Croatia is the perfect trip for those that love exploring and cycling adventures. With its 47 inhabited islands there is plenty to see along the truly stunning Dalmatian Coastline.
Island hopping on a cycling holiday always adds to the adventure and there are not many places easier to do this than in Croatia. With regular ferries to and from the mainland in peak season and few roads once on the islands getting around independently is easy. With all the amazing Croatian islands to explore by bicycle the question is where to start!
We had planned 4 main stops during our cycling holiday to Croatia, beginning just outside of Omis, moving on to Zadar, then heading inland to the spectacular Plitvice lakes and finishing on the Istrian peninsula in Pula. Each stop was a base to explore from and we had decided that by staying on the mainland, island hopping would make for a few great day trips. Leaving our car and luggage at our Airbnb meant that we were free to travel light on our road bikes over to the islands.
We flew into Dubrovnic and began our road trip driving up the coastline to our first base, a hilltop villa with a beautiful view over the Adriatic. This coastline drive was stunning and really set the feeling for the holiday ahead of us. While there are not many roads along the coast, they looked perfect for cycling on and they were also relatively free of traffic.
We had chosen Omis as the first part of our holiday because of the coastal and inland loops looked perfect for cycling. Also we weren’t too far from the Biokovo national park and the Sveti Jure, an epic climb which we had planned into our cycling itinerary (another blog to come). This area was also the gateway to the islands from the main ferry port of Split.
The ride from our accommodation to the port of Split was around 26km. There is a large car park opposite the ferry terminal and plenty more parking around the town should you choose to park and ride to the ferry. The city of Split is also worth a visit, with ruins dating back to the Roman Empire, a beautiful waterfront and plenty of choice in restaurants with many serving fresh seafood.
Arriving at the port we headed for the Jadrolinija booking office which is easy to find just in front of the ferry terminal. We had chosen to cycle the island of Brac, Croatia’s 3rd largest island and home to the famous Zlanti Rat beach. Booking a ticket to the island was straight forward and walk on foot passenger with a bicycle cost 60 kn per person. This was approximately £7 for a one way ticket at the time. It seemed that we could not get a return ticket but buying our return ticket from the island of Brac was just as simple.
Tip: Check the ferry timetables as some of the crossings throughout the day do not allow passengers with bikes.
Cyclists are the first to be allowed to board the ferry. There is something quite exciting about riding your bike onto the ferry, like a real adventure is about to begin! You have the convenience of parking your bike at the front of the ferry so that you can be the first to disembark. VIP tickets for £7!
We took an early morning crossing to make the most of our day on the island. The journey was 50 minutes which gave us plenty of time to grab a coffee and a croissant and sit back. We settled down on the top deck, sun on our faces looking out over the calm waters which looked like a mirrored lake rather than a sea. Our cycling adventure was underway and we felt excited about the day ahead.
Arriving at the small picturesque port of Supetar and cycling off the ferry we headed North along the coast before turning back inland to head towards Bol, all on quiet rolling roads. On route we had plotted to climb the highest peak of the Adriatic islands, the Vidova gora. We are suckers for the climbs and had read about its stunning views from the top. Turning off the main road we took the smooth single track road and meandered our way up the 2,552 ft peak. The day was getting hotter and the black pines on our upward journey were a welcome shelter from the heat of the sun. Reaching the top the road opened revealing breath taking panoramic views of the coastline.
Tip: Make sure you have enough water as there is nowhere to stop and grab a drink on the way up.
After climbing the Vidova gora and taking in the views we continued on our journey and headed down to sea level to the oldest town on the island, Bol. Surrounded by a beautiful marina Bol is an attractive town made up of winding streets, pretty stone houses and of course the famous Zlanti rat beach.
Once you arrive in in Bol there are plenty of places to park up your bicycles and have a bite to eat. From the long coastal promenade lined with pine trees to the old town, it is the perfect place for sitting back and watching the world go by.
Be careful not to fill up to much on the delicious Croatian food though as there is a good old climb with several switchbacks back out of Bol!
After our relaxing lunch stop on the promenade, feeling fully sated we set off to cycle back to Supetar and catch the last ferry back to Split.
Tip: There are ferries that run from Bol back to Split but the service is limited so if you do take this option be sure to check the timetables first.
The climb out of Bol is a long but steady climb with panoramic views out to sea. The roads on the island of Brac are so smooth and quiet for cycling, it is lovely to be able to cruise around and not have the discomfort of being surrounded by traffic. To us it seemed that many people made the daytrip to the island to spend their day on Zlanti rat beach and as we departed the ferry in the morning, many taxis and minibuses left full of beachgoers. The only traffic that seemed to pass us on the return were these same taxis taking the beachgoers back to catch the same ferry as us.
We made it back to Supetar with plenty of time to spare to have a refreshing drink on the beautiful marina. Again we were first onto the ferry, parking our bikes upfront and heading to the ferry bar to buy a cheeky glass of wine. Sitting on the top deck whilst drinking our wine and watching the sun setting across the Adriatic feeling satisfied that we’d had a great day on the bikes and discussing our next island adventure.
Tip: Be careful not to consume to much wine on the ferry if you have to ride back to your accommodation!
There is no better way to see the world than on two wheels, especially when you get VIP treatment by Croatian ferries for seeing their islands by bike.