Julien Duval

Winter fairy tale

There is only one season of the year for
anyone who appreciates tradition – Advent season,
when magic takes over entire
cities and towns all across Croatia.
Get ready to celebrate, share unique experiences and memorable moments with your loved ones, and enjoy the scenery.

Zagreb

There is no better place to start in the whole of Europe. Zagreb’s Advent Festival held the title of the best Christmas market in Europe for three years in a row. In 2017, Lonely Planet once again named it its top destination choice because of its incredible offer of concerts, workshops, culinary experiences, and oodles of fun.

Davor Rostuhar / TZ Zagreb

Put on your ice skates and show off your skill of doing pirouettes on ice! Spend a magical evening at the ice rink on King Tomislav Square, and enjoy the smell of roasted chestnuts, sausages and mulled wine in the air. The square offers plenty of fun for the whole family!

When you’re done, head for Zrinjevac, the park where it all began. There you’ll find 220 trees decorated with Christmas lights, their twinkle creating a special atmosphere. The old music pavilion at the very centre of the park will warm you up with the sounds of the waltz and traditional Christmas songs. Make sure you don’t miss a tour of the old Upper Town afterwards and don’t forget, the best part comes last – New Year’s Eve!

Salajland

Nothing brings joy to both young and old during the holidays quite like the twinkling Christmas lights. One of the most dazzling Christmas stories in the world, told in the form of Christmas lights, can be found in the vicinity of Zagreb, at the home of the Salaj family in the village of Grabovnica.

Julien Duval

Every year, their “SalajLand” is decorated with millions of Christmas lights, shining like little diamonds in the air.

Slavonia

Numerous other destinations in inland Croatia also offer opportunities to experience the Christmas spirit. One such place is the Lipizzaner State Stud Farm in Đakovo, once famously visited by Queen Elizabeth II herself.

Ivo Biočina

If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind Christmas event fit for a king, be sure to visit the Lipizzaner Christmas Ball.

Julien Duval

Osijek is another Slavonian gem that offers its own memorable version of Advent. The spirit of romance envelopes this town on the river Drava for 30 days filled with Christmas activities, concerts, workshops and local delicacies.

In addition to mulled wine and punch, you can also enjoy a special Christmas beer made by the oldest brewery in Croatia, located in Osijek. Speaking of old, why not experience the Advent season in the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe? Explore 8400 years of history in Vinkovci and discover the holiday spirit of the nearby town of Vukovar and the entire Baranja region.

Dalmatia

Winter is coming… and the best way to feel the magic is by visiting King’s Landing. Dubrovnik in December offers a completely different experience than during the summer months.

Julien Duval

Enjoy a relaxing walk around the city walls, and then dive into the culture and entertainment of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival, with concerts, cultural events, workshops, and plenty of food and drink.

There are other Game of Thrones-inspired holiday destinations you can visit, such as Diocletian’s Palace in Split. The ancient Roman royal residence included in the UNESCO World Heritage List truly comes alive in winter, bursting with holiday cheer.

Julien Duval

It offers market stands, concerts and plenty of activities in places such as the main promenade (Riva), the central square Prokurative, or the People’s Square (Narodni trg).

If you are looking to add a bit of culture to your holiday visit and tour some of Croatia’s UNESCO-protected sites, head for the towns of Zadar and Šibenik.

Take a tour of the popular summer destinations such as Makarska, or the island cities such as Hvar, and experience a side of them you’ve never seen before.

Kvarner

Christmas cheer has also taken over the invigorating air of Croatia’s north coast. Opatija’s 170-year-old tourism tradition is the result of a moderate climate coupled with crystal-clear waters. In recent years, though, it has been gaining recognition for a completely different winter attraction – chocolate!

Try a piece from some of the best domestic and foreign brands and satisfy your sweet tooth at one of the numerous workshops and tastings. You can also attend one of the many concerts at the Opatija Chocolate Festival, held on the first weekend in December. Relax in the Christmas atmosphere on the island of Rab or the “island of vitality” Lošinj.

Julien Duval

Or make a stop in the city of Rijeka and find out what the 2020 European Capital of Culture has to offer at the colourful Christmas market, in the tunnels underneath the city, and at Trsat Castle.

Inland Croatia

The magic doesn’t end there! Various Advent events await you all across this wonderful country.

Julien Duval

Varaždin, the city of angels and former capital of Croatia, will spread its holiday cheer through the entire old town, which will become the “White Promenade” (Bijeli korzo) for the occasion, offering a wide variety of music, food and events.

Julien Duval

The pilgrimage site of Marija Bistrica holds special significance during this holy time of the year.

Experience Advent in the town of the noble Zrinski family and take a walk through the Zrinski Park to the centre of town, which is decorated in keeping with the Christmas tradition. Feel the magic of the holidays through traditional smells and flavours of mulled wine, cinnamon and cloves at every corner. Make sure you visit the Međimurje Wine Road, especially one of the well-known winemakers that offer wine tastings and traditional dishes from Međimurje.

Istria

Don’t miss out on the most beautiful Advent event, the one held in Istria! Enjoy a rich programme that is even more varied this year, with a Christmas market, ice skating, concerts and New Year’s Eve celebrations in the open air.

Julien Duval

During the Christmas market, the fragrances and flavours of Advent will spread through the air from the booths that are specially decorated for the occasion, where you can also buy souvenirs.