Croatia's Most Under-Rated Markets
Unlike the United States, which has a penchant for supermarkets the size of small shopping malls, Croatia still clings to a "shop small" mentality. This means most towns and villages set up a daily market at which residents can purchase fresh ingredients and even textiles or home goods in tiny batches, rather than stock up en masse at a super-sized supermarket.
Strolling through these town markets, typically held outdoors in a central square, gives visitors an unparalleled glimpse into the day-to-day life of locals. Whether you're there to ogle the veggies, fruits, meats and cheeses, or to purchase a handmade basket or tablecloth, you'll be delighted to explore our 5 favorite Croatian markets.
Plan your visit keeping in mind that the outdoor-level vendors sell veggies, textiles and plants, while the indoor vendors hawk meat, fish, cheese, herbs and olives. Keep an eye peeled for the folks selling sir i vrhinje, a cheese and cream combo that's so gooey, you'll need a spoon to devour it.
The market's produce vendors will be selling whatever's in season, from wild asparagus and strawberries in spring and summer, to pomegranates and potatoes in fall and winter, but you'll also be able to buy flowers, clothes, toys and even kitchen utensils. The market opens around 7 a.m. and closes by 2 p.m., but plan to head there late-morning when it's possible to bargain for slightly lower prices with the vendors.
Dairy lovers should make a special trip to seek out homemade prgica, fresh or smoked pyramid-shaped blocks of cheese, which are a delicacy in the region. To see the greatest variety and market bustle, plan to visit the market on a Thursday or Saturday. Vendors from other regions proffer their goods alongside local sellers, a tradition that began centuries ago when farmers from around the country brought their livestock to the market on those 2 days.
Spend time meandering through the many stands, scoping out whatever fruits and veggies are in season and admiring the fish vendors, though you'll also find folks hawking nuts, olive oils, homemade wine and fruit brandy, as well as non-edible goods like hand-sewn tablecloths. While the boisterous market is one of the most popular events to occur in the square, Gundulićeva is also a scenic spot to stop for an afternoon coffee and a venue for evening concerts in warm weather.
Souvenir seekers may think they've hit the proverbial jackpot, bringing home with them one of the unique wares being proffered. Think your parents might need an antique doorknob? You're in luck! For reasons unbeknownst to us, doorknobs aplenty fill a number of the stalls, though you'll also find more traditional keepsakes, like old postcards from around the globe.