To the top, we go! Easy day trip to the Zagreb mountain for first-timers
When you’re enjoying the views from the old Upper Town, you’re standing on a mountain slope. If you stumble upon a forest while exploring the city center, those are woods of the Medvednica mountain reaching the city.
The city and the mountain are inseparable. Kids who grow up in Zagreb, usually develop a connection early on, as they take their first hiking steps. For us, life without the days spent up there is unthinkable.
If you’re searching for a truly local experience, then go on, and spend a lovely day in the woods of mount Medvednica. To the top, we go!
With the new cable car that opened last spring, it’s as accessible as it gets.
The trails are numerous, and the mountain is so wide - 42 kilometers! There aren’t many people who know it by heart. No need for overthinking - if you’re a first-timer, let me share one of the most popular day trips for an occasional hiker. I promise, it counts as a hike - even if you skip walking up.
Starting from the main city square, take tram number 14 direction Mihaljevac. At the very last stop, you will notice another train stop nearby for line 15. It takes you directly to the cable car station. The cable car takes you to the top in a scenic ride. Walk around the top, pass under the iconic TV tower, and check out the available trails with the help of the markings. There will be arrows pointing to different corners of the mountain, with the time needed to get there. If you spot something of interest, not too far away, you can opt for a walk there. Get some drinks or something to eat in one of the mountain lodges and cute stalls around the top.
Outside of the ski season, the ski slope turns into a meadow with the best view of the Zagorje region on the other side of the mountain.
Actually, it could be crowded close to the peak, or anywhere near the road! I like to head to Runolist mountain lodge. You can’t reach by car so it’s not too crowded. Most of the lodges will have a space assigned for those who bring their own food and snacks with them. You can rest without even ordering their food. Still, if this is your rare visit to Zagreb, you have to try purica z mlincima (turkey with a traditional dough), grah (bean stew), or at least sir i vrhnje (cottage cheese with sour cream). Oh, and a štrudl. You have to reward yourself with a homemade strudel, don’t you?
When you feel like it’s time to head back to the city, fasten your shoelaces, and hike down. A big part of the mountain is Zagreb’s territory, and a nature park. That’s what makes it very easy to visit. The trails are well marked. There are plenty of cabins that serve food closer to the top. There are enough people around, so you can always check how much more to go, and ask for directions if you have a hard time interpreting the signs. Another good thing about having people around: there is no need to worry about bumping into a wild boar. The woods are their home, but it would be highly unusual to meet them near such a popular trail. Statistically, I believe the most dangerous beasts on our mountain are ticks. Care to put some repellent before you go.
A perfect weekend chill out zone.
At an average pace, it would take around 1,5 hours to get to the top if you follow these instructions. It would also take you up to 2 hours to walk down and reach the tram stop. Make sure to head back at least 3 hours before the sun should set, as it gets dark sooner in the forest.
Are you ready? To the top, we go! Or, as the locals would say, Idemo na Sleme! Sljeme is the peak of the Zagreb mountain at 1035 m, but the locals often call the entire mountain Sljeme. We might as well sing it instead of saying it, so sing along:
Header image credit: Julien Duval / Zagreb Tourist Board
Author: Iva Silla