A Music Guide to Zagreb, Croatia, With Rising Star Nika Turković

| Courtesy of Dvorišta Zagreb
Elise Morton

Former Commissioning Editor (Eastern Europe)

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.

Nika Turković is Zagreb-born Croatian pop star

1. Kontesa Jazz Club & Cabaret

Music Venue

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.

2. Johann Franck

Cafe, Croatian

Courtesy of Johan Franck

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.

3. MINT – Club & More

Music Venue

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.

4. BSH events

Music Venue

“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.

5. The Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall

Music Venue

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.

6. Cosmopolitan Caffe & Wine Bar

Bar, Cafe, Beer, Wine

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!”

7. Dvorišta/The Courtyards

Music Venue

Courtesy of Dvorišta Zagreb

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.”

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