Croatia’s 10 Best Hikes

Croatia's 10 Best Hikes

Two countries have stood out for me after 2 years of full-time travel: South Africa and Croatia. What do they have in common? Rugged mountains, beautiful coastlines…and incredibly scenic hikes.

We spent 3 months in Croatia last year, staying in Airbnb apartments as we covered most of this country. Looking for something more luxurious? Well, how about renting a villa? I’ve teamed up with Villa Plus on this post to share my list of 10 of the Best Hikes in Croatia, a topic close to my heart.
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In April we’ll be coming back to Croatia and I’m planning to do lots of hiking. Have a look at some of these hikes. Some I’ve done before, some I haven’t – but they’re all on my list for our upcoming visit.

 

1. Paklenica

paklenica

Located 46km from Zadar is Paklenica National Park, located on the Southern slopes of Velebit Mountain. At the heart of the National Park are two gorges – Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica – which offer some of the most scenic hiking in Croatia (the park is also the most visited climbing site in Croatia). Recommended day hikes: 1) a 4 hr (return) hike up to Anića Kuk featuring incredible views of all of Zadar county and the bay of Starigrad. Although not the highest hike at 712m, it has a 400m high vertical cliff on the Northwest face.  2) an 8hr (return) hike up to Sveto Brdo, the 2nd highest peak of Velebit Mountain. Great panoramic views as well as high mountain meadows (you might even see wild horses grazing).

Paklenica_Buljma   wikipedia

Above: interior, Paklenica (photo credit: wikipedia)

More details on this hike.

 


2. Northern Velebit National Park (Zazivan area)

velebit Northern Velebit National Park from their facebook page

Above photo credit: Northern Velebit National Park

Zazivan, in the Northern Velebit National Park, is known for several things. The first is the road. The road to Zazivan (the “Zazivan Road”) is the 2nd highest (1594m) in Croatia – you’ll see rocky peaks, rolling meadows, and incredible views of the Adriatic and its islands along the way. Zazivan also has the highest weather station in Croatia. The 3rd remarkable feature is the 57 km Premuzic Trail, a 3 day trail (which you can truncate into a 1-day hike) that skirts the coast with amazing views of the islands.

Location: near the town of Senj, 64km south of Rijeka.

More details on this hike.

 


3. The rocks of Bijele & Samarske Stijene

Samarske Stijene wiki

Above photo credit: Wikipedia

Translated as “White and Pack-saddle rocks” this area is very different from the other hikes listed here. The rocks are white and sharp limestone, shaped in towers (some as high as 50m) and other strange karstic shapes. The landscape is similar to the karstic forests found in Madagascar. The area is a natural reserve and the location is remote and inland, the starting point (the town of Jasenak) located 104 km south from Rijeka. Recommended route: from the car park follow the marked path to Ratko’s shelter where you’ll see a mountain hut located in a cave. You can come back along a different route, total walking time approx. 2 ½ hrs.

Samarske Stijene Ratkos Hut httpwww.hpdpliva.hrJalbumstarosamarske_stijeneslides09.html

Above photo credit: hpdpliva.hr

More details on this hike.

 


4. Ucka Mountain

Ucka mountain from official website

Above photo credit: Ucka National Park

In Istria, not far from Rijeka, is 1400 m high Ucka Mountain. The mountain has several memorable hikes, but the best is a half-day hike to the stone tower on the summit of Vojak peak. There you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views of the Istrian peninsula, northern Adriatic islands, mountains of the Gorski Kotar region, all the way to Venice and the Alps.

More details on this hike.

 


5. Risnjak Nationak Park

Risnjak national park  summitpost

Above photo credit: Summitpost.

East of Rijeka, on the Rijeka – Zagreb route, is Risnjak National Park. It is one of Croatia’s prettiest national parks (Croatia has 8 national parks) thick with forests, meadows and wild life. The recommended hike here is the 3 hr hike from the main entrance to the park at Crni Lug to the Sclosser Hut (known as one of the most beautiful mountain huts in Croatia).

