From stunning islands to gorgeous cities – Croatia is full of different adventures for everyone. In this post, we are going to talk about the best hikes in the country – from easy and short loops around city walls to thrilling long-distance hikes through the forests of peninsulas and islands.
Whether you’re a beginner, a casual hiker or an expert with decades of experience we have some of the best hiking in Croatia for you! There’s something all of them have in common – spectacular views no matter where you look. And most of those panoramic views feature the Adriatic sea, which happens to be the main thing that attracts people to this stunning Mediterranean country.
Quite a lot of the trails in Croatia we’re going to tell you about are inside national parks or maybe a nature park, most of which have an entrance fee. The prices vary depending on the season – usually, the tickets are most expensive in the summer, with significant discounts in spring and fall and bargain tickets in the winter. If you’re traveling with a group of other hikers, it would probably be best to go in the offseason, since tickets to some of these NPs tend to be quite pricey.
Croatia deals with devastating fires nearly every year and the Pelješac peninsula is particularly susceptible to them, due to the sheer amount of wooded areas. It’s very important that you don’t leave any trash or anything flammable behind, since one single spark is enough to set the massive forested land ablaze. And bear in mind that under the scorching sun, even a small plastic bag is a fire hazard.
The fauna in Croatia is abundant, to say the least. Especially on the islands and peninsulas that are mostly forest – even if it’s very hot outside, you shouldn’t even consider doing the hikes in sandals or any kind of open shoes. You could encounter anything from Black Widow spiders to wild boars on the tracks, so it’s very important to be fully prepared for the animal kingdom that awaits.
It’s also a great place to find stunning campsites, if you want to combine hiking and camping, or just save a little money.
Plitvice Lakes is Croatia’s most popular national park. As you might have guessed, this trail is a loop around the national park that allows you to see all the best sights in the NP! And it’s a very easy trail that anyone can do, but we wouldn’t expect anything less from a trail around the country’s best known national park.
The trail begins immediately near Entrance 1, and it takes you around all of the bigger lakes, into the Šupljara cave and by some magnificent waterfalls. This loop also passes by Gustav Janeček memorial and near the park’s swimming area – on a hot day, a refreshing swim in the lake is a perfect detour from the hike.
Bear in mind that this isn’t the only hike you can do in the area – the national park actually boasts some proper hiking trails that pose a challenge even to the more experienced hikers. But this one is definitely the loop you should do first if you’ve never visited Plitvice Lakes before, as it’s the perfect opportunity to explore all the best sights of Croatia’s most famous national park.
The loop trail around the walls of Dubrovnik is anything but a traditional hiking trail. In fact, the only thing it has in common with normal hiking trails are the spectacular views you experience along the way. And that’s enough for us to list it as one of the best hikes in Croatia!
This is a loop anyone can do, and it’s absolutely perfect for total hiking newbies. It’s not difficult or technically demanding – you have to climb a few steps, walk around the Dubrovnik city walls and just climb down those same steps and you’re downtown again.
If you are staying in Dubrovnik you should definitely do the loops – it shouldn’t take you more than an hour, and it’s a great way to get some cardio into your vacation. And you will experience some gorgeous views of this ancient town below, and even more stunning views of the Adriatic sea.
Image courtesy of Miroslav Vajdic
Ston city walls are among the longest city walls in the world. The original structure was some 7 kilometers long which put them very high up on the list, with the Great Wall of China being the absolute winner. There is an entrance fee for the wall hike, but it’s only around 10 Euros and it’s without a doubt worth it.
Nowadays, only about 5 kilometers of the walls remain, but they’re an absolute gem. The loop around them is a fairly easy one that most people can do, making this a great opportunity even for complete hiking newbies.
An interesting fact about the Ston city walls is that they almost form a pentagon, due to the shape of the town. The views from the top are spectacular, and I dare say they’re better than the views from the Dubrovnik walls – you get views of the town, the sea and the spectacular hills of Pelješac peninsula.
One thing worth noting is that there are a lot of snakes here, so you should be very careful where you’re stepping. It’s also recommended that you wear normal hiking shoes or closed toe sandals, in case one of those snakes gets a bit too close for comfort.
Image courtesy of Mico Samardzija
Croatia has its fair share of challenging hiking trails, and the one on Plješivica mountain is definitely in that category. The rocky terrain is quite strenuous, and we highly recommend wering really comfortable hiking boots and bringing walking poles.
This out and back trail is rated as difficult primarily because of the significant elevation gain of 1024 meters – that’s a lot for a 12-kilometer hike! Most of the trail goes through forests with lots of shade, making it a great option for hot summer days. Towards the end of the trail you will actually pass through an old military building, which is pretty impressive. It’s a huge building with an underground bunker – we don’t recommend going inside, due to rumours of unexploded ammo.
The views along the way are fabulous – the end of the trail is actually very close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, so you get views of spectacular landscapes in both countries. You can also see all sorts of unique wild flowers along the way, so have your camera ready.
Oh and you will want to use that camera for something else – there’s a massive stump rock behind the abandoned military building that looks extremely tall and makes you seem very brave for standing on top of it. It’s actually pretty easy to reach – just walk past the abandoned building and climb down the hill.
Image courtesy of katsch1969
Jurasova Glavica loop is a great trail in Paklenica national park. It offers spectacular views of the mountains and the Adriatic sea, but it makes you work for those views.
