A favorite excursion to the outskirts of Zagreb is to the heights of Sljeme and its observatory. And then there is the peaceful spa town of Stubičke Toplice and, a bit farther to the northeast, the Catholic pilgrimage site of Marija Bistrica. Farther to the north, beyond the Medvednica Hills, lies a pastoral region known as Zagorje. The scenery is calm and enchanting: redbrick villages, such as Kumrovec, are animated with ducks and chickens, and the hillsides are inlaid with vineyards and orchards. Medieval hilltop castles, including Veliki Tabor and Dvor Trakošćan, survey the surrounding valleys. To the northeast of Zagreb is the charming baroque town of Varaždin. Although Sljeme and Stubličke Toplice are reasonably easy to get to from the capital by bus, having a car at your disposal for a day or two will give you a chance to cover more ground efficiently (e.g., without having to return to Zagreb to board yet another bus).
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