More details on this hike.

 


6. Biokovo Mountain

biokovo parkdinarides.org

Above photo credit: Parks Dinarides

Biokovo mountain and Nature Park is the most dominating presence on the southern Dalmatian coast. Proclaimed a nature park in 1981, this mountain towers over the Makarska Riviera and affords unforgettable views over the sea and outlying islands. It is one of Croatia’s most popular destinations for hikers with myriad paths that wind up the hills past olive groves, vineyards and pine forests.

Biokovo also has the highest road in Croatia, reaching the highest peak of Sveti Jure at 1762 m.

There are many hikes available and many people drive up to one of the mountain’s lookout points and follow a trail from there.

Biokovo

Above photo credit: exploro-travel.com

See the official website which lists many hikes of varying difficulty and length on this massive mountain.

Note: 20km behind Biokovo, towards Imotski are two deep crater lakes that will leave you breathless: Crveno Jezero (Red Lake) and Modro Jezero (Blue Lake).

NOTE: Check out my post on Biokovo, including our drive up 1762 m Sv. Jure.

 


7. Mosor Mountain

mosor adventures croatia.net

Above photo credit: Adventurescroatia

Right next to Split – Croatia’s 2nd largest city – is Mosor Mountain. Easy to access, it has wonderful views of the Adriatic as well as Split itself. I hiked Mosor last spring, the highlight being the views at Vickov Stup (a 5 hr return hike). I saw mountain goats along the way and ate beans and sausages at the mountain house. A memorable hike.

See my post on Mosor for more details.

 


8. Vidova Gora, on the island of
Brač

vidova gora on brac

This is the only hike listed here located on one of Croatia’s islands. That’s because Brač has the highest island peak on the Adriatic, 778 m high Vidova Gora. From the town of Bol, the peak is a 2 hr hike up and you’ll be rewarded by fantastic views of the Adriatic as well as of famous Zlatni Rat beach (the most photographed beach in Croatia).

More details on this hike.

 


9. Peak Bat, Kijevo Bat Mountain

peak bat

Photo credit: Summitpost

Approximately 90 minutes from Split is the mountain of Kijevo Bat in the Dinaric Alps. There a hike to Peak Bat (3 ¼ hrs) is recommended. From the top you’ll have a wonderful panoramic view of all the major Dalmatian peaks, the big blue Peruča Lake, and the Cetina river, the longest Dalmatian river. You’ll actually be crossing the official border into Bosnia and Herzegovina on this hike but not to worry, there are no border controls in this area.

More details on this hike.

 


10. Plitvice Falls National Park

plitvice

The last hike on this list is the easiest – as well as the most famous – of them all. Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest national park in Croatia and one of the most famous parks in Europe. This is not a peak hike (although the surroundings are mountainous), it is a hike through canyons, waterfalls and the streams that make up this park. I call it a “waterworld”. The entire hike can be done in 6 hrs but I recommend doing it leisurely over 2 days, making sure to stay at least one night at one of the hotels situated in the park. It is spectacular.

See my post on Plitvice for more details.

 

 

Have you done any of the above hikes? What was your highlight?

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Comments

  1. How awesome! I haven’t done half of them:) Učka is above me:)) and the village in the first photo (the one with Paklenica mountains ) is called Vinjerac;)
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted…How NOT to travel to MadridMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      What a small world! So you live somewhere in Istria Tanja? We’re planning to spend some time in the area in April.
      Vinjarac – good to know. We were in Zadar and could see some of the mountain range from there. Next time I want to hike it.

