Embracing the Great Outdoors: a New Angle for Zagreb Tourism

Total Croatia News

Zagreb Tourist Board - J.Duval
Zagreb Tourist Board - J.Duval

Zagreb Tourist Board - J.Duval

September 22, 2020 – Sometimes a simple idea changes the perspective entirely: a look at Zagreb tourism and the Great Outdoors. 

This has been the most challenging year ever for tourism globally, and the focus for many tourism officials has been on survival rather than innovation. 

A very notable exception to that, as I have written before, has been the Zagreb tourism strategy, which did much to promote all aspects of the city during lockdown and then in the wake of the devastating earthquake on March 22. 

But one idea, which was so simple and obvious, was launched as a joint effort by the city and county Zagreb tourism boards a couple of months ago – a new platform of discovery for guests called Around Zagreb


It is probably the most innovative – and simplest – official tourism ideas of the year, and one that is certainly timely in this increasingly socially distanced world. With the reality that we are going to have to learn to live with the virus, tourism activities away from crowds and confined spaces are now much more in demand. Such activities Zagreb has in abundance, especially when the tourism offer is combined with the rich experiences to be found on the city’s doorstep, in surrounding Zagreb County. Promote the Zagreb Great Outdoors, both within the city itself and in the green lungs around it. Plenty of healthy fresh air away from the masses with plenty of activities to choose from. 


(Zagreb Tourist Board – D. Rostuhar)

The idea of looking at Zagreb as an outdoor destination is one that had never really occurred to me before. To me, city visits are about visits to museums, exhibitions, cathedrals, followed by exploring the vibrant nightlife.

But looking at Zagreb as an outdoor destination for a three-day visit, the experience is entirely different, and there is plenty to see and do to get the vibe of the Croatian capital. 


(Photo credit Zagreb Tourist Board)

Walking tours are an obvious way to discover a destination, and the selection on offer in Zagreb in recent years is exceptional. The historic Upper Town is undoubtedly the most charming part of the centre, small group and private tours are available to unlock its secrets. And there are also various quests now available to keep the interest of the younger generation. From an evening ghost or witches tour to sleeping dragons and other legends, centuries of the city’s rich history are revealed. Head back in time to 19th-century Zagreb, to the Nikola Tesla generation of innovation, or learn about the badass historical women, whose incredible contributions in a male-dominated society helped shape the city. 


You will not be walking around long before you notice the relaxed nature of the way of life here. Indeed, Croatia truly is the lifestyle capital of Europe. And if there is one thing which symbolises the Croatian lifestyle the best, it has to be… 


And the cafe lifestyle. 

Zagreb’s cafes are legendary. Places for socialising, business meetings, curling up with a book, or simply people watching and watching the world go by, the Zagreb cafe experience is an essential part of any visit. And once you have sat down once, it will not be long before you get into the swing of this more gentle way of life. So try it and enjoy – you are on vacation after all!. 


(Zagreb Tourist Board – J. Duval)

A great place to start if you are looking to find the heartbeat of the city is Dolac Market, just about the main Ban Jelacic square. Here you will find the freshest flavours available, a way of life which has existed for centuries, and rituals and socialising that go far beyond a simple food purchase transaction. 

Zagreb is a very green city, increasingly popular with cyclists, which is a great way to get around. The city’s parks are divine at any time of year, but the falling leaves of autumn give them a special aura. Maksimir is a joy to escape the bustle of city life, with the botanical gardens are a natural deilght. Bundek and Lake Jarun are popular haunts to escape the crowds, and for those with less time in the centre, the Lenuci Horseshoe comprising 7 green spaces in the shape of a horseshoe, is an excellent way to explore the lungs of city life. 


You have heard of a treasure hunt, but have you ever been on a planet hunt? One of Zagreb’s more unusual (and popular!) attractions is the Zagreb Solar System and its Grounded Sun and Nine Planets. The Grounded Sun installation has been a Zagreb feature for almost 40 years, but the sun got some galactic company back in 2004, when Denis Preis decided to install all the planets according to their relative size and distance from the Grounded Sun, all at different angles, to reflect them revolving around the sun. Even if we gave you the addresses of each, they are not all easy to find due to their size. Where else in the world can you discover the entire solar system without leaving a city?

A good first day exploring, now reward yourself with a terrace view in a cafe, wine bar of craft beer bar, sit back and enjoy that gorgeous lifestyle. The Zagreb region has excellent wines (the city itself has a small wine road), and the Croatian craft beer revolution is exploding. Your waiter will be more than happy to make the appropriate wine and craft beer recommendations. 


(Zagreb Tourist Board – J. Duval)

Ask a Zagreb local where they go for the Great Outdoors, and they will point you to the north – Sljeme. The mountain offers some astonishing views over the city and is a cycling, hiking (and, in winter) skiing paradise. Escape the summer heat in those cooler climes, and if you really want to turn native, follow the locals into the forest and take part in a much-loved activity – mushroom hunting. There are some great restaurants on Sljeme with large terraces, the perfect place to recuperate after your physical exertions while trying the freshest local seasonal produce. 

This, perhaps, is as far out of Zagreb as tourists might have gone in pursuit of the Great Outdoors, but the new Around Zagreb website gives a wealth of new opportunities, some of which I was completely unaware of after writing about Croatian tourism for almost a decade.


(Zagreb Tourist Board – J. Duval)

Truffle hunting just outside Zagreb? Seriously? 

Not only truffles. The Green Ring around Zagreb has a treasure trove of authentic experiences and insight into the traditional way of life of yesteryear. Never been to a pumpkin festival? Croatian communities like to celebrate what they grow, and food festivals creatively promoting the local speciality are common in Croatia.  Head to Ivanic Grad, for example, for the annual pumpkin festival in September, accompanied by the local grape variety, Srklet, which is considered a rising star in this land of 130 indigenous grape varieties. I never expected to be drinking a pint of pumpkin beer, for example, as I did on my last visit to the festival. It was delicious. 

a-kezele (3).jpg

Bird-watching, horse riding, nature parks, golf, wine-tasting, hiking, cycling – there is an activity and magical experience in the Green Ring to satisfy every visitor. And as you head back in the city for an inevitable cafe stop for a coffee, beer or glass of wine, stop by and pick up some roasted chestnuts to warm the soul and inhale the aroma of Zagreb in autumn and winter. 


(Zagreb Tourist Board – M. Gasparovic)

Wonderful flavours, experiences and sights. And we haven’t been inside once!

To learn more about Zagreb, the Great Outdoors destination, learn more of what you can get up to in and around the capital on the official Around Zagreb website


(Zagreb Tourist Board – J. Duval)

This article was sponsored by the Zagreb Tourist Board


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