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Louisa & Tobi Bike Touring along the Croatian Coast, Europe

Croatia

Last updated: January 2024

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Key Facts Cycling

  • 25 days in the country, from 24/07/2021 to 18/08/2021

  • 1,040 km / 646 mi cycled

  • 21 cycling days

  • Overnight stays: 

    • Wildcamping: 12

    • Other free camping (villages, etc.): 0

    • Paid campsites: 2

    • Hosts: 2

    • Paid accommodation: 10

    • Other (bus, ferries, etc.): 0

  • The Route: Rogatec - Pregada - Luka - Stremc - Klinča Sela - Karlovac - Plitvička Jezera - Korenica - Gospić - Klanac - Velebit National Park -  Karlobag - Novalja - Zadar - Biograd na Moru - Split - Supetar (Brač) - Korčula - Orebić - Dubrovnik - Karasovići

  • Our Cycling Highlights: Velebit National Park & Island of Korčula

Louisa & Tobi's Bike Route through Croatia

Key Facts Country

  • Official name: Republic of Croatia (Republika Hrvatska)

  • Population (2023): 4,008,000

  • Capital: Zagreb

  • Official language: Croatian

  • Currency: Euro (EUR) (since January 2023)

  • Dialing code: +385

  • Area: 56,594 km² / 21,851 mi²

  • Bordering countries: Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro

  • Right-hand traffic

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Velebit Nature Park

Louisa & Tobi Bike Touring the Velebit Nature Park, Croatia, the Balkans
Louisa Bike Touring in the Velebit Nature Park, Croatia
  • Stretches from the Vratnik Pass in the north west to the Zrmanja River Canyon in the south east 

  • Covers an area of 2,200 km² / 850 mi²

  • Total length: 145 km / 90 mi

  • Includes two National Parks: The Paklenica NP & Northern Velebit NP

  • Beautiful mountainous landscape

  • We crossed the Nature Park from east to west (Gospić - Karlobag), passing the Velebit Mountain

  • Highway 25 crosses the mountains from Gospić to Karlobag, but we wanted to avoid traffic and opted for smaller roads (check out our route here!)

  • The road we cycled was partly paved and partly gravel (approx. 40 km / 25 mi of gravel in July 2021)

  • We took one day to cross the mountains (~70 km / 43 mi), starting really early to avoid the incredible midday heat

  • We didn’t encounter many houses or people, so if you are doing this route in summer, take enough water with you and start with or even before sunrise

Island of Korčula

Louisa & Tobi Bike Touring on the Island of Korčula, Croatia
The crystal clear waters of the island of Korčula, Croatia, when Louisa & Tobi cycled there
  • We took a ferry from Split to the island of Korčula in August 2021, arriving in Vela Luka

  • From Vela Luka we first headed inland, but after reaching Blato, we turned north towards the coast (check out our route here!)

  • Korčula was incredibly beautiful, empty & peaceful and we really enjoyed cycling there

  • The road along the coast was mostly gravel, some parts really good and some a bit harder to ride, but nothing impossible

  • We cycled there in August 2021 and the temperatures reached up to 40°C / 104°F

  • So we always started early (with or before the sunrise) and took long breaks during lunch time

  • If we wanted to cool down, we went to the closest beach (so many beautiful coves!) and went for a quick swim

  • The town of Korčula, in the far east of the island, is a cute little town, worth a visit (better without the bikes though, too many steps)

Camping & Accommodation

  • Wild camping is officially not allowed in Croatia

  • You risk a fine when being caught

  • However, we did it on several occasions and didn’t have any problems

  • Inland, in more remote regions, wild camping was quite easy & peaceful

  • Especially along the coast, where there is lots of tourist infrastructure, wild camping can be quite hard

  • There are several campgrounds though, so this is always an option

  • Most important when wild camping:

    • Leave no trace (take your trash!)

    • We always avoid being seen (for safety & privacy reasons)

    • If the ground is private property, we don’t camp there without asking for permission

  • You can always try asking people if you can camp in their garden, on their field etc. - if it’s in a region with lots of official campgrounds & accommodation around, it’s very likely they’ll say no though

  • Accommodation can be found almost everywhere, but can be pricey in touristy regions

  • In Zadar we stayed in a basic hostel and paid around 75 EUR (~530 Kuna at the time) for two nights (August 2021)

Infrastructure

  • Croatia has a rather good infrastructure, but we didn’t encounter too many bicycle paths

  • We mostly cycled on nicely paved roads, but also found some nice & empty gravel roads

  • The main coastal highway is very busy in summer, better avoid it when in Croatia during that time

  • Our tip for avoiding the highway, but still cycling along the sea: Island-hopping!

    • We visited three islands: Pag, Brač & Korčula

    • There are several different ferry connections throughout the country, many of them car ferries on which you can take your bike without any problems

    • Split is the country’s biggest ferry hub to get to the many islands of Croatia (but of course not the only one)

  • Tap water:

    • The tap water in Croatia is safe & potable, as is standard in the European Union

    • Sometimes you will find drinking water fountains to fill up your bottles, otherwise you can just ask at restaurants, etc.

