Visit the Castle Ruins and Coffee Shops of Samobor

Ellie Swain

Senior Contributor

Just a 40-minute drive away from Croatia’s buzzy north-western capital city of Zagreb lies the charming town of Samobor. Filled with red-roofed houses, pretty bridges, and the trickling Gradna River, Samobor looks like it could be straight out a fairy tale. The perfect full or half-day trip to escape the busy atmosphere of Zagreb, get lost in Samobor’s enchanting Old Town and soak up the surrounding idyllic nature on one of the local walking trails. Keep reading for an itinerary of exploring this delightful Croatian town. From local eats to picture-perfect landscapes, we’ve got you covered.

Walk Around and Explore

Samobor’s town centre is relatively small and one of the first things you should do in the city is to explore the area on foot.

An excellent starting point is Samobor’s main square, Trg Kralja Tomislava, translating to King Tomislav Square. The open space is brimming with boutique shops, striking pastel-hued buildings, and cafés full of locals chatting over tea and coffee. This area is one of the best in the city for eating and drinking, which we’ll cover a bit later.

From the Old Town square, you’ll spot the yellow Church of St. Anastasia. Be sure to wander over to observe the architecture up close. From the church, you’ll be treated to a wonderful view of all the friends and families meeting in the main square below.

Navigate further up the hill, and you’ll come across the Franciscan Monastery, standing out with its orange and white shades. Whether you have the chance to glimpse into the church or monastery or not, both buildings are worth a visit.

Don’t forget to amble alongside Samobor’s Gradna River, either. The brook is modest in size, perfectly fitting the nature of the little city. You’ll come across plenty of delicate, wooden bridges that wouldn’t look out of place on a postcard.

Sip Coffee and People Watch

The coffee culture in Croatia is huge, and you’ll often spot friends, families, and co-workers sitting in coffee shops and bars having a good old natter with one another for hours.

After exploring, sit down with a soothing brew when you reach the Trg Kralja Tomislava main square once again. While you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to bars and cafes, we suggest heading to Bor Bar for a prime spot for people-watching.

On Sundays, the square comes alive, and it’s easy to while away the hours gazing at the medieval buildings and the uber-stylish locals strolling past.

Hike up to the Castle Ruins

The short hike up to Stari Grad Samobor, translating to Samobor Castle, is worth a trip to the region alone. While the castle is no longer intact, there are plenty of beautiful walls and crumbling structures to explore.

To reach the castle ruins, follow the road along the Gradna River until you reach the KRCMA Gabreku 1929 Restaurant. Then, turn left when you come across the teeny Sveti Mihalj Church where you’ll begin your hike onto Tepec Hill.

The trek from the main square to Samobor Castle takes around 20 to 30 minutes in total. But, prepare for some uphill hiking. If you feel comfortable walking down and back to the city in the dark, consider visiting for sunset.

From the castle ruins, admire sublime views of the tiny city and the surrounding forest-covered mountains that stretch endlessly into the distance. During sunset, the glow bounces brilliantly off the surrounding landscapes, making for stunning photos.

Remember to charge your camera or make sure your phone is well-charged. You’ll want to take plenty of photos set in front of the vine-covered castle ruins and against the dramatic mountain views.

Feast on Local Cuisine

After all that exploring, your stomach may be grumbling. It’s time to fill up with a meal of hearty, local Croatian cuisine.

An excellent place for lunch or dinner is KRCMA Gabreku 1929 you passed earlier, which is conveniently close to the castle ruins. The restaurant is large yet cosy, known for its friendly service and scrumptious regional fare. The menu features homemade dishes made from fresh and homegrown ingredients, serving everything from creamy vegetarian soups to exotic meat dishes such as young roasted boar dished up with cranberries and gnocchi.

Another must-do in the city is to sample the samoborska kremšnita cream cake. The popular dessert originates from Samobor and can be found in almost every pastry shop and restaurant in the area.

The decadent cake consists of two layers of puff pastry overflowing with rich custard cream. For extra indulgence, sometimes a thin layer of whipped cream sits on top of the custard.

The whole cake is then dusted with powdered sugar. When served, it is carefully sliced into cubes. Enjoy the samoborska kremšnita cream cake either warm or chilled, depending on the season.

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