During the times when traveling is limited to your own country, it is time to turn to the inside and discover the beautiful areas on your footsteps. So, in case you are living in Zagreb or visiting the area, there is a lot to discover just an hour or two outside the city.
Lonjsko polje (Lonja fields) is one of 11 Croatian Nature Parks, just about an 1h 40min outside of Zagreb. Although it is possible to visit it as a 1-day excursion, you should start your day early, to cover all the parts included in the ticket. Don’t underestimate its size, like we did, having to leave some parts out.
The ticket (40 KN) includes three areas – Repušnica , Krapje and Čigoč, as well as the surrounding villages. With the ticket, you will be able to enjoy the adventurous ride on the farm tractor trailer and a solar boat ride down the river Sava.
1. The farm tractor trailer
The ride in the trailer of the farm tractor is a short one (about 10min), starting in the village of Krapje and taking you to the starting point of the boat ride. The ride is especially fun for families with kids who never got to ride a tractor in their lives. For the two of us who grew up riding tractors on our own it was not as disappointing that we didn’t get a spot on the ride.
2. The solar boat
We got lucky to get two last free seats on a boat ride and I must say it would have been a shame if we hadn’t. Boats are driven by solar power, therefore very silent. The ride on the river Sava took us about 45min. And since we arrived before the tractor guests, we got to choose our seats on the boat (hint-choose the right side!!) During the ride, you will get to see many different kinds of birds, since the area is known for around 250 different species. The most common are white herons and storks, that are chilling all around the river.
What nobody told us and we found out on the spot was that, although the tractor and boat ride are in the price, you need to reserve your spot in advance. The chances are that by the time you come to the park, there are more people in the park than there are seats on the boat or in the trailer, and the seats are limited. So in case you don’t wish to take chances, just give them a call a week (or at least a few days) in advance and block your seats.
The village Krapje is not only the starting point for the tractor and the boat tour. You will also be invited to take a stroll through the fields to see the traditional horses, wild pigs and some of the bird lakes that are well visible from the bird observer house.
The walk can take about 45min one way.. or if you also love to take photos in the adorable poppy fields, it will take much more.
Krapje is also a good chance to hear a bit about the local architecture, since the traditional wooden houses in the village are preserved the way they used to be and are therefore national architectural heritage.
Yet another very famous place, known as the “Stork village”. It is said that Čigoč has more storks than inhabitants in the spring. You will see them all around the rooftops building their nests, feeding baby storks or even strolling along the street. People love them so much that they even build stands on their houses to make it more convenient for storks to nest.
In Čigoč you will also be able to buy your entry tickets.
Take a 4-5km walking route where you will see several types of animals wandering freely on the fields. Like nowhere else in Europe, you will see animals like pigs, horses and cows grazing on the fields together. From early spring till the late autumn, cattle will be feeding themselves and sleeping together free in the fields. Although they are mixed with the cattle of the whole village, each owner will recognize his animals by heart.
The animals are not very shy and are used to humans, so you will be able to walk around them without problems (except for the natural, animal “land mines” on the ground – beware. It is everywhere! And it’s big! 🙂
We spent quite the time in this village and the photos will tell you why.
You will find many of these fishing piers or little wooden houses near the river Sava. Unfortunately, they are not all as well preserved and stable as they may look on the photos, so watch your step if you go for that photo.
Mužilovčica is a village next to Čigoč where you will again have a chance to see cattle in the fields. We got lucky because they were just along the road when we got there. But when you see the endlessness of the fields, you know they could have been anywhere.
While driving through the area, you will definitely notice a huge concrete sculpture of a flower in the fields. This is a sign you have reached Jasenovac.
In case this name doesn’t yet mean anything to you, I must say it is a place of dark Croatian history.
This area has been a concentration camp during the times of WW2. When you reach the monument, you will see dozens of little artificially made hills surrounding it. The hills are replacing the rooms that have existed on those spots.
In case you decide to take a closer look and take a stroll around the statue of the flower of Jasenovac, I would definitely advise to read more on the topic beforehand. There is little to no data about the history of this place on the monument itself, and the little that is written is in Croatian language .
As I said at the beginning, we underestimated the size of the park, so we started exploring quite late. Therefore we didn’t get to enjoy all the villages suggested on the route. We have heard that Repušnica and its surrounding will also give you a chance to esee the endless fields and cattle enjoying the greenest of grass.
But if you put it this way, fortunately, we have a reason to come and visit this beautiful park once again.
Repušnica is also one of the three entry spots where you can purchase your tickets.
Tipps for the visit:
- I would definitely suggest wearing closed shoes (sneakers, hiking shoes) instead of flip flops or sandals, no matter how hot it may be. The fields are pretty straight, but walking around the cattle, you definitely don’t want to step into their poop with open shoes. Or at all.
- Bring a hat/cap, sunscreen and water, because you will often walk for kilometres on open areas with no shadow.
- While purchasing tickets, take some local restaurant suggestions at the counter. And definitely try some local freshly grilled fish!
- If you care to make your day a bit more active, you can rent a canoe or a bicycle in Čigoč.
After all the info, I certainly hope you feel prepared for your visit to Lonjsko polje. The website of the park is very informative too, unfortunately, only in Croatian language. Another blog post I can suggest if you understand Croatian is that of Domagoj Sever who captured some amazing photos and has even more suggestions.
So, I wish you all the fun exploring the wonderful countryside of Croatia and share your impressions when you do.