With its sparkling coastlines, ancient sites, and more islands than you could ever count, Croatia has made it pretty clear that it is one of Europe’s prime backpacker destinations.
Not only that, but it’s packed with incredible trails and treks, too. With a vast array of national parks and rugged islands, you’ll never be too far away from a good hike.
And nature is surprisingly well-kept here: trails are nicely signposted, mountainous regions are dotted with huts, and national parks can be traversed with ease.
But none of this means the hikes will be easy. You’ll still need to be relatively fit, prepare in advance, and have the right information to get hiking the right way.
Worry not, because that’s exactly where we come in. Our guide covers everything you need to know when hiking in Croatia: the best hikes, where to stay, what to pack, and some extra goodies.
Let’s get it!
If you thought that hiking in Croatia was going to be just an easy coastal stroll to the beach, it’s time to get the idea out of your head.
Croatia has some amazing national parks to explore where you can go on beautiful hikes. Plitvice National Park is a good one to start, where the stunning scenery of lakes and waterfalls will transport you straight into a Lord of the Rings set.
The landscape can change pretty drastically, though. Some hiking areas in Croatia are densely forested, resembling Northern Europe more than the Mediterranean, but there are crazy mountain ranges you can tackle too.
Because of the crowds it attracts, some of the hikes in Croatia can get busy at times. As a general rule, we recommend hitting the trail as soon as the parks open, so you can avoid facing the hordes of tourists in peak season.
This issue is less apparent outside of peak season, with a place like Plitvice seeing far fewer visitors. Note, however, that some parks may be closed.
The last thing to be aware of is that the weather plays a big part in Croatia’s hiking game — the summer means scorching temperatures and sunshine, and winter can drop temperatures to around 0 °C.
It’s best that you do not attempt any mountain hike during the winter, and if you choose hiking during autumn you’ll benefit from that fall foliage bonus.
And now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time for a quick rundown on how to stay safe while hiking in Croatia.
Croatia Trail Safety
Aside from basking in the sunny beaches and exploring the old towns, Backpacking in Croatia equals a lot of nature too. Hiking is the perfect way to uncover the hidden beauties of this Mediterranean country.
It’s crucial that you know how to keep yourself safe when out on the trail, so we’re going to be covering a few simple tips you should remember.
You may be on a chilled vacation mindset, but that doesn’t mean you should head off on a hike unprepared. Plan your hike in advance, make sure you leave plenty of time to make your way back in daylight, and always let somebody know where you are going.
Trails are often uneven and have sheer drops, which means hiking in beach sandals or unsuitable clothing is not a good idea. Covering up is also advised – in some wooded areas, ticks can become an issue.
Also, respect the sun. That shit’s strong. Croatia gets really hot in the summer, and many hiking paths are not shaded.
When it rains, rocky paths get muddy and slippery. In the winter, mountain grounds may get a covering of snow. Always check the weather!
Bring enough water for the hike, as well as sunscreen. Add a hat and sunglasses, and you’re good to go.
No matter where you choose to hike in Croatia, one thing is for sure: you need travel insurance. It’s important to count on that extra security blanket to help you out — you never know when you might need it.
A message from Will, the OG Broke Backpacker
“Once upon a time, I almost lost my leg in a sweltering jungle…
I battled a seriously nasty infection that snaked up past my knee and by the time I made it to a local hospital they wanted to amputate. I was delirious, unable to walk, and in a lot of pain but I managed to call my insurance provider – they moved me to a much better private hospital where the doctors were able to save my leg.
I wracked up $15,000 in hospital bills, but these were completely covered by my travel insurance. Luckily, I still have my leg today, and whilst it is permanently damaged, I’m grateful every day it’s still attached!
Moral of the story: consider getting travel insurance before you head out into the wilds, people!“
Now that you’ve had a peek at what hiking in Croatia looks like, it’s time to move on to the main event — the actual trails!
We made sure to create a list that caters to every type of hiker. From multi-day treks to simpler walks that anybody can enjoy, you’re sure to find the perfect hike for you in here.
- Plitvice Lakes National Park Loop – Best Day Hike in Croatia
- Milna Coastal Walk from Hvar – Best Coastal Hike in Croatia
- Velebit Hiking Trail – The Best Multi-Day Hike in Croatia
- Vidova Gora Trail – A Must-Visit Hike in Croatia
- Ogrlice and Roški Slap Loop – A Fun, Easy Hike in Croatia
- Vosac Peak Hike – The Toughest Hike in Croatia
- Mount Srd Trail – Best Hike near Dubrovnik
- Medvednica Nature Park Loop – Off the Beaten Path Trek in Croatia
Plitvice Lakes was the first designated national park in the country, back in 1949. It’s now a UNESCO-recognised treasure trove of natural beauty.
