Unique City Experiences

11 Mar 2024


For a taste sensation and introduction to Zagreb, head on up to the Dolac Market, the heart and soul of the city and THE place to taste authentic fresh food from the surrounding area. Dolac Market is an open-air market, and if you head down into its indoor level, you will find the dairy section filled with amazing produce, including cottage cheeses and creams. We suggest you buy a thick slice of traditional Zagorje corn bread and add some cheese and sour cream for your very first breakfast in Zagreb.
Our recommendation: Kvatrić and Utrine Markets 
Both have a fantastic range of fresh produce from the surrounding villages as well as other Croatian regions. At Kvatrić Market, try a traditional walnut roll at Kuraž Bakery, sample prosciutto and pancetta at the Bel-Cro shop and do not skip cottage cheese and cream at the Vrhovec family stall. At lunchtime, head to Utrina Market where you can taste one of the best chevachichi in town, served in Sport Grill or, you can simply enjoy sipping coffee in one of many laid-back cafes surrounding the market.

Traditional Zagreb Cuisine

Lunch is calling and when in Zagreb do as the Zagrebians do! You simply choose one of the many restaurants and try some of the local specialties on offer. Keep an eye out for zagorska purica i mlinci, better known as Zagorje turkey with dried flatbread. This traditional meal is a ‘must try’ that was served at both Viennese and English courts long ago. For lovers of more vegetable-based dishes, there are various vegetarian homemade stews to tingle everyone’s taste buds.
Our recommendation:
Three restaurants with menus consisting of the Croatian traditional dishes are just steps away from the Central square: Ficlek, Purger and Stari Fijaker. All three serve 'sarma', cabbage rolls with mashed potatoes, a typical winter dish that is replaced with stuffed peppers in the summer season. You will also find tripe stew with bacon and parmesan cheese, roast duck or turkey with 'mlinci', beans with sausage, 'faširanci' which are tasty Zagreb patties, as well as various traditional stews and casseroles. Make sure to round off your Zagreb culinary experience with one of the many strudel variations.

Coffee Culture

Coffee culture is almost a religion in Croatia. And if you happen to arrive on a Saturday morning, then you’re just in time for Špica, which is where local city folk head out for coffee, mingling and giggling as they talk about their week, the current hot city topics and more. The dress code is casually elegant, but suave, as this is when there is a true buzz in the air, and it’s right in the heart of town where everyone goes to see and be seen. Simply find a seat on Flower Square, order your beverage and experience what the citizens of Zagreb do, by breathing in deeply and sensing the ever-present and palpable pulse of the city.
Our recommendation:
Three hot spots for coffee culture  in Zagreb are: Flower Square, Bogovićeva Street and Tkalčićeva Street.
If something different is your choice,  get away from the centre and look for Cafe Corso in the Sigečica area
You can reach Sigečica by taking a tram, riding a bike or simply by taking a stroll to experience the city from a different angle. After coffee in Sigečica, proceed to the nearby Folnegovićevo area to experience the 'tin-can' architecture designed after a big flood of the '60s.  Search for the Loop Hotel with its fantastic coffee bar. Just a short stroll further on will bring you to the Borovje area where you can enjoy lunch at Sofra, a Bosnian style restaurant or the Islamic Cultural Centre inside the only Zagreb mosque. You have now reached the banks of the river, Sava, where you can take a pleasant leisurely stroll around the Ornithological Park and the Savica Lakes.

Try Špekfileki

Offal recipes, while not to everyone's taste, offer some of the most authentic cuisine of any nation. They do this by opening a window into a past when people had to find creative ways to make the seemingly inedible parts of an animal,  palatable. In many cultures, offal is still considered to be the greatest of delicacies. Croatian cuisine certainly offers a wealth of dishes made from unexpected animals' bits and bobs. Špekfileki, a casserole dish, made with tripe and flavoured with smoked bacon is well-loved as a hearty lunchtime snack.
Our recommendation:
There are not very many locations where tripe lovers can thoroughly indulge in their favourite dish, but the most famous one is certainly the restaurant,  Bicko, in the vicinity of Zagreb's Arena Center. The owner of the restaurant, Ivica Kovačević, has even come up with a festival dedicated to tripe! S'tripp day by Bicko offers tripe prepared in different and creative ways, from tripe Asian style, sarma with tripe and even strudel stuffed with tripe! Anytime on a weekday one can come to Bicko to enjoy a portion of classic 'špekfileki' and have an interesting chat with the owner who is a true fan of this traditional dish.

