Croatia is gaining popularity as one of the best tourist destinations in Europe. With its amazing coastlines, stunning islands, gorgeous cities, and ancient sites, there is much to see and do here. Aside from that, Croatia is also home to some of the most amazing hiking trails and gorgeous treks too.
In fact, tourists come here to immerse themselves in nature through these impressive trails.
Hiking in Croatia:
8 Bucketlist Trails to Check Out in 2022
It doesn’t matter whether you are a casual hiker, an experienced trekker, or just starting out. Croatia has plenty of hiking trails that will fit your level of experience. That said, narrowing down your choices is not going to be easy.
After all, there are dozens of walking trails to explore in Croatia. But if you want to narrow down your options to the ones that will give you the most beautiful views then you have come to the right place.
Things to Consider When Hiking in Croatia
One thing that you should keep in mind when hiking in Croatia is that not all trails will be a leisurely walk. In fact, there are several national parks in Croatia where you will find some of the most spectacular views. Take, for example, Plitvice Lakes National Park. Once you set foot here, you will feel like you are on a movie set with its picturesque landscape.
However, keep in mind that the landscape here can change suddenly. There are some trails that will take you through a dense forest. While others will take you on a steep climb up the mountain range. In addition, these hiking trails can get pretty crowded, especially during the summer season.
As a rule, you need to arrive in these parks early in the day to avoid the crowd. Aside from that, it is best to skip hiking during the winter season. Especially since the trails will be covered in snow. It is important that you take note of the weather conditions prior to hiking.
Apart from lazing around the beaches as well as visiting old towns, exploring Croatia’s popular national parks is a must. Hiking is the best way to appreciate the great lengths that the country took to maintain the beauty of its surroundings. That said, there are a few safety tips that you will need to consider before heading to the walking trails here.
Plan Your Hike in Advance
Just because you want to chill during your vacation, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare for your side trips to the country. In fact, if you want to go hiking, you need to plan in advance. This way you will have ample time to get back to your hotel while there is still daylight. In addition, it is important that you inform your hotel or relatives where you will be going on that day for safety purposes.
Before you go on a walking tour, make sure that you know the terrain. Wearing flip-flops or sandals when going up the mountains is not advisable. Aside from that, covering yourself in pants or long sleeves while hiking in the forest is not a bad idea. This will keep the insects away from your skin.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
One thing you should not estimate when going on hikes in Croatia is the sun. Keep in mind that some trails do not have any shade. Wear a hat, apply sunscreen, and bring plenty of water to help cool you down.
Get Travel Insurance
It doesn’t matter which hiking trail you go to in Croatia, it is important that you get travel insurance. Think of it as a security blanket in case something happens to you on your vacation.
8 Best Hiking Trails in Croatia to Add to Your Bucketlist
Now that you have an idea of what to expect when hiking in Croatia, let’s take a closer look at the best hikes that you can try while in the country.
Plitvice Lakes Loop
Plitvice Lakes National Park lies between Zagreb and Zadar. Aside from being a popular destination in Croatia, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plitvice takes pride in its beautiful woodlands, impressive waterfalls, and spectacular views. In addition, it has 16 interconnected lakes spread throughout the land. Also, it is home to plenty of wildlife from bears to wild boars, deers to voles, and more.
The hiking loop’s starting point is at Entrance 1 and will take you around the bigger lakes. Aside from that, you will see several waterfalls along the way. This loop will also take you closer to the Gustav Janecek Memorial. If you are here during the summer, it is possible to take a dip in the lake. You can ask if the lakes are open for swimming.
As was mentioned before, tourists flock here because of its beauty and grandeur. This means that you will come across a crowd when you come and visit during the summer. If you want to avoid the crowd, make sure that you arrive early in the day like 7 or 8 in the morning. Aside from that, you can time your visit during late spring. On a good note, if you want to spend the night here, there are hotels at Entrance 2 as well as campgrounds to pitch a tent if you like.