Situated halfway between Zadar and the capital city of Zagreb, this park is full of stunning waterfalls and woodlands, and is most noted for its 16 interconnected lakes. Wildlife thrives here — deer, bears, you name it.
We’re talking almost 300 square kilometers of forest reserve to explore! And hiking is easily the best way to see its unique magic.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park Loop is a good trail to start with. It’s a flat and relatively easy hike, with a few steep and slippery parts on the way.
Depending on how much time you’ve got, and how hard you wanna go, you can also opt for one of the seven longer or more off-the-beaten-track routes. Route K, for example, is a full-day hike through the entirety of the park.
Because of its popularity, the best way to see the park without the crowds is to hit the trail first thing in the morning — let’s say 7-8 a.m. There are a few hotels close to Entrance 2, and a campground seven kilometers away that you can use as a base.
This trail is a must if you’re planning a hike in Croatia, especially outside of peak season. In the fall, the colour of the leaves here is breathtaking, and you might find yourself the only person on these trails if you come during May time.
- Length: 12 km
- Duration: 2-3 hours
- Difficulty: Easy/Average
- Trailhead: Plitvice Lakes National Park (44°52’56.3″N 15°37’23.5″E)
Hvar Island is a famous coastal getaway not too far from Split — a quick ferry ride will put you there in under two hours. The Adriatic beauty speaks for itself here with its rugged coasts, hidden beaches, and gleaming seas.
If you came for the hikes, you’ll be pleased to know this Croatian trail fits in just about everything you could find on the island. And adding to that, it’s a pretty chilled coastal hike.
The Milna Coastal Walk starts at the harbour in Hvar Town, following a paved coastal walkway along to Mustado Bay. It should take you around half an hour and there’s an eatery where you can stop for refreshments. A beach as well, if you’re in for a quick dip.
From here, the path becomes much more rugged, weaving partly into the woodland with the sea on your right. After around 20 minutes or so, you’ll find a bay and a great swimming opportunity before you reach Robinson — a hidden gem of a beach with a charming bar/restaurant.
After this, it’s a steep walk through the woods uphill. Tracks will lead you to bays and beaches if you feel like stopping at any point, and eventually you’ll end up in Milna.
To get back to Hvar, walk back the same way you came if you have time. Otherwise, hop on a bus or boat that takes you home.
While you could make this a day trip from Split, there are plenty of great places to stay in Hvar, from self-catering apartments to party hostels. Extend if you like what you see!
- Length: 7 km
- Duration: 2 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Hvar Harbour (43°10’13.1″N 16°26’28.1″E)
If you’re looking for a good multi-day hike in Croatia, look no further than this. The Velebit Hiking Trail is bound to take you on an epic expedition into the fantasy landscape of Croatia’s largest (not tallest) mountain.
Hiking through small towns, rolling green hills, and craggy peaks, you will get to spend the night in mountain huts (no camping required) and the views there are absolutely stunning.
The entire trail is about 100 kilometers in length, which can easily be split up into nine days for a more achievable and rewarding hike.
Carrying proper food supplies, clothing and equipment is especially important when you’re on a longer hike. And unlike other day hikes in Croatia, this multi-day trek is a serious task that needs careful preparation.
The hike begins in Zavzidan with a gentle 600-meter ascent onto the slopes of Velebit. From there on, you’ll be walking in proper mountain ground and sleeping in mountain shelters.
Some of these huts can actually provide food and drinks, but not all of them are open year-round and they have limited space. Be sure to contact them in advance to find out!
57 of the 100 kilometers in this route are made up of the entire Premuzic Trail. Built in the 1930s to connect North and South Velebit, it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the whole trek.
The best time to head out into the hills is during the summer when the weather is most stable.
- Length: 100km
- Duration: 9 Days
- Difficulty: Average/Difficult
- Trailhead: Zavižan (44°48’37.4″N 14°58’30.0″E)
Don’t let the start of this hike fool you. It may begin close to a holiday resort on Brac Island, but trust us; it is not easy. As usual, preparation is key.
If you’re tackling it in the summer, plenty of water and sun protection will be your best friends on the trail. You’ll be exposed the whole time, so start as early as you can to avoid the harsher sun.
The Vidova Gora Trail is well-marked and starts out along a gravelly road. But it won’t be long before you’re on a rocky mountain path, with wildflowers and local sheep for company.
You’ll climb around 900 meters in total, along a switchback trail that winds through scrublands dotted with olive trees. You’ll make your way until you reach a ridge where you’ll enjoy the Zlatni Rat Beach views and the sparkling bay below. Very Croatian of you!
