MTB TRANS CROATIA ISLANDS – KRK TO VIS

Duration

8 days

Category

MTB

Fitness level

Medium

Tour type

GUIDED, SELF-GUIDED

Technical difficulty

High

Length & elevation

316 km 7330 m

Biking on eight beautiful Croatian islands in seven days offers breathtaking views, rich history and architecture of the Dalmatian cities and villages, wild nature and solitary trails, but also hospitality and culinary delights. The verified routes present a perfect combination of trails, forest paths and enjoyable ride along the sea.

From Baška on the “golden island” of Krk across a stone desert to a wild, special island of Cres, following the Argonauts’ route to the healing climate island of Lošinj, i.e. the location of the Mercedes Benz UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Lošinj venue. We make a stop in the oldest inhabited city of Zadar, cross two breathtaking islands of Ugljan and Pašman and take a direct ride to the famous city of Split. Through the wilderness of the island of Brač to Mount St. Vid, the highest point of the Adriatic Islands, we make a straight descent to Bol and the most beautiful Croatian beach, i.e. Zlatni rat. Passing the most beautiful Croatian fortress church in Vrboska through the abandoned villages, we reach the famous town of Hvar on the island of Hvar. The last day will start in the ancient town of Vis, passing submarine shelters and underground bunkers of the island of Vis, and continuing towards the fishing village of Komiža and back to Vis.

The tour is designed so that in addition to unique cycling experience you can also feel the atmosphere of Dalmatian towns and villages and indulge in local Dalmatian cuisine and special wine varieties. On the three islands, i.e. those of Lošinj, Brač and Hvar, additional circular routes can be taken so the tour can be extended if desired. You always have the possibility to extend the tour by adding a few days for rest and entertainment. Due to crowds and heat, the tour is scheduled outside the high season in order to ensure even greater experience of the Kvarner and Dalmatian islands.

More photos:

Krk

Cres & Lošinj

Zadar, Ugljan & Pašman, Split

Gallery

Itinerary

DAY 01

Meet up in Baška

Arrival to Baška and meet up to overview the adventures of the next days.


DAY 02

Two islands in one day

DistanceDistance: 66 km
DistanceElevation: 1460 m

Out of 1185 Croatian islands, only Krk is dubbed “the golden island”. Its mild climate, strategic geographical position and a variety of beautiful natural sites gave it this name as early as the ancient times (Latin: Insula Aurea). The 45th parallel north runs through the 30 km long island with 190 km of coastal line.

In the green, fertile Baška valley, which is surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and fig trees and embraced by the beautiful karst mountain of Velebit, lies one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations – the town of Baška. One of the main reasons to visit Baška is definitely the unique, 1800-metre pebble beach. Although unfit for biking, it is well worth a visit as it is considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the Adriatic.

Nevertheless, Baška offers great infrastructure for bikers and other tourists and makes for a perfect starting point for biking adventures around the islands. First, the panoramic trail leads to a plateau, i.e. a stone desert that was named the Moon Plateau due to its appearance and atmosphere. We ride through a bare, rocky landscape that is home to the black widow spider and viper snake, and features an ornithological reserve where the griffon vulture, short-toed snake eagle, peregrine falcon, Eurasian eagle-owl and other birds live. There is still enough grass growing among the stones so the bikers can also spot an occasional sheep.

From the plateau, the path descends towards the Punat–Krk road and then climbs again to the highest hill of the Krk island, which is called Veli vrh. A relatively demanding trail, which is maintained by local bikers, starts from the point where the zipline is installed and leads to the town of Punat . Today, the enclosed and protected bay presents one of the main nautical centres in Croatian, and at the same time, it is also a centre for the production of olive oil. Vrbnik, the most famous wine-growing part of Krk, also extends almost to the verge of the town, so unsurprisingly the trail leads mainly through olive groves and vineyards before reaching first the town of Krk and later Valbiska.

Valbiska is a ferry port that connects Krk with the two isles of Cres and Rab. Before embarking on a ferry, the tour participants have the opportunity to get refreshments, as the pizzeria in the port, which is allegedly the best on the island, serves pizzas as well as other food.

