walking holidays in Croatia

Hiking In Croatia – 28 Best Hikes

Has hiking in Croatia ever been on your bucket list? 

Most people think of Croatia as a dreamy summer destination of 1000 islands. But Croatia has much more to offer!

 It is also a country with unspoilt nature and numerous hiking trails, which are also well maintained.

Croatia has a long hiking history and tradition with the first monthly magazine ‘The Croatian Mountaineer‘, being published in 1898. 

This Guardian article goes in-depth about this unexpected side of Croatia, often overlooked by travellers; hiking mountains and national parks. 

This article will inform you about the best hiking spots in Croatia, showing you different hiking trails by region and revealing options for all kinds of outdoorsy enthusiasts, from beginner to advanced.

Here is the summary of everything you need to know about Hiking in Croatia:

DISCLOSURE

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Hiking / Croatia related articles :

List Of Must-Do Hikes By Region

 Hiking the Zagreb Region 

1. Medvednica Mountain

Hiking Zagreb

 The locals’ top inland destination for hikes and walks because it is close to the capital city.

 Its name comes from the word medvjed which means bear in Croatian, suggesting it used to be bears’ habitat. 

It has a television tower and a viewpoint facing Zagorje.

  • Highest peak- Sljeme, 1033m
  • Nearest town- (north from) Zagreb
  • Level- beginner

2. Žumberak  

Nature Park Žumberak as a part of Samobor Highlands is an excellent spot for outdoor activities such as biking, trekking, climbing or paragliding.

 It is divided into two hiking areas, the Okić area within the park and the Terihaji area outside of the park. 

Geographically close to the Slovenian border and Zagreb town, it offers many hiking possibilities because of numerous trails. It is a mixture of grassland and woodland with 1033 different plant species. 

The Gorski Kotar Region 

3. Risnjak  

This picturesque mountain peak is also a natural habitat for three European beasts; the wolf, the bear and the lynx. 

It is a national park with its own spring. Climbers usually climb both peaks, Risnjak (1528m) and Snježnik (1506m). 

For less advanced hikers, there is the option of visiting the Kupa river spring or Leska educational path. 

4. Kamačnik

Kamačnik Canyon is halfway on the road from Zagreb to Rijeka, so you need about 1hour from both towns to reach it by car. 

It is an easy 3.2 km walk along wooden bridges and waterfalls.

 There is an educational botanical trail informing you about Kamačnik’s plant and animal life.

Another fun trail is the ‘acoustic’ trail of oakwood instruments, such as creek organ, gong, bear’s marimba, deer antler and dormouse bell. All trails are marked, so it is impossible to get lost.

 Because of all things listed, it is an ideal hike for beginners or families with children. 

  • Nearest town- Vrbovsko
  • Level- beginner 

5. The Devil’s Passage

Hiking In Croatia

This is another great family hike or a picnic area. It is a 1h drive from Rijeka. The area is very slippery, so stable shoes are recommended. 

During the walk, you can enjoy amazing landscapes, a magnificent cave and an impressive waterfall. 

It is called the devil’s gate because it gets quite narrow in places and because the noises created by passing water echo against the rocks. 

  • Nearest town- Skrad
  • Highest peak – Zeleni Vir, 345 m
  • Level- Beginner 

Hiking Istria Region

6. Učka

Hiking Istria

The main hiking spot in Istria is Učka Mountain. It is a favourite place for nature lovers and people usually pick it for one-day hikes.

It can easily be reached from urban areas such as Opatija, Ičići, Ika, Lovran or Medveja. 

It takes about 3 hours to walk to reach the first spot with great views. 

Poklon is the location from which you can observe the sea and Rijeka town.

The name comes from a pilgrim custom because it is close to a pilgrimage location called Trsat, where people would bow to Our Lady of Trsat.

  • Highest peak: Vojak, 1401m
  • Nearest town: Opatija
  • Level: Intermediate

Hiking the Coastline and Surrounding Area  

7. Marjan Hill  

walking in Croatia

This is the first hiking choice for Split visitors. 

It is an easy walk through the forest which surrounds the city and offers beautiful views. Reaching Marjan Hill viewpoint, its highest peak gives you a chance to observe the city from above, especially Old Town.

 Although it is just a 15-minute walk from the city Promenade, it is not easy.

  • Highest peak: 178m
  • Nearest town: Split 
  • Level: beginner

8. Mosor  

hiking in Croatia Split

If hiking in Croatia Split is something you are serious about, there are several surrounding mountains.

