SAMOBOR – A Fairytale Town at the Close Reach of the Big City
People of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, like to spend their weekends outside the big city.
And Samobor, a small town on the outskirts of Zagreb, is their favorite getaway of choice.
Zagreb is over-a-million citizens city. Like in any other big city in the world, there is a rush in its streets that rarely fades out during the working week. Fortunately, Zagreb is widely surrounded by beautiful nature and a bunch of small towns where busy people of the city can look for their escape into a somehow more relaxed daily routine for a weekend.
Among the small towns around Zagreb, Samobor is unique.
While wandering its gorgeous streets, one could hardly avoid the impression you are actually staying in some Alpine-country town. Slovenian or Austrian maybe, but certainly not Croatian.
And you’d be right. Samobor is located on the edge of the mountains spreading southern from Slovenian Alps. That’s where his unmistakable mountain-residence ambient comes from.
Hills that steeply protrude above the town are forest green.
Its deep woods quickly recharge the souls of the weary city folks and get them back on track.
Samobor has a long tradition of mountaineering which can be witnessed in a solid mountaineering infrastructure with well-marked hiking paths, lodges, and mountain hubs.
If you opt for a hike, neither of the nearby hilltop outing spots like Okic, Japetic, and Orsic will disappoint you.
For a longer stay, there are mountain guest houses like “Ethno Kuca pod Okicem”, the cozy estate currently crowning the corresponding review category on Trip Advisor.
But, let’s get back down to the center of the town. The real fairytale happens in its streets.
The architecture largely contributes to the Alpine-town-impression that Samobor exudes with.
The downsized buildings of the old town center with pastel colored facades display the obvious Austrian influence. This is quite noticeable on the King Tomislav Square, the main socializing square in Samobor.
Interestingly, the most beautiful building here isn’t the Town Hall as everyone would have thought, but a random Art Deco building.
Take a moment to breathe in this gorgeous architecture. Or even better, have a cup of coffee and a cake to accompany it.
But, not any cake though…
There is café on the main square. It’s a perfect place to stop when passing by, so they just named it “U prolazu” (Passing by.) This is also the place where you can taste the town’s local treat – the Samobor Cream Cake (Kremsnita) – at its finest.
The Samobor Cream Cake is a must for any visit.
It’s a custard cream cake with puff pastry. At café “U Prolazu” they make it according to the traditional recipe – very soft clustered cream of almost meringue-like taste, and an extra crispy puff pastry topping.
To make it a full experience, insist on the cake to be warm.
Then order two of them immediately, because you will surely want more of it after you try one.
Further down the lane – with your souls filled and your stomachs full – it’s time to stroll down the river bank.
The town’s riverfront is a highlight.
The Gradna River is flowing right through the Old Town center, and just a few meters from the King Tomislav Square the riverfront is accompanied with cute promenade.
The river’s modest size matches the town perfectly. In various spots, you’ll find bridges crossing the river, varying from functional to downright pretty like the covered, wooden bridge past the main square.
Walking down the promenade you will soon spot another landmark of Samobor – The Samobor Castle.
The 13th-century castle ruins are rising above the town, on a close hill Tepec, just a short hike from the main square.
Samobor Castle was one of the most beautiful ones in northern Croatia and has changed many owners. There are many walls and structures to explore within the castle and the views at the Samobor Old Town are just fantastic.
By the end of winter, Samobor turns into a madhouse – The Free Carnival Republic of Samobor
The Samobor Carnival is one of the oldest carnival festivities in Croatia and one of the largest tourist manifestations in the continental part of Croatia.
Every year, while waiting for spring to show up, the traditional carnival characters Prince Fašnik, Princess Sraka, Sudec (the Judge) and Fiscal (the Attorney) take over the keys of the city and proclaim the Free Carnival Republic of Samobor.
During the days of free republic whole town is devoted to the festival with event programs going on all around.
Everybody gets furious. People just let the masks take over their new identities and from that point, anything is possible – a dance with a stranger, a kiss from a clown, a friendly hug from a monster – anything.
Whole madness reaches a climax on a feast Tuesday with the condemnation of Prince Fašnik and the burning of his doll, to ensure that the year ahead of us is without any negative impacts.
But, how could anyone think of negative impacts within a surrounding such as Samobor?
It must be impossible to think of any bad things here.
In a fairytale town.
So close to the big city rush.
Your CTC Team, S.J.