The 30-minute ferry ride to the island of Cres offers wonderful views of the two islands as well as the coast, and after the disembarkation, the trail takes a very steep ascent (300 m) along a demanding gravel road to the ridge, which is followed by a 3-km descent along a route combining trails, gravel roads and forest roads.

The last trail, which leads to the charming old town of Cres, the largest settlement on the island, is the most beautiful one. The biking part ends here, so there is still enough time for participants to explore the town.

Trails and sights of Krk photo gallery.


DAY 03

Wild trails connecting the ancient settlements

DistanceDistance: 53 km
DistanceElevation: 1100 m

Cres is the largest and longest Croatian island, which was inhabited shortly after the second Ice Age, when the sea level was almost 100 m lower than it is today. The island is associated with the myth of Argonauts . It is considered the least inhabited Mediterranean island, which also features 1300 different plant species (more than the entire Great Britain), nests 200 species of birds, among them the largest colony of griffon vulture in Europe, while at the same time the island is home to the largest number of reptiles in the Mediterranean. Cres has a specific climate that is very suitable for the treatment of allergic respiratory diseases. One of its special features includes the freshwater lake of Vransko jezero, whose deepest point reaches below the sea level.

The southern part of Cres island features many beautiful bays and beaches, and on the north side, its steep shore is exposed to strong winds. This indicates, in addition to sparse population on this side of the island, that there are many areas that are very difficult to pass or even impassable.

The relatively low number of kilometres and the mild altitude difference in the description of this day might be deceitful as the route of the tour mainly runs along demanding gravel road trails, which require considerable effort even when going downhill. The easiest part is probably the scenic gravel path at the beginning which leads along the south-west coast, past Valun, which is a typical fishing village situated in the bay and known primarily for the Valun tablet, probably the oldest record of the Glagolitic and Latin script, which dates back to the 9th century and is exhibited at the local church.

From Valun, the path leads to the famous Lubenice, an important geostrategic village, which has been continuously inhabited for the last 4000 years. The village, which has a shape that resembles the eagle’s nest, stands right on the edge of a high cliff and offers a fantastic view over the northern Adriatic. Under the village, one can find a beautiful small beach, although it will take about a 40-minute walk to reach it.

After a short section of beautiful gravel road, the path continues along the demanding trails almost all the way to Osor, while the last part of the descent into the small town runs along the local asphalted road. In Osor, the island of Cres is artificially separated from the island of Lošinj with a channel, which used to serve as the main transit route between the North Adriatic and Dalmatia. Due to the long-standing and rich history of the town, a small port with only 50 permanent residents is now practically an outdoor museum with a magnificent antique town square featuring buildings from the 15th century and a well preserved defensive wall. During the high season, the place offers an exquisite and interesting gastronomic experience, while at least one bar serving food remains open throughout the whole year.

There is no other connection than the asphalt road leading to the town of Mali Lošinj, which is situated on the island of Lošinj and is the final destination of the day. Therefore, the biking day ends here since the transfer to Mali Lošinj is organised with a van.

Trails and sights of Cres & Lošinj photo gallery.


DAY 04

The circular path through Lošinj

DistanceDistance: 35 km
DistanceElevation: 620 m

The island of Lošinj is narrower and less steep than Cres, even on the side that faces the bora wind, and its small coves are mostly inhabited. The outer side, which faces the open sea, is second to Čikat in terms of rare population, which is why the bays on this side are a nautical paradise.

Due to its climate, the island is traditionally oriented towards the tourism industry. Mali Lošinj is the largest settlement found on the Adriatic islands. It dates back to the 12th century, and in the 19th century, it served as an important maritime centre. The pleasant old part of the city situated around the port is surrounded by new buildings, and westwards, the path features numerous idyllic bays with hotels.

At one of those hotels, the path turns towards the inland and, during the ascent, soon reaches the starting point of the Mercedes Benz UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Lošinj venue, where the 2018 season started. Not far ahead, one can find a beautiful and interesting trail to Veli Lošinj, a small picturesque village situated in a narrow bay, where participants can take a lunch break.