Since Mosor is a karst mountain without a water source and because of the high heat during the summer season, climbing should begin early in the morning and it is advised to keep it short. 

The best way to climb it is to take a bus from Split to the village of Poljica. The climb offers outstanding views and there are two caves on the mountain. 

  • Highest peak: Veliki Kabel, 1339 m
  • Nearest town: Split
  • Level: Advanced 

9. Kozjak

Compared to Mosor, hiking Kozjak is much easier for tourists or inexperienced climbers. 

In addition, it offers more sights such as a chapel and an archaeological site. 

  • Highest peak- St George, 676 m
  • Nearest town: Split
  • Level: Intermediate

10. Dinara

walking in Croatia

This mountain is probably on every serious hiker’s wishlist because by climbing it, you will reach Croatia’s highest peak Sinjal 1831 m

As every other mountain here, it is scarce in water, but with an abundance of underground water and fresh water springs.

The shortest ascent is started at Brezovac mountain lodge and reaching the top takes about 2 and a half hours. From the top, you can observe nearby mountains (Svilaja, Promin, Troglav) and lake Peruča. 

At the base of the mountain is the spring of the Cetina river, a village of the same name and one of the oldest churches of the area, built in the 9th century. 

  • Highest peak- Sinjal, 1831 m
  • Nearest town- Knin
  • Level- advanced

11. Biokovo

trekking Croatia

Biokovo Nature Park is part of the Dinarides mountain range.

 It is very close to the sea, thus creating an impressive sight pictured on all postcard images from the nearest town Makarska.

Because of unpredictable weather conditions, strong sun and scarcity of water, climbing Biokovo is for advanced and well-prepared climbers.

 Climbing the peak Vošac (1421 m) with the mountain lodge at the top offers the most beautiful views of the coastline and surrounding villages. 

Biokovo’s highest peak St Jure ( 1762 m) can be reached by a mountain trail leading from Makar and passing through Vošac from the coast side. 

It can also be reached from the Zagora side, as well as by a 23-kilometre-long fully paved road. 

The beginning of Biokovo road and the main entrance into Biokovo Nature Park is located at the 6th kilometre of the road Makarska – Vrgorac. 

Most visitors come to Biokovo to visit the Skywalk Biokovo, a glass walkway platform stretching from the cliff at 1228 m.  

  • Highest peak: St George, 1762 m 
  • Nearest town: Makarska; Split
  • Level: Advanced 

12. Velebit

Hiking In Croatia

Because of its variety, Velebit is one of the 5 best spots for hiking in Croatia. 

There are 4 educational trails in Velebit Nature Park, from 1,6 to 3 km in length, mainly for walking, each taking 1-3 h to complete. 

Terezijana offers beautiful sights of Pag Island and Adriatic sea, Kudin bridge as the oldest bridge crossing Kupa river, Donja Klada with views of Rab Island and Zavratnica. 

Cerovac Caves are at the South of the park, consisting of 3 caves with about 7km paths, but only 700m are open to visitors.

Zavratnica Cove is particularly beautiful for walking because of 129 plant species along the way.  

Velebit has altogether 14 trails from easy to advanced. All of the trails require proper hiking equipment and bring enough drinkable water. 

13. North Velebit

North Velebit is a national park and landscape rich in forests and rock formations, rare plants and animals. 30 hiking trails are going throughout the park, each leading to a different mountain peak. 

14. Premužić Trail 

This trail is an educational all-day hike starting in the beech forest along with the Stupačinovo village, leading up to Zavižan and ending in Rossi’s shelter. 

The trail was built by the forestry engineer A. Premužić in 1930, using the dry stone technique. The point of constructing it was to make the most inaccessible part of Velebit walkable. 

Difficulty: Intermediate

15. Little Prince Trail

This is an advanced hike requiring skills, stamina and experience. 

It starts at Crnopac shelter and is first descending into a dense beech forest, then elevating up at the first crossing, where the little prince trail starts. 

Along the way, you will encounter unusual looking stone creations.

 It is also marked with unusual names of the places you pass along the way, such as a palace, a tavern, palace door, low door, the crooked path and Tonka’s door, ending in the heavenly gates as the last. 

  • Highest peak: Bili kuk, 1171 m
  • Difficulty: Advanced 

16. Velebit Botanical Garden

 The garden was founded in 1967 and is very close to Zavižan.

