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By: Zdenko Kahlina
Summer Holiday: Cycling in Croatia
If you prefer getting away from the resorts when it comes to holidays, and want to do something really different and memorable, then cycling in Croatia could be just the thing for you.
Croatia is becoming increasingly popular as the tourists discover this beautiful and friendly, yet affordable holiday destination. And I am not saying this just because I am Croatian.
Cyclists in Croatia can enjoy riding on scenic coastline roads
I live in Canada but travel to Croatia every two years and always bring bike with me. If you’re looking for a holiday with a difference and one where you’ll come back in better shape than when you left, cycling in Croatia will do the trick. Croatia has perfect roads for biking especially along the coastline. Cycling around the stunning Croatian archipelago is a wonderful, environmentally friendly and a healthy way to discover this vibrant country. An organized cycle tour will include boat trips and stops for lunch and exploration – an absolute must for first-time visitors to this historic coastline. A number of companies organize bike holidays and it is also possible to hire bikes when you arrive, but be prepared and check the local tourist office first.
Sometimes the road gets very narrow…
… Or goes through someones front porch
Cruising Along the Adriatic Coastline
Two wheels stick tight to the road as it twists and turns along the Croatian coastline, between the green hills of the north and the sea, before heading down through forested lakeland and across flat windswept estuaries until it reaches the bare, sun-scorched mountains of the south. The Jadranska Magistrala (Adriatic Highway) runs for 600 kilometers from Rijeka to the Montenegro border, passing small fishing villages, raucous beach resorts and a tiny stretch of Bosnia, all the while offering up coastal scenery seemingly designed to tear your attention away from the road. The ancient walled city of Dubrovnik provides the perfect setting to rest a saddle-sore behind, before you turn the bike around and do it all again in the other direction.
You can purchase your souvenirs on the side of the road
The motorway system in Croatia has greatly improved in recent years thanks to some rather extensive road building. There are (amongst other routes) now motorways linking Zagreb to Pula, Rijeka, Zadar and Split along the coast and Varazdin in the interior. Further works have commenced to eventually allow for a full coastal motorway all the way down to Dubrovnik. What this means for a cyclist? It means that most of the traffic is rerouted towards the main highways, and Jadranska Magistrala is safer to ride on bicycle.
Picturesque villages in Croatian region of Dalmacia
Typical bike riding in Croatia: drivers are mostly very tolerant and courteous with cyclists.
The most picturesque route in Croatia is definitely the Adriatic road (Jadranska magistrala) which connects Rijeka and Dubrovnik. There are plans to build a proper highway/motorway between these two cities, and all the way to Greece through Montenegro and Albania in the future. Some people compare this road to the famous Highway 1 between San Francisco and just south of Los Angeles in California.* We would say that ours is prettier! (*Although the webmaster can personally attest that this is a pretty awesome drive too!)
Traffic can be an issue during the summer…
Once you get your breath back (Croatia can get hilly!), you’ll find a warm welcome in the coastal towns and villages and delicious cuisine, which takes inspiration from the Mediterranean as well as more homely and fortifying Slavic dishes. You’ll find beautiful old buildings and stunning coastal vistas, rolling hills, and lush green forests. Croatia is a truly romantic country and many people find that one visit simply isn’t enough.
Zdenko by the bridge over the sea between islands Ugljan and Pasman.
Istrian Peninsula is the premier Croatian cycling / biking region offering a great mixture of nature, activity, culture and history. Some routes follow the coast but most are inland between charming old towns, villages, farms, forests and hills including Mt. Učka Nature Park, Brijuni Islands National Park and Mt. Risnjak National Park (one hour drive from Istria). The roads of Istria are made for cycling. Genty steep, secluded and scenic, they take you on a history rollercoaster. From inland to the sea, you will taste truffles, olive oil and beautiful wine. You can tailor your trip to foster different fitness levels with optional loops and harder climbs – while still keeping to the whole story line. True, like Tuscany, but with a virgin character and a laid back note.
Beautiful scenery in Istria (Croatia): Limski Kanal seen here from the main road when riding a bike.
Beautiful Adriatic coast and uncrowded roads
V. Losinj is the place where every second year old cycling buddies from the same cycling club get together with their families, to spend summer vacation. The beautiful island of Losinj is the spotlight of the Primorsko-goranska county of Croatia. The island is not very big, yet it includes a number of fantastic sights that are definitely off the main tourist track… and this is paradise for cyclists!
The Adriatic Sea is a bay of the Mediterranean Sea, separated by the Apennine Peninsula. TheAdriatic Sea got it’s name from an ancient port of the same name. It penetrates farthest into the European continent, giving it a great economic importance. You can read more about Adriatic Sea here.
Warm climate and good roads – all this in Croatia!
Winter in Croatia is very cold so it is best to visit Croatia during the summer months when you can expect temperatures of over 30°C. Coastal winds will keep you fairly comfortable on your bike ride, but if it all gets to be a bit too much, there’s always the option of heading to the beach and cooling off in the sea. Croatia’s beautiful beaches are the perfect pit stop for any cycle tour. Of course, you can always book a couple of extra days at the end of your trip to rest and soothe those muscles by the sea and celebrate a very worthwhile holiday.
If that’s wet your whistle and you can’t wait to get going, there are always great last minute deals on holidays to Croatia from Cosmos, just make sure you pack your cycling shorts!
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