A Wellness Guide to Zagreb, Croatia

The Croatian capital of Zagreb is quickly becoming a haven for wellness-seekers
The Croatian capital of Zagreb is quickly becoming a haven for wellness-seekers | Miroslav Posavec / Alamy Stock Photo
Beyond Zagreb’s rich history and architectural feats, the Croatian capital has a burgeoning wellness scene just waiting to be discovered. From luxurious spas and yoga studios to organic vegan dining, Zagreb will delight visitors looking for balance in mind, body and soul.

Zagreb’s most distinguishing feature is undoubtedly its historical architecture: Austro-Hungarian buildings, a Gothic twin-spired cathedral and the colourful tiled roof of St Mark’s Church are among the city’s biggest architectural draws. In the midst of this rich architectural heritage, the Croatian capital is also becoming a haven for wellness-seekers, who are enticed by the city’s yoga and meditation centres, known for their innovative approach to holistic health, an abundance of green space and long-standing open-air markets, which stand at the heart of the local buzz surrounding organic produce and plant-based dining.

Enjoy pampering at the Palace

Treat yourself to the innovative beauty treatments on offer at Wellness Centar Mei, which is located inside Zagreb’s luxurious Palace Hotel. Nourish your body with milk and honey therapy, while rejuvenating your facial skin with energy bomb treatments that release essential vitamins into your pores. If your hands and feet could use some extra attention, arrange a mani and pedi combo with paraffin treatments before choosing your nail colour. Cap off your luxurious experience with a relaxing massage and a Finnish sauna for ultimate serenity.

Experience Ayurveda

With its historical roots in what is now India, Ayurveda is among the world’s oldest holistic systems of healing. Centred on promoting balance between the body and mind, Ayurvedic medicine views each person as perfectly unique, with personalised healing practices prescribed for each individual. If you’re interested in learning more about Ayurveda while in Zagreb, head to Bella Centre – Health and Beauty for a consultation with certified staff and a variety of Ayurvedic treatments. Beauty therapies on offer here include oil massages (Abhyanga), dry massages with herbal powders (Udwarthanam) and warm oil on the forehead for stress and migraines (Shirodhara).

Tap into your inner yogi

In yogic terminology, dharma is the internal order that makes all life and the universe possible. Explore this concept at Dharma Yoga Zagreb – a bright studio with a welcoming atmosphere. Owner Sandra Pintarić brought Dharma Yoga to Croatia in 2011 and since then has been sharing her yoga knowledge via master classes, workshops and retreats. The teachers at Dharma Yoga are all certified in the practice of traditional Hatha-Raja yoga and Bhakti yoga, and all classes are offered both in Croatian and English.

In ancient Sanskrit, the name Divya means divine. With a mission to help visitors to reach a greater sense of self-awareness and connection to their divine self, the Divya Yoga Centre offers drop-in yoga classes, but also private yoga and meditation lessons geared towards those that would prefer one-on-one tuition. Some of the varieties taught include Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Mindful Slow Flow, Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra. All of the yoga and meditation classes at Divya are taught in both Croatian and English by experienced teachers.

In Greek mythology, goddess Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life. This concept has guided Gaia Yoga – a studio where new teachers are born and grow, founded in 2006 by Sandra D Bianco as Croatia’s first yoga teacher training programme. In 2012, Gaia expanded to become a yoga shala, providing classes and workshops to people of all ages and abilities. Nonetheless, Gaia still stays true to its roots, offering free “YogaLab” classes led by teachers in training. The studio also hosts a range of interesting workshops, taking on such themes as the roots of female creativity and sexuality.

Practise pilates

Flexio Studio, located in the western part of the city, is the first certified BASI Pilates studio in Croatia. Championing this contemporary approach to the original Joseph Pilates method, Flexio is a warmly decorated space offering classes such as mat-based pilates, power/advanced pilates, rhythm pilates incorporating dance choreography, and machine-based reformer pilates.

Release your inner warrior

White Lotus Kempo is a traditional spiritual karate – an exceptional mental and spiritual practice designed to maintain good health and provide a path to self-realisation. Bieji Lotus Kempo, situated in Zagreb’s upper town, helps practitioners reach the mind through the body and the body through the mind – until they become inseparable and in perfect balance. The movements you’ll learn range from stances, kicks and blocking moves, to punches and forms of communication. The head Sensei, Darko Jambrović, started to practise Kempo in 1975 and opened the studio in 1997. Today, eight other Kempo teachers give classes in the studio. Reach out to them directly to attend this unique training, available on weekday evenings.

Sample fresh, local produce

Every neighbourhood in Zagreb has its own market, but Dolac is the city’s biggest and most famous. This open-air farmers’ market has been running since the 1930s, and has long been a draw for visitors to the city, who come to pick up fresh, local produce and photograph the market in all its vibrancy and colour – particularly the market’s trademark red umbrellas. In addition to locally grown fruit and vegetables, here you can find a fish market with fresh catches brought from the Adriatic that same morning, local honey, fresh pasta vendors, bakeries with handmade cornbread, a variety of homemade cheeses, as well as flowers and handmade ornaments for unique souvenirs. The market is set just north of Zagreb’s main square, making it easily accessible from the centre of town. Pro tip: the best time to shop is in the early morning.

Go vegan

Visit Zrno Bio Bistro, a popular organic and vegan restaurant in the centre of Zagreb, to step into the heart of the city’s plant-based dining scene. Supplied with artisanal produce by Croatia’s oldest organic farm, Zrno Bio Bistro is committed to ensuring their entire menu is certified organic. Expect to find flavourful soups, rice and pasta bowls, falafel plates and vegan burgers to satisfy even the most meat-loving of customers.

Get out in nature

Purgeri (a name referring to people born and raised in Zagreb) know how much their city has to offer when it comes to beautiful parks and green spaces. Options for enjoying some fresh air in the city include Zrinjevac, complete with towering trees, cascading fountains and an array of colourful flower arrangements; Maksimir, where you can sit at a café listening to nature’s sounds, or walk winding paths reminiscent of an enchanted forest; and the Botanical Gardens, with blooming magnolia trees and a bright red Japanese-style bridge suspended over a tranquil pond. Sljeme, on the other hand, is the highest point in the city and boasts a variety of hiking trails through verdant forest, while the Mirogoj Cemetery provides a peaceful atmosphere for a reflective stroll, with monumental arches and the graves of some of Croatia’s writers, poets and composers.