You can check out the main trails in this park from the entrance. From there, you can decide if you are here on a day trip or if you want to spend an all-day trek. Keep your eyes peeled for information boards along the trails. They provide more insight about the area and the trail you are following.
Velebit Hiking Trail
Tourists who are looking for a multi-day hike trail should choose the Velebit Hiking Trail. After all, this trail will take you on an epic journey into the stunning landscape of Croatia’s largest mountain. In fact, you will find yourself hiking through small towns, craggy peaks, and rolling green hills.
Also, you can spend a night in one of the mountain huts free of charge. You will be treated to some amazing views from up here. You will find this trail in Northern Velebit National Park.
This Velebit nature park hiking trail spans 100 kilometers which you can do for nine days give or take. It’s true that this is one of the best hikes that you can do in Croatia which is why you will need to prepare for it.
In fact, you should make sure that you have enough food supplies, equipment, and clothing for the hike. And since this is a multi-day trek, you will need to be in good physical condition for it.
Take note that the hike begins in Zavzidan where you will climb a 600-meter ascent on the slopes of the Velebit mountains. Afterward, you will be trekking on proper mountain ground and resting in the mountain shelters.
Keep in mind that some of these shelters are not open year-round. It is best to inform them in advance that you are going on a multi-day trek so you will know which ones are available.
More than half of the 100 kilometers fall on the Premužić Trail which was built back in the 1930s to connect North Velebit to the South Velebit. Aside from that, this is the most beautiful part of the trail so better watch out for it. The best time to take this trail is during the summer.
Via Dinarica White Trail
Meanwhile, the Via Dinarica is one of the new hiking trails in Croatia. Although it is relatively new, it is full of amazing views along the way. This trail runs south of Slovenia all the way to the north of Albania. Guests can complete the trail or just a portion of it depending on their level of experience. Don’t forget to take into account how long you will be staying in Croatia too for that matter.
Experienced hikers who have time to spare should consider tackling the entire trail. After all, it connects most of the scenic views along the Dinaric Alps. in addition, this trail also connects most of the mountainous region too. Among these are the Blue Trail or mountain trail, and the Green Trail or forest trail, take your pick!
As was mentioned before, this hiking trail is relatively new. This means that some areas are not marked properly. In addition, there are areas that haven’t been maintained at all. However, if you have GPS, you will be able to navigate the trail easily. Don’t forget to bring your camera with you since there are plenty of scenic views here. It doesn’t matter whether you will be exploring just a portion of it or the entire trail, for sure, you will have a great experience here.
Wall of Dubrovnik
Meanwhile, if you are looking for a traditional hiking trail, the city walls of Dubrovnik are a great place to explore. In fact, this loop trail is open year-round for guests to go on tours or explore at their own pace.
Aside from that, this trail is known for hiking, bird watching, and nature trips. From the walls, you will be treated to amazing views of the old town, rooftops, church towers, lanes, and even stunning cliffs too. You can even see Vela Luka from here.
Aside from the beautiful views that you’ll enjoy as you walk around the walls, what makes it popular is how accessible it is. In addition, this is ideal for those who are looking for an easy trail to start with. You don’t have to be in good condition to walk this trail. Also, the entire trail will take two hours or less depending on your pace.
You can start your hike or end at the Gate of Pile which is the main entrance to the old town. If you are set to explore the ancient walls, do it early in the morning or late in the afternoon. These are the ideal times to explore this famous hiking trail minus the crowds. Aside from that, if you are going to spend some time in Dubrovnik then make sure that you add this to your list of things to do. The trail runs for 2 kilometers only making it an easy one to finish for beginners.
Ogrlice and Roski Slap Loop
The Ogrlice and Roski Slap Loop is a fun and easy hike. You will find it in the Krka National Park. This piece of paradise lies near the lower reaches of the Krka River and close to the city of Sibenik. Aside from that, the loop is done mostly on wooden boardwalks, but you explore the muddy trails if you want full immersion. The best part is that the trail is mostly shaded plus the views here are exceptional.
