An spontaneous afternoon of autumn delight on the Žičara Sljeme (Zagreb Cable Car)
I deserve absolutely no pity, but I have missed autumn this year. My adventures in the land of endless summer in Split meant that I missed the beautiful October of my native New England. I don’t regret it, but I do love me some autumnal splendor. This was why I was delighted to take the Žičara Sljeme (Zagreb Cable Car) up into the mountains just outside of Zagreb. I discovered that the cable car was operational while enjoying a cup of coffee on a terrace and searching for things to do. I love a spontaneous decision that works out wonderfully, don’t you?
While the muted foliage didn’t exactly live up to New England’s autumnal splendor, it definitely helped to see some turning leaves.
Plus, I love me a cable car ride.
The Žičara Sljeme could not be easier to get to
Zagreb has excellent public transportation, so getting to the Žičara Sljeme (Zagreb Cable Car) could not be simpler from Ban Jelačić Square, though do make sure to get two 30-minute tickets (HRK 4,00 or €.53 for daytime fare) or a day pass (HRK 30, or €3.98), as the 30-minute ticket will expire.
Simply take Tram 14 to the end of the line at Mihajevac and then board the 15 to Gračansko dolje. On a November weekday afternoon, I had a seat the whole time and saw a park that I’d like to explore. The trams run about every ten minutes, with signage in town with times. The trams themselves are clean and quiet and this former MBTA rider jealous. The ride there took about 35 minutes, including changing trams.
Away we go on the Žičara Sljeme!
November is definitely the off season for the Žičara Sljeme, with the summer tourist crowds gone and winter skiing not yet up and running, so there was no line whatsoever for tickets in the huge building. I bought a roundtrip ticket for HRK 125 (~€16.50) and scanned my ticket to get into the boarding area. It’s all a very sleek and modern operation, without people. The cars slow down as they enter the boarding area and the doors open. It took me a second to realize that I should just get in one. A father and son got in one before me, but there was no need to share. The cars pass through a gate, the doors close, and up we go!
Sweeping views on the 25-minute ride to the top
Wheeee! For someone who hates flying, I so much enjoy dangling from a cable car over a mountain. And this is a good one—it’s a fairly long ride, as far as cable cars go, about 25 minutes or so up Sljeme mountain. On a clear day, you get sweeping view of Zagreb, but I was much more interested in the muted foliage and the mountains. As I passed other cars of the Žičara Sljeme, I saw people filming the views on the way down and little kids with their faces glued to the windows. I think I must have looked like them, because I was having a grand time.
Lunch with a view atop Sljeme
By the time I got to the top, it was approaching mid-afternoon, and I needed lunch. I spied a couple of options, all with loads of windows and outdoor seating (it was a bit chilly up there). I opted for Caffe-Restoran Vidikovac Sjleme, with views of the valley on the other side.
I did not have great expectations for the quality of the food, captive audience and all, but my pork skewers and fries were delightful. The bottle of Ožujsko beer was enormous, and the whole meal ran me about €15. Other diners appeared to enjoy their repasts, the soup in particular looked tasty.
Exploring the top of Sljeme
Some brave souls ate outside, but that was mostly so that they could smoke. While not exactly cold, it was definitely sweater weather up at the top. However, I didn’t let that stop me from walking around a bit after lunch. You can’t miss the enormous cell tower at the top (bonus—great reception), but the old-fashioned ski lifts were a bit off in the distance.
I breathed in the clean air, and the setting reminded me a bit of New Hampshire. I don’t think that I realized that I was missing autumn so much until I got up there. It felt familiar, and I needed that.
Time to head down on the Žičara Sljeme
The sun started to sink in the sky, and it was time to head back down the Žičara Sljeme and back into town. Along the way, I stopped at one of the two stations on the way down for a different view (just keep your ticket—you can get on and off). On the way down, I spent time just looking out the window at the setting sun over the treetops.
Down the mountain, I got headed toward the waiting tram car (a very nice touch—it waited for everyone heading toward it to get on) and then back into Zagreb, happy to have had a lovely autumn afternoon.
Ride the Žičara Sljeme (Zagreb Cable Car)
This is an easy trip to take from Central Zagreb. However, wind conditions can affect the operation, so it’s good to confirm that things are running that day. Check the Žičara Sljeme website for weather updates.
See the map for location and click on it to get directions from where you are in Zagreb.