Rising to heights of over 1,000 meters and surrounded by forested foothills, Mount Medvednica (‘Bear Mountain’), looms over the city of Zagreb and makes an easy escape from the capital. Sljeme is the highest point at 1,033 meters and while hiking the scenic route to the summit is a popular choice, the peak is also reachable by road and cable car, making it the focal point for most day-trippers. The wooded slopes around the summit make up the protected area of Medvednica Nature Park, crisscrossed with hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as restaurants, traditional mountain lodges and a winter ski area.
Another key attraction of Medvednica is the medieval fortress of Medvedgrad, originally built in 1242 and now home to the Altar of the Homeland memorial, a poignant dedication to the local soldiers who fought and died in the Croatian war of independence. Alternatively, pay a visit to the Veternica Cave, one of the largest in Croatia, or tour the historic silver mining area of Zrinski Mine.
Mount Medvednica also serves as the backdrop for a number of annual events, including medieval reenactments and knights’ tournaments held in the grounds of the historic castle and the winter Snow Queen festival, held in honor of legendary Croatian skier Janica Kostelic, who first learned to ski on the slopes.