Judging by the many statues of literary personalities that dot the city, Zagreb has always revered the written word. Today, although two major bookstores have closed down, Croatia’s capital is still home to a number of small-batch publishers that are also outlets. The city also specialises in antiquarian shops, where an entertaining browse should turn up a rare edition, map or curio.
One of a number of antiquarian bookstores in the city, Biblos is the place to go to for rare historic tomes, maps and books about Zagreb, some dating back to the mid 1800s. The majority of the stock is in Croatian but the more recently issued editions about the capital are dual-language. Rarities abound, such as Blau Otto’s meticulously detailed ‘Reisen in Bosnien und der Herzegowina’, published in Berlin in 1877, shortly before the Congress there ceded Bosnia & Herzegovina to the Habsburgs.
Biblos, Vlaška 19, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4816 574
The most prominent of Zagreb’s contemporary literary establishments, Booksa is more a laid-back café and hangout than an out-and-out bookstore but it still hosts regular talks, workshops and discussions about the world of literature. English-language authors are regularly invited to give readings, international writers too.
Booksa, Martićeva, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4616 124
Jesenski & Turk
A local mini-chain of second-hand bookstores, Jesenski & Turk has two branches in town, each one with a more populist stock than the somewhat erudite antiquarian establishments elsewhere. You should be able to find a suitable English-language novel for your onward train journey, photography books in good condition and guides to Zagreb and Croatia.
Jesenski & Turk, Vukotinićeva 4, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4826 233
It’s a completely eclectic selection at Srce Ljubenice, Zagreb’s most sympathetic second-hand bookstore. The kind of place where you can easily lose a couple of hours browsing, Srce Ljubenice also stocks plenty of CDs and DVDs, with international feature films and even English-language TV series available.
Srce Ljubenice, Opatovina 29, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4107 481
Vuković & Runjić
Since 1999, Vuković & Runjić has published 15 titles a year, including Croatian versions of classic, cultish and contemporary international fiction. Márquez, Orhan Pamuk and Salman Rushdie are presented between strikingly imaginative covers, with high production standards, making lovely gifts for a Croatian host or friend.
Vuković & Runjić, Teslina 16, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4810 742
Right on Zagreb’s main square, Ljevak is a book publishers as well as a major outlet for (mainly) modern international fiction in Croatian. There’s a substantial section of English-language editions, as well as books on foreign languages, including dictionaries and workbooks.
Ljevak, Trg bana Josipa Jelačića 17, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4812 992
Moving to Palmotićeva in September 2017, Bibliofil is both a prominent antiquarian and book publisher in its own right. Founded and run by Dražen Dabić–formerly head of bookstore chain Profil–Bibliofil stocks rare, special and first edition art and literature books. It also produces its own beautiful collections of photography and poetry. This is also where to come for periodicals on art, design and architecture.
Bibliofil, Antuna Bauera 9, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 99 423 2522