The summit of Vidova Gora is spectacular. It’s the highest peak of all the Adriatic Islands and gives you a bit of every vista: the sea, the islands, and the mainland. There’s even a picnic table at the top for that well-deserved lunch you picked up in town earlier.
The hike starts in the village of Bol, so it’s smart to base yourself there. It has dozens and dozens of apartments to choose from and a whole lot of hotels, too.
- Length: 10.5km
- Duration: 3-4 hours
- Difficulty: Average/Difficult
- Trailhead: Intersection of Ul. Gornje Podbarje and Bra?ka Cesta (43°15’54.7″N 16°38’58.2″E)
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If you’re wondering about the name of this hike, don’t worry; slap is the Croatian word for “waterfall” and you won’t actually get slapped while on this trail.
The Ogrlice and Roški Slap Loop is a relatively easy hike in Croatia that can be found in Krka National Park. This slice of wilderness is located in the lower reaches of the Krka River, close to the city of Sibenik.
It happens mostly along boardwalks, though there are some parts where you can move into muddy trails if you’re into that. It’s mostly shaded and the views are incredible all around.
Strolling around this loop feels more like being in a painting than anything else, really. The waterfalls are the main attraction (well, duh), and there’s an abundance of wildlife to enjoy, including Europe’s second-highest density of lavender.
At the end of the loop, you’ll find a reward for your hiking efforts: natural plunge pools where you can take a swim. Best done when it’s hot, obviously, so don’t forget your swimming stuff if you’re coming in the summer.
All in all, it’s a great bet if you’re travelling with young children, or simply feel like going for a chilled stroll in nature.
To get the most out of this trail, stay in Skradin, home to the national park information office. Sibenik is also an option — there’s more accommodation, but it’s further away.
- Length: 3km
- Duration: 1 hour
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Zagra?e (43°49’01.0″N 15°55’23.9″E)
The beautiful Biokovo Nature Park is a very popular spot for hiking in Croatia. Situated on the Dalmatian Coast, there are numerous paths here, winding up into hills and mountains filled with olive groves and pine trees.
This park is named after the mountain range it sits on — the highest in Dalmatia and second-highest in Croatia. Its highest peak is Sveti Jure (1,762m), and all its craggy peaks make it seem like they’re hugging the sea.
This trek will have you tackling one of the many peaks of this mountain range, Vosac. It’s tough, but it’s also incredibly beautiful. And even if you consider yourself relatively fit, it might still present a challenge.
Starting off in Makarska, the climb starts straight away. The trail, made up of loose stones, is winding and well-marked (signs boast a red circle with a white dot inside).
Eventually, you’ll start to get glimpses of the city below and the sea beyond. With mountains covering the other side, the ascent becomes steeper and rockier. It can get intense, especially when it’s hot, so be sure to pack enough water.
Reaching the top, you can even see as far as Italy!
Remember to come prepared and to not push yourself unnecessarily. You’ll find a handful of accommodation options if you choose to stay in nearby Makarska.
- Length: 30 km
- Duration: 5-6 hours
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Trailhead: Wang Bua Ban Pha Ngoep (18°48’43.8″N 98°56’29.9″E)
Situated within striking distance of Dubrovnik, the Mount Srd Trail takes you away from the walled city and up into the craggy mountain scenery.
There’s a fortress up here and a large white cross, adding to its scenic feel. And even though it’s only around 400 meters tall, it offers some incredible views of Dubrovnik Old Town and the scattering of islands just off the coast.
People do attempt this in flip-flops, fresh off the beach, but we strongly advise you to not make that decision yourself. There’s a steep ascent involved and the trail itself is quite rocky, so proper shoes are a must.
The hike itself isn’t the most fun, or beautiful. It’s just a series of zig-zags up the mountain with little to no shade. But it’s not too long, and you’ll be rewarded with that Dubrovnik money shot in the end.
Another bonus is the fact that there’s a restaurant up here. Not bad for a refreshing post-hike beer, and you can always take the cable car down if you’re feeling lazy afterwards.
If you’re staying in Dubrovnik and you’re looking for some hikes, this one is a great place to start.
- Length: About 5 km
- Duration: 2.5 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Staza Prema Utvrdi Imperial (42°38’49.8″N 18°06’18.9″E)
North of Zagreb, you’ll find the mystical wooded Medvednica Nature Park. Just a quick step away from the capital, this park hits differently than Croatia’s usual coastal offerings. And feels way more secluded as a result.
This is where you find the locals, not the tourists.
There are plenty of hiking opportunities around here, with more than 150 well-marked routes that will take you through thickets of trees. Because it’s a forest, it’s particularly beautiful to hike in autumn, when the leaves are aflame in yellows and oranges.
