Diverse Zagreb: A Winter of International Sporting Action Awaits

Total Croatia News

Snow Queen Trophy

October 25, 2017 – As Zagreb gears up for its annual Advent in Zagreb festival, a look at the rich selection of international sporting action on offer in the coming months in the Croatian capital. 

Where else in the world could you see an international skiing race to the main square of a capital city, with world champions among the competitors?

Only in Zagreb. 

Tourism in the Croatian capital is developing at an impressive rate, with its visitor numbers the envy of every more fashionable destination on the Adriatic coast. Named earlier this year as Lonely Planet’s best destination in Europe for 2017, Zagreb has slowly achieved what the Croatian tourism chiefs have been seeking for the whole country – a status as a 12-month tourism destination.


Often written off in the past in favour of coastal towns and islands, as well as trendier capitals such as Vienna and Prague, the rise in Zagreb’s fortunes has been the result of hard work and a coordinated campaign, as well as a major expansion in the attractions on offer in the city. Zagreb’s food and wine scene is unrecognisable from a decade ago, and there have been a number of new museums, festivals and cultural events to attract tourists to the city. The biggest success story, of course, has been Advent in Zagreb, which was a nothing event a couple of years ago. In addition to being voted the best Christmas market in Europe two years in a row, its true success lies in visitor numbers, with Zagreb recording more tourists in December alone than many medium-sized coastal destinations manage in 12 months. 

With its increasingly diverse offer, tourists are visiting the Croatian capital for a variety of reasons. In addition to the more obvious tourism draws, sport is playing an increasingly important part in the Zagreb tourism mix, and this winter sees some great European and international sporting action in the city. One of the highlights for many locals and visitors, of course, is the availability of open-air ice skating, something which is much more widely available with the expansion of Advent in Zagreb, and there are plenty of options all over the city to mix with locals on skates. 

The sport which put Zagreb in the global media spotlight last winter, however, was skiing, with a rather unusual addition to celebrate the 50th year of the World Ski Cup, part of the annual Snow Queen Trophy, a men and women’s slalom event at Sljeme which takes place in the first week of January. To celebrate the 50th year of the World Ski Cup, a special 200m piste was created from Zagreb Cathedral to the main square at Ban Jelacic, and a number of World Cup winners of yesteryear took part, including Croatian legends, Ivica and Janica Kostelic. Follow all the fun of this year’s event on the Snow Queen Trophy official website.


While local residents might be enjoying themselves on the ice skating rinks of the city, did you know that Zagreb has its very own ice hockey club, which is competing in the EBEL (Erste Banka European Liga)? The only Croatian team in the league, Medvescak are currently in the bottom half of the league, but have three home games coming up – against Liga leaders UPC Vienna Capitals tonight, Innsbruck tomorrow, and Czech opposition in the form of Znojmo on October 31. To see the full schedule of matches over the season, and to learn more about Medvedscak and ice hockey in Zagreb, click here.  If you have never been to an ice hockey game before, the atmosphere is great so give it a try – one more thing to add to your Zagreb holiday memories. 


Football is a religion in Croatia, and while you can catch up with live football action throughout the Croatian national league season at the stadiums of Dinamo Zagreb and Lokomotiva, the most anticipated game of the year is fast approaching, with plenty of Greek visitors expected. Croatia is currently ranked in the top 20 teams in the world, and their place at next year’s World Cup in Russia should have been long assured. But the Croatian team often likes to do things the hard way, and the national team now finds itself in a two-legged play-off fight with Greece for the last change to make the plane to Moscow. The first leg will kick off at 19:45 at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb on November 9. For more information, and to follow Croatian football in general, visit the Croatian National Football Federation website.

Another hugely popular sport where Croatia regularly competes with the very best in the world is handball. On a par with football in the national psyche, Croatia takes its handball seriously, having reached the world championship final on no less than four occasions since 1995. Will home advantage bring success for Croatia in January? Along with Porec, Varazdin and Split, Zagreb will be hosting the 2018 EFH Euro, from January 12-18, a chance to see some of Europe’s top players in action. Learn more on the EFH Euro 2018 website.


Basketball is another sport in which Zagreb excels, and one which you can catch up with plenty of live European action. Leading the way is KK Cedevita Zagreb, a team with a rich pedigree and history of success. Catch the latest action, both nationally and internationally, here.

Zagreb, a vibrant and diverse capital city with an increasingly enticing tourism offer, is waiting for your visit. Will your reason to visit be sport, culture, tradition, gourmet, adventure, or a combination of all of the above? 

Learn more about tourism in Zagreb from the Zagreb Tourist Board




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