Small Spots

Some would say that the big institutions do not define a city as much as the neighbourhood cultural hubs. Zagreb's art scene springs first and foremost from intimate galleries like Galerija Kranjčar on Kaptol, Galerija Trotoar at Mesnička 7, or the trail blazing Galerija SC in the Student Centre. Café-bars like Botaničar put on exhibitions and other art events, drawing a constellation of cultured customers. Not to be forgotten is the legendary literary café club, Booksa, on Martićeva, which hosts bookish evenings and acoustic gigs all year round.
Our recommendation:
'They Are Coming', a program of the Student Centre's Gallery, offers those interested in art, an opportunity to check on the work of rising young, talented artists. After viewing this exhibition, stop by Krivi put, just across the street, for a beer in its lovely garden. It is a favourite place for the younger generation to enjoy alternative music. Another option is Jiggy Bar which is close by,  and a great place with good vibes. For heavier sounds, head south along Savska street, to the Bikers Beer Factory or Vintage Bar. Both are very popular venues for gigs and concerts.

Public sculptures by Ivan Meštrović 

The Zagreb sculptures, monuments and architectural pieces of Ivan Meštrović, one of the greatest Croatian artists, represent a cross-section of his magnificent artistic oeuvre. Some have become symbols of the city, such as The Well of Life, the most beloved of Zagreb’s monuments, which is opposite the Croatian National Theatre. History of the Croats, another masterpiece by Ivan Meštrović, is associated with the Croatian identity, and stands in front of the University building at the Trg Republike Hrvatske 14.
Our recommendation:
Opposite Meštrović's Well of Life, you will see a very modern building with an interesting structure at the front of the building. This is a Music Academy with a conductor's baton, a huge representation of a real one, (you can't miss it) at the entrance. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays they have free concerts so stop by and check what's on the program. East of the Croatian National Theatre you also will discover another beautiful piece by Ivan Meštrović, a sculpture dedicated to one of the world's greatest minds, Nikola Tesla. A street that starts from this point is also named after this famous scientist who was born in the territory of what is today's Croatia.

Lotrščak cannon at noon

Lotrščak tower has been standing since 13th century as a defence tower against any enemy. For centuries there was a bell at the top of the tower which warned the citizens of Gradec to come back home in the evening before the city gates closed. This was later replaced by the present day cannon which has been marking noon daily, for more than a century now. Whether you decide to climb to the top of the tower or stand in front of it at noon, you can't miss the cannon boom! Today the churches in the Old Town wait for this signal before they start to ring their church bells. There is also a local joke that the cannon is here to wake up students, so that they get back to work, studying for the exams!

Street Art

Street art has evolved from the early forms of defiant graffiti and ‘guerilla art’ into a more commercial artistic form. Zagreb has always had a lot of graffiti, a leftover from communist times when cultural heritage was not adequately valued and children blithely scribbled with total disrespect and disregard, on the facades of beautiful historical buildings. With murals popping up all over the city, Zagreb's street art scene has emerged as something of a local calling-card over the last decade. It is a sure bet that there is little likelihood that local painters will be hanging up their brushes to dry any time soon.
 Our recommendation:
1. Medika, an autonomous cultural centre with a mission to encourage alternative thinking and expression, including street art. 2. Ribnjak Park with the collection of urban murals in the northern part of the park. 3. The Museum of Contemporary Art in New Zagreb. 4. the Pimp My Pump project by Boris Bare 5. Art Park, with some murals by Boris Bare, is highly recommended as well.
 Also, take a tram ride to the Students Centre, which is  a hub of exciting events and an abundance of colourful street art. You don't need to be a student to visit as anyone can stroll in. When in the Old Town, don't miss out on the Sunken Mural Park with murals dedicated to the greatest of our Croatian inventors and scientists!

Old Town Lanterns 

Experience the romantic side of Zagreb! More than two hundred gas lamps have been lit manually each night since their installation in the mid 19th century. Lamplighters, called 'nažigači' by the locals, have a task of bringing the streets to life every night by lighting the lanterns as they walk along the streets of the Old Town. Only a few cities in Europe have kept this tradition, and Zagreb is one of them!
Our recommendation:  
Stop by the Croatian Institute of History which is housed in one of the most exquisite palaces of the Old Town. When you reach the address, on Opatička 10, you will be amazed at the skill of the creator of the intricate design in the wrought iron fence, and as you enter the grounds, you will see the beautiful and romantic fountain in the centre of the courtyard.

Mammoth building – a perfect example of brutalist architecture

'Mammoth' is the largest residential building in Zagreb and one of the largest blocks of this kind in Europe.  It is situated in the New Zagreb area and represents a small city in itself with a post office, a bank, several grocery stores, cafes, a library, cultural centre and other venues. About five thousand people live in more than 1600 apartments within the Mammoth complex. The Mammoth building and its fiancee, Super Andrija in the nearby suburb are two good examples of brutalist architecture in Zagreb. Hidden Gem: Visit Utrina Swimming pool in the New Zagreb area and take a relaxing swim.
Our recommendation:
Hop on a tram along Vukovar avenue to explore the social-modernist architecture of Zagreb, some of which was inspired by an influential Swiss architect of that era, Le Corbusier. His designs combine the functionalism of the modern movement with a bold sculptural expressions. There are many renowned examples of post-war modernistic architecture on Vukovar Avenue such as the famous Rocket high-risers that can withstand even the strongest of earthquakes. 

Local 'craft beer' and Croatian Wines

If you like to try a good local beer, start with Mali medo on Tkalčićeva street or one of the fantastic craft beer places on Opatovina street. If you prefer wines, head to one of the best wine bars in the centre and try a few authentic Croatian wine varieties. Zagreb residents love to socialise in bars, and you will find a strong contingent at good rock, pop and jazz gigs. If you are keen for more, check out the local tourist guides for concerts in local clubs and venues.
Our recommendation: Bornstein Wine Cellar & Shop and Pupitres Wine Workshops
A short walk from the Zagreb cathedral, in a magnificent two hundred year-old townhouse, you will find one of the nicest wine cellars in Croatia. The owner's idea of establishing The Bornstein Wine Bar and Shop was born thirty years ago, and in turn this gave birth to the Croatian wine scene as we know it today. The pioneers of the project have created a true wine temple where you can taste, buy and enjoy wine culture accompanied by live music and a selection of quintessential gourmet delights. You can also sign up for one of the exciting wine workshops at Pupitres Boutique of Wine Culture. Pupitres is not your regular wine bar, it is the heart and soul of its owner, Jelena Šimić Valentić, a sommelier who had the vision to share her vast knowledge of,  and love of wine with the wine  buffs from Croatia and its visitors from around the world.

Pogon – Alternative Zagreb

Pogon is the home of independent culture on the northern bank of the Sava river, which provides its venues and equipment at no charge for use by associations, artistic organizations and various artistic projects, performances and gigs.
Our recommendation: Take a walk on the promenade along the northern Sava river bank. You will discover Sculpture Alley, an exceptional project that enriches the cultural identity of Zagreb. It is the largest open-air gallery in Zagreb and displays sculptures created by recognized Croatian artists. The project was started by Ratko Perić, an academic sculptor in 1985. His idea was to revive the neglected area of the Sava Embankment and create a representative gallery of urban sculptures. His idea has become a great success!

Medvednica – Zagreb's Green Heart 

Zagreb is one of the few European capitals lucky enough to have a mountain right on its doorstep. The northern area of Zagreb lies at the foot of the mountain which is named after bears, the wild animals that lived here ages ago. Medvednica mountain protects the citizens of Zagreb from northern winds but it also provides them with many beautiful hiking trails, mountain huts for a restful and re-energising lunch as well as a ski slope that is very popular in winter. There is a new and modern cable car that takes visitors to the  very top. Visitors may also take public transport or drive along a winding but picturesque road which provides amaziing views over the city.
Our recommendation: Visit one of the mountain lodges at the mountain top, for a hearty portion of a traditional bean stew or goulash. As a dessert, don't miss out on one of the tasty strudels which are freshly prepared every morning especially for visitors who make the effort to reach the top of the mountain.

Museum of Naive Art

The Croatian Museum of Naive Art is located in a Baroque townhouse on Ćirilometodska street, once the main street of the Old Town. Considered to be the world's first museum devoted to naive art, which is also known as folk or primitive art, it displays the works of over twenty Croatian masters of the genre, all self-taught artists whose paintings are bursting with life and colour.
Our recommendation: Exhibitions by the famous artist and designer, Ivan Picelj
Ćirilometodska 3
Open 10:00 - 17:00, Sat and Sun 10:00 - 14:00




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