Jazz, secret parties and a café-turned-nightclub – Zagreb offers a spectacular array of music events. To get some insight into the Croatian capital’s dynamic music scene, Culture Trip turned to local pop star Nika Turković for the lowdown.
It doesn’t matter what you’re into, Zagreb has it all when it comes to music. Every night there are dozens of events, including concerts by some of the Balkans’ biggest names, parties and jazz sets. The venues are as varied as the gigs: from old courtyards in the city’s historic upper town, to a reputed concert hall named after a 19th-century Croatian composer. Zagreb-born Nika Turković, a rising star on Croatia’s pop scene, gave Culture Trip the inside track on where to hear the best music in the Croatian capital.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Set just off Zagreb’s main square, Kontesa hosts a varied programme of jazz and cabaret shows. “Its cabaret-like interior with red velvet seats, and its selection of jazz performers really completes the vibe of the place, making it the only ‘real jazz club’ in Zagreb,” Nika explains. As its central location, right in the heart of the city, suggests, Kontesa draws some of the biggest names in local jazz: “It has hosted some of the most prominent Croatian jazz musicians over the past few years, including Matija Dedić, who is the one of the most famous Croatian jazz pianists,” says Nika. What to drink at Kontesa? Nika highly recommends their selection of gin and tonics.
A truly all-day venue, upscale bistro, café and nightclub, Johann Franck will take you through from breakfast to a lavish dinner and an evening of entertainment – all at a prime location on Zagreb’s central square. “Being the most famous cafe in Zagreb wasn’t enough, so Johann Franck decided to become a nightclub on the weekends as well!” Nika says. As well as recommending Johann Franck as a great spot to enjoy a meal, Nika rates their music events, too: “They also host some of the most amazing parties on Fridays and Saturdays, such as tribute bands, DJs, themed parties, live bands and concerts by famous Balkan performers – Novi Fosili, The Frajle, Songkillers, Meritas, Nina Badrić, and many more.” Just be sure to be quick of the mark: “The parties are always crowded so make sure to follow their social media in order to get your tickets in time!” says Nika.
Although MINT is a relatively new kid on the block, Nika notes that it’s “packed every weekend”. Set a little outside of the city centre – although just a short taxi ride or a tram and a short stroll away – nightclub MINT is already famed for its music selection and opulent feel. “The interior is amazing – with a baroque vibe, gold details, a huge dance floor and an amazing stage, it almost looks royal,” says Nika. The live music offering is just as impressive, Nika notes, with DJ sets and live gigs (with a particular focus on folk music) drawing crowds. In short, MINT is a one-stop shop for a night of fun: “It basically has you covered for a weekend night out, as it guarantees a good time, and stays open until early morning hours,” says Nika.
“If you love a good techno rave or music festival-esque party, it’s worth paying attention to BSH,” says Nika. The “cool and urban” parties organised by BSH take place a few times a year, in a diverse range of locations: “They have held the party on rooftops, bars, clubs, even on Medvednica (Zagreb’s only mountain) in an old tower,” the singer says. While the ticket prices are reasonable, Nika cautions that drinks can be pricey.
For a more refined musical experience in Zagreb, head to one of the city’s most well-known concert venues. Named after Vatroslav Lisinski, a 19th-century Croatian composer, the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall hosts a range of concerts, literary events and theatre performances. “It’s definitely on the fancier side, and the dress code is usually a suit and tie,” Nika tells Culture Trip. “Some of the greatest musicians from the Balkans and around the world have performed there, and it is every Croatian performer’s dream to get a chance to perform in the Vatroslav Lisinski large hall,” says Nika, speaking of the larger of the venue’s two concert halls, which can host around 2,000 people.
Nika notes that while centrally located café Cosmopolitan may be small, it more than makes up for its size in soul. Hosting live music acts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Cosmopolitan is making a name for itself as an intimate concert venue that combines a party atmosphere with a warm welcome. “The drinks are affordable, the vibe is kinda nightclub-ish, but it’s a fairly small place, therefore it remains very homey. During the day, it’s a very nice café, which serves great coffee too,” Nika says, adding that the resident artists “are usually young Croatian singers from TV shows such as The Voice, or A-strana (one of the most popular music television shows in Croatia), and they really know how to bring the house down!”
If you’re visiting Zagreb in the summer, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for events hosted by The Courtyards. “It’s an amazing concept that happens during summer in the old town of Zagreb, letting everyone get acquainted with the city’s hidden cultural and historic gems, while listening to amazing live music,” says Nika. “Basically, they ‘hide’ their locations throughout the old courtyards in the upper old town neighbourhood, and create pop-up bars and stages, where you can have drinks, sometimes food, and listen to live music.”
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.