Autumn Walk Through Zagreb Parks
I think we can all agree that 2020 is a year full of challenges and changes. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, our day to day life was drastically changed in March during the lockdown. Summer brought a bit of normality back to our lives as we could spend more time outside, and restrictions were eased a bit. But now, as the cooler months of the year are ahead of us and the numbers of infected are skyrocketing again, we are all a bit afraid of what to expect of the winter.
While talking with my friends, we agreed that one feeling common to almost everyone is a strong urge to spend more time in nature, alone or with a partner or a pet. It seems that everyone started doing daily or weekly activities just to get outside of the house but still in a safe way. Whether it’s walks, hikes, or running, people needed to find a way to release all the negative energy, and connecting to nature and going back to basics seemed like a perfect way.
But why am I writing all this? Well, I developed a new appreciation for Zagreb during this year exactly for this reason. Apart from the beautiful Medvednica nature park located right next to our capital and the hills that can be seen from almost every part of the town, Zagreb has so many beautiful parks and green surfaces in the city.
I decided to name a few and take you on a virtual walk through Zagreb parks. Even though autumn is known for rainy days, there is nothing more beautiful than a rich palette of nature's autumn colors. So, let's start.
Image credit: D. Rostuhar, TZGZ
A fishpond in the Zagreb city center?
As I said, you don’t have to go far from the Zagreb city center to find some green spaces. Just next to Kaptol hill, you will find a beautiful park Ribnjak. If you were to translate its name to English, it would mean a fishpond. A real fun fact, isn’t it? :)
I was curious why it was named with this funny name, so I dug up some information. As Kaptol was always an episcopal capital in Croatia, bishops who lived there used today's Ribnjak park as a place for ponds where they cultivated and caught fish. In the 19th century, these ponds were transformed into the beautiful English style park we have today.
My favorite part of this park is the view of Zagreb Cathedral, which you get from certain parts of it. It’s a real gem in the city center, and if you’re visiting Zagreb for the first time, I definitely recommend a visit and a nice stroll through it in any season. Lastly, the park is also often a place for different summer festivals and events. This year it was home to famous Art Park Zagreb.
Image credit: Boška i Krešo, TZGZ (Park Ribnjak)
Cmrok: A beloved hill above the old town
If you want to stay in the city center but venture a bit further or better say higher, visit the Cmrok park and promenade. Cmrok has a great sentimental value for me. It was always a place where my parents took me for winter snow sledding as it has a perfect shape to do so. On the snowy days, it was always full of kids enjoying all the fun winter activities. Later, when I grew up, it was often a place where I’d meet up with my friend who lives nearby for a nice evening stroll.
Cmrok meadow, or “a bathtub” as we called it in my family (because of its shape :), is a perfect place to come and chill in any season. People take their dogs here for a run, lay on the grass, talk with friends, or just enjoy the peaceful greenery. Near Cmrok is also Dubravkin put and a park forest Orlovac, which are also beautiful green places to explore and breathe in some fresh air. Yet, you are still very close to the city center.
Image credit: ZGportal Zagreb - https://www.zgportal.com/
Famous Maksimir Park
Depending on where they live, Zagrebians will tell you different favorites when it comes to green spaces. As I live in the north-east part of the town, my all-time favorite is definitely the most beautiful park Maksimir. You can tell from all the superlatives that I’m a bit subjective here. But as I live right beside the park my whole life, it has always been my favorite place to go and unwind from all the stress.
But let’s state some facts. Maksimir Park has five manmade lakes, several natural streams, and tons of beautiful walking paths to explore. It is also a home for Zagreb Zoo.
Image credit: J. Duval, TZGZ (Zagreb ZOO)
If you want some peace and quiet, it is a perfect place to visit. My tip is not to stick only by the main paths at the park entrance but also to venture and explore further parts. The area around the fifth lake is my personal favorite. Also, Vidikovac cafe is one of my favorite places in town to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee outdoors. Its patio is simply stunning and has the most beautiful view overlooking the main park entry.
Image credit: J. Duval, TZGZ (Maksimir Park main entrance)
Lakes of Zagreb: Jarun & Bundek
In the end, we come to Zagreb lakes. Yes, there are some in Maksimir Park, but they are not suitable for swimming. Jarun and Bundek lakes, on the other hand, are.
Just as I tend to stroll through Maksimir the most, Zagrebians who live on the west and south side of the city gravitate more to these locations when it comes to sports and recreational activities.
Jarun or better known as “Zagrebian sea” is a sports recreation center consisting of a huge lake with rowing trails, trails for biking, roller skating, walking, and a lot of greenery. It is located in the west part of the city, and it was built in 1987. It is indeed a perfect place to spend a day in the sun, enjoying the outdoor life. There are plenty of cafes alongside the lake where you can also sit, relax, and enjoy a cup of coffee with a view. Almost as if you're on the Croatian coast. :)
Image credit: J. Duval, TZGZ (Lake Jarun)
Bundek is the so-called younger brother of Jarun. It is also a lake, smaller in size, and newer in the date of making. Bundek lake is located between two bridges above the Sava river - Most Mladosti and Most Slobode.
As in Jarun lake, you can swim in this lake during the summer months and enjoy the pebble beach around it. There is a beautiful green space around the lake with lots of barbecue stations where people can come and hang out with their friends while preparing their food outside. There is also a trail around the lake where you can ride your bike, rollerblade, run, or walk.
If you ask me, Bundek is my favorite between the two. It is a bit smaller and cozier. But if you're visiting Zagreb for the first time, I'd recommend visiting both locations to see which one you prefer.
Image credit: M. Vrdoljak, TZGZ (Lake Bundek)
Now that you know everything about Zagreb green spaces, it is up to you to pick the most interesting location. I guarantee you won’t go wrong with any of these. Stay safe and remember to get enough fresh air and physical activity during these stressful times. :)
Header image credit: I. Vinković, TZGZ
Author: Darija Ilić