Croatia