For a smooth start, we’re recommending a lollipop loop that takes in Trail 52 and Trail 48. With a few nice ascents here and there, you will be walking mostly on flat wooded tracks. By most standards, it’s on the easier side of the hikes in Croatia.
You do have more options in the park. With the number of different trails, it’s possible to add a few extra steps and head off in different directions with relative easiness. If you want to make it more difficult for yourself by adding in higher elevations or longer walks, you got it.
But remember to take water and warm clothes, and try to return before the sun goes down — these woods are bigger than you think.
This might be the perfect hike choice if you’re staying in Zagreb. You can even get maps of the park from the Croatian Mountaineering Association, or advice from Zagreb Tourist Information, both of which you’ll find there.
- Length: About 7km
- Duration: 3 hours
- Difficulty: Average
- Trailhead: Prilaz Kralji?inom Zdencu (45°52’31.2″N 15°56’24.1″E)
You’ve got quite a few options on your plate when it comes to staying in Croatia. Many people like to stay along the coast, where a lot of its major towns are situated. It’s pretty and it’s laid-back, so there’s no reason to complain.
Split is where all the action is. It’s a bit more central than Dubrovnik, and a great jumping point to the islands of Brac and Hvar. The city itself is also well-connected via roads, public transport, and rail.
Zadar is Croatia’s oldest continuously inhabited city. The epic Velebit Range and the Paklenica National Park are right at its doorstep, so staying here means easy access to hiking spots and a hub to travel further afield.
Then you’ve got Zagreb, the capital city. Transport connections are top-notch, there’s plenty of nature nearby and a wide variety of epic hostels you can choose from. It isn’t the most popular option, as it’s far from the Dalmatian Coast, but it feels like what it is: a real, authentic city.
If you’re going full chill mode, picking one of the islands will probably be a smarter move than the busier capital city of Zagreb.
They’re quite accessible from the mainland and are a great option for going on hikes too. Served as a bite-sized destination, it’s topped with a laid-back vibe and awesome coastal treks. You can hop from one to another as well!
Along your trail, you may spot a few potential badass places to pitch your tent, but note that it is forbidden to camp outside of regulated sites.
Best Hostel in Croatia – Hostel Angelina Southern – Dubrovnik
Hostel Angelina has the perfect blend of location, atmosphere, and character. For travellers looking for more than the average dorm room sleeping experience, Hostel Angelina is one of the most amazing hostels in Croatia!
Best Hotel in Croatia – Split Inn Apartments – Split
Admittedly, I tend to stay at hotels the least while traveling. The hotel-apartment hybrid vibe of Split Inn Apartments means that this place can hold its own against all the sexy Airbnb flats in the city, and you’re only a stone’s throw away from the Old Town.
Best Airbnb in Croatia – Penthouse Garden Terrace – Zadar
Zadar has been unjustly left off of my list, until now. I spent four days in Zadar over New Year’s and loved it. If you are feeling like getting into splurge mode, this place will make you feel pretty darn fancy while still not shattering your budget. A rooftop jacuzzi is in your future…
Putting a packing list together for a Mediterranean vacay is usually all about shorts, t-shirts, and bathing suits. But if you want to sink your teeth into some awesome hiking trails in Croatia, you’re going to need more.
First off, the footwear. While the beach might ask for flip-flops, you’ll need some solid hiking shoes for the trail. Lightweight hiking trainers with a good grip will be fine for most hikes; more strenuous treks will require sturdier boots.
The clothes you bring on a hike will vary with the seasons. In the summer, you want breathable clothes that protect you from the sun — a swimsuit will also come in handy to jump into that remote waterfall. In cooler months, it’s all about the layers. Pack a waterproof jacket too.
If you’re planning a multi-day hike in Croatia, more in-depth preparations and packing will be needed. Most of the time, you’ll be carrying food supplies and a sleeping bag on your back.
To make sure you come fully prepared, here’s a tick-list of things to pack for any hike in Croatia.
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
- Price > $$$
- Weight > 17 oz.
- Grip > Cork
Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
- Price > $$
- Weight > 1.9 oz
- Lumens > 160
Merrell Moab 2 WP Low
- Price > $$
- Weight > 2 lbs 1 oz
- Waterproof > Yes
Osprey Daylite Plus
- Price > $$$
- Weight > 20 oz
- Capacity > 20L
- Price > $$$
- Weight > 16 oz
- Size > 24 oz
Osprey Aether AG70
- Price > $$$
- Weight > 5 lbs 3 oz
- Capacity > 70L
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2P
- Price > $$$$
- Weight > 3.7 lbs
- Capacity > 2 person
Garmin GPSMAP 64sx Handheld GPS
- Price > $$
- Weight > 8.1 oz
- Battery Life > 16 hours
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