Photo by ALEKSANDAR GOSPIĆ

Sail Through Croatia On Your Bicycle

With its rugged, stunning coast, mountainous terrain, unending sunshine and a plethora of islands, it is little wonder that Croatia’s Adriatic coast is one of Europe’s hottest tourist destinations, but away from the beach, the coast offers some truly spectacular attractions and challenges for cyclists – here are six rides not to miss.

Pelješac – riding from Napoleon to Marco Polo

Napoleon must have had cyclists in mind when he built his Napoleonic road 200 years ago, for the route which spans the length of the peninsula is full of heritage, history, nature and the best vineyards in the world. If you can resist the famous oysters of Mali Ston and admire the longest fortified wall outside China, or the largest salt pans in the Mediterranean, the breathtaking ride the length of the peninsula culminates in a spectacular descent to Dalmatia’s windsurfing capital of Orebić, with Marco Polo’s birthplace of Korčula across the channel.
So, on this route you’ll find Napoleon Bonaparte and Marco Polo but it’s always better to have at least three great people in the mix, right? So what are you waiting for? Come here and be the third famous person this road is waiting for. 😀

Parenzana – hop on the cycling train

Who said bikers couldn’t yell “choo choo”? In Istria they can!
A decision to reawaken the potential of the defunct Parenzana rail line from Poreč to Trieste was made, and the initiative began on the 100th anniversary of the short-lived rail line, breathed new life, EU funds and a wonderful cross-border initiative to benefit walkers, hikers and cyclists alike. Various combinations are possible to explore inland Istria, with Buje a popular starting point.

Karlovac – a historic ride

Many of Croatia’s bike routes are located on lesser known and forgotten roads of the past. Four routes from the Pannonian plain to the coast are all named after Austro-Hungarian rulers or their family members. They recreate the 18th and 19th century routes from Karlovac to the coast through the lush Gorski Kotar forest to the coast. The Carolina route goes from Karlovac to Bakar, Josephina to Senj, Louisiana to Rijeka and Rudolfina from Ogulin to Novi Vinodolski.
So, hop on the Carolina and ride it all the way. Or the Josephina, it’s your choice 🙂

Velebit Classic to Senj – route that works both ways

Croatia’s ubiquitous and varied nature allows cyclists to explore the best of the coastal and inland nature, with varying degrees of difficulty. A waterfront start in historic Senj quickly leaves the coast and rises rapidly through the Northern Velebit National Park to the summit of Zavižan, a 1,734m ascent in just 35km, but the views are worth it! Alternatively, the route in reverse is a little more relaxing.

Fužine – from the mountains to the sea

Looking for the ultimate challenge while exploring Croatia’s climatic diversity? Few routes accomplish this better than Gorski Kotar’s trail from Fužine to the Crikvenica riviera, starting and ending at 800m in cool lush forest, before descending to sea level and the heat of the coast. The dramatic climate change, 2,200m of ascent, mountain bike heaven.
After such a hard ride, there’s nothing better to do than just ride to the Adriatic Sea to refresh. 🙂

Lake Peruča – a ride full of adventures

The Dalmatian coast may be famous for its Adriatic Sea, but head a little inland and the natural paradise of pristine Lake Peruča awaits. With a spectacular mountainous backdrop, Peruča is home to an international rowing center and is a symbol of one of Europe’s best kept adventure tourism destinations – Zagora. Start and finish from historic Sinj, home to the famous Alka knights’ tournament. If they don’t mind that you’re riding a bike and not a horse, maybe they’ll let you join the tournament, who knows?

P.S. There are also amazing routes that take you from the springhead of the Krka River to Krčić Falls … so many options to explore.