Discover the world’s most beautiful adventure playground
Put together Croatia’s lengthy coastline, mountains, rivers and canyons, and you’ll have endless possibilities for adventure. It’s one giant playground, a place where hiking, cycling, sailing, rafting, diving, kayaking, rock climbing and golf are just a few of the ways you can have an unforgettable active holiday.
Hikers and walkers are spoiled for choice in the sheer variety of Croatia’s trails and landscapes. Follow the wooden walkways past the waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park, or take in the panoramic views of the Adriatic from the limestone peaks of the Northern Velebit National Park. Hike to the top of Vidova Gora on the island of Brač and you’ll reach the highest point in the Adriatic.
For a serious challenge, try the 685-mile Via Adriatica, Croatia’s first long-distance trail that takes you from Pula in Istria all the way past Dubrovnik to the Montenegrin border. It forms roughly half of the Croatian Long-Distance Trail, a 1,400-mile odyssey that starts in the eastern Croatian town of Ilok before weaving its way through the Slavonian countryside and towards Zagreb before veering south to join the Via Adriatica in Istria.
If you prefer two wheels to two feet, you’ll discover the enormous range of cycling options, from road cycling to mountain biking. Cycle through the incredibly green island of Mljet and its national park, whose two saltwater lakes are tempting places to stop for a swim. The undulating routes along the 40-mile Pelješac peninsula meander past hillsides smothered with vines, and whose wineries make appealing pit stops. Istria’s mountainous interior is a joy to explore by bike as you make your way from one mediaeval hilltop village to the next. Look out for Istria’s Parenzana Trail, a nearly 80-mile cycling and hiking route that follows a former Austro-Hungarian railway line.
Croatia’s canyons, rivers, coastal waters and inland waterways beckon with the promise of exhilarating adventures on the water. Get your adrenaline fix with a white-knuckle ride along the rapids of the Cetina river canyon as it flows to the Adriatic through the town of Omiš. There’s more adventure in store further inland from Zadar in the Zrmanja river canyon, where rafts and kayaks paddle through a dramatic limestone landscape. Croatia’s quieter stretches of river are ideal for paddleboarders, as are the waters around Dubrovnik and the nearby Elaphiti islands.
Sailors have long been entranced by Croatia’s heavily indented coastline and its Adriatic islands. No wonder it’s one of Europe’s most popular places to learn how to sail. Almost 90 islands that make up the Kornati National Park quickly become a favourite for sailors who discover their otherworldly beauty.
The same breezes that propel sailboats along the Adriatic are what makes windsurfing such an exhilarating sport. Its popularity has been steadily growing, especially in such places as Istria’s Premantura peninsula, Krk’s Baška beach, Viganj on the Pelješac peninsula and – one of the best in Europe – the beach Bol on the island of Brač.
Croatia’s underwater world is just as compelling. Take a boat to the far-flung island of Vis, whose Bisevo Grotto is a magical sea cave thronging with colourful marine life. The Pakleni Islands off the coast of Hvar are home to Vodnjak reef and its enchanting corals and sea creatures. Experienced divers can’t resist a slow exploration of the wreck of the Baron Gautsch, which has been resting on the seafloor near Rovinj since 1914.
Take to the skies for more thrills. Head to the Maslenica Bridge near Zadar for a bungee jump between imposing cliffs, or try paragliding across Hvar. Just like Croatia’s beauty, it’s guaranteed to leave you breathless.
To find out more about Croatia’s endless treasures and to start planning your trip, click here