Zagreb is not exactly what you'd call a shopping destination, but nevertheless there are plenty of shops and markets where your money will be well spent.
One of Croatia's claims to fame is that it is responsible for introducing the world to the necktie, or cravat. As the story goes, Louis XIII of France took a liking to the colorful scarves Croatian mercenaries wore knotted at their necks as part of their military attire. Louis adopted the fashion and the necktie was born. (The word "cravat" likely comes from a French interpretation of the Croatian word for "Croat" - "Hrvat.") Croata is the most well-known retailer of neckties, with locations throughout the country.
Traditional arts and crafts that make great souvenirs are Croatian lace, wooden toys from Zagorje, the region just north of Zagreb, and licitar hearts - decorated, heart-shaped gingerbread cookies that have become a symbol of Zagreb. All three of these crafts are inscribed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
There are many culinary specialties that are also worth purchasing, such as rakija, Croatian brandy made from seemingly every fruit, nut, or herb that grows in Croatia, and a range of meat products, from pršut, dry-cured ham, to kulen, a paprika-spiced sausage.
Croatia is also a notable producer of olive oil and lavender, and a number of culinary and beauty products incorporating these ingredients can be found.
Ilica, the street running west from the main square, is Zagreb's major shopping street. Here you'll find small local shops as well as major retailers, such as Zara, H&M, and United Colors of Benetton, intermixed with cafes, bakeries, and sweet shops.
The pedestrian side streets branching north and south from Ilica are also home to a number of boutiques, specialty shops, and restaurants.
One of the major perks about living is Zagreb is its numerous open-air markets that sell fresh produce daily. There is usually a much greater selection of fruits and vegetables at markets than at supermarkets, and the quality is usually better, as well.
Several years ago, all of the produce for sale was local, but now there are many vendors who resell imported produce. If you prefer to buy local produce, look for a signs that provide the information about the location and registration of the producer. Usually there is a jumble of numbers, but you should be able to find the city or at the very least "Hrvatska" (Croatia) amid the jumble.
Produce is sold by the kilo. You are generally invited to choose your produce yourself, and often you are welcome to taste before you buy. Keep in mind that markets are generally cash only, and it helps to know some Croatian, as many vendors do not speak a great deal of English. However, pointing and signing works well enough. Try to get to the markets early, as most close up by 2 or 3:00 p.m.
A complete list of Zagreb's markets with information about working hours and vendors is available online. Listed are a few of the most well-known markets in the center:
Zagreb's flea market, is worth mentioning in any shopping guide, even if more for the experience than the goods. There's a whole lot of junk for sale at Hrelic, but if you're diligent, you can find some real gems. It's a great spot for digging up socialist-era artifacts. The market is located at Sajmisna cesta and it is best to visit on the weekend.
This small square (actually more of a triangle) off of Ilica, west of the main square, houses a couple of cafes, a fruit and vegetable market, and an antiques market. Typical fare includes books, jewelry, postcards, paintings, and sometimes furniture. Prices are much higher than at Hrelic, but occasionally you'll find a good deal.
The oldest and largest market in Zagreb, Dolac is located just north of the main square, Trg bana Jelacica. Dolac is split into two levels: the top level is where you will find fruits, vegetables, and fish, and the lower level houses meats, cheese and milk, and bread. There are also several vendors at Dolac who sell souvenirs, baskets, wooden toys, and traditional textiles.
Kvaternikov trg is a small square with a few coffee shops east of the main square. The market is nearby, and meat, fish, fruits and vegetables are available.
This market, west of Cibona tower, is quite large and offers a good selection of fruit, vegetables, and milk products. There is a small fish market and a few meat vendors.
There are international and national supermarket chains in Croatia. Most large supermarkets are located outside of the city center, often near shopping malls. Within the city center, there are smaller corner grocery stores every couple of blocks or so. Hours vary, but generally supermarkets close by 10:00 p.m. and have limited hours on Sundays.
Grocery stores in Croatia include:
Grocery stores in Croatia are not known for their variety. It can be difficult to find international foods, as well as foods that fit special diets. Natural food stores - grocery stores that carry natural or organic products that often cater to vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets - are beginning to catch on, but there aren't many of them and they're generally very expensive.
There are three currently natural food grocers in Zagreb: