Don't even think about pumping up the wheels and hopping in the saddle in the land of truffle-topped pastas and spotted dogs without reading this guide. It's your five top tips for cycling Croatia; essential stuff for anyone keen to strike a line from the bucket list in the coming season by rolling through the pine-studded coast or the rugged islands on rubber. It's got the lowdown on e-bikes, info on cycling in a group, and reasons to sail and cycle together…Table of contents
Hire a bike
Don't worry about lumping your own tech across the continent. There's no need. Our cycle & sail cruises offer optional bike rental to keep your luggage to a minimum. The spec is top quality and tailored to the trails that you'll encounter amid the Aleppo pines and olive groves of the southern Adriatic, too…
We use hybrid models that fuse the hardiness of a mountain bike with the go-the-distance stamina of a touring bike. They boast lightweight 700c aluminium alloy frames, Shimano V-Brakes and 24-speed gear changing. AKA – precisely the rig you need to conquer the hills of Hvar and the cypress forests of Korcula.
All that should make packing a cinch. No stressing about folding up the frame or worrying about your beloved bike getting whacked in transit. Just focus on choosing what Aloha shirts and speedos you think will look best on the deck of our sailing boats.
Combine sailing and cycling
If you thought that whizzing through the lavender fields of Dalmatia on a bike was something for the bucket list, just wait until you hear about the sailing that's on offer in this corner of the Med. Thankfully – and thanks to our awesome tailored trips! – the two experiences are not mutually exclusive. We've crafted journeys that let you take in the view of the glistening Adriatic Sea on some days and then get in the saddle to scout across individual islands the next.
Our itineraries take place in the Dalmatian Islands of southern Croatia. That's the region with the best climate (especially Hvar Island, which gets a whopping 2,760 hours of sunshine every year!), so cycle trips shouldn't be interrupted by downpours. It's also perfect for getting around by boat-bike combos because you get the likes of:
Hvar – We've already mentioned how the sun just always seems to have his hat on here. For bikers, the upside is a gloriously rugged north coast where ancient towns like Stari Grad and fields of wild lavender converge, cycle tracks weaving straight through the middle.
Brac –You can cycle the north and south coasts here, with the latter offering a pit stop at the iconic Golden Horn Beach, arguably the best in the whole of the Adriatic.
Mjlet One of the wildest of the Croatian islands, Mjlet is largely covered by a national park that has a cycle track cutting through its heart. The main draw is the duo of lakes that are topped by an old Benedictine monastery.
Consider going electric
E-bikes have totally revolutionised the way cycling adventures happen in the last decade or so. Not only have they made these once-in-a-lifetime trips accessible to a whole cohort of travellers that wouldn't have thought them possible, but they've also put new terrain and regions on the map for the hardiest riders who can now push their distance to the limit.
Yep, it's worth considering doing a Bob Dylan circa 1965 and going electric. That goes no matter if you're a first-time cyclist looking for a chilled outing on the Croatian coast or a hardcore Olympian wanting to conquer every inch of trail on the island.
We have Flyer 28" e-bikes on offer as part of our rental deal, starting at £180 per person for the whole trip. They're suited to the casual rider that's keen to see as much as possible. They can eat up about 100km of track before dropping charge, so there's hardly a lookout point over Hvar Town or a sandy cove on the south side of Brac that you won't be able to reach.
Use local guides
This tip goes for pretty much any sort of trip, anywhere. However, we'd say it's especially important when exploring the isles of Croatia by bike. That's because these sun-kissed, pebble-fringed destinations can be uber-touristy. Knowing where to go and where to look for the hidden gems and the secret POIs can make the difference between sticking with the sunbathing crowd straight off a Ryanair flight and having a true adventure filled with local food, history, and culture in the Balkans. We know which we'd prefer.
For cyclists, local guides should also be seasoned riders in the areas you're looking to go. That will help with route planning and also add a bit of spontaneity into the mix. Finished the day's planned cycle but ready for more? A knowledgeable guide should have plenty of add-on loop suggestions and tips, for pitstops that include secret beach bars and secluded lagoons alike. It's priceless info.
Cycle as a group
You know what they say: Two's company, three's a crowd, and a peloton is really great fun. Okay, so we made that last bit up, but we think it's a good addition to the mantra. There's no better way to cycle than in a group, especially when it's in Croatia.
Why? Well, first off, you simply have to share that scenery with someone. After all, you can guarantee that not a soul back at home will believe how beautiful the summer haze on the Biokovo is, how romantic the twinkle of the sun on the red-tiled roofs of Lumbarda village or how idyllic the pine-backed coves around Milna are.
But there are practical benefits to going as a group, too. Many of the cycle routes you'll do in Croatia involve sections on well-used roadways and coastal highways. Grouping together is proven to increase road safety and noticeability on the tarmac. What's more, you'll have support at hand if your chain snaps or a wheel gives up when you're navigating the more remote paths between the secret swimming inlets and pine woods.
This list of 5 top tips for cycling Croatia got you feeling tempted to hit the land of Dalmatia and the Adriatic this year? Check out our tailor-made cycle and sail adventures to take in the best of the country.