Exploring this trail will feel like you are inside a painting. Everything looks magical once you start your hike. Of course, the highlight of this trail is the waterfalls. Watching the waters cascading from the mountains is a unique experience.
In fact, it is even better now that you will be able to see them up close. Also, there is plenty of animal life here so keep your eyes peeled for them. In addition, it is also here where you will find the second-highest density of lavender. They do make a great background for a photo shoot.
Your reward for exploring this loop is a chance to swim in the natural plunge pools. This is why it is best to do this hike during the summer so you will have a chance to cool off. That said, make sure that you bring your swimming gear with you.
What makes this a popular spot for tourists is that it is an easy hike to bring your kids. Regardless of whether you are out for a stroll or want to see more of Croatia’s stunning nature, this is a good trail to add to your itinerary.
Mljet Island Hike Through
Mljet Island is one of the most beautiful islands among the Croatian islands with good reason. In fact, aside from the clear waters, it is also where you will find one of the best hiking spots in the country.
The trail begins at Sobra and runs all the way to Pomena. It will take you around two days to complete the trail but will depend mostly on your pace. The good news is that most of the trail here will take you into lush forests. This means that you will get ample shade from the sun as you follow the path. Aside from that, you can opt to climb one of the summits here if you like to see some great views.
One reason why nature lovers will want to explore this trail is that it is accessible. All that you have to do is to board a Prapratno which will take you directly to Sobra. Although this trail is relatively new, the trail has plenty of markings that will guide you on your hike.
The best thing about Mljet Island is that the forest covers about 70% of its land area. In fact, wherever you go or even look on this island, you will find that you are in the heart of nature. Aside from that, the island itself is a great destination regardless of whether you are an advanced hiker or not.
Even if you are here for a one-day hike, you will spot some short trails that will suit your preferences. In addition, do check out Odyssey’s Cave. This is one of the highlights of this trail so do check it out. You can reach the island with a morning transfer from Korcula to Mljet.
Vosac Peak Hike
Vosac Peak Hike is one of the most challenging mountain hikes that you can do while in Croatia. You will find this mountain in the Biokovo Nature Park which lies on the Dalmatian Coast.
In fact, this is one of the best hiking options that you can choose from while you are in Croatia. There are several paths here that wind up the mountains and hills. You will notice that they have olive groves and dense pine forests too.
Aside from that, you will immediately find the trail at Makarska. Take note that the climb will go up immediately. Also, most sections of this trail will have loose stones so where appropriate footwear here. You don’t want to go sliding down the mountain and get injured in the process. It will take you 5 to 6 hours of trekking to reach the summit.
The highest peak here is the Sveti Jure which stands at 1,762 meters above sea level. At the top, you will be rewarded with amazing views of the horizon and the landscape below.
As was mentioned before, this trail is challenging. This is why you need to bring appropriate gear and enough water to take you up the mountain. Unless you are a seasoned hiker, you should consider looking for different hiking routes instead. The good news is that the Biokovo National Park has other hiking trails to choose from.
This means that you will still get a chance to climb sections of the Biokovo mountains based on your skill level.
Medvednica Nature Park Loop
The mystical Medvednica Nature Park loop lies north of Zagreb. Just a short distance away from the capital city, you will find that the scenic views here are quite different from the coastal areas. In fact, you will find that it is more secluded compared to other hiking trails in Croatia. Most of the people that you will see here are the locals instead of the tourists which is a perfect way to meet them.
The good news is that there are several hiking trails here that you can choose from. In fact, there are more than 150 well-marked routes that will take you through dense trees. Since most of the trails here will take you through the forests, you should explore the area during autumn. The leaves of the trees are bursting in yellows and oranges.
Beginner hikers can start with the lollipop loop that passes through Trails 52 and 48. Aside from that, there are a few ascents here and there, but most of the trail will be flat and easy to cross. In fact, these are among the best trails for new hikers. Also, you will be in control of whether you want to try more challenging routes. There are trails that will have more elevation to them that will challenge your hiking skills considerably.
