Visiting Zagreb with Teenagers
Family with teenagers visiting Zagreb? I’m sure that some members of your family want to learn about the city, some want to stay active and try fun stuff, while some of you just don’t want to let that iPhone go! Is there a way of exploring the city and keep everyone happy? I hope this post will give you some ideas of things to do in Zagreb together as a family, when at the same time, you can get to know this city.
This post is for all the families with teenagers who are forced to travel together. The word “forced” sounds a bit harsh, but I’m sure that all the parents – and teens – will know what I mean. Just look back at your teens and imagine crossing the ocean with your parents back then! If you don’t get what I mean because you’re a parent of that cute 10-year-old… Just wait. You will come back to this article in due time.
Thanks to productive local street artists and their friends from abroad, Zagreb is full of hidden spots where you can enjoy incredible streetart. Some of the murals are in the very city center. For example, a new project called Art Park by Pimp My Pump gave new colourful looks to a park hidden in Tomiceva street by the funicular. While you’re in that neighbourhood, make sure to visit the nearby streetart studio Lapo Lapo in Ilica street. The studio is run by two exceptional local street artists Bare and Modul.
As said, some streetart can be found in the city center. But searching for lovely murals makes the best excuse to explore some off-the-path areas, too. Try Novi Zagreb‘s neighborhoods called Siget and Utrina across the river Sava.
THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF THE ZAGREB WITCH ESCAPE ROOM
Nothing beats a visit to an escape room in a foreign city if you’re traveling with your teen kids. It has all the right ingredients. They will have to leave their phone in a locker, but it’s a perfect replacement for all those video-games. It takes more than one player, so the whole family is in! I know that the idea of having your whole family locked up inside a room doesn’t really sound like the best plan right now. But at least you will have an extra motive to get out of there as fast as you can, right? This might even be a little bonding experience. It’s fun, not competitive, and you need to work together as a team.
I have two favourite escape rooms in Zagreb. Escape room Fox in the box is awesome, it has the longest tradition in the city. They were the first ones to spread the escape room disease through Zagreb. And they really know how to make a person beg for being locked up again!
And then, there’s a room that I’m really fond of, because it was inspired by the dark Zagreb history. The Mysterious Case of the Zagreb Witch by Enigmarium will definitely make you want to know more about the notorious history of witch hunts and witch trials in Zagreb. Your task is to save an 18th century Zagreb witch and it is inspired by a well-known historical case of Barica Cindek.
GET A CROATIAN BOARD GAME
The most popular Croatian board game at the moment seems to be the steampunkish Vaults. You can buy it at the Carta Magica shop in Frankopanska street. However, your perfect souvenir might be Maldoria. It is a game fully inspired by local legends about the mythical Black Queen. Get it in Algoritam bookstores for a fun time together!
TO THE HILLS
You don’t need to be in a perfect shape to go hiking to mount Medvednica. You can take it at your own pace and enjoy the day together. Out there in the nature, there’s always a special feeling of freedom. That might be a better solution than dragging your kids around the city for a classical sightseeing. Wake up early in the morning on a bright and sunny day, take a tram number 14 to the last station Mihaljevac, and then switch to number 15. From the last station of that tram, search for a mountain trail and start going. It takes you cca 2 hrs to the top of the mountain. There’s also a public bus that will take you to the top. It’s a good idea to take snacks and a sandwich with you in case you need an energy boost along your way. And when you get there, visit some of the charming mountain cabins and order a traditional lunch – you deserved it!
If you get lost at a certain point, or at least you feel lost, look at it from the bright side! You will be able to laugh at it together for the rest of your trip.
For detailed information on how to reach the mountain, visit the website of the Nature park Medvednica.
VISIT VETERNICA CAVE AND ADOPT A BAT
You don’t feel like going all the way to the top of the mountain? How about just a little adventure then? At the base of mount Medvednica on the north side of the city, there is a cave called Veternica, which could be translated as “the windy cave”. It is an important prehistorical finding.
Veternica cave is also an important habitat of over a dozen different species of bats. You can even adopt one. You get to chose the specie and give a name to your bat, donate cca 20 EUR for preservation of the cave, and get cool freebies as a reminder that you’re now a true Batman, such as a T-shirt and “My bat lives in Veternica cave” certificate.
Official information about the visit to the Veternica cave can be found on the official page of Medvednica Nature Park.
There are some nice spots on mount Medvednica where you can try free climbing. There’s a small but challenging (read: dangerous) rock near the Veternica cave, which is very close to the city. Another great spot is the so-called Mountain Mirror (Gorsko Zrcalo), a flat vertical cliff with half-a-century-long history of climbing.
You will probably need help to get to the cliffs. Or maybe you wish to try out indoor climbing in Zagreb. In any case, for more information about free climbing in Zagreb, Forthia team is your friend, make sure to contact them.
ENJOY SEASONAL ACTIVITIES
The mountain is inspiring, but let’s get back to the city and enjoy some seasonal activities here, too. In the summer, you can swim or get a tan by as much as two artificial lakes – Lake Jarun and Lake Bundek. Not to mention that Lake Jarun offers many fun water sports, like canoeing or wake boarding.
In the winter, it’s back to the mountain. There is a small ski resort on mount Medvednica where you can even enjoy the night skiing. It’s easy to rent the equipment there and it’s sure an unforgettable experience, so close to the capital city.
ZAGREB GHOSTS AND DRAGONS TOUR
The reason I started writing this article in the first place, was because many families come to my Zagreb Ghosts and Dragons Tour. And it’s a perfect compromise – it’s far from a standard city tour, but it’s not pure entertainment. It’s a storytelling night tour where you will learn a lot about the city, get to explore some off-the-beaten paths… and you also get to visit a dark graveyard full of strange symbols.
Those hot summer evenings might be tricky. The city is full of young people having a great time and you want to keep your kids with you. How about going away from the crowds and give them a unique feeling of stargazing from an old medieval tower. In the Opaticka street in the upper town area, there is an observatory hidden on top of an old tower. There’s almost no sign. If the glass door is open, and the light is on, feel free to enter and go all the way to the top. Even if you really don’t care about the skies, you get the best view of the city powered by the amazing vibes of the location.
You can spot some planets even during the day. There is an art project on the streets of Zagreb called Nine Views. It’s an art installation by David Preis, a scale model of the Solar System on the streets of Zagreb. Some of the planets are in the city center. Free app called Zagreb Be There can help you find them!
Your visit to Zagreb might be a great opportunity to try a different kind of movie-going experience. Zagreb is home to numerous movie festivals and we don’t dub. We use plane old subtitles. So if there’s a movie screening in your language, you will be able to enjoy it. This is a great chance to visit one of the old school cinemas and see something other than blockbusters. If there’s anything scheduled in the summer cinema Tuskanac or the beautiful Cinema Europa, get your tickets and immerse yourself into a retro movies experience.
If none of the ideas help, then it’s back to shopping. If you’re traveling through Croatia, it’s best to do the shopping here in Zagreb. Being the biggest city in Croatia, it has many shopping malls, some of them pretty close to the city center. You can sometimes use it as an excuse to do some sightseeing after all, by entering some historical shops. We suggest you to visit some shoemaker workshops in Ilica street, or enter the oldest department store in town called Nama on the corner of Ilica street and the main square.
Did you visit Zagreb with your teenage kids? Did you find any of these ideas useful? What did your kids like about the city? Let me know in the comment section.
Header photo: Zagreb Ghosts and Dragons Tour, photo by Božidar Raos