Mountain Biking in Croatia
Mountain biking and off-road cycling in Croatia is on the rise! Be it traditional mountain biking, ever so popular enduro or gravel niches, Croatia has a lot to offer for an active vacation. But unlike more developed cycling MTB destinations, Croatian approach is a little bit different; instead of creating MTB hot spots in form of bike parks, a network of trails is independently developed in every region to best suit its needs, making almost the entire country one big bike park.
Different regions - different styles, so we’ve decided to share our MTB and gravel experience in different geographical regions, starting from the north.
Mountain biking in Istria region
Istria is one of the most developed cycling regions here, covering any form of cycling. Mountain and gravel biking is developed mostly in the inland, for some the most beautiful part of Istria altogether. In a form of pure cross-county, trails take on series of small hills, visiting little hilltop towns like Motovun, Grožnjan or Hum, providing nice views and constant (but subtle) change of altitude, very suitable for gravel bikes too. There is a lot of shade, and everything is green. Trails can be rocky, but there is more soil and grip than in any other region with access to the Adriatic. A couple of names stand out here: Parenžana trail (and an XC event) built on an old narrow-track railway starting at the far north of Istria and ending in Rovinj; Kamenjak near Pula is kind of a bike park buffet, and Rabac is a coastal little town with a grid of mountain bike trails developed on the hill above it.
Gorski Kotar region
Gorski Kotar is one of the favourite cycling destinations for the locals trying to escape the summer heat. Gorski Kotar literally translates to mountain region, and there starts Velebit – longest mountain range in Croatia. Other mountains contribute to the overall aura of summer MTB paradise. Lakes, creeks and rivers spread around add that finishing touch. Trails here are mostly on the wide side, but ever-so often a single-track trail will connect the dots of your custom adventure. Fužine, Delnice and Ogulin are popular destinations from where you can start your daily adventure loops.
It is a big mountain, an Eco-system on its own, with numerous iterations of biking experiences as you move from the north to its south end near the city of Zadar. This is the land of uninterrupted gravel experience, if you ask us! Climb high on the north, and navigate the wide trails across the mountain ridge for days, staying in mountain huts and shelters along the way. Northern part of Velebit is a National Park, and so is the canyon of Paklenica on its south end. Choose Majstorska road, unpaved engineering masterpiece connecting Lika region to Adriatic for your final descent. Velebit is not something you can explore in the snowy part of the year.
On the inland side of Velebit, a huge region called Lika awaits. It is a sleepy, largely uninhabited region, the green pasture of Croatia. It is mostly flat, so you can cover large distances needed to explore all its beauty. The Valley of Gacka river is particularly beautiful. This is the land of Plitivce National Park, the one you cannot cycle through, but everywhere around it. Make Otočac or Gospić your base, and bike your way to the birthplace and interactive museum of Nikola Tesla, the bear refuge center of Kutarevo, or the spring of river Una. It is a great summer or spring destination.
Our most recent Park of Nature is the Dinara mountain. It is the highest one in Croatia, and we are sharing its beauty with Bosnia and Herzegovina as the border goes over its ridge. It is a harsh mountain bellowed by hikers, but on the foot of this giant some of the most mesmerizing trails exist, connecting rivers Cetina and Krka to its springs, canyons and waterfalls. Dinara’s high-altitude moorlands can be a magnet for well-trained mountain bikers, but the sunny slopes can offer a fantastic get-away-from-the-crowd cycling experience for recreational riders.
Mountain biking on Croatian Islands
Every island is a story of its own! Islands in the northern part of Adriatic can be a little bit gentler on your legs and tires, but every single one is worth exploring on its own. Northern islands, like Pag, Krk, Cres or Rab are now famous in MTB community due to the 4 Islands MTB event, and the south ones are becoming a magnet for professional cycling teams for their winter training camps, due to favorable climate. One nice way to enjoy Croatian islands is a week-long island hopping MTB tour, a great way to experience a lot of Croatia’s finest. Trails are generally rocky, and exposed. In summer time it can be hot, but the beach and a swim break are always near.
Check out our MTB Trips, or reach out if you would like us to create a different MTB experience for you! There are plenty of options.