Before you do explore these trails, make sure that you wear warm clothes and plenty of water. Also, it is important that you head back while there is still daylight. Since this nature park is quite huge, it is easy to get lost in the dark. This is a good option if you are staying in Zagreb. Head to the entrance or information desk to get a map of the place.
More Hiking Options in Croatia
Croatia definitely has more to offer its guests in terms of hiking trails. Aside from the ones mentioned above, let’s see what else is in store for you in each region.
Aside from Plitvice Lake National Park, Lika Region has plenty of trails that you can try. For starters, the Velebit Mountain lies in this region which is a well-known hiking spot. The mountain itself serves as the border between the region’s hinterland and the Adriatic Sea. Aside from that, since the mountain is home to rich biodiversity, it has become a protected area. In fact, there are two national parks here. The first one is the Northern Velebit and the second one is Paklenica National Park.
You can visit Paklenica after you finish the Velebit Trail. From here, you can climb the highest summit which is the Vaganski Peak. Aside from that, Paklenica has a stunning landscape plus two canyons namely Mala and the other is Velika Paklenica. The hiking trails here snake around the mountains plus the rocky terrain promises a few good spots for climbing. It is here where you will find the highest rock called Anića Kuk.
Meanwhile, this region is mostly a huge prairie, with mountain ranges towering around it. If you are looking for the best hiking trail here then it is at the Papuk Nature Park. In fact, bringing your family here is a good idea since the trails are easy and suitable for a day hike.
The trails here will bring you into the forest, around lakes, and even near a medieval fortress. You can camp here if you like, but there are mountain huts along the way where you can stay in.
If you are traveling from Zagreb, you can take public transport to one of the park’s three entrances on the northern side. Aside from that, there is another park entrance to the south. Once you get inside the park, you can go off exploring the trails laid out before you.
Gorski Kotar Region
Gorski Kotar is known to be a mountainous region where a thick forest covers half of the area. In fact, they call this region the “green lungs of Croatia” and rightly so. It lies in the hinterland of the Adriatic Sea where the Mediterranean and continental climates meet. This contributes to the rich and diverse ecosystem here.
If you are looking forward to a beautiful hike then make your way to the Risnjak National Park. In fact, the main trails here will take you to the highest peaks of Snjeznik and Veliki Risnjak. Once you reach the tops of these peaks, you will be rewarded with some of the most amazing views. Among these are the Julian Alps of Slovenia, the bay of Rijeka town, and the Velebit Mountain.
Meanwhile, if you want to see the highest mountain in Croatia, then you are in the right place. Dinara Peak lies on the Dinara Mountain which borders Croatia and Bosnia. Since the landscape is part of the karst terrain, the area is mostly dry. You will find water sources along the trail to refill your water bottle. However, you should ask for information about them prior to hiking here since some of the wells and tanks might be empty.
Aside from that, the best way to reach the top of the highest peak is to spend two days on the trail. The good news is that there is a mountain lodge where you can book a stay, plus two shelters. It’s important to check if they are open beforehand. Meanwhile, it is better that you start your hike from the river source of the Cetina River.
Another option that you can hike is the Omiska Dinara Mountain. Although the highest summit here is less than Dinara, it still gives you some impressive views. In fact, you will see the Adriatic Coast, Brac Island, and the rest of the mountains from this height.
Aside from that, it is also possible to hike Brac or the Hvar island. If you are in Brac, then you can hike from the traditional village of Bol all the way to Vidova Gora. This is the highest summit that you will find on the Adriatic islands. Meanwhile, you can hike up to the Sveti Nikola peak on Hvar.
The Istrian peninsula is the largest in the Adriatic Sea. It lies between the Kvarner Gulf and Trieste. You can make your way up the Ucka Mountain as it towers above the Kvarner Gulf. In fact, you can enjoy the panoramic views of the Kvarner islands, the Istrian hills, and the Bay of Trieste from a stone tower on a clear day.