  2. Uh oh…now it’s going to be really tough deciding what to do in – go biking, eat truffles, or go on one of these terrific hikes!
    Rebecca recently posted…Ribadesella and Jaw-Dropping Prehistoric Cave DrawingsMy Profile

  3. I’m not much of a hiker, but I might change. We spent the day at Plitvice Lakes and were very impressed. It seemed well run and pristine. The White and Pack-Saddle rocks looks interesting and the views from Biokovo Mountain. We drove along the lower coastal route and took a mountain diversion up behind Omis, which was pretty amazing and then back down on the edge of Biokovo Mountain.
    budget jan recently posted…The Church on the hill in Trebinje BiHMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Sounds like you saw quite a bit of Croatia!
      I wanted to mention Omis also – I had a nice hike up to the fortress where the views are just stunning. But it’s only a 45 min hike and wouldn’t qualify here…still I would recommend it to anyone, especially someone maybe not interested in a 6-8 hour hike.
      The thing is that there are so many beautiful walks and climbs in Croatia, it’s a country made for it.

  4. That’s a perfect way of introducing visitors to the beauty that is Croatia. I’ve been to Dubrovnik and Rovinj, both beautiful old cities steeped in history. What I love about Croatia is the agreeable climate and the unspoilt nature. Hiking tours are the perfect way of discovering that! Thanks for sharing these tips!
    silke recently posted…You won’t guess where you can find one of the greatest cathedrals of the worldMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Silke. Actually Rovinj is a place we want to explore next time around. Our highlight so far was Split, which we used as a base for 2 months.

  5. That’s a nice list, we haven’t done any of them but I’ve made a note for any future visit. I wish I had known about the number one (Paklenica National Park out of Zadar). We liked Zadar and could have done with an excuse to stay a while longer! Mosor Mountain from Split also appeals.
    Mark Bennetts recently posted…How to Spend a Day in Pristina, KosovoMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      I agree with you about Paklenica, I didn’t know about it at the time either and it’s very close to Zadar. Mosor was a great hike and I can recommend it for sure.

  6. Looks awesome.

  7. How much does it cost to hire a car and what are fuel costs like?

  8. Dee (Dee's Butterfly Garden) says:

    WOW!!!! Beautiful amazing photos, they are stunning!!! This is a great list, every traveler should see this wonderful places with their own eyes.

  9. Well… I guess I better go back to Croatia and skip the tourist spots like split and dubrovnik and do these hikes next time. Thanks for the great information!
    Hung Thai recently posted…You can help save the planet with these 4 appsMy Profile

  10. Frank – another great Croatia post from you! I absolutely love that you’re writing about less obvious places and activities to explore in the country. Go beyond the sun and the sea, eh? 🙂
    I’ve done my share of hiking in Croatia and must say that some of these places – especially Bijele i Samarske stijene – are a tough hike. For a non-experienced hiker, I would always recommend teaming up with a local for the best experience. Thanks for a great post!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you Andrea. Yes, it’s always recommended to go with someone else, preferably a local – not just because you might get lost, but you can fall and not be able to get up. The thing about most of the rocks in Croatia as that they’re jagged and sharp. You don’t want to get stuck on one of those peaks.

      When I researched this post I found that there is a lack of comprehensive information on hikes in Croatia. I had to put the above together from many different sources. I haven’t been on many of these hikes but I hope it’s helpful to people looking for the best spots to hike in Croatia.

  11. beautiful pictures all of them, make you wanting to buy the ticket immediately.

    Thank you

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you Carlos! I know you like to travel – you definitely have to visit Croatia! (you know that Split is an easy ferry ride from the Adriatic coast of Italy?)

  12. I have to admit that all these places look lovely, and l am sure they are just as lovely on terra firma.. 🙂 . Croatia is still very much on our list, thanks to your many posts about it. No hiking for me though, thank you very much. Wine and food and pampering. That is the life for me 🙂
    Kemkem recently posted…Opinions of New Delhi, India – Our Trip Roundup.My Profile

  13. Wow that’s amazing! I love the Balkans – these hikes are spectacular! I didn’t know that you can actually see the Zlatni Rat beach from such perspective! I’ve tried hiking in Slovenia and Albania and it was quite similar, now I’d love to do those trails in Croatia – next time I’m there I’ll make sure I won’t miss them! Amazing post and photos 🙂 I’m planning also to go to Cape Town and Namibia next month! Hope it will work out 🙂

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      You’ll have a great time Tomasz, I’m so jealous! I hope you do some of those Cape Town hikes. If you only have time for one go up Lion’s head.
      I’d love to go to Namibia and look forward to hearing about how you structure your trip there.
      You travel a lot Tom – how do you manage it?

