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.
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.
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).
Above: interior, Paklenica (photo credit: wikipedia)
2. Northern Velebit National Park (Zazivan area)
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.
3. The rocks of Bijele & Samarske Stijene
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.
Above photo credit: hpdpliva.hr
4. Ucka Mountain
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.
5. Risnjak Nationak Park
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).
6. Biokovo Mountain
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.
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).
7. Mosor Mountain
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.
8. Vidova Gora, on the island of Brač
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).
9. Peak Bat, Kijevo Bat Mountain
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.
10. Plitvice Falls National Park
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.
Have you done any of the above hikes? What was your highlight?
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