There are around 300 wild plant species, such as karst Edelweis, Kitaibel’s primrose or Velebit clove. It is about 1 hour of easy walk during which you will see a botanical stop and a resting place for a break.

 The best time to see all the plants is in the spring or summer season.  

Zavižan offers several easy walkable trails with epic views of the Croatian coast. Not far from the main entrance, at 1594 m there is a mountain lodge and the oldest mountain weather station in Croatia, built in 1953. 

17. Paklenica

 Paklenica is a part of Velebit, the longest mountain in Croatia with 200 km of rugged hiking trails from easy tourist trails to advanced.

 There is a visitor’s centre and several educational trails, teaching hikers about the natural and cultural characteristics. 

Educational panels along the way give information about the stone houses of Velebit, agriculture, livestock breeding and the general history of the area.

 At an altitude of 570m there is a cave called Manita peć accessible to the public. 

As a beech forest, it is also a UNESCO world heritage site.  

  • Highest peak: Vaganski vrh, 1757m 
  • Nearest town: Zadar
  • Level: beginner to advanced 
  • The shortest hike on Paklenica: Velika Paklenica canyon- Anića luka- Manita Peć cave. It takes about 1h 30 min to complete. 
  • The longest and most difficult hike is mount shelter Struge- Marasovac- Vaganski vrh -Lipa staza- Velika Paklenica canyon. From start to finish it takes about 7h 30 minutes on very demanding terrain but offers panoramic views. 

From all the treks listed, Velebit is a huge hiking area.

 If you need help in picking a suitable hiking trail, there are Croatia hiking tours, such as Thrillseeker Croatia.

Before deciding on a hike, it is useful to download the Paklenica Tourist and Trekking map published by HGSS (Croatian Mountain Rescue Service). 

Hiking Islands

18. Hvar

hiking in Hvar Croatia

Hvar Island has just been proclaimed by Conde Nast Traveler as the world’s most beautiful island of 2021

The island is sunny throughout the whole year. Most of the visitors to the island come from the US. It is also the oldest sailing location in Croatia. 

For people who do not come for a beach holiday, there are other activities, such as cycling, diving, skydiving, going on guided wine tasting tours or hiking. 

Most of the trails on Hvar are cycling loops around the island, but they can also be used for hiking. 

The most common hiking trail is St Nicolas. This 40 km loop from Dubovica is a combination of asphalt and macadam road. 

If you want a specific guided route on the topic of hiking in Hvar Croatia, you can book it here

The best tour to book is the Napoleon Tour for 450 HRK/ 70 $ which lasts 8 h and 20 km, during which you visit the Hvar Observatory at the Napoleonic fort, enjoy beautiful views of nearby Pakleni islands, Vis, Brač and Šolta. 

You will pass the abandoned village Staro Grablje, stop for lunch in a tavern in Stari Komin.

 After that, you make your way down through the olive fields to Milna village. 

  • Highest peak- St Nicholas, 626m 
  • Nearest town- Split (by ferry)
  • Level- Intermediate

19. Brač Island 

trekking Croatia

It takes two hours to climb its peak from which you can admire the most beautiful beach in Croatia, Zlatni rat and the fishing village called Bol. While hiking it, don’t skip visiting Zmajeva špilja cave with carved rocks or the abandoned monastery from 1551 exhibiting a telescope, old books and a piano.

  • Highest peak- Vidova Gora, 780m
  • Nearest  airport- Split (by ferry)
  • Level- Intermediate

Hiking The Dubrovnik Region

20. Mt Srđ Trail

hiking Dubrovnik

If hiking Dubrovnik is on your bucket list, there are three options. 

The first is hiking Mt Srđ. Most visitors of Dubrovnik use the 3-minute modern cable car ride from the city walls to the top, but it allows only 30 people at the time and is quite pricey (170kn/ $26) for a round trip. 

Another option is to use the local bus 17, which will cost you only 12kn /$9. 

The top is only 4,7 km away, with 280 m elevation. 

The hiking trail begins at the forest just outside of the city and zigzags up the top. It is located NW from the Old Town, across the Jadranska Cesta road and can be reached by passing 500 stairs from the Old Town. 

The hike is short but not easy and depending on your fitness level takes 30 min to 1h

Once you reach the summit at 415 m, the fun doesn’t stop. 

I recommend lunch or just a drink to enjoy the views at Panorama Restaurant. While at the top, you can also visit the Croatian Homeland War Museum inside the 19th ct Imperial Fortress. 

Most visitors recommend hiking up the hill and then coming down by cable car. 

