Allow nature to help you heal: 5 easy half-day trips to relax between doctor’s visits

A range of getaways in untouched nature sits on Zagreb's doorstep

The Žumberak mountain range's Plesivica hills during springtime
@ xbrchx

A range of getaways in untouched nature sits on Zagreb's doorstep. The fresh air and healing such escapes offer, and their location so close to the country's capital, are unbeatable. If you're in town as part of a health tourism visit, the excursions on this list will be a perfect complement to your healing process.

1. Marvelling at Mount Medvednica

Whether you hike or drive up Mount Medvednica, you're in for a range of delights. The mountain's crown jewel is 13th-century castle and fortress Medvedgrad.

Zagreb has many places named after bears (medvjedi) - Mount Medvednica and Medvedgrad Castle included - but no bears... Anymore. Centuries ago, the city's furriest residents are thought to have moved further south to the forested regions of Lika and Gorski Kotar (as Zagreb gradually transformed from a small diocese in 1094 to a metropolis).

Medvedgrad Castle offers some of the best panoramic vistas in all of Zagreb.

View from Sljeme
© D. BajurinThe mountain's 13th-century Medvedgrad Castle is another can't-miss sight

 

Multiple traditional restaurants built as wooden mountain cabins also dot the mountain. If you pop into one of these authentic eateries, don't miss out on classics such as bean stew with sausage or a slice of sweet strudel (or both!)

Puntijarka, one of the most beloved restaurants on the mountain, is situated 20 km north of the main square.

2. Zooming through Žumberak

The Žumberak Mountain Range is one of the least populated - and most underrated - places in Croatia. 

Across the area, karst slopes, forming steep and sharp mountain ridges, intertwine with tranquilly rolling hills. The highest peak in northwestern Croatia is Žumberak's Sveta Gera (1178 m). Valleys, where they do occur, are carved by idyllic waterways.

This mosaic landscape of mountains, meadows, and traditional villages is dominated by rich plant and animal species. Over 38 orchid species and almost 400 fungi species have been recorded here. More than 100 bird species have also been noted.

The mountain range is located around 70 km from Zagreb's main square by car.

3. Enjoying the Savice Lakes

Most visited by in-the-know locals, this is a series of 12 lakes located southeast of the city centre. Some of the lakes reach up to eight metres in depth, and many offer opportunities for freshwater fishing.

The Savice Lakes are more than a fishing hotspot, though. Since 1991, the area has been a Special Zoological Reserve, housing Zagreb's only ornithological station.

Schoolchildren, avid birdwatchers, and anyone seeking peace can visit the lakes to relax and take in the sights of swimming swans and surrounding greenery.

Savica
© Mirna Pibernik / Time Out CroatiaA swan swims on one of the Savice lakes

 

The Savice Lakes are eight km from Zagreb's main square. 

4. Hiking to Sljeme

Sljeme peak sits 16 km from Ban Josip Jelačić Square.

5. Strolling to Samobor's hilltop Old Town

The 13th-century ruins of Old Town Samobor are located 15 minutes by foot from the town's central King Tomislav Square.

An ancient castle one stood at this site, initially built with a huge stone tower. Following reconstructions in the 18th century, it took on a Baroque look. Over the years, the castle turned to ruin but continued to attract visitors. The spot was a location for the 1986 Jackie Chan movie "Armour of God".

While you're in town, be sure to try kremšnite, traditional cream-filled pastries which Samobor is renowned for.

Samobor
© ilijaaSamobor's Old City overlooks the modern-day town and was built in 1268 by Czech King Otokara

 

The Old Town of Samobor is located 30 km from the main square of Zagreb.