The length and breadth of Zagreb by bike
Zagreb, often referred to as the people-friendly city, is made for walking and hiking, but it will also kindly welcome cyclists of all kinds. Whether it is leisure or sightseeing, cycling is always both enjoyable and beneficial. The location between the lowlands of the Sava River and the heights of the Medvednica mountain, in addition to vast calm green areas, guarantee many exciting routes for adventures on two wheels. For many, the bicycle also serves as a daily means of transport, so the wider city center is adjusted according to the needs of cyclists, but let us take a look at the opportunities for those who want to use their free time to escape from the crowds and have some healthy fun outdoors.
When talking about cycling, the first place that comes to mind is the most obvious one – Sljeme or Zagreb Mountain. Although the forest and mountain at first sound like a paradise for more demanding recreational athletes with genuine mountain bikes, Sljeme is, with a little effort, accessible to the average cyclist looking for bigger challenges. There are several marked off-road trails, but the top can be reached by regular road as well. There is a 15-kilometer ascent by road bike, which requires a certain level of physical fitness, but after this venture you can treat yourself with dishes of our local cuisine in one of the many restaurants located around the mountain top, completely guilt-free. There are also off-road ascents, for example across the Markuševac or Kustošija macadams. They require more strength and good equipment, but the reward is a trip through the woods with less traffic. Of course, you can recharge the lost energy with delicious food in the mountain lodges of Sljeme, and the beautiful city views from these heights are an additional reward.
When looking at more ambitious options, there is a number of cross-country trails in the memorial area and protected park-forest Dotrščina. There are no catering establishments, but a few hours of effective sweating on the short but demanding soothing forest hills are guaranteed. For those with shorter breath, there is the northern part of Maksimir Park for exploring forest paths and trails by mountain bike. You have the advantage of being in the city, although surrounded by a green oasis, which allows you to visit other attractions and sights. The Savice lakes are also a popular destination, which are best reached by an easy drive along the Sava embankment. Even though it is primarily a gathering spot for fishermen and bird lovers and the ride is not that long, this piece of wilderness will offer you a unique experience of nature and enough space to contemplate surrounded by water lilies.
If you prefer a ride along the river, you can take the macadam road from lake Bundek along the embankment to the west and when reaching the golf course, switch to the trail along the embankment of the Sava-Odra channel. It will take you to the Sava River and back to Bundek and the city. The route is suitable for light and long activities in the fresh air, given that there is almost no ascent, but the road is long, so you need to take enough supplies. Of course, both sides of the embankment are suitable for cyclists and can serve as a trail that everyone will tailor to their own needs. On the south side, you are reaching the area of Novi Zagreb, which is definitely the most suitable part of the city for carefree cycling. If you prefer an urban flair and a city ride, you can take a look at examples of socialist and modern architecture, as well as street art of the wide streets and avenues of Novi Zagreb. The pleasant well-tended trail along the Jarun lake offers a wide range of facilities, but you will have to share it with many other users and recreational athletes.
Ljubljana Avenue, over the Jankomir Bridge, leads to lake Rakitje, where you join the picturesque Sava cycling route with natural beauties of the lakes of Sveta Nedelja, the Sava River and the Sava-Strmec ornithological reserve. If you want to escape the city, take the main road from the southern suburbs to reach Velika Gorica and connect to further Turopolje trails. Likewise, you can take side roads from the western outskirts of Zagreb, over the Podsused Bridge, to get to the town of Strmec. From here you can get back to the city center, even along the embankment if you have a suitable bike, or continue further towards Samobor.
In fact, there are few parts of the city that cannot be used for some type of cycling, and it all depends on your preferences, abilities and capacities. With good will, the right bike and respect for traffic rules, Zagreb can become your favorite, always different and interesting bike trail.