Park Maksimir is the oldest and largest public park in Zagreb. It is as important to Zagreb as Bois de Boulogne is important to Paris, Tiergarten to Berlin, and Regents Park to London. Founded in 1787, Maksimir was the first large public park in South-Eastern Europe.
The park was named after its founder bishop Maksimilijan Vrhovac of Zagreb. Its name is an abbreviation of Maksimilijanov mir, which means Maksimilijan’s peace.
There are many reasons to lose yourself in the grandeur of Park Maksimir. Not only does the park block out any signs that you are in a capitol city, but it can also transport you back in time a la Belle Époque.
Although it is situated in the city, it is a quiet place where you can relax and refill your batteries on a daily basis, even if all you have is half an hour.
The facts are these…
Why you should visit Park Maksimir
#1 ZOO Zagreb
ZOO Zagreb is one of three zoos in Croatia and is located within Maksimir Park. This zoo is home to 370 animal species and 8.800 animals. The most interesting animals living in the zoo are the snow leopard, okapi, red panda, common chimpanzee, wisent, Bactrian camel, scimitar oryx, Diana monkey, pygmy hippopotamus, and a variety of snake species.
More than 350.000 people visit the zoo on an annual basis. ZOO Zagreb was founded in 1925 and reconstructed in 2016. [Read: All the zoos in Croatia (zoološki vrt) including ZOO Zagreb]
A schedule of working hours is available here.
Zoo Ticket prices
|Adults (Mondays, except on holidays)||20 kn
|Children (7-14 years)||20 kn|
|Children (2-7 years)||10 kn|
|Nursery school visit||10 kn|
|School group visit||15 kn|
|Children (7-14 years)||200 kn|
|Children (2-7 years)||100 kn|
More information about working hours, prices, and rules of behavior is available here.
#2 Maksimir lakes and springs
The park includes 5 lovely lakes, where you can fish or relax lakeside surrounded by the rich scents of the forest. The lakes are un-creatively named as follows:
- Prvo jezero (The first lake)
- Drugo jezero (The second lake)
- Treće jezero (The third lake)
- Četvrto jezero (The fourth lake)
- Peto jezero (The fifth lake)
Despite their run-of-the-mill names, the lakes of Maksimir are anything but ordinary. Their tranquil waters feed the surrounding forest and serve as a natural habitat for many animal species.
The lakes of Maksimir offer the perfect backdrop for a lazy picnic, mind-clearing meditation, slow stroll, or peaceful yoga session. People can also drive small boats on the third lake.
In addition to the five lakes, there are 7 springs flowing through Maksimir. These springs include:
- Mirni dol
The Bliznec spring feeds the second and fifth lakes. Mirni dol and Dahlia are also feeding lakes with water, but their importance is negligible in comparison to Bliznec.
#3 Animals are everywhere
Park Maksimir is a protected habitat for many animal species, most commonly vjeverice (squirrels), puhovi (dormice), and šišmiši (bats), as well as kune (martens) and lisice (foxes).
The park is also rich with birds and is home to 104 bird species. The largest population of forest birds in the park are djetlić (woodpecker), žuna (flicker), brgljez (nuthatch), puzavac, and sjenica (tit).
Turtles, frogs, and snakes also take up residency within Maksimir. If you like to observe birds, you can take an ornithological tour within the park.
Bird Watching Tours
You can take a professional ornithological tour to observe more than 100 bird species using professional birdwatching equipment. The best time to observe birds is in the morning when they are most active.
Be sure to bring hiking clothes and binoculars if you have them. The tour price is 400 kuna per group of 15 people or less. The tour lasts from 60 to 90 minutes. The tour does not run during rain or snow.
If you want to take the bird watching tour, you may make arrangements using the contact information below.
#4 Sports and recreation
Maksimir is an oasis for numerous residents of Zagreb. The park is ideal for long walks, working out, practicing yoga, riding a bike, meditation, and many other recreation activities. If you have kids, there are two modern playgrounds your kids will surely enjoy.