Alternatively, a part of the World Cup route can be used for descent. In the continuation, the route follows the coastal paths and then leads back to Mali Lošinj. The biking day should be completed relatively early because the group has to catch a ferry for Zadar.

The journey takes several hours, with the ferry arriving to Zadar late in the evening, so dinner is served in the form of a lunch package.

 

Alternate bike & hike option (37 km, 770 m):

The described loop is relatively short yet quite challenging. There is another loop, where the first part runs along the outer shore across difficult terrain that is similar to that of Cres, and in a few spots the bike needs to be carried a few hundred meters.

Although this loop is two kilometres longer, it has 110 more meters in altitude difference. In the second part, the tour takes the same route back to Lošinj. This loop can be used instead of the basic one, but it takes a lot more time, which needs to be considered when scheduling the ferry ride.

Optionally, the tour participants can stay one more night in Mali Lošinj, and the second route is then taken the next day, which is followed by a ferry transfer to Zadar.


DAY 05

Crossing two islands with exquisite views

DistanceDistance: 39 km
DistanceElevation: 850 m

Although the group stays in Zadar only overnight, taking quite effortless biking to continue afterwards, first to the island of Ugljan and then to Pašman, Zadar is too beautiful not to have at least some coffee in one of its bars before leaving.

The oldest inhabited Croatian city with its beautifully preserved old town centre, the remains of the Roman Forum from the 11th century and the 8th-century church paintings can easily be compared to the more popular Split; some people even preferring Zadar due to the smaller tourist crowds.

A short ferry ride to Ugljan is immediately followed by a relatively steep climb, and then a very nice trail provides for a morning packed with great fun. This is followed by moderate coastal biking to the bridge connecting the two islands, and immediately after crossing Pašman, comes the ascent along the fire route which runs along the ridge in the middle of the island.

The gravel road combines both climbs and descents, and the view over the famous Kornati islands on the one side and the mighty Velebit mountain massif on the other side remain present throughout the whole ride. The route is concluded with a direct descent into the village of Tkon, where the participants can enjoy food and drinks and then take another ferry ride to Biograd and from there a van transfer to Split. This means the tour participants can make a comparison between the two cities while impressions are still fresh.


DAY 06

Through the wilderness to the most beautiful beach

DistanceDistance: 55 km
DistanceElevation: 1210 m

Split, the second largest Croatian city, which is always full of life, is simply a must see in the evening or in the morning before the departure. The Diocletian’s Palace, which is placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is right in the centre of the city that combines history and modern urban life. According to Lonely Planet, this is the closest you can get to experiencing what life in Dalmatia used to be like.

The biking day is spent on the isle of Brač. The initial destination, which is reached by ferry, is the town of Supetar, where it is well worth to drink a coffee and purchase stocks, because after a short initial ride by the sea and passing through some small villages, the route runs through the uninhabited terrain until the end.

With a vast number of large and small settlements, Brač is the largest island in central Dalmatia. The landscape, full of rocky cliffs, is covered with pine forests. It is known for its glittering white stone that provided building material for the Diocletian’s Palace, which is why stone cutting remained an important traditional practice that is still widely pursued. Another world site is the famous sandy beach called Zlatni rat in Bol which is also the end point of this stage.

At Lovrečina Bay, known for its large sandy beach and rich archaeological sites, the path starts climbing through a diverse landscape covered by olive groves, vineyards and meadows. The sea cannot be seen from here, the path can only be occasionally crossed by a horse or sheep. The route runs across the entire island all the way to Mount St. Vid, the highest point of the Adriatic islands, where the fascinating view over the island of Hvar as well as the Hvar Channel and the isle of Brač opens up. Zlatni rat is just below one’s feet. The contrast between the scenic landscape the participants bike through and the view is unique, and this surprise is followed by a wonderful, technically quite undemanding descent straight to Bol, where the night is spent near the most beautiful Croatian beach, Zlatni rat.

Additional options

Brač is extremely suitable for one or more days of stay at Bol. Apart from relaxing and having fun on the beach, at least three additional one-day routes are available:

Option 1: The Blaca desert – the long variation (68 km, 1430 m)

From Bol, the tour takes the asphalt road to the airport, where part of the route towards Mount St. Vid leads along the basic route from Supetar and then descends down the forest gravel roads to the village of Nerežišća (bar, shop).

Optional –a kilometre away there is a natural landmark, a rocky vault in the middle of the field, called Koloč. The route continues to the village of Dračevica, then takes a steep, panoramic gravel road climb to the peak island plateau, where the path descends into the valley of Blaca. In the middle of the valley lies the famous Blaca Desert. Once a Glagolitic monastery founded in the 15th century by the refugees who escaped the Turks, was long one of the most economically viable facilities on the island, which also had its own fleet and traded with the Venetians and Vienna from the remote and secluded valley. The Astronomical Observatory had contacts with scientists all over the world. Today, the highly preserved building is a museum offering guided tours that tell a fascinating story.

A very nice trail leads past the monastery, all the way to a beautiful bay, and then, running along the coast, under the pine trees and right by the sea, the path returns to Bol. Some spots require the bikers to step off their bikes for a short while.

Option 2: The Blaca desert – the short variation  (53 km, 1090 m).

From Bol, the tour takes the asphalt road leading to the airport, where part of the path towards Mount St. Vid leads along the basic route from Supetar and then turns towards the Blaca valley right before reaching the top. In the middle of the valley lies the famous Blaca Desert. Once a Glagolitic monastery founded in the 15th century by the refugees who escaped the Turks, was long one of the most economically viable facilities on the island, which also had its own fleet and traded with the Venetians and Vienna from the remote and secluded valley. The Astronomical Observatory had contacts with scientists all over the world. Today, the highly preserved building is a museum offering guided tours that tell a fascinating story.

A very nice trail leads past the monastery, all the way to a beautiful bay, and then, running along the coast, under the pine trees and right by the sea, the path returns to Bol. Some spots require the bikers to step off their bikes for a short while.

Option 3: Reaching Mount St. Vid from Bol (29 km, 900 m)

The path leads along the coastal gravel road through the village of Murvica, and before the Blace bay climbs the steep road featuring short and even serpentines until it reaches the new, asphalted one. The wonderful views make the climb towards the asphalted road easier.

After a few kilometres of asphalt, a forest gravel path leads to the short, final part, which is covered in asphalt and which leads to the top of Mount St. Vid. The goal of this somewhat shorter, yet picturesque and variegated route in terms of biking, is to re-descent along the final trail directly to Bol.


DAY 07

Through the abandoned village to a fairytale town

DistanceDistance: 37 km
DistanceElevation: 960 m

Hvar is perhaps the most famous Croatian island, mainly due to its notorious capital of the same name. In addition to being the longest island, it is also said to be the sunniest. In the past, hotels sold accommodations at a lower price during rainy days in the season. However, with the climate change, such moves have become too risky.

Nevertheless, Hvar is still a very fertile island and, despite its popularity with tourists, offers enough quiet and secluded corners, even empty villages. Although the Hvar landscape is less wild than that of Brač, it is still no less varied, offering an equally exciting biking experience.

The day begins with a transfer on a private boat from Bol via the channel to Jelsa, a friendly village in a protected bay, where hospitality towards tourists has been known for centuries. The path then alternately moves along the coast and through vineyards to Vrboska, the smallest Hvar town located at the end of a narrow, long bay, where the sea resembles a river.

Here, everyone can find something for themselves, be it a thick, pristine pine forest, pebbled and sandy beaches, or beautifully preserved Mediterranean architecture. In the city, stands a beautifully preserved church – a fortress, which is said to be the most beautiful one in Croatia.

The path then leads to the interior of the island, running along gravel roads and paths first through the village of Svirče, and then up the steep gravel and concrete road to the foot of Sv. Nikola, the highest peak of Hvar. A short, very steep ascent leads yet a little higher under the peak, and from there one has to reach the top on foot. However, this is well worth the effort as the views from all sides are breathtaking.

What follows is a descent down a panoramic gravel path running along the ridge to the old road connecting Stari grad and Hvar, right above the tunnel located on the new road. Then, the route leads through Velo Grablje, a still inhabited hamlet from the 14th century with fascinating stone architecture, and through Malo Grablje, a small abandoned village where everything is overgrown, so the trip resembles a true jungle ride.

