Capital Croatia: This summer, it has to be Zagreb
With its old-world architecture, magnificent scenery and lively festival scene, Zagreb is the ultimate summer getaway.
Zagreb in a nutshell
Located in the northwest of Croatia, Zagreb is both the country’s capital and the largest city. There’s a relaxed, easy-breezy feel here and a wealth of arts, music and gastronomy for the curious visitor to explore. Zagreb may not be on the coast, but it is still a place for nature lovers. Nestled in the shadow of the dramatic Medvednica mountain and with the Sava river flowing through it, there is no shortage of breath-taking vistas to take in. Not to mention hiking trails to trek.
Think Croatia and you usually think island-hopping from one white-sanded beach to the next, coursing over azure waters, which probably explains why this inland culture hotspot hasn’t been on your radar. But all that is changing. Zagreb has seen a steady rise in tourism in recent years, holding its own against other ‘European mini break’ heavyweights. There is a distinctive charm to this city. From the downright quirky museum of broken relationships to the traditional Dolac Market, Zagreb bustles with an off-beat bohemia, serving up delights at every turn. The Croatian capital is safe, friendly, easy to get around and chock-full of things to do this summer. Time to get packing…
What’s going on?
This Parisian extravaganza offers a carefully curated musical programme as well as art installations, pop-up stalls and an open-air cinema. It’s a wistful celebration of nostalgia that runs until the end of September on the streets of Zagreb.
Running from 30th May to 3rd June, this bonkers street festival brings a carnival of performers, clowns, musicians and actors to Zagreb – with real flourish and flair. The PoŽuji Waiters’ Race, Dustmen Cart Race, the Slowest Bicycle Ride, and the Wandering Piano are just some of the traditional events on the programme.
Electronic music more your thing? Then don’t miss this amazing festival on the 2nd and 3rd June showcasing some massive international names. Confirmed so far are Ricardo Villalobos, The Martinez Brothers, Sonja Moonear, and Jackmaster, with many more to be announced. Soak up the atmosphere and dance the night away by the beautiful lake.
With 13 concerts spanning June and July and featuring more than 1000 artists this promises to be one of Zagreb’s biggest classical music events. Listen to the sound of opera under the stars and enjoy music from the Nabucco opera, the symphonic orchestras of the Croatian Radio and Television and the Music Academy, as well as Zagreb’s best choirs.
Expect pop-up galleries, urban gardens, art installations, DIY workshops, a music programme and lots more at this festival devoted to architecture and the arts. It’s a chance to get inside the minds of some of the capital’s leading creatives. Running from 14th to 17th June.
INmusic Festival (25th – 27th June) is in the big league of music festivals. It has the buzz. It has the location (the stunning Lake Jarun). And it has the acts. This year’s headliners are Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Kills, Alice In Chains and David Byrne with many more to be announced.
For the fifth year in a row, the pretty courtyards of seven famous buildings in Zagreb will fling open their doors to the public. Expect great music, street food and all-round summer fun. From 13th to 22nd July.
To keep track of all that’s going on in Zagreb, check out the official tourist site.
The Zagreb card: your key to the city
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch but there is free entry- with the right card, that is. The Zagreb card entitles you to free public transport and either free entry or discounts at over 50 attractions. It’s your wallet-friendly travel companion! For a full list of everything that’s included, be sure to peruse this online guide.
Planning your adventure
Intrigued by all that Zagreb has to offer? Don’t miss out on the buzz and excitement of the summer festivals. Go and be part of it. Fun and music under the Croatian sun – what could be better? Croatia Airlines operates direct flights to Zagreb from Dublin.
Accommodation-wise, the capital has everything to suit a wide range of budgets and tastes from luxury five-star hotels to cheap and cheerful hostels. Take a look on Airbnb or browse the Zagreb tourist site to find your perfect home away from home.