21. Mljet 

Hiking Trails In Croatia

This island is because of its variety of plants and mild climate called the greenest island of Croatia.

 Since it is a national park, most walks around the island are guided. Those guided hiking tours start from Pomena, Polače and Vrbovica, depending on your arrival by boat. 

  • Highest peak- Veliki grad, 514 m
  • Nearest airport- Dubrovnik
  • Level- beginner

22. Pelješac

Hiking Trails In Croatia

Pelješac peninsula is where world-famous wines Dingač and Postup are produced. The island is 62 km long but only 3-8 km wide and because of its shape, it offers one of the most beautiful views. 

The main route to the ascent is from the village Bilopolje and it takes 3 h to reach the top. 

  • Highest peak- St Elijah, 961 m
  • Nearest airport- Dubrovnik 
  • Level- beginner 

23. Sniježnica

Another place for hiking in Croatia near Dubrovnik is Sniježnica in Konavle. 

It is 40 km long and 2-15 km wide and got its name because of the snow that is sometimes seen at the top.  

Climbing it you will enjoy Mediterranean vegetation, macchia, littoral woods, and the 16th St Nicholas church with a medieval cemetery. 

The ascent starts at the settlement Mihanići. 

The trail is marked and well structured, which makes it easier to climb and there is a mountain hut. It also serves as a pilgrimage route on Pentecost Monday. Another traditional climb is happening every 26th of December.

  • Highest peak- St Elijah, 1234m 
  • Nearest airport- Dubrovnik
  • Level- intermediate

The Slavonija Region

24. Papuk 

Hiking Trails In Croatia

Some excellent Croatia hiking trails are also found in the flatland region.

 Nature Park Papuk is in the eastern part of the country, an area not often visited by tourists, but local peoples’ favourite weekend getaway. 

For visitors, there are many perks. 

Besides mountaineering and mountain biking, trekking and canoeing, there are also two climbing sites for sports climbing beginners to practice. 

The 400m2 adrenalin park has facilities suitable both for children and adults. 

Moreover, there are several horseback riding trails. 

And you can also take part in a new type of outdoor activity called Geocaching. It is hunting for a geocache, which contains some kind of hidden treasure and is played by using a smartphone app. 

If you don’t know how to play it, there is a workshop at the park to teach you.

Papuk is also an UNESCO Geopark, meaning an area with an important geological heritage. 

The aim of any geopark is not to show the rocks, but to involve as many locals and visitors to enjoy the area.

 It is a place with educational trails, where students can take part in ‘School in Nature’ There is also the visitors’ centre ‘House of The Pannonian Sea’. 

Hiking Central Croatia 

25. Kalnik

Kalnik is only 80 km from the capital Zagreb. 

It differs from other Croatian mountains because of its vertical cliffs, which give the climbers wonderful views. There are many different trails for all levels, educational trails, caves and a botanical reserve. 

The highest peak, however, should only be climbed by expert mountaineers. 

The ‘seven teeth’ trail is the most demanding one, requiring you to climb with both hands and feet and hold on to wedges and cables while climbing from the first ‘tooth’ to the final seventh.

  • Highest peak: Vranilac, 643m
  • Nearest town: Križevci
  • Level: beginner to advanced 

26. Bilogora

Although it is the lowest mountain in Croatia, it covers an area of 80 km. 

This area is often visited by hunters or equestrians since hunting and horse riding is a popular activity here. 

If you are interested in the cultural heritage and customs of the area, there are ancient lodges, farms, castles and wineries. 

  • Highest peak: Kamenitovac, 242 m 
  • Nearest town: Bjelovar
  • Level: beginner 

27. Long-distance Hiking Trails In Croatia

Croatian Long Distance Trail or short CLDT was established in 2017. Being 2,109 km long from start to finish, there are no other hiking trails in Croatia of this difficulty. It tries to avoid roads and focuses on mountain trails instead. There are several sections:

  • It begins in Ilok, at the East of the country  
  • The second and most northern point – Sveti Martin na Muri 
  • The third point in the West – Savudrija
  • Finishing in the South– Prevlaka

This trekking Croatia trail can be finished in 100 days.

 It was created with the aim of promoting a healthy lifestyle, encouraging more people to enjoy life in nature, taking care of their well-being and nurturing a sense of achievement. 

The trail is divided into 3 main sections, each divided into several smaller sections.

Section A from Ilok to Sv Martin na Muri (576 km). This is an easy section, mainly passing fields, towns and villages, which means you don’t have to take much food in your backpack. 