Spare Part Availability

  • We didn’t need any spare parts while cycling through Croatia, so we can’t speak from experience

  • Along the coast we sometimes encountered bike self service stations with several tools & a pump (but can’t recall the exact locations anymore, sorry!)

  • You will find bike shops in the bigger cities like Split, Zadar or Dubrovnik

  • If we need spare parts in any country, we just search for bicycle shops on Google Maps

Sim Card & Internet

  • If you have a sim card from any other EU-country, you don’t need to buy a local card as mobile data roaming is free throughout the whole European Union

  • Biggest network providers: 

    • Hrvatski Telekom

    • A1 Hrvatska

    • Telemach

  • As we had roaming-free mobile data with our German sim cards, we can’t tell you anything about the coverage from experience

Climate & Weather

  • Croatia has four distinct seasons:

    • Spring (March - May)

    • Summer (June - August)

    • Autumn (September - November)

    • Winter (December - February)

  • Three general climate zones:

    • Northern Lowlands: Continental climate with dry & hot summers and cold & snowy winters

    • Coastal Region: Mediterranean climate with dry & hot summers and mild, rainy winters

    • Mountains: Mountainous climate with mild summers and cold & snowy winters

  • We cycled through Croatia in July & August 2021, so the hottest time of the year

  • While we were still inland (in the north), the days were hot (around 30°C / 86°F), but still quite nice for cycling

  • When crossing through the Velebit Nature Park, it was pleasantly cool in the morning, but got warm fast

  • After reaching the coast, every day was really hot (between 30-40°C / 86-104°F), often too hot to really enjoy the cycling (especially when climbing)

  • We started our days early (often with the sunrise, so around 6 am), took long lunch breaks and rather cycled late into the evening

  • Swimming is possible almost anywhere along the coast, so that’s a great way to spend your lunch break and cool down

Border Crossings & Schengen Visa

  • Croatia is a member of the European Union and the Schengen Area

    • The Schengen Area is an area without internal borders

    • Currently consists of 27 countries

    • Croatia only joined the Schengen Area in January 2023

    • Whether or not you need a Schengen Visa depends on your nationality

    • Learn more about the Schengen Area and the visa regulations here

  • Where we crossed the borders:

    • Slovenia to Croatia: Border Crossing Rogatec (July 2021)

    • Back in 2021, we still had to pass the border controls when entering Croatia as the country wasn’t a member of the Schengen Area yet

    • Croatia to Montenegro: Karasovići (August 2021)

    • As Montenegro is not a member of the Schengen Area, there were and still are border controls when leaving or entering Croatia at the Montenegrin border

Safety

  • Croatia generally is a safe country with a low crime rate

  • Especially in touristy areas you should watch your stuff though, to avoid being the victim of pickpockets

  • We felt safe the whole time while being in the country and never had any issues or incidents

  • Emergency numbers: 

    • European emergency number: 112

    • Police: 192

    • Fire department: 193

    • Ambulance: 194

    • Maritime search & rescue: 195

Cash & Expenses

  • Since January 2023, Croatia is part of the Euro-Zone

  • Before 2023, the official currency was the Kuna

  • Exchange rate Jan. 2024: 1 USD =  0.91 EUR

  • When we traveled through the country in 2021, we were able to pay with card in more developed and/or touristy areas

  • In the countryside we needed cash most of the time

  • So best carry a mix of credit cards & cash

  • ATMs are called bankomat in Croatian

Tourism

  • Croatia is a beautiful country and has a lot to offer

  • The coastline stretches for over 1,777 km / 1,104 mi just on the mainland

  • Over 1000 islands belong to the country, several of them are accessible by ferry

  • We went to the islands of Pag, Brač & Korčula

    • Korčula was our favorite island for cycling

    • On Brač we had an accommodation for a week and cycled only a bit, but also really liked it

    • The landscape on Pag was very different from other islands, very dry and desert-like

    • We visited Novalja on Pag, not knowing that the town is a party hotspot, and quickly left again as we didn’t like it there

  • Croatia also has some incredible National Parks, e.g. the Plitvice Lakes National Park

    • Croatia’s first & largest national park, declared in April 1949

    • Known for its terraced turquoise lakes, waterfalls & vast forests

    • Swimming in the lakes is forbidden to protect the nature

    • We didn’t visit the park during our world bike tour, but have been there for vacation before - it’s stunning (but also very full in summer)

    • In high season (June - Sept.) the entrance fee is 25-40 EUR, depending on the time of day you enter the park

  • We really liked Karlovac, a city southwest of Zagreb

    • Town of four rivers

    • We went for a swim in the Korana river at the Foginovo beach

    • Of course we had to drink a Karlovačko beer, which is brewed in the city

  • Generally, Croatia has some really good beers to offer, we especially loved all the dark beers

  • Some towns & cities with beautiful old towns (only places we visited):

    • Zadar

    • Trogir

    • Korčula

    • Dubrovnik

  • All of the tourist hotspots in Croatia are extremely crowded in summer

  • Pushing your bike through narrow alleys full of tourists really is no fun, so we can’t advise visiting the old towns (or other hotspots) with your bike

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