Croatia Culture & Traditions

The Best Christmas Markets in Croatia


You know Christmas is just round the corner when the festive outdoor markets open. And it’s no different in Croatia, where the few weeks before Christmas are a very special time. Villages, towns and cities invite locals and visitors to sample traditional festive food and drink, artisans offer handmade decorations or gifts and there’s plenty of entertainment, too. So if you’re heading over for a winter visit, make sure to check out some of these Christmas markets in Croatia; you won’t be disappointed!

Christmas Markets in Croatia

Photo Credit: Julien Duval – Zagreb Tourist Board

Christmas in Croatia

Croats love Christmas; it’s one of the most important festivals in the Croatian calendar — this is hardly a surprise in a country where the majority of the population is Catholic. And it means that there are lots of wonderful Croatian Christmas customs and traditions, many of which are decades or even centuries old. From the lighting of the Advent crown on each of the four Sundays running up to December 25th to St Nick’s present-giving visit to the planting of Christmas wheatgrass, every day in December marks another step towards the fabulous family festivity. And Christmas markets in Croatia add another lovely level to the build up. Let’s have a look at four of the best!

Christmas markets in Zagreb

Christmas Markets in Croatia

Photo Credit: Hrvoje Pilic – Zagreb Tourist Board

Running from November 26th 2016 right through to January 8th 2017, Zagreb’s festive fair was voted the best European Christmas market by over 100,000 travelers last year. And its no wonder, since the Croatian capital’s streets and squares bustle with festive food, ice sculptures, brass bands, mulled wine and illuminated market stalls stuffed with goodies.

This year it’s even bigger and better than ever (and nominated again), with 44 days of themed programs, singing and dancing, sizzling sausages and traditional licitarsko srce, a red, heart shaped, honey pastry that’s been made as a love-token in Zagreb for decades. And don’t miss out on the most delicious, lip-smackingly-good cinnamon doughnuts; they’re probably the best in Croatia!

The good news is that the markets are all within a short stroll of some of Zagreb’s main hotels and attractions. So check into the luxurious 5-star Esplanade or sophisticated 4-star Hotel Dubrovnik and everything is on your doorstep. How better to enjoy the best Christmas markets in Croatia?

Zadar’s Christmas markets

Christmas Markets in Croatia

Photo Credit: Toni Pajkin – Zadar Tourist Board

Zadar can’t promise a white Christmas, but it can promise ice-skating by the sea, plus thousands of twinkling fairy lights illuminating the city. It is truly a Christmassy culinary treat for foodies with aromas, favors and traditional dishes to delight, tickle and treat your tastebuds.

From December 2nd to Epiphany on the 6th of January, the coastal city also boasts a packed program of daily concerts, dance performances, fun for the kids and even special hockey matches alongside its Christmas market. And the local museums offer holiday discounts, too. Why not base yourself in the exclusive boutique Hotel Bastion, set in the remains of an old Venetian castle right at the heart of the historic Old Town? And make sure you don’t miss out on ice-skating under the stars along the waterfront; it’s another truly unique experience at the Christmas markets in Croatia.

Advent in Split

Christmas Markets in Croatia

Photo Source: Split Tourist Board

December in Split is delightful. With temperatures hovering around the balmy 60 degree mark (15 Celsius), the days are perfect for strolling along the Adriatic coastline or exploring Split’s advent markets, mulled wine in one hand and bags packed with Christmas shopping in the other.

Split’s market stalls heave under the weight of handmade crafts, traditional food and the all-important festive tipple to warm the chilly shopper. Keep your eyes peeled for typical Croatian Christmas cookies, delight your loved one with some unique jewelry and test out your balance at the ice rink. And as the sun sets over the sea, grab yourself seats for one of the many Advent concerts, imbued with local folklore and designed to bring some early Christmas cheer to the city.

Just ask one of our friendly Christmas elves to recommend a local hotel in the city center so you’re right on the doorstep of all the action and don’t have too far to stagger with all your shopping, or after one too many cups of mulled wine!

Christmas markets in Dubrovnik

Christmas Markets in Croatia

Photo Source: Dubrovnik Tourist Board

With Christmas garlands cross-crossing the cobbled streets and the air infused with the scent of cinnamon, sausages and sweet wine, there really is a magical atmosphere in Dubrovnik in December. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure you check out the traditional winter goodies. The aroma of sugary prikle doughnuts and delicious hrostule sweet fritters drifts through the streets. And it mingles delightfully with the scent of bay leaves and bitter oranges arranged in Christmas wreaths on doors and gates around the city. This really is one of the best Christmas markets in Croatia,  for all the senses.

And listen for one of the most traditional aspects: carol singing. Dating back centuries, this medieval custom sees locals singing the traditional Dubrovnik Kolenda carols in front of the homes of nobles and their neighbors on the evening of the main saints days. Carolers open with “Good evening, we are knocking” in the hope of bringing cheer to the UNESCO heritage city and of receiving a reward of pastries, oranges and wine. Why not ask our expert travel consultants to book you an overnight stay in the gorgeous walled city so you can listen to the carols drifting through the moonlit streets of the historic citadel? If you’re lucky enough to catch them, you’re certain to take home some wonderfully evocative Christmas memories.

Enjoy the Christmas markets in Croatia

Advent and Christmas are joyous times in Croatia. Time-honored traditions and customs bring music and dance into the streets, while fabulous flavors and aromas tickle the taste buds with festive food, local products and warming mulled wine. And artisans across the country labor long to bring you the very best Croatian crafts. From handmade Christmas decorations for your home, to uniquely crafted jewelry and artwork, there is plenty to see and lots of ideas for your gift buying. If you thought this was just a beach-based destination, think again; Christmas markets in Croatia introduce another side to this wonderful country. Our travel consultants are on standby to help you find the perfect winter boutique hotel to rest your weary heads after a day packed to the brim with festive fun. All that’s left to do is to wish you a happy holiday and say “Sretan Bozic;” Merry Christmas!

 

 

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