Unlike much of the rest of Europe, which has taken on a much more sustainable approach to thrifting and upcycling, this trend still (rather unfortunately) hasn’t taken Croatia quite as much by storm. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t places at which you can engage in a bit of upcycling, recycling and even get there by bicycling in Croatia’s bustling capital city.
You know that “for everything else, there’s Mastercard” slogan? Well, you could apply that to this particular famous Zagreb location. For all things preloved (and I really do mean all things), there’s Hrelić flea market.
If you happen to see a hoard of all kinds of people spanning generations on a Sunday morning crossing Zagreb’s Mladost bridge, you can guarantee they’re heading to Hrelić on the hunt for a bargain. You can purchase everything from those classic McDonald’s Happy Meal toys from 1990 that everyone was obsessed with for some reason to vintage Levis jeans, and someone selling musical instruments will be set up right next to someone else selling war memorabilia and playing cards.
This flea market has everything one might imagine (or could never imagine, as the case may well be!), but be prepared to do some hunting. There’s a distinct lack of organisation here, and if aesthetically pleasing order and logically placed items are your idea of a location for snapping up a bargain, you’ll be taken aback by Hrelić. That said, if you’re prepared to hunt and hunt well, you are guaranteed to find an item you never knew you needed here – be that a timeless vintage clothing item to obscure fittings made for that rather aged gadget you still have at home.
Hrelić Flea Market
Address: Sajmišna cesta 10010
Britanski trg (British Square)
British Square, known locally as “Britanac” (which literally translates to Brit) is very close to the heart of the city. It’s been popular for decades as a place to meet, have a coffee (that you have to make last for hours as you chat, because you know, when in Rome .…), and browse the stalls selling everything from old coins to postcards from times gone by to issues of old magazines and military items.
British Square will see you arrive thinking you’ll take a look at some of the antiques on offer, have a coffee and move on, to leaving with a postcard sent from Opatija in 1931 and some sort of Austro Hungarian war medal that you absolutely, definitely needed.
Going to British Square on Sunday morning has and continues to be a tradition of sorts for many of Zagreb’s residents, and this social ritual draws crowds effortlessly. Making sure you’re kept in the loop with the latest gossip as told by Croatia’s low-tech CCTV system (otherwise known as the local grandmothers) all while soaking in a bit of sunshine and browsing antiques.
What could be better?
British Square map
Ulični Ormar (Street closet)
A somewhat newer concept, certainly in comparison to the two aforementioned locations, Ulični Ormar is a more recent favourite place among Zagreb’s thrifters for clothes and even housewares/home goods. Their vintage offer of all kinds of women’s clothes, bags and accessories in a quaint and very charming location which affords visitors a sense of peace and time in browsing through the items.
With all sizes and a huge array of different styles on offer, you’re guaranteed to find something you never knew you needed and that you’ll fall in love with. Located in a pretty little courtyard in downtown Zagreb, this is an ideal location that you’ll probably simply be passing by on your way somewhere and see fit to drop in.
I can guarantee you won’t regret it.
Address: Jurišićeva Ulica 16
Located in the trendy area of Trešnjevka, this premium second-hand store offers some fabulous preloved items, and with the words retro and vintage definitely far from out of place here – it’s an ideal stopoff for all lovers of thrifting a bargain.
With fashion items from the former Yugoslavia to timeless pieces that you know will just go perfectly with something you have at home, hopelessly hanging in your wardrobe and hoping to be matched with something, La Roba undoubtedly has something for you. Fashion items which span not only time and in Croatia’s case – political systems – but all of Europe, can be purchased here.
Unique vintage pieces from Germany, Austria, England and France all end up in this Zagreb store, and they’re a world away from the unfortunate modern world of mass-produced fast fashion.
You can guarantee that whatever you purchase here is a one off, entirely unique or at least as close to that as possible.
La Roba Premium Second-Hand Store
Address: Ozaljska Ulica 144
This is far from an exhaustive list of markets and thrift stores in Zagreb, but they’re some of the
more well-known ones. There are more and more thrift stores, preloved and vintage clothing locations popping up all over Zagreb.
If unique clothes and accessories in particular are your thing, you also have options such as:
• Textile house (in multiple locations across Zagreb)
• Deja Vu, Tratinska 36
• London Text (Ulica Ilica 126)
• Mango Sticky Rice Vingage (Ulica kneza Ljudevita Posavskog
• Vintage Circus (Jurišićeva Ulica 10)
This is one of the rare affordable European capitals, so when you come for the beach, don’t forget the bargains.
Lauren Simmonds is the editor of Total Croatia News, the largest English language portal in Croatia. She lives in Zagreb, Croatia, and is a translator, content writer, interpreter and the co-author of "Croatia - A Survival Kit for Foreigners," which was published in 2022.