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