Many organizations offer different sports programs in the park. Here is the list of these organizations and their web sites:
- Atletski klub Veteran – Athletic and running club
- Huck Finn Adventure Travel – Tourist agency
- Odred izviđača “Maksimir” – Scouting organization
- Orjentacijski klub “Maksimir” – Orientation club
- Planinarski savez Zagreba – Hiking union
- Zagrebački savez za športsku rekreaciju “Šport za sve” – Sports association
Contact them if you want to join.
You can meet an expert nordic walking guide every Saturday from 9:00 to 11:00 at the entrance to the park. Contact the guide for more detailed information if you want to engage in Nordic walking:
The fifth lake is ideal for fishing. If you are enthusiastic about fishing, it would be a shame to pass on this opportunity. You can contact the fishermen club Bukovac-Maksimir to join the fishing school or to sign up for recreative fishing.
To reach them, contact the Maksimir Infocentar at:
For those who love to start their day with a bit of yoga, there is a yoga class offered every Wednesday from 7:00 to 8:00, which takes place on a pristine meadow in the park.
For more information, visit Yoga in Daily Life.
#5 Maksimir’s sights
Peppered throughout the park are many significant buildings and structures:
- Novi ljetnikovac
- Vrtlareva kućica
- Paviljon Jeka
- Švicarska kuća
- Sokolska Mogila
- Kapelica Sv. Jurja
- Ljetnikovac biskupa Haulika
Each of these impressive buildings and monuments has its own story. Some were built by bishop Maksimilijan pl. Vrhovac from 1794 to 1843, some under cardinal Juraj Haulik from 1843 to 1869, and some were built in the 20th century.
Paviljon Jeka (Echo pavilion) is a special attraction because it repels sounds that make an echo. Vidikovac (Belvedere) is the most prominent building in the park. The Obelisk is a monument from 1843, which honors the completion of construction works in the park.
The grand entrance to the Maksimir was built in 1841 and has a historical and cultural value. It contains the verses from popular Ivan Gundulić’s poem Dubravka. After you step through the entrance, you can follow a grandiose tree-lined path that leads to Vidikovac, a big white building on a hill built between 1841 and 1843.
Park Maksimir Tour
If you’d like to learn and see more of Maksimir, there is an educational tour called Ja volim Maksimir (I love Maksimir). During the tour, you will learn all about its history and fun facts like that a steamboat used to run on the first lake.
Tours are available in English, German, and Croatian. The tour price includes a professional guide and entrance to Maksimir’s buildings. The duration of the tour is from 1.5 to 2 hours.
If you’d like to take a tour, use the below contact information.
#6 Caffe Bars
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning cafe bars, which strongly represent a Croatian’s reason for living. At a cafe bar, you can chat with friends, enjoy a coffee, sip a beer, watch people, and soak up the sun. They are at the center of life in Croatia, so of course, Park Maksimir offers a few of them.
Here are the best cafe bars in Maksimir.
Vidikovac is situated in the middle of the Park, between the zoo and the third lake. If using the main entrance, you can follow the tree-lined path right up to this building.
In addition to its vista-like view in the forest, Vidikovac hosts many cultural and entertainment events.
Ježeva kućica is a warm retro place where you can grab an excellent coffee, lunch, or dessert. It is situated near Maksimir forest and the Faculty of Agriculture.
Maksimir is waiting
Maksimir is a unique oasis with a cult following due to its protected nature, historical significance, and isolation in the heart of Zagreb.
Maksimir is the place where many of us fell in love or met someone interesting while walking the dog. People celebrate their birthdays and take wedding photos here. Most of us Croats remember the time when we saw a lion, a monkey, or a big snake for the first time at ZOO Zagreb.
Maksimir is cherished by locals in Zagreb. This park is an oasis and a synonym for peace, calm, and happiness.
View our other nature articles
- Brijuni National Park
- Croatia’s mountain shelters of modern architecture
- Kornati National Park
- Krka National Park
- Mljet National Park
- Northern Velebit National Park
- Plitvice National Park
- Risnjak National Park
- Strict nature reserves of Croatia
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.