The Croatia Islands have drawn cyclists from all over the world. But until now, there has never been a cycling route guide to assist cyclists in the logistics of linking the Croatia Islands into a coherent travel route.
The Croatia Islands total 1000. Of that number 66 are inhabited. Of the 66, 9 islands, two peninsulas, and sections of the mainland combine to make a pleasant long distance journey for touring cyclists.
We cycled these 9 islands and peninsulas in 2014 and 2015 recording all the useful routes with GPS and camera. The result is this guide book. There are 5 major routes to choose from.
Route A-Dubrovnik to Rijeka.
The official bike route EuroVelo 8 uses only 3 of the islands. Most of EV8 stays on the mainland at a considerable distance from the beautiful Adriatic Sea.
Route B-Rijeka to Dubrovnik. Because of the ferry routes, north to south is a bit different from south to north.
A loop route starting and ending in Rijeka that incorporates all 5 of the northern Islands and a coastal route on the Istria Peninsula.
A loop that begins and ends in Rijeka that incorporates 2 northern Islands, an inland route through the heart of the Istria Peninsula, a journey into Slovenia where cyclist can connect to our route book for Slovenia, and a final tour around the entire perimeter of the Istria.
A special Hotspots tour of the perimeter of Brac Island that visits the appealing port towns. Brac Island is challenging and rewarding and has easy access for cyclists on a tight schedule. Split, Croatia, with international airport, trains and busses is just a short ferry ride from Brac.
- 1 Dubrovnik to Split
- 2 Mljet Island
- 3 Peljesac Peninsula
- 4 Korcula Island
- 5 Hvar Island
- 6 Brac Island
- 7 Split
- 8 Zadar to Rijeka
- 9 Pag Island
- 10 Rab Island
- 11 Krk Island
- 12 Losinj & Cres Islands
- 13 Istria Peninsula
Cycle Tour Croatia Islands-The Book
Our book sorts out all the possible ferry routes for logically connecting the islands; there are options; we make suggestions based on our experiences.
There are maps and elevation profiles for every stage of every route in the book. In addition, the same maps are posted on this website. The difference is that these maps are interactive. Visit the map page as often as you wish, for planning, or while riding. We did all the work so you can have the fun.
Download any or all the route tracks into your computer, tablet, phone or GPS device from this website. You have private access when you purchase the book. Carry the book on your phone as well. It is a PDF portable file…readable on any device.
Croatia Islands Routes in Pictures
Dubrovnik to Split
Dubrovnik may well be the most visited town in Croatia. It draws tourists from around the world. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, the famous old town surrounded by massive, intact stone walls is the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. Built on the maritime commerce of the 15th and 16th centuries, Dubrovnik was a powerful city-state rivaling Venice.
We landed in Polace to visit the Mljet National Park. The Park protects two lovely lakes that are actually a continuation of the sea having moved deeply inland.
The entrance costs 90 Kuna per person and is good for a week visit. It includes a van shuttle to the lake area and a boat ride to the island with the Benedictine Monastery. It seems many people, hire a bike for the day, ride around the bicycle paths in the park, then return to the ferry and go back to Dubrovnik. We rode from Polace to the park, rode the circuit, and returned to Polace for the night.
The Peljesac Peninsula is a 70 kilometer long arm of land reaching northward from the mainland just north of Dubrovnik. Known for its fine wines, there are tasting opportunities to enjoy as you cycle the peninsula route. The Peninsula feels quiet, undisturbed and makes for excellent cycling. The roads are smooth and even though there is no shoulder, drivers were courteous and few in number, especially compared to the main highway. A variety of small historic villages and a special bicycle route are the highlights.
Korcula Town is a fortified, medieval town on the Island of Korcula. In our opinion, it is far more interesting to wander the narrow streets of Korcula Old Town than the Dubrovnik walled city. Korcula Old Town has retained its medieval character. The shops, restaurants and markets spill out onto the streets inviting frequent stops for tasty foods and wine. As the principle town on the island of Korcula, it serves as a grand base for further exploration of this pretty island. Tourist amenities abound…from bicycle and car hire to boat and kayak hire, just about anything is possible.
Stari Grad is the oldest town on Hvar, dating as far back as 384 BC. The flat land immediately around the deep, narrow bay was divided into lots; the corner stones of early owners offer an intriguing peek into history. The fertile land grew crops, olives and wines. The tourist office has a map for day riding around the historic area. Stari Grad itself surrounds the long narrow bay on both sides offering a sheltered, picturesque harbor. The town still retains its historical appearance in the buildings and narrow streets that lead away from the harbor. It is a very pleasant village on the sea with a good choice of accommodation. It makes a good base to further explore Hvar without luggage.
