Cycle Croatia

Discover Croatia on two wheels, its dramatic coast and rolling vineyards, its historic towns and hidden gems

CNTB/Ivan ŠardiRovinj

Croatia’s varying landscapes, dramatic scenery and propensity for outdoor adventure mean that it is perfect cycling country.

Four EuroVelo routes pass through its territory. One follows the coast as part of the Mediterranean-hugging trek between Spain and Greece, passing through Pula, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik and the protected area of Velebit, while another cuts through inland Slavonia along the former borders of the old Iron Curtain.

Of course, you can arrange your own itinerary, allowing you to discover parts of Croatia you wouldn’t ordinarily see through a car window.  

Here are three key areas whose terrain and stop-off merit discovery.

CNTB/Aleksandar GospićParenzana


Some roads asphalt, some more challenging, the many routes around Istria are cannot fail to be picturesque.

Trails stretching for 2,600 kilometres cross the region in every direction, with cyclist-friendly hotels and rental companies along the way, and the reward of fine cuisine pasta and superb local wine at the end of a satisfyingly tiring day.

Of the many routes tracing the undulating interior, one combining both grit and gourmet is the Truffle’s Trail, which begins and ends in Buzet. Starting at the foot of the Ćićarija Mountains, the route covers nearly 35 kilometres and takes three hours to complete, with an elevation gain of 870 metres. The Bella Vista trail, which begins and ends in Labin, lives up to its name with magnificent panoramas of the Kvarner Bay and a continuous string of photo-ops. It runs for 33 kilometres and should take two hours to complete.

One of the most unique trails is the Parenzana, which follows the tracks of the narrow-gauge railway of the same name that ran from Trieste in the early 1900s. Renovated and revived, the line has since been given over to hikers and cyclists who now enjoy the panoramic views from Motovun, Buje and Grožnjan just as train passengers once did more than a century ago.

Sakarun Beach, Island of Dugi Otok
@ Aleksandar GospićSakarun Beach, Island of Dugi Otok


The many trails around Zadar combine sea views, dramatic karst landscapes, isolated island beaches and the most stunning sunsets in Croatia.

For really adventurous riders, there’s the 34km-long circular route MTB 12-Zrmanja 1 that takes in the Zrmanja, Krupa and Krnjeza rivers, as well as the Zrmanja canyon and Krupa monastery.

For peace and tranquillity, then the island of Dugi otok is a good option. Its single road runs for 44.5km, from the tallest lighthouse in the Adriatic at the northern end to the nature park of Telašćica in the south, fringing the stunning Kornati National Park only accessible by boat.

While the Makarska Riviera is a huge draw near Split, it’s worth exploring the hinterland, most notably the Biokovo Nature Park, whose 1,762-metre high peak of Sveti Jure is a key section of the Tour of Croatia for professional road racers, and the Imotski lakes, one blue and the other red. Using the Sveti Ilija tunnel to access Makarska afterwards, you can treat yourself to a swim in the Adriatic at one of the many resorts on this stretch and soak those tired muscles.

Close to Dubrovnik, the Pelješac peninsula is ideal for cyclists, with relatively little traffic and wine cellars dotting the main road, beside vineyards where the famed Plavac mali variety is produced. You should also see locals selling oysters by the side of the road for a few kuna. The region is accessed via Ston, whose medieval defensive walls are a major tourist attraction. At the far western end of the peninsula beckon the beaches and windsurfing spots around Viganj.

Ilok, wineyard, vinograd, Slavonia, Slavonija, wine, vino
Ivo Biočina/CNTBIlok vineyards


For urban cyclists, few cities are as well-facilitated for two wheels as Osijek, the main town of Slavonia, whose riverbank alongside the Drava is lined with cycle paths on both sides. A ferry shuttles between each embankment.

The canals of Kopački Rit Nature Park, one of Europe’s most extensive wetlands, lend themselves to picturesque cycling, surrounded by unspoilt nature and birdsong. Campsites and rural lodgings dot the area, allowing cyclists to stay over and make a journey stretch into two or three days. Osijek is also close should you wish to combine an urban and pastoral experience in the same trip.

Kopački Rit is also close at hand for cyclists tackling this section of the EuroVelo 6 route that extends for 138km within Croatia, between the borders with Hungary and Serbia. On the banks of the Danube that forms the frontier, the last major stop is Ilok, one of Croatia’s most venerable wine-making hubs. Cellars await thirsty visitors happy to sample local labels.

Towards the Hungarian border, cyclists will enjoy the empty road that runs past the rolling vineyards of Baranja from Karanac to the gentle slope of Kamenjak, surrounded by pretty villages reliant on wine production for generations. Again, Osijek is close at hand if you need an urban base or destination.

This article is sponsored by The Croatian National Tourist Board: 'Croatia Full of Life'.

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