Many travellers would love to visit mountain Medvednica that guards the city in the north. The truth is, there are more and more people moving to Zagreb, that have lived here for years now, but still feel that Medvednica is out of reach. So, you find yourself on the main square and want to get to the top of the mountain. How do you that? Read on and get ready!
Cut the long story short and tell us how to get to the top of the mountain, you say?
BIKE? MAYBE NEXT TIME YOU VISIT
There are several ways. Some people like biking, but I really don't think you should do it if you're not in a company of some local experts. Don't get me wrong, bike trails are very well marked, some of them even contain educational points, so you probably won't get lost. Many choose to drive along the road. That's easy to find, not too hard - you could do that if you're in a good biking shape. But there are just to many crazy personal adventures the locals have been sharing. It seems to me that some kind of an adventure-seeking-bug gets under people's skin when on the mountain, and we start trying out something dangerous and end up lucky to get to the bottom alive. Or with the bike in one piece.
MARK THIS NUMBER: 112
Which brings us to another very important detail. If anything happens in the mountains, you should know who to call. Dial 112 - Croatian Mountain Rescue Service. Try to remember the number of the trail you took when you're calling. You should also follow their Twitter account because their warnings are seriously hilarious. Or hilariously serious.
Croatia is well known for beautiful nature, and the biggest part of the surface of mount Medvednica is nature park itself. Even though it's not a high mountain, only 1035 m, locals have always respected it, and so should you. Always wear comfortable hiking shoes, dress in layers, bring water, cover your head and spray yourself with a mosquito repellant to protect yourself from ticks. If you're hiking, start descending at least two hours before the sun sets. If it's getting dark, spend the night in one of the mountain lodges.
BY CAR...that's not our advice, that's just easy
Ok, here's an easy way how to get to Sljeme, the peak of the mountain. The easiest way up is renting a car and drive there. Just follow the signs to Sljeme or Tomislavov Dom, which is a hotel on top of the mountain. That's also the least local way to do it. Locals only use cars if they decide to go to the mountain too late, if they have small kids who can't hike yet (but will still make them walk a mile or two), or if they're lazy. You can do that all right, but true Zagrebers will try to keep the cars away from the mountain because they don't want to contribute to unnecessary polution of the forest.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT - doable, but if you miss the bus...
Take the tram number 14 direction Mihaljevac. At the last station, switch to a small one cabin tram number 15 to Dolje. At the last stop of Number 15, there's a bus station (bus to Tomislavov Dom). The bus takes you straight to the top of the mountain. The only problem is, it doesn't run very often. You can read the bus schedule here. We suggest you take the early morning bus and then enjoy a day up there exploring the forest and enjoying the mountain lodges.
HIKING - now you're talking!
There are many mountain trails. The easiest and most popular ones are trails number 18/19 and 14. Number 14 goes from the last tram stop of tram number 15 (as described in previous paragraph)
Trail number 14 is called Leustekova staza (Leustek trail). It's named after a popular forester of the last name Leustek who devoted a part of his life to the woods of mount Medvednica. He even wanted to be buried in his special place on the mountain. His wish wasn't granted, but they gave the romantic name Šumarev grob (Forester's Grave) to his favourite hidden spot by a stream.
If you keep a steady pace, you should be at the top in 2:30 h. If it turns out you're too tired, turn to the mountain lodge Runolist when you see the signs. It's very close to the top, and very popular amongst the locals. It should take you less than 2 hrs to get back to the bottom. Trail number 14 is also one of the best trails for descending, since it's not very steep.
Another reason why we reccomend this trail for first time visitors, is because it's very well marked. The markings show a red circle around a white dot, and occasionaly, number 14 stands next to the marking. A bigger part of the trail is also a part of a long pilgrimage trail, which is marked perfectly with white crosses on yellow surface.
There you have it! Another little advice: it's always better to go early in the morning and come back after lunch. Fresh air might make you sleepy, so take a short nap when you get back and you'll have enough energy for a fun evening in the city.
Now put on those walking shoes, dress in layers, grab some water, snacks, walking staffs, something against insects (namely tick!) and go!