October 17, 2021 – Word is spreading – Zagreb for digital nomads. A look at the growing popularity of the Croatian capital, recently featured in the top 5 most loved cities in a Nomad List survey.
It’s been almost 2 years since I wrote my first article on the potential of digital nomad tourism in Zagreb. As we re-read Why Zagreb is attracting more and more digital nomads 21 months later, it’s interesting how much everything has changed and how much hasn’t changed.
The top ten reasons cited at the time all remain compelling reasons why digital nomads will find Zagreb attractive – its proximity to the Schengen border, its excellent English language, its security, its accessibility, its affordability, a thriving tech scene, a great tourist destination, great food and quality wines, world-class medical tourism for your budget and a relaxed lifestyle in the cafes.
And yet, so much has changed.
When I wrote this article in January 2020, few people were very familiar with the concept of digital nomad in Croatia. Because that was before a certain Dutchman elevated the discussion to the national level by successfully inviting the Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, to introduce a digital nomad visa for Croatia. Along with a number of initiatives, the introduction of the new permit on January 1, 2021 has helped bring global attention to Croatia as a new DN hotspot. And while all nomads were originally expected to flock to the coast, the fact is that more and more people are heading to Zagreb instead.
And they like what they find.
At this point, I must stress the role of the Zagreb Tourist Board. Along with Dubrovnik, Zagreb has been incredibly receptive and supportive of initiatives to promote Croatia as a DN destination. When I first pitched the idea for Zagreb Digital Nomadic Week (ZDNW) in June last year in partnership with Saltwater Nomads, the concept was accepted immediately, and without the pandemic it would have took place as part of Advent in Zagreb last year.
In this case, the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week took place in June, 7 days with 7 themes, in several places of the city. Although this is a hybrid event, several keynote speakers jumped at the chance to come to Zagreb and attend their first conference or public event in over a year. Among them was Nimrod Dean Kuchel, an Israeli world traveler with his own DN community of 25,000 people.
His presentation, which you can see above, was one of the highlights of the week. And for a man who has visited over 100 countries in the past 8 years, this was a prospect I was eager to hear. How was Zagreb as a DN destination, and what was missing?
“Zagreb ticks all the boxes,” Dean commented at the end of the week. “The only thing missing here is more digital nomads.”
To prove his affection for Zagreb and its potential, Dean was back a few months later as Zagreb Digital Nomad’s official ambassador for September. Extension of ZDNW, the ambassador project, in partnership with Doma Zagreb Aparthotel, has been bringing in an international digital nomad from July to December.
Each ambassador comes from a different background and engages in Zagreb in a different way. Dean has been extremely active, organizing events with the Digital Nomad Facebook group which now has an impressive 7,000 members. At the end of his stay, Dean met TCN before speaking at the Budva Cross-Border Coworking Conference earlier this month.
For a man who can’t stop traveling, he clearly wasn’t that eager to go. His thoughts on the month in Zagreb are interesting, and they reflect some of the same messages from previous ambassadors – exceptional English, security, great Wi-Fi, great coworking spaces, a green city and very accessible to all. walk with a fantastic gastronomic and wine history, full of friendly locals and a short drive from the coast.
Veronica Mulhall, Zagreb Digital Nomad’s first official ambassador in July, had similar feelings. She loved the opportunity to walk around the city, often taking meetings on the phone, and saw Zagreb as the perfect training ground for her planned ascent of Kilimanjaro.
She and her partner Julian fell in love with a city they knew nothing about until Veronica applied. And now they are planning to buy property in Zagreb and turn it into a part-time house. Julian also gave a very interesting interview, including his experiences in the city as a black tourist in the interview above.
August brought Rudi Witkowsky from South Africa, who put Zagreb’s gyms and outdoor spaces to the test with his fitness program.
All of these ambassadors have helped to add to a well-developing history, and the people of Zagreb at large are starting to seize the DN opportunity. Tanja Polegubic, CEO of Saltwater Nomads and architect of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, noticed the progress.
“Zagreb really made its mark in 2021 as a destination for digital nomads. The regular feedback I hear from digital nomads there is the feeling of constant discovery – which is becoming increasingly rare these days. There is something happening everywhere you go, and a truly diverse offering of food and entertainment. The Croatian capital truly captures the hearts of many remote workers. ”
Zagreb is poised to establish itself as a leading DN destination not only in Croatia and the wider region, but also in Europe (it was the only European city in the top 5 of the Nomad List survey, for example). Here is just a sample of what has happened to Zagreb’s digital nomad history since that first article 21 months ago:
- A Croatian digital nomad visa was offered by Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong. As a direct consequence, a Croatian digital nomad permit has been in effect since January 1, 2021.
- Zagreb Digital Nomad Week won two international awards at Conventa 2021 in Ljubljana, promoting Zagreb as a DN destination.
- Zagreb ranked 43rd in the world in the Global Work from Anywhere Index.
- A massive 2021 Nomad List survey of its members named Zagreb among the top 5 most popular DN cities in the world after Tokyo, Taipei, Mexico City and Taipei in October.
- There has been an explosion in the opening of coworking spaces across the city, with at least 18 now offering services. Here is the TCN guide, with map.
- The extrapolated data from Nomad List showed that Zagreb attracts more digital nomads per month than other hot spots in the region, including Budapest, Prague and Krakow.
- Zagreb ranked in the top 10 best convention destinations in New Europe, 3rd best for large convention facilities.
- The arrival of Ryanair has already opened up Zagreb’s accessibility to new markets, with around 40 destinations departing from Zagreb scheduled for next summer, including 24 already announced and operational (some already, others in December ).
There is very good energy in Zagreb right now, an energy that I think will only improve as more and more nomads discover it and join the community. Why not come and visit it and discover it?
For more news and articles on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.