      • Unfortunately, I have to skip Namibia this time as the visa is required and where I live there is no Namibian embassy, I don’t have enough time 🙁 I will visit South Africa – if you had been there, we could have met! I found ridiculously cheap flight from Dublin to Johannesburg for 500 EUR return! I might try to visit Lesotho for 3 days but also the visa is required so I’m not sure about it. I’ll definitely go to Cape Town and places around.

        Many people ask me how I manage the money – the truth is I live on my own as an immigrant in a foreign country, I receive less than minimum wage and of course have to support myself, I don’t have a rich family etc… And I’m not quite sure how I’ve been able to travel so much (50 countries within last 3 years). Maybe because I don’t waste money on materialistic stuff such as the newest phone, I hate watching TV and shopping in malls. I couldn’t care less for famous brands. However, I do love restaurants and going out and in no way I feel the lack of money. I might write an article about some alternative ways to save money on some things we think are necessary but in reality they’re not. Example – for a price of 10 beers in a bar in Dublin, you can get a return flight to the Mediterranean 🙂

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Interesting Tom…I guess it helps making wages, even if low, in a place like Ireland where wages still high (when converted) in comparison to the rest of the world. And lots of cheap flights from the UK/Ireland which helps. Still, quite amazing that you’ve been able to accomplish all that.

          I think you’ll love South Africa. I hope you rent a car, its really the way to see the place. I wish I could go back right now! Look forward to hearing your impressions.

  14. Just gorgeous! I was in Europe with a small caravan and my daughters last year… did not make it to Croatia. If we could live our lives with the benefit of hindsight… I’d be there in a flash! Great article, I am saving the link for when I do make it there!
    Jane recently posted…Travel Packing ListMy Profile

  15. i dont know much about Croatia. I was there for a day in Dubrovnik in 2004. But these hikes look brilliant, especially the last one!
    Andrew recently posted…First Taste – St Petersburg, RussiaMy Profile

  16. It seems Croatia isn’t all about coastline and beaches after all! Didn’t realise it was such a stunning mountainous country, maybe there’s something there for us after all 🙂 Love the little mountain bothies too, can you actually stay in them? I wonder though, is the sky always so impossibly blue?
    Heather Cole recently posted…La Maison Arabe Cooking School – the language of cuisineMy Profile

  17. Well, I haven’t hiked a single one of these but those sure are some incredible views, which would seem to make the hike worth the effort. I’m more of a long distance walker than a hiker. I’m always at a point of self debate when it comes to the lessor of two evils: uphill or downhill. It’s a coin toss. I hope you do get to make some of these treks because I’d like to hike along with you – vicariously, of course.
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  18. Nong Khai Silverback says:

    Beautiful scenery! Makes me want to take a hike.

  19. Wow! What gorgeous hikes! So you’re going to go from hiking in South Africa to hiking in Croatia – very nice :-). April and spring will be a great time. We’ve visited Croatia a couple of times – both times by a small cruise ship. Even though we spent long days in port (and 2 days each time in Dubrovnik), we’d love to stay put for longer in several places and really get to know Croatia more – like Hvar and Mali Losinj.
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…10 of the prettiest beaches in the worldMy Profile

  20. Great selection and I fancy quite few of them. Croatia is such a beautiful country, but I have only visited Dubrovnik and Split. I am looking forward to see what you get up to in Croatia.
    Gilda Baxter recently posted…Pen-Y-Fan The Highest Peak in South WalesMy Profile

  21. I’m a very active traveler, who loves to cycle, swim, run and hike when travelling! Croatia is still on my list to explore and hiking in Northern Velebit National Park sounds like a plan! 🙂
    Agness recently posted…Packing Lite for a Weekend Home with Origami UnicornMy Profile

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