A beautiful trail runs between the two settlements. Behind Malo Grablje, there is a short section where the tour participants have to carry their bikes on their shoulders for 10 minutes. Then, the path descends towards the fortress to the town of Hvar, again with breath taking views over the city, the Pakleni otoci Islands, and the island of Vis. From the fortress, which is known for its fantastic views, the route leads to a beautiful yet demanding trail towards the final destination of the day, Hvar. Instead of the difficult one, a simpler yet slightly longer trail on an asphalted road can be taken.

While there are many well preserved ancient places both on the Adriatic islands and along its coast, Hvar, is a special place – a monument which, despite the surge of tourists, retains the appearance of lost times, so it is undoubtedly worth dedicating some time to exploring it.

Additional options

Hvar is extremely suitable for extending the tour, either for taking some rest and exploring it or for considering some of the optional circular biking variants. A stop can be made in Jelsa or Hvar.

Option 1: Jelsa–Stari grad–Sv. Nikola–Sv. Nedjelja–Humac–Jelsa (57 km, 1310 m)

From Jelsa, the path runs alternately along the coast and through vineyards to Vrboska, the smallest Hvar town located at the end of a narrow, long bay, where the sea resembles a river.

Here, everyone can find something for themselves, be it a thick, pristine pine forest, pebbled and sandy beaches, or beautifully preserved Mediterranean architecture. In the city, stands a beautifully preserved church – a fortress, which is said to be the most beautiful one in Croatia.

The route continues among the vineyards of Stari Grad, the oldest town in Croatia which started writing its history in the times of Aristotle. The town, which is surrounded by thick pine trees and situated deep in the bay on the opposite side of Vrboska, boasts a beautifully preserved urban architecture and a fertile agricultural hinterland.

From the town, leads a very steep ascent to the foot of Sv. Nikola, the highest peak in Hvar. A short, very steep ascent leads yet a little higher under the peak, and from there one has to reach the top on foot. However, this is well worth the effort as the views from all sides are breathtaking.

What follows is a demanding descent along the trail leading on a serpentine path right into the village of Sv. Nedjelja. A steep and rocky downhill ride with amazing views over the sea and the picturesque Cave of Sv. Nedjelja, which used to house a small monastery, but only a small stone church remains today. Here, one can visit Zlatan Plenković, the most famous winemaker in Hvar and perhaps even in the entire Dalmatia, and see his wine cellar under the sea.

The path continues above the coast along a beautiful panoramic asphalted road to Zavala, which is followed by a climb to the scenic ridge on the other side of Sv. Nikola, all the way to the picturesque yet almost deserted village of Humac. From there, the route descends among vineyards to the coast and ends in Jelsa.

Option 2: Hvar–Milna–Malo Grablje–Brusje–Hvar (28 km, 690 m)

Although this is a relatively short circular path, it contains some difficult sections right beside the sea between Hvar and Milna, which sometimes require a descend from the bike. From there, a steep gravel climb through Malo Grablje leads to the top of the ridge all the way to the asphalt road connecting Stari grad and Hvar. What follows is a short but picturesque loop running over the highest point of the pass, along a very beautiful trail down towards Stari Grad, all the way to the contact with the old Napoleon’s road, after which the pats ascends and returns to the same point on the asphalt road.

The tour continues shortly on this road, and then runs along panoramic gravel roads amidst olive groves and past the village of Brusje, continuing over the city of Hvar to Napoleon’s fortress. There is a possibility of descending on said demanding trail or biking around it.

 


DAY 08

Above blue bays and underground bunkers

DistanceDistance: 42 km
DistanceElevation: 1130 m

The last biking day starts yet again with a ride on the private boat, this time to Vis, the outermost island along the Croatian coastline, which would probably have competed with the famous island of Hvar, had it not been used as a military base from the end of World War II to 1989 and therefore closed to foreigners.

The island, which was colonized as early as the 4th century BC, had an important geostrategic role throughout history. The beautifully preserved town of Vis was fast developed in terms of tourism mainly due to its important nautical position and proximity to the city of Split, as did the fishing village of Komiža on the other side of the island. The recent filming of the Mamma Mia film further increased the island’s popularity.

