Seasonal Zagreb

Winter Weekend at Sljeme: Here's How to Spend Two Amazing Snow Days

Why you need to go to Sljeme and how to enjoy your time there.

Zagreb is one of those cities that is blessed to be on the slopes of a mountain, which allows its inhabitants to escape from everyday life and go into the area where the trees are green, the air is super fresh, and the stress and hasty lifestyle are left in the city streets below. Zagreb mountain is called Medvednica, which can be roughly described as a ''bear's place or a bear's mountain'' because bears used to live here. They don't anymore, so you can enjoy the trees and fresh air without the fear of becoming like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.
Medvednica is considered a Nature Park, and the Croatian Ministry of the Environment is in charge of protecting and sustaining the ecosystem there. The highest peak of the mountain is called Sljeme, and it is 1033 meters above sea level. Keep reading the article, and you will see why Medvednica and Sljeme are cool and why you should definitely go there.

Hiking is the best

You have two options if you want to reach Sljeme, hiking and by car/bus. Hiking, of course, is a much better option, since reaching the top takes about 1,5-2 hours, and there are several different routes you can choose from. This way you can get healthy exercise, talk with your friends on the way up, and be proud of yourself when you make it to the top! You can also go on a bike and then downhill from the top. It's a real adrenaline adventure because you are going down really fast! If you climb, you will appreciate the scenery much more and really experience the mountain. There is also a bunch of springs on the way up, with the water more delicious than any water you'll find in the city. It's just nature, and nature is the best! Here in the photo, you can see the road to Sljeme.


Sljeme up

Photo credit: Lovre Antić

When you do reach the top, there are several mountain lodges to choose from, where you can rest, eat and drink. It's a great feeling when you are tired from the climb and that freshly cooked meal is served in front of you. On the menu, you can find local specialities, like turkey with ''mlinci'', beans with sausages, ''sarma'' and other good Croatian meals. I usually eat ''krvavica'', which is a sausage made of pork blood and intestines. It sounds awful I know, but it tastes really good!

Skiing, snowboarding, and sledging

Sljeme is also a popular skiing and snowboarding destination. It's not like Switzerland or Austria with a big number of slopes, but when it snows, a lot of Zagreb skiers and boarders go to Sljeme and ride on the famous ''Red downhill'' slope. Since 2005, Zagreb and Sljeme have hosted the ''Snow Queen Trophy'', an Alpine Skiing World Cup Race. It's one of the most popular races in the calendar, by the statements of the skiers themselves.

It`s a great spot for families with kids also, because there is a meadow called ''Činovnička livada'' where a lot of kids make their first steps on skis or sledge. As a kid, I went there with my parents every year, and I had a lot of fun!


Sljeme skiing

Photo credit: Andro Žužul

Sljeme boarders

Photo credit: Andro Žužul

Sleepover on the mountain

I personally don't ski, it never piqued my interest, although I might try it in the future. But what I love doing is to hike, and I like to use my hammock to sleep outdoors. This April me and my friends decided to hike to the top and then to stay overnight in our hammocks. We brought some food and drinks, some blankets and some music, and it was a lot of fun. The mountain is really calm and quiet during the night, and it's a wonderful experience. The only problem was that it ended up being quite cold during the night, but we survived. Unless it is the summertime, I recommend sleeping in mountain lodges if you want to spend the night at Sljeme.


Hammocks at sljeme

Photo credit: Lovre Antić


Another great thing to see on Medvednica is Medvedgrad, an ancient fortress built in the 13th century. It was built to protect the city from barbarians, and it became a symbol of the mountain and the city itself. If you go there, you can check the old walls and towers, and see the history of the fortress, and the absolutely amazing view of the city. I would recommend anyone to visit Medvedgrad, spend some time there, and enjoy the history, fresh air, and the view. Below you can see Medvedgrad at night and in the daytime.

Medvedgrad day

Photo credit: Marko Vrdoljak, TZGZ Download Zone


medvedgrad night

Photo credit: Lovre Antić

Bring back the ''žičara''

In my opinion, the only thing missing on the mountain is the cable cars (''žičara'' in Croatian), that used to work from 1963 until 2007. It is a great experience to climb up the mountain in one of these because you can see everything from the air, you arrive at the top pretty fast, and you don't need a car. It's great for skiers especially, since it's hard to walk to the top with all the equipment, so now you need a car to do it. It's quite expensive to repair the whole cable car system, but I think a lot of people in Zagreb and our tourists would appreciate it, and I hope that we will happen soon.

Other than the lack of cable cars, Sljeme is absolutely great. If you are spending more than a few days in Zagreb, you should definitely go for a climb and enjoy the mountain, the view, and the food. It's good that you can do it all year, but in the winter it is the most magical time to do it, as you can see in the picture.


Sljeme winter

Photo credit: Lovre Antić


Now that you have read the whole article, call some friends and plan a trip to Sljeme! You will have a great time, I promise. 


Header image credit: Lovre Antić

Author: Lovre Antić