The Adventurer's Guide
Top 10 Best Hikes in Croatia To Get Your Boots Dirty
Don’t get us wrong. We also love islands, sandy beaches, and the sea — but since hiking in Croatia is among the best in Europe, we thought it only right to compile the best hikes in Croatia. From lush forests to spectacular mountain ranges, check out the other side of this beautiful country.
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In Zadar County close to Starigrad, Paklenica National Park promises panoramic views and high mountain meadows to admire. That scenery, along with two peaks that each stand taller than 5,500 feet, makes Paklenica Croatia’s most visited climbing site. Are you convinced yet?
2. Zazivian Road in Northern Velebit National Park
If you’re in it for the long haul, get yourself to Zazivian Road. This national park has several multi-day hikes and comes with views of the Adriatic Sea. You can start with the three-day Premužić Trail, or you can take on the country’s longest mountain: the 62-mile Velebit Hiking Trail. Because of its harsh landscape, and the fact it can take up to nine days to navigate, you’ll be mostly on your own.
This nature reserve has a Madagascar-esque landscape, characterized mostly by white and samarian rocks — the English translation of Bijele I Samarske Stijene. Sharp, tower-shaped limestone makes up the hike’s signature look that will be a lasting memory of your hike in Croatia.
Split down the middle by Istria and Kotar County, Učka Mountain is a can’t-miss. At its highest point (the summit of Vojak Peak), a stone tower boasts 360-degree views that include the Istrian Peninsula, the northern Adriatic islands, the mountains of the Gorski Kotar region, and as far as the Italian Bay of Trieste.
One of eight Croatian national parks, Risnjak is known for its rough-hewn mountains. In the distance, pine trees jut out and random patches of meadow mingle with mountain flowers. The word Risnjak comes from the lynx wildcat, ris, that makes its home there. The park is also home to brown bears, wolves, and deer.
A dominating presence on the southern Dalmatian coast, Biokovo Mountain peers over the Makarska Riviera. Its Sveti Jure is, at 5,780 feet, the highest road in the entire country. Along your hike, prepare yourself for beautiful views of olive groves, vineyards, and pine forests — mental images to last a lifetime.
Just east of Omiš and surrounded by the green river Cetina, Omiška Dinara beckons climbers seeking shorter routes and incredible beauty. Near its peak, hikers approach an important 14th-century fortress. From here, gaze out on the entire town and surrounding islands.
Of all Croatia’s hikes, Plitvice Lakes is the most famous. For starters, it’s the oldest national park in Croatia, founded in 1949, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Canyons, waterfalls, and streams make up the park. A north-south road passes through the park and connects inland Croatia with its Adriatic coastal region.
9. Sveti Ilija
Sveti Ilija — also known as St. Elijah — is a small village in Varazdin County, and the highest peak of the Pelješac Peninsula. The trek up here takes about three hours and is exposed to sun, so bring your sunscreen. At the 3,150-foot high point, the view opens up onto the Dalmatian archipelago and the Orebić Riviera.
Bringing the family along for this one? Papuk Nature Park is a kid-friendly, one-day hike. Populated with dense forest, lakes, and cliffside creeks, the park is a nature-lover’s dream. Best of all: Papuk has not one, not two, but eight medieval fortresses to discover — making it the best of history and adventure!
Now that you know the best hikes in Croatia, it’s up to you to choose which ones you’d like to embark on. Just make sure to set aside enough time to unwind on the beach and let your muscles recover! If you’re looking for beautiful and interesting places to stay during your trip, choose from among The Stella’s curated selection of Croatian vacation rentals. From beachfront to mountaintop — this country really does have something for everyone.