With the exception of some other small settlements found along the coast, the hilly island remains quite intact and distinctive. It can be classified among five, if not even three best Croatian islands in terms of biking. A gravel path leads from the town of Vis to the former underground bunker for ships and submarines at the Rogačič Bay. The island is literally dotted with bunkers, gun nests and tunnels, and well-preserved entrances into the underground tunnel system are located only a few hundred meters from the bunker.

Scenic gravel paths lead across the entire island to Komiža, a fishing village located in a deep bay on the Western side of the island, which is guarded by Mount Hum, the highest peak on the island of Vis. In between, the participants can enjoy another beautiful view, i.e. the one over the village of Oključno, which was almost completely abandoned a few years ago, but is now being revitalised rapidly as it is situated just above the most beautiful bay on the Northern side of the island. The descent down the trail to Komiža runs over what is certainly one of the most charming parts of the Vis island as it offers fantastic views over the bay, the area, and the famous island of Biševo.

After enjoying some refreshments, which are not difficult to get, the route continues on the other side of the island back to Vis, alternating gravel and asphalt roads. Biking on the long levelled terrain one can turn towards Hum and stop by Titova špilja (the Cave of Tito), which the former Yugoslavian president used as shelter during his stay on Vis during the World War II.

A downhill ride to the town of Vis once again offers fantastic views over both the city and the bay.


DAY 09

A ferry ride to Split and a transfer to the starting point


Dates

  • 12 - 20 April, 2019 GUIDED, SELF-GUIDED
  • 18 - 26 October, 2019 GUIDED, SELF-GUIDED

Note: In season, any tour can be organised on any date for a group of a minimum of 2 people. Please contact us for any inquiries.

Price for guided TRANS CROATIA ISLANDS tour includes:

  • 8 nights accommodations in 3-4 star hotels/pensions
  • 8 breakfasts and 8 dinners, all meals with local/ typical touch
  • Fully qualified and experienced mountain bike guide for the duration of your trip
  • Baggage transfer between stages
  • All group safety equipment
  • Accompanied local driver following the group
  • Transfer from route ending point to route starting point
  • Ferry ride fees
  • 24/7 hotline number (support)

Rates are valid per person, based on double occupancy.

Price for self guided TRANS CROATIA ISLANDS tour includes:

• 8 nights accommodations in 3-4 star hotels/pensions
• 8 breakfasts and 8 dinners, all meals
• Baggage transfer between stages
• Navigation pack: GPS track, maps
• Accompanied local driver following the group
• Transfer from route ending point to route starting point
• Ferry ride fees
• 24/7 hotline number (support)

Rates are valid per person, based on double occupancy.

Would you like to customize this tour? Aren’t you trained enough? Would you like a different starting or arriving point, or a break day before, after or during the tour? Send us an e-mail: info@visit-goodplace.com

Optional

Supplement for single room 200 €
GPS device rental 10€/day
e-bike rental 39€/day
bike-rental 29€/day

Price for TRANS CROATIA ISLANDS – KRK TO VIS excludes

Travel and activity insurance, personal safety & cycling equipment, lunches, all beverages with included meals, any other items not mentioned as included.

Logistics

The adventure starts and ends in the village of Baška on the Krk island.

AIRPORT SHUTTLE

Three international airports are located within 90 minutes drive: Zagreb (Croatia), Trieste (Italy) and Ljubljana (Slovenia). For your convenience, a shuttle can be arranged from any of these locations. There is also a small international airport of Rijeka located on the island.

ACCOMMODATION

Our tours are mostly operated through small towns and villages. We always make efforts to select the most authentic and visitor-friendly accommodation and dining arrangements available. That way the tour groups can enjoy local hospitality and great food on the entire route.

OTHER INFORMATION

  • One guided group can include a maximum of 8 people.
  • Every evening a briefing session is organised, where the guide(s) reveal details about the next day’s tour, including the altitude, length, difficulty etc.
  • Alternative trails can usually be chosen to allow variations according to the specific requirement of each group.
  • The meeting instructions and final trip arrangements are sent to participants two weeks before the tour start date.

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