The interior of Hvar Island is very different from Korcula. The main road follows the spine of the island through dry, rocky terrain that feels remote and wild.
Brač Island is close to Split which makes it an easily accessible island for travelers. An international airport serves Split and there are many ferry routes to the southern group of islands from Split.
Brac attracts many cyclists, including those who sign up for commercial tours from various ports on the island. There are many cycling routes on Brac, but be aware, almost all gain and lose significant elevation. One could spend an entire vacation just on Brac. Ride the various day routes without luggage, or ride the entire perimeter and stay at the various charming port towns each day.
Split is the second largest city in Croatia; the largest on the Dalmatian coast. It is a hub of transportation with an international airport, bus and train stations and of course ferries.
Zadar to Rijeka
Except for the enchanting town of Pag and its stunning beaches, riding Pag Island is a remote experience. Rocks, rocks and more rocks smother the island making farming a most difficult enterprise. Traffic was not an issue even though a bridge connects Pag Island to the mainland. With multiple views of the sea for entertainment, this is fabulous riding!
First writings about Rab Island were in 360 BC. But it was the Roman emperor Octavian Augustus who built the town walls.
Rab is a treasure with its old walled town. there are many narrow winding streets to explore. The island is definitely worth a visit just to walk around Rab.
There is a campground about 3 kilometers around the shore on a bike path that continues another 3.5 miles through beach towns.
Of all the islands we cycled between Dubrovnik and Rijeka, Krk Island was the only one that had heavy traffic. Holiday makers flood the island, not only on weekends, but all summer long. They are not patient. They are headed for the beach on a limited time schedule. The road is narrow, just like all the others, white line to white line, but there is a lot of traffic. Still, it is an official section of EuroVelo 8 route.
Worthy of mention is that there is a cycle path for 6 kilometers near Krk, and a lot more construction of new paths was underway when we were there. So, the intent looks promising.
There are also options for meandering through smaller roads around Malinska and Njivice.
Highlights on the island for us were definitely KrK and Njivice.
Losinj & Cres Islands
Two of our favorite islands for cycling and ambiance are Losinj and Cres. A very short bridge connects these two. They almost feel like one. The islands are very green compared to the bare rocks of Pag Island. The towns of Mali Losinj, Veli Losing, Nerezine and Cres are absolute highlights. We also found our favorite campground, Poljana, just 3 kilometers from the Mali Losinj ferry port.
Losinj Island-Veli Losinj
Losinj Island-Malii Losinj
Approaching Cres Island bridge
Cres historic town
Cres historic town
The Istria Peninsula is the largest peninsula jutting into the Adriatic sea. Shaped akin to a heart, the peninsula has been settled and fought over for thousands of years by just about everyone in the region. After World War ll, the peninsula was given to Yugoslavia. Croatia came into existence with the breakup of the Yugoslav Republic.
Route D highlights the quiet mountain areas and the bustling beaches and villages scattered on its long coastline. For cyclists who wish to travel further north, the route gives access to the Alps route detailed in our Cycle Scenic Slovenia PDF book.
There are numerous publications and maps touting the excellent cycling on the Istria Peninsula. But all these pamphlets describe mountain bike routes on gravel roads and tracks. We never found a publication directed towards touring cyclists on paved roads, so we wrote our own after cycling this beautiful peninsula.
Cycle Tour Croatia Islands/Routes/Maps/Gps Downloads
Introducing a New Format for Cyclists
PDF has been around for a long time. Still, many e-books are published only in Kindle or E-Pub formats. Those latter styles simply do not handle photos, maps and charts very well. Everything moves around depending on reader preferences for text size. Pictures and words no longer display together.
PDF format keeps everything in place…just the way the book was written. Everything is in color, just like the original. If you want to magnify the text or photos, go ahead. Everything will still stay in place. And, because it is digital, it can be carried in your phone or tablet while you are on the road.
Even with all this convenience, we have added the ability for buyers of the book to download all the GPS tracks into their GPS, phone, or tablet.
If you are a cyclist, you know how important this can be.
Even though there are printed maps and profiles for every route in the book, now you can add those same maps with the exact track into your devices. Click on the link “Digital Store” and you will be able to buy and download the PDF and gain access to the GPS live tracks at no extra cost.
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