Aside from that, there are several hiking trails that will take you through the dense forest full of pine trees. Also, you will come across a stunning waterfall and several canyons that make up the ridge of the mountain. In fact, there are plenty of caves, pits, and sinkholes along the trails.
It is best that you spend a day or two on the trail to maximize your hike. Aside from that, you can also visit traditional villages along the way. This is a great way to learn a thing or two about their culture.
Zagreb Town Region
Just north of Zagreb stands Medvednica Mountain. An interesting fact about this mountain is that the western side has been declared a nature park. The trail here is a long distance of 50 km and covers the ridges of the mountain. Advanced hikers can challenge themselves to reach the highest peak here which is Sljeme. On a good note, there are shorter trails along the way that you can spot easily.
Medvednica has plenty of comfortable lodgings that you can stay in during your trek. Some even accept credit cards as payment. Don’t forget to visit the city center of Medvedgrad. It lies on top of a hill surrounded by dense forest. Aside from that, it is the best spot to get great views of Zagreb. You can also find a statue of St. George and a Dragon here too.
Where to Stay in Croatia?
Now that you have an idea of where the best hiking trails are, the next thing to consider is where you are going to stay. Most tourists prefer to stay near the coast where most of the major towns lie. After all, they have a more laid-back atmosphere which is perfect for some rest and relaxation.
That said if you want to be where all the action is, then go for Split. Compared to Dubrovnik, Split is more central. Aside from that, it is a great starting point if you want to visit Brac or Hvar. Also, the town is well-connected thanks to the roads, rail, and public transport.
Meanwhile, Zadar is perfect for those who want to step back in time. After all, this is the oldest continuously inhabited city. It is here where you will have easy access to the Velebit Range as well as the Paklenica National Park. In addition, you will find several hiking trails nearby that you can try during weekends or when you have free time.
And then there is Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Transportation here is world-class, plus there are plenty of nature trails nearby. Although it is not the most popular destination for many, since it is far from the coast, it is still a good option if you are looking for a place to stay.
What to Pack for Your Hiking Adventure in Croatia
Tourists who are off on a Mediterranean vacation often pack light. T-shirts, dresses, and swimwear are a staple. However, if you are thinking of exploring Croatia’s well-kept surroundings, you will need to bring more.
First, you will need to bring the right footwear. Yes, you can wear some flip-flops when you head to the beach. But if you are taking on the mountains or going on hours-long walks, you will need to wear proper shoes. Lightweight hiking shoes are enough for easy terrains. However, you will need sturdier boots if you will be climbing up rocky mountains.
Second, the types of clothes you will bring will depend mostly on the season. If you are visiting during summer, then you will need to pack light. Choose breathable clothing that will still give you protection from the sun. Also, bring your swimsuit with you in case you can find a lake to swim in after a hike.
Third, if you are going to attempt a multi-day hike, then you will need to add water and rations to the equation. This requires careful planning. It pays to do your research ahead of time. Look for mountain huts and water sources so you can time your hike carefully. Also, don’t forget to bring your first-aid kit with you while you are here.
Wrapping Up 8 Bucketlist Trails to Check Out
As you can see, there is more to Croatia than its medieval towns and pristine coastal lines. In fact, you will be spoiled for choices when it comes to hiking trails here. You can start your hiking adventure in one of the eight national parks here. Not only will you find yourself making your way around thick forests, but you’ll also get up close to some of the most amazing waterfalls too.
If you are an advanced hiker who wants to challenge yourself, then go hike up the mountains of Croatia. There are several here with the Dinara mountain being the highest. You can opt for the smaller ones if you like. Don’t worry, they will still give you a great vantage point to see some of the best sights in the area.
Aside from that, Croatia’s hiking trails are suitable for all kinds of explorers. Beginners will find several easy trails that wind around tall trees and crystal clear waters. For the more seasoned hikers, going on a multi-day trip is an experience you will not forget.