Sometimes we need a quiet weekend away from home, to recharge and refocus. Too often, I find myself spending those weekends in big cities, running from one museum to another, from gallery to gallery. And although it might be stimulating and exciting, sometimes I just wish I could take things easily and destress a little more. So for all of you FOMO-affected contemporary art lovers like me, I have the perfect solution and it is Zagreb. 

Zagreb has to be one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. The Croatian capital is the perfect mix of European history, with long traditions dating back centuries and different influences. Nowadays, it is an elegant city, that you can easily navigate and that will surely offer more than just one reason to love it. Not only does it has beautiful historical landmarks, like the stunning cathedral or the cobbled streets of the Upper Town, but it is also a vibrant city, with amazing cuisine and great shops for your weekend shopping spree. 

With two or three days you can easily visit all the major attractions in the city, relax in some cozy cafes and taste the local cuisine, or go out for drinks at night, while still having time to visit some museums with ease and no rush at all. And if you are planning a trip to Zagreb in summer, you can pair it with a longer stay by the Croatian coast, definitely one of my favorite places in Europe to spend my summer holidays. 

So, whether you are going to be there in winter, or summer (or any other season really), I am sure you will love Zagreb and you will love even more these 3 contemporary art must-see destinations in the Croatian capital city. 

zagreb contemporary art - MSU
MSU – Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb – Photo courtesy MSU Zagreb

MSU – Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb

First stop for every contemporary art lover in Zagreb, the MSU is an impressive museum with amazing exhibitions. Located a little bit outside the city center, it can be easily reached by tram. In fact, the tram ride from the center to the museum offers a nice peek at some nice residential areas of Zagreb and it is by itself a nice experience to make. 

The museum is the biggest in the country, and it was opened in 2009 in its current location, but the core of its collection dates back to 1954 when Zagreb established the former City Gallery of Contemporary Art. The new building, with its impressive total area of 14,600 m2, hosts both a permanent collection and temporary exhibitions and offers both a great insight on contemporary Croatian art as well as international exhibitions. 

The museum also houses a library, a multimedia hall, a bookstore, a cafe, and a restaurant, and outside of the building, you can entertain yourself with a Test Site metal sculpture by Carsten Höller. 

MSU – Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb
Avenija Dubrovnik 17, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

Info, tickets, and opening hours:

zagreb contemporary art - Lauba
Lauba House For People And Art – Photo courtesy Lauba

Lauba House For People And Art

We all know how much I love former industrial buildings turned into contemporary art centers, don’t we? It comes as no surprise that Lauba made it to this list, because it has everything I love. 

Originally built in 1910 as the horse-riding arena for the Austro-Hungarian army, it was later turned into a textile factory of the Zagreb Textile Combine. In 2011 it was finally opened as the Lauba House For People And Art, a hybrid space where art is displayed, encouraged, and produced. It serves as an exhibition space for the private collection of Businessman Tomislav Kličko, with the best contemporary Croatian artists. But Lauba also hosts temporary exhibitions, performances, and screenings, as well as a restaurant open till late, where international and local artists meet and get to know each other. With its black exteriors and cool exhibitions, it is the perfect place to spend an afternoon visiting some exhibitions, before stopping by at the restaurant for a great dinner. 

Lauba House For People And Art
Prilaz baruna Filipovića 23a, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

Info and opening hours:

Moderna Galerija

Ideally visited before the MSU, the Moderna Galerija (Modern Gallery) hosts the national collection of 19th and 20th-century art. Here you will familiarize yourself with the best Croatian art, as it holds the richest and most important collection of national modern art. Housed since 1934 in the historic Vranyczany Palace in the center of Zagreb, the museum can be easily visited while strolling around the city and offers incredible insight into local artists and movements. 

With paintings, sculptures, drawings, and graphics, medallions and medals, as well as photographs and new media, the collection count more than 10.000 pieces, that are displayed in the large museum rooms, together with temporary exhibitions. The artists represented in the museum are displayed in chronological order, with rooms entirely dedicated to one artist and other rooms dedicated to different movements and schools. 

The Moderna Galerija is a true Croatian art history book, that keeps expanding through annual new acquisitions. Come here for an art history class in the form of a museum visit!

Moderna Galerija
Ul. Andrije Hebranga 1, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

Info, tickets, and opening hours:

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Cover image by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash