Snow Covered Hrelic Flea Market, Zagreb. Sure Beats the Mall.

Hrevic Flea Market. Zagreb, Croatia.
Hrelic Flea Market. Zagreb, Croatia.
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 fake Gucci hat, or was it real, sits along side furry little dead animals whose sole purpose in life was to grow, get old, die, and become a neck warmer. Mid-century furniture, vintage ski equipment, film cameras by the score, VHS Russian porno’s nestle up to nautical related future tchotchke’s. There’s plenty of warm clothing available, should you have underestimated the bone chilling feeling of being at Hrelic flea market in Zagreb, Croatia, on an icy day like this. It’s like standing in a walk-in supermarket refrigerator, except there’s more antique paintings, and less frozen yoghurt.

There’s a resurgence of flea markets going on around the world. From Brooklyn to London, the average flea market punter has gone from older ladies with small mustaches, to younger hipsters, with larger mustaches. Such is the cycle of fashion. However, Hrelic is old school. Apart from the one Ashton Kucher lookalike I met, who had scored a nice selection of books covering everything from Piet Mondrian, to a tattered old Croatian paperback on “How to Meditate”, Hrelic remains – your fathers flea market.

Hrelic is a local institution. Thousands of vendors set up at sunrise, snow or no snow, to sell at least one of every item available on Earth. It’s standard flea market practice. What isn’t standard flea market practice, is setting up in the middle of a huge snow covered field. Hrelic also differs from your regular flea market every Sunday – there are hundreds of cars for sale as well. Dreaming of driving a Lada to Singapore? Bring cash, start at Hrelic.

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Hrelic Flea Market in the snow - Zagreb
Hrelic Flea Market, about ten minutes drive from downtown Zagreb.
flea market - hrelic zagreb
I love lamp.
Flea market vendor in snow at Hrelic, Zagreb
Snowy flea market creates rusty tools. Old Croatian proverb.
market flea hrelic
I love you Jeebus. Hrelic Flea Market, Zagreb, Croatia.

Mall vs flea market. Indoors and heated vs outdoors and freezing. Tax avoiding sellers, vs tightly regulated commercial franchises. Chatting with real people, vs being sized up by commission hungry assistant sales managers. “I could spot you 100km’s away, you’re not from around here”. Began one conversation at Hrelic.

That conversation wouldn’t happen in a mall. Nor would the paradox of personal ethics – most people wouldn’t steal, nor would they feel comfortable selling stolen goods. But many wouldn’t seem to have an issue with buying something that is possibly stolen. There is life at a flea market, and it makes you feel alive.

A flea market is the antithesis of the bland shopping mall – all of which are almost identical across the entire planet. Shopping, as a marketable past-time, is much like the contemporary travel industry. We have been conditioned by persuasive advertising to believe that it’s correct to desire a glitzy shopping experience, complete with gift boxes and bonus offers. With travel, we are told that the “correct” way to live your life is working for fifty weeks, so that you can afford a luxurious two week vacation once a year. At best.

Some people trade time for money. Others, trade money for time.

market zagreb flea
Go on. Light that cigarette. When you’re finished, throw it on the ground. No, Hrelic is not a shopping mall.
flea market croatia
Flea market aficionado’s, I can feel your heart rate increasing from here.
snow flear market zagreb - piles of snow
The piles of snow make for convenient empty box storage.
hrelic 2013
Snow? You call that snow? Why, I remember the Snow-storm of 1923. Forty foot deep. We wore onions on our belts back then, as it was the style of the time.
hrelic zagreb flea market
Smoke a cigarette, choose a ladies purse. Typical flea market scene. Apart from the snow.

When you think of Croatia, you may imagine historic towns dotted on the Adriatic coast, the clear emerald waters beckoning. Possibly, you’re not imagining a huge, jumbled, and gritty flea market in the snow. In fact, I’ll take that as a given. As with most countries, it’s the markets that hold the real heart of a nation. Hrelic Flea Market in Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, is no exception.

