So you finally arrived in Zagreb, explored all its beautiful architecture, visited its striking landmarks, learned all about its fascinating history – and you still have some spare time left?
Lucky for you the gorgeous area of central Croatia is rich in numerous things to see and do.
We bring you a list of 11 fun day trips from Zagreb for your satisfying and memorable stay in Croatia.
1. Mount Medvednica
Medvednica is one of favourite one day getaways from the Zagreb’s rush.
This enchanting nature park offers the most breathtaking views of Zagreb and the surrounding area. People go there to hike, explore it’s caves, marvel at the beautiful nature, conquer Sljeme, Medvednica’s highest peak, enjoy traditional dishes and stay the night in one of many mountain huts, or explore Medvedgrad, the ruins of the legendary 13th century fortress that used to keep a firm eye over Zagreb.
Every January a popular Snow Queen Trophy ski race, part of FIS ski world cup, takes place on Sljeme.
Samobor is a special favourite among the people of Zagreb. It is a popular weekend escape for families, steeped in Baroque style and charming atmosphere.
There are two main reasons why Samobor makes a perfect day trip from Zagreb.
The first one is Samobor’s superb gastronomy. Many are known to visit Samobor just to indulge in kremšnita, the town’s specialty. The people of Samobor have turned this popular central-European vanilla and custard cream cake dessert into a recognized specialty. Pair that with Bermet, a traditional desert wine, and your taste buds will scream for more!
Samobor hosts numerous food and wine festivals throughout the year, ensuring that no matter when you visit, you – and your taste buds – will have a good time.
The second reason which makes Samobor a fun day trip from Zagreb is the popular carnival taking place every February. It is a great place both for children and adults.
During the day children can engage in costume parades, watch theater shows, go ice-skating, enjoy themselves at a lunapark and participate in the best costume competition. To top it all off, there is a special treat for Harry Potter fans – a Quidditch competition has become a new tradition! During the night, however, the town’s streets alight with party atmosphere, with impromptu celebrations emerging on every corner.
Right next to Samobor is a magical place of barely touched nature and breathtaking scenery.
Nature park Žumberak is a must for nature lovers.
Eastern parts of the park hold stunning deeply cut valleys rich with water creeks, mountain ridges covered with luxuriant woods and picturesque villages. While northern parts of the park are steeper and covered with thick woods, southern parts are more populated and abundant in vineyards meticulously kept by the locals.
Through its impressive sceneries and numerous activities Žumberak is a relaxing day trip from Zagreb which provides a desperately needed break from the rush of the modern life.
The region of Hrvatsko Zagorje nestles comfortably north of Zagreb with its picturesque green hills, venerable vineyards and authentic Croatian traditions.
One of Zagorje’s most charming places is the Trakošćan Castle, often considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in entire Croatia.
What gives the picturesque Trakošćan its charming appeal is the gorgeous landscape park where the castle, the lake, the meadows and the oak and hornbeam forest create a harmonious whole, transforming what could be a plain hiking trail into an enchanted experience.
To top it all off, in winter the surface of the lake freezes, shaping the background for the perfect winter wonderland.
5. Veliki Tabor
Along with Trakošćan, Veliki Tabor is the most popular castle of Hrvatsko Zagorje.
The reason behind that doesn’t only lie in its imposing appearance, but also in a tragic love story of Veronika Desinic and count Fridrik Celjski.
They fell in love, but could not be together since they belonged to different social classes. Allegedly, Friedrich even murdered his own wife to be with Veronika. When Fridrik’s father learned about the couple, he had Veronika killed and immured within the castle walls.
This probably doesn’t sound very fun. But tragic story aside, Veliki Tabor is a spectacular museumof medieval traditions, and it also hosts a film festival.
Krapina is another small town hidden between the Zagorje hills, but this place has an incredibly interesting history all history buffs enjoy immensely.
130 thousand years ago a hill in the western part of today’s Krapina was home to the Neanderthal man. In the 19th century local residents uncovered strange bones on the Husnjakovo Hill, which turned out to be the largest collection of Neanderthals’ fossil remains in the world!
Today you can learn all about Krapina’s fascinating history in the Krapina Neanderthal Museum, one of the most state of the art museums in entire Europe.
7. Marija Bistrica
For more than 300 years the charming town of Marija Bistrica – yes, this one too in Hrvatsko Zagorje – has been the heart of sacral Croatia.
The impressive church of the Assumption of Virgin Marry, built in the 19th century in Neo-Renaissance style, dominates the town. Beneath the church a large, glorious Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary is located, whilst the town is abundant in charming markets offering sacral souvenirs and traditional crafts.
Marija Bistrica is a place of religion and tradition. Explore this unique opportunity to learn about old Zagorje customs still celebrated today. Some of them even UNESCO protected, such as handcrafted wooden toys and gingerbread craft.
It comes as no surprise that Varaždin is often called “little Vienna”.
Picturesque Baroque buildings and palaces, spectacular flowery balconies and luscious green parks, labyrinthine cobbled streets and happy locals peddling on their bicycles emit an aura of careless serenity, making Varaždin seem as if frozen in time.
Varaždin is by far one of the most popular day trips from Zagreb. Once the capital of Croatia, Varaždin today has a very strong and flourishing cultural scene. So much that it was even featured in the New York Times!
9. Lonjsko polje
Not many know about this delightful place – which is exactly why you should pay a visit to it.
Lonjsko polje is situated only a couple of hours car ride southeast of Zagreb. This largest wetlands in Croatia are a perfect family friendly destination where you and your family can learn all about the idyllic rural life of inland Croatia, watch wild horses roam freely or take a canoe safari.
Lonjsko polje is also home to an incredibly romantic love story of two stork – Klepetan and Malena. You can learn more about that here.
Plitvice Lakes are probably the most popular day trip from Zagreb.
This UNESCO protected national park is one of the most stunning places in entire Croatia. 16 lakes laced together with beguiling waterfalls and bustling rapids serve as a perfect one day getaway.
Every season is perfect to admire Plitvice’s timeless beauty, and while most do so in summer, don’t miss when the winter colours paint the park in the most spectacular way.
- Top Croatian destinations to visit in the off season
Make sure to bring your camera with you!
11. The Coast
Croatia might be a small country, but this too has its advantages.
One of the best things about Croatia is that pretty much any part of the country can be a fun one day trip from Zagreb as everything is easily reached by a car in just a few hours!
One of the most popular day trips is enjoying the crystal clear sea of the Kvarner Region and the Opatija Riviera.
In just a couple of hours you can arrive in one of popular summer destinations such as Opatija, Crikvenica or Krk Island, spend the day enjoying in water activities, watch a spectacular sunset over the Adriatic – and head back to Zagreb to stay the night in your luxurious hotel.
Good times are guaranteed!
Are there any places you’d like to add to the list?
Have you visited Zagreb before? Which activities or places would you suggest?
Are you planning a trip to Zagreb? Did you find this article helpful?
Author: Petra Škofić
Photo Credit: (1) Patrick M, (2) Doron Tilleman, (3) Daniel Ribeiro, (4) Roman Avdagić, (5) Pixabay, (6) Dennis Jarvis, (7) János Korom Dr., (8) Tomislav Rastić, (9) Petra Bosnar, (10) Pixabay, (11) Alexander P.F. Stijlaart, (12) boomer97