The trail is rated as difficult due to the significant elevation gain that requires surefootedness and a lot of climbing. The terrain is also very rocky, and it’s recommended that you have walking poles in addition to some sturdy hiking boots, for the best and safest experience.
The entrance to the national park is just above Starigrad, and the trail begins as soon as you enter. It’s a fairly short trail that you should be able to cover in 4-5 hours max, and that’s with stopping to admire the views every now and and then. There’s a mountain hut about halfway along the loop, where you can stop for refreshments.
You will come across water sources along the way, so you don’t have to bring along gallons – unless you are doing the hike in the summer. Most of the sources are dried up then, so it would be smart to bring some extra water in case you’re parched before you reach the mountain hut.
Croatia doesn’t have many long distance hiking trails, but the ones that it does have are top notch quality. And that’s exactly how we would describe Highlander Velebit – Croatians even dare call it the adventure of your lifetime.
It’s actually an organized event that was held for the first time in 2017, so it’s still pretty new. Which means that there aren’t too many participants and the trail never gets overcrowded. And that’s exactly how you should experience the glorious Velebit mountain – surrounded by untouched nature and a small group of other experienced hikers. The point-to-point trail is very exciting, and it’s a unique experience for everyone – even those who are just a few steps ahead of you will have an entirely different experience from yours.
This is a difficult trail, both because of its length and the rocky terrain. The total elevation gain is also more than 3500 meters, and it takes a lot of experience and stamina to climb that much. The Highlander Velebit is only recommended for experienced hikers and backpackers, who are already familiar with multi-day trails that require you to spend a few nights under the starry sky.
The ascent to Vaganski Vrh is the highest peak of Velebit and a long and strenuous day hike that’s recommended only to very experienced hikers. If you’re looking for a real challenge among Croatia’s mountains, this might just be the thing you need.
The ascent is steep, the trail is rocky and there are very few places along the way where you can rest. The total elevation gain is over 1600 meters, which is quite a lot of a climb in a single day of hiking. But the views from the top are absolutely magnificent, and the feeling of reaching the top of country’s forth tallest summit is spectacular.
There are a couple things worth noting, like that it’s not allowed to camp in the national park. So, you should hit the trail very early in the morning if you want to have plenty of time to make it back home before dark. Also, it’s not really possible to do the hike in winter because the trail is inaccessible when there’s a lot of snow on the ground, so plan to do this ascent during the warmer months.
Mljet is one of Croatia’s most stunning islands and hiking through it is a spectacular experience. There’s an awesome trail on Mljet that goes from Sobra to Pomena, and you can cover it in about two days. The trail mostly goes through forests so you are shielded from the sun, but you can also climb to the summits if you’re in it for the scenic views.
The best thing about the trail is that it’s very easy to get to it – a ferry will take you from Prapratno on the Pelješac peninsula directly to Sobra. It’s a very short ride and the tickets are only about 20 kuna per person.
This is a pretty new trail but it is very well marked and you will hardly need to look at any GPS tracks. The final sections of the trail take you into Mljet National Park, where you can discover some great short hikes, and perhaps even visit the popular spots like the Odysseus Cave.
The wonderful thing about Mljet is that more than 70% of the island is covered with forest. There’s nothing but you and nature no matter where you look. And because you are on an island, you are completely isolated from the rest of Croatia. The island is worth visiting even if you’re not that into hiking, as it uncovers a side of Croatian tourism that wildly differs from the wild parties of Hvar and packed beaches of the Makarska Rivijera.
It’s possible to hike through the entire Pelješac peninsula if you have the necessary will and determination. But we have in mind a shorter section here, which takes you from Brijesta to the charming town of Trpanj. It’s a fairly easy day hike along dirt roads and through forests, and it’s not at all technically demanding.
Parts of the trail are very rocky and some sections feature steep climbs, but nothing too strenuous. We recommend good hiking boots even it’s very warm outside, because of the abundant fauna of the island – there are a lot of jackals and European glass lizards on Pelješac, especially in the Trpanj area.
This trail passes through several settlements and smaller towns, and you can spend the night in any one of them if you want. This also means plenty of places where you can stop for refreshments and food, but we still recommend you bring lots of water on the hike. If you’re doing this trail in the fall of winter, be mindful of the Bura – very strong winds that are common in the area.
Image courtesy of Nikolaj Potanin
St. George is the tallest summit of the Biokovo mountain. The hiking trail that leads to the top is an absolute treat for experienced mountain hikers who are looking for a true challenge – with a ridiculously steep ascent, demanding rocky terrain and breathtaking views at the top, this is a hiking trail only advanced mountaineers should attempt.
At the very start of the trail it follows an asphalt road, but only until it reached the end of the settlement. From there it’s a lot of serpentine trails and easy forest uphills until you reach the part of the trail that forks – go in the direction of Sv. Jure. You will pass by mountain huts, natural water sources and then again through forests. Once you’ve reached the Sveti Jure church (the highest altitude church in the country), you’re already fairly close to the summit – the final climb is secured with a rope, and it’s suitable for hikers with little climbing experience.
All the hard work pays off when you climb to the top – the views are absolutely spectacular. You can see the Adriatic sea and most of the Adriatic islands, as well as the Dalmatian Hinterlands.
You can follow the same trail on your way back, or you can even explore some of the other paths if you have more hours of daylight.