This could border upon the cliched, but the truth remains that a flea market is one of the most accessible ways that a tourist can get to know a destination. Hrelic is a fascinating place, and I completely recommend a visit if, nay – when –  you get to Zagreb.

hrelic 1
Wandering through downtown Zagreb, Croatia feels very Western European. Out here, not so much.
flea market zagreb 2
Husky man, husky dog.
flea market hrelic
Bargain hunters, getting into it.
flea market zagreb
Croatia presents itself with one foot in Western Europe, and the other, not so much.
flea market camera
Calm down, camera fiends. I plucked the good stuff, and it’s not in this photo.
bus to hrelic flea market zagreb
Behind this stand is where to catch the bus to downtown Zagreb. Sadly, a taxi is a great option as well.

Information – How to Get to Hrelic Flea Market in Zagreb, Croatia

Bus is the only pubic transportation option. From the south side of the central train station, catch bus number 295. The bus price is 15 Kuna, however a taxi will only set you back about 35 Kuna. There are no trams that service this area. Entry to the market is free. The map below shows the location of the Hrelic flea market in Zagreb.

 

I have travelled to flea markets from Penang to Budapest. If you’re a fan of flea markets, or just want to see an authentic slice of Croatian life, this is one place not to miss.

Oh, and there is plenty of food available. And beer. Just an FYI.

Nate

PS, you’ve got a nice camera.. but you’re not getting the photos you expected. No, your instruction book won’t help. This is my personal recommendation – put together by a buddy of mine, it vastly improved my photography, is less than ten bucks, and it’s delivered instantly. I call it my “secret weapon” –> Click here.

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19 thoughts on “Snow Covered Hrelic Flea Market, Zagreb. Sure Beats the Mall.

  1. I have been enjoying your recent posts on Croatia.Just out of curiousity how is the little Fuji x-pro holding up to the cold? Thanks.

    1. Thanks Karla… the little Fuji jX-Pro just keeps on ticking (or clicking). It’s been in snow storms, and -12c weather, and hasn’t missed a beat, not once. There have only been three problems that I can mention:
      1. The lens cap that the 18mm comes with, is garbage. It falls off very easy. Solution – bought a two-dollar fake Nikon cap from ebay.
      2. The strap that comes with the camera is starting to wear, it won’t last. This is disappointing, as my Nikon straps would last for years and years. Solution – looking for a new strap!
      3. There is a little piece of rubber that surrounds the eye piece, and it is wearing away. This is easy to change, as it unscrews. Solution – when I can, I’ll get it replaced under warranty. It doesn’t effect the camera in any way, it’s just an aesthetic thing.

      Hope that helps!

  2. ‘Snowy flea market creates rusty tools. Old Croatian proverb’ hehehe, that line made me smile.
    So you purchased camera stuff, food and beer? Any other bargains?

    1. Em, there were so many bargains I had visions of returning with a shipping container. Alas, I’m currently limited to what I can hold in a 40 litre backpack…

  3. Lovely! Those cameras looked so enticing. I wished I can buy myself those like those vintage trunk cases and those grand wooden chairs? its amazing. If i am on the road and a choice between a mall or a flea markets crop up, i know where I will be most certainly find myself comfortable, in the flea market. :)

  4. Amazing how much prettier the snow makes Hrelic look. I hope you rewarded yourself with a Hrelic-style brunch! Beans, sausages, and potatoes from one of those rickety shacks… It sure hits the spot.

  5. Nate, having just arrived to the Dalmatian Coast last week, I enjoyed the photography and authentic insight from your Zagreb posts. We are contemplating heading to Serbia as well. Did you go there straight from Croatia?

    1. Hi Tricia, yes – there is a train that runs from Zagreb to Belgrade, once a day, it leaves in the morning. Please double check, but I believe it leaves Zagreb at around 10.50am. The journey takes maybe 6 hours, but it stops a couple of times on the way. It’s a nice enough journey. The price was about 170 kuna. Border formalities take place on the train, it was no problem at all. If you’re planning on travelling from the coast to Serbia, I don’t have any experience in this area. Good luck!

  6. LOL Love the flea market vs shopping malls comparison. I literally live a hop, skip, and jump away from the Mall of America and I avoid it like the plague. Again, finding a market like this where the locals go is such a fun, authentic experience to have while traveling. I love you enthusiasm and want to seek out such experiences. Great post!

  7. I’m a HUGE fleamarket fan. And I love that it’s in the snow. It looks so quirky.
    I love quirky.
    And fleamarkets.
    I love quirky fleamarkets.

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