It can be walked in 10 days, passing 25 km daily on average. In sections 2 and 3 you will pass three mountains; Papuk, Bilogora and Kalnik. It is an intermediate hiking area with marked routes.

Section B from Sv. Martin na Muri to Savudrija (565,5 km) takes about 25 days to pass and is for intermediate hikers. 

Along the way, you can take a break in villages along the trail. 

The last and the longest Section C of the long-distance trail (967,5 km) is from Savudrija to Prevlaka. You pass the Istria countryside with picturesque small towns such as Motovun and Grožnjan.

The last part also gets more demanding and requires advanced hiking skills and stamina, partly because of unpredictable weather conditions in parts where different climates mix. 

In this section, you also pass Paklenica and Northern Velebit National Park. It is the most attractive section with the highest peak Sinjal (1830 m). It offers the best views, but it is also the most dangerous one. 

This section ends in Dubrovnik and takes around 44 days to complete.

28. Franz Joseph Promenade 

Long-distance hiking trails in Croatia
walking holidays in Croatia

This hiking list is best to be finished with one of the most beautiful seafront walks along Kvarner Bay. If walking in Croatia is on your wishlist, this is the walk you shouldn’t miss.

Some facts about the Promenade:

  • It is a 110 years old, 12 km walk starting in a fishing village Volosko, passing Opatija, Ika and Ičići and ending in Lovran
  • It is local peoples’ favourite place for a Sunday stroll
  • Along the way, you can admire historical villas, beaches, enjoy the fresh air from the sea and plants such as fragrant laurel or different oak species.
  • Nearest airport: Rijeka
  • Level: beginner 

Here you can find more information about walking holidays in Croatia.

Where Is Croatia And How To Get There

Croatia hiking tours

Situated centrally on the European continent, Croatia stretches over the Eastern part of the Adriatic Sea.

Because of its unusual shape, the country is very diverse when it comes to both geography and climate.

 It contains flat plains, lowland mountains, highlands and islands. 

The country is easily reachable with major international airlines such as

KLM, Air France, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Austria, LOT, British Airways, Aeroflot, Air Serbia or Qatar Airways land in the capital or remaining 8 international airports. 

Budget airlines include Ryanair and Eurowings

You can also arrive by train from other European cities or by bus lines such as Flixbus or Eurolines.

Best Time To Go Hiking In Croatia

For outdoor activities such as hiking or cycling, the best time to pick is Spring or Autumn. 

The reason for this is that summers can get unbearably hot.

Winters, on the other hand, can often be freezing. On the coastline, the climate is more mild and Mediterranean.

The Variety Of Hiking Trails In Croatia 

Croatia hiking tours

There are about 6000 km of marked hiking trails in Croatia which all vary in difficulty levels. 

Whether you are an advanced hiker and want to experience a sense of achievement or you just want to spend a healthy time outdoors and enjoy nature or stunning views, there are trails for everyone. 

Before starting your hike, I recommend you check out the Interactive hiking map. It was developed by the Croatian Mountaineering Association and on the map, you can download GPS coordinates of every marked hiking trail.  

Animals And Wildlife To Be Aware Of While Hiking in Croatia

trekking Croatia

Mountain animals typically found in Croatia are bears, wolves and the lynx.

The Lynx is the largest European cat, almost extinct in other countries. The most dangerous animal living in the mountains is the viper.

Other animals found in the forests are chamois, wild boars, deer and many beard species. Small animals include martens, badgers, foxes and the Balkan snow vole.

If you plan on hiking caves you might see the olm (also called the blind cave salamander), about 30 different bat species and the endemic fossil type of shell called the Congeria Cusceri. 

Safety Tips When Hiking In Croatia 

  • Pick a hike that you can master physically
  • Never go alone and never separate
  • Wear good quality boots
  • Check weather conditions
  • Pack sunscreen to-go 
  • Stick to the marked roads
  • Charge your phone before the hike
  • Download this safety app 

What To Do In Case Of Emergency 

Croatia hiking tours
  • Stay calm and provide first aid if necessary
  • Mark the place of the accident and call 112
  • Give a call for help by light or sound signs
  • Call signs or flashes are given six times per minute every other minute
  • Here is a simple way of making sure you remember how to call for help
  • Another sign that someone needs help is the firing of a red flare

In the end, with the diverse trails Croatia has to offer, you don’t need to think twice. Of all the trails listed, which do you think is your favourite hike? 

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