning of Advent.

From December 2nd, when Advent officially starts by the lighting of the street lights, to January 7th, Zagreb will be transformed into a winter wonderland, with thousands of lights casting a warm glow, spreading joy and romance unique to this festive season.

Oh yes, it's the beginning of Christmas time!

Don't know where to go first?

Street by street, corner by corner, the city comes alive with the warmth of festive lights. From wooden Christmas market houses, thousands of twinkling lights and artistic installations, enchanting parks and decorated Christmas trees, to the sound of holiday music – this is Advent in Zagreb at its peak.

And what about city spots that become open-air gathering places for visitors of all ages, offering good vibes and that unmistakable Advent atmosphere?

I couldn't wait for you to ask me this, really. I will tell you all the secrets.

When thinking about the heartwarming aroma of cinnamon, cloves, and local delicacies filling the air throughout the city center, every Zagrebian knows where the party is and where to be on Christmas and New Year's Eve. That's one more reason to trust me, right? I'm one of those uptown girls, not going to lie.

Leave your worries behind, put a smile on your rosy cheeks, and surrender to the rhythm of holiday music all around you. Wooden ornaments, nutcrackers, and festive decorations set the scene for unforgettable moments. So, let's start!

Image Credit: TZGZ

You can't be fooled around, but do visit Fooling Around

The first place you want to visit to feel the authentic atmosphere of Zagreb culture is Fooling Around by Fuliranje, on the enchanting terrace of the Esplanade Hotel. There, you will have the opportunity to see and take pictures with Croatia's biggest stars, and be amazed by the style of the Croatian women, who go there to proudly show off their winter outfits.


 Image Credit: TZGZ

For those who go there for the gastronomic offer, we recommend that they leave their fur coats at home, because Fooling Around is one of the locations where you won't be able to resist visiting the stands of our most celebrated chefs and their delicacies. Of course, I'm writing all this and daydreaming about the the smell of mulled wine, which you must try.


Three for good luck

If you start your Advent sightseeing from the Esplanade Hotel, you will actually visit all the best parts of the Christmas story in the city very quickly. We will continue with a series of the top 3 locations that offer something for everyone, regardless of age.

The first can be found on the walk from Esplanade Hotel towards the main square- Tomislavac Park or Ice Park. You will certainly notice Zagreb's main ice rink, since it stretches across the entire park. Parents often warm themselves with tea, sitting on the benches, while watching their children enjoy skating. On the ice rink, you can always find a few young couples who romantically embody the Christmas spirit. The sight of them will really fill you true happiness and warmth. The ice rink is also surrounded by little wooden houses filled with warm winter snacks and good beer.

You need to make up for the calories spent skating, right?


Image Credit: TZGZ

Following the ice rink is the strongest gastronomic destination of Advent. Welcome to Fuliranje on Stossmayer Square, in the center of which there is a large offer of good food in all forms - from hamburgers and sausages, to cakes and fried ice creams. Whatever you feel like eating, you can find it there. I've never stayed there for too long, because it's always packed with people, but I recommend you sit down and enjoy your meal if you find a seat.


Image Credit: TZGZ

The following location is Zrinjevac Park, which you could easily mistake for scenes from the play The Nutcracker. The magical white and blue lighths lead you down the path to the pavilion, which is the main manifestation every year. Free your spirit and dance around the pavilion to feel what I'm talking about. And when your feet start hurting, sit down on the couch or by the cottage for another mulled wine.


Image Credit: TZGZ

Photo session time

If you think that the gastronomic offer stops here, you are mistaken, because we have two more great locations, but I want to turn my attention to them for other reasons.

Baš Naš Advent is a small photo and magical backdrop on the main square. You can often find separate outdoor rooms where you can take the best photos for your Instagram.


 Image Credit: TZGZ

When you think it can't get any better, you walk further to the European Square ,and realize how many more pictures you can take with, for example, the giant Nutcracker.


Image Credit: TZGZ

Believe the magic

The more I write, the more I realize that even I wouldn't believe this, because of how magical this sounds, but you have to take my word for it- it really is.

Zagreb offers a lot more than I have written about, and a couple of days is enough for you to learn where and what to do. Every year they surprise me with something new, on some new street corner.

You can find other programs and content in several places, but be sure to look here. From gigs in Zrinjevac, to concerts on Ban Jelačić Square, to children's crèches and other entertainment - you will not regret visiting the city that has been repeatedly declared the best European Advent location.

Enjoy your time here!

Header Image Credit: TZGZ

Author: Kristina Duvnjak