Lakes of Zagreb: Exploring the City’s Waterways

Let me tell you something about this topic: I’m biased towards it since I live across the most beautiful park in Zagreb – Park Maksimir. Park Maksimir has five lakes, so let me tell you what I know about those lakes.

The 316 hectares of Zagreb’s Maksimir Park houses five lakes with a total area of 8.3 hectares. The so-called Maksimir forest park, the first of its kind in Southeast Europe, was opened in 1794 at the initiative of Bishop Maximilian Vrhovac. The park was designed (in 1839) in the English landscape style, for which Bishop Juraj Haulik is credited.

The first Maksimir Lake is located at the side entrance on Maksimirska Street, right next to the northern stand of the Maksimir Stadium. Upon entering, your gaze is drawn to the large and dazzling surface of the lake, while opposite it, there is a ZOO.

When you (partially) go around the first lake and pass the entrance to the ZOO, after a short walk, you come across a small bridge located above the “stream” connecting the first and second lakes. The area around the Second Lake was renovated in 2022, and today it looks nice.

A unique experience is created once you see the recognizable viewpoint on the hill.

The third lake is located in the heart of Maksimir Park. After touring the second, you briefly follow the viewpoint by which you pass, and by the path, you ascend to the barrier behind which the beautiful third lake is located. This place is the lifeline of Maksimir Park as many people pass through it who come to Maksimir Park from the side of Bukovačka Street. Here is also the end of the promenade below the viewpoint. Several strategically positioned benches are set up for anyone to spend moments by the third lake.

As for the last two lakes, it might be more logical to mention the fifth lake first, as you come across it first, but let’s go in numerical order. On the edge of the park, on the eastern side, we come to the last two lakes, starting with the fourth. We mentioned the second lake’s intimacy, but this seriously competes for number one. The beautifully arranged surroundings and peace this place provides are desirable!

From the fourth lake, we climb a bit harder up the hill behind, which hides the largest (3ha) and deepest (6m) Maksimir Lake in terms of surface area. What can we say when you position yourself in the middle of the path on the southern side of the lake, the view towards the top of Medvednica (Sljeme) takes your breath away, especially the reflection in the lake. All those who live near Maksimir are fortunate!

The second place we need to visit is Lake Jarun. It is a large entertainment center in Zagreb made of many coffee shops, places to ride your bicycle or roller skates, walk on a 5.5 km road around the lake, exercise, or enjoy the sun. This place is also known as the Zagreb Sea.

Even though it is all one big lake, we divide it into two lakes – The Big Lake (Croatian Veliko Jezero) and Small Lake (Croatian Malo Jezero). The Big Lake is used for rowing and windsurfing, while the Small Lake is reserved for swimming (though I don’t recommend it), pedal boat rides, rowers, and paddlers.

Lake Jarun transforms into a nightlife hotspot at night, but more about it in the following articles.

The next lake is Lake Bundek, located in the New Zagreb area (Croatian Novi Zagreb, part of the Zagreb located on the south bank of the Sava River). It is a nice-looking lake surrounded by a forest and park Bundek and beautiful trails throughout the park.

Bundek Lake looks like two lakes, but in fact, it is one big lake that only looks like two lakes separated by a small wooden bridge. The larger lake is surrounded by coffee places and beaches (I don’t recommend swimming there also) and a floating stage used for various events.

The last lakes are not so visited because they are less known and not too close to familiar roads. It is a series of lakes located southeast of the center of Zagreb. The lakes were former backwaters of the Sava River and were surrounded by lush vegetation and walking paths. I’m talking about the Savica Lakes.

The interesting thing is that an ornithological station regularly hosts bird-watching workshops, and because it is not very crowded, plenty of birds can be seen.

If you want to move a bit from crowded places, this is a nice place and enjoy almost raw nature.

Hi! My name is Ivan, and I'm an author of discoverzagreb.com. I have been photographing and exploring Zagreb for more than 15 years, and if you want to know more about me and discoverzagreb.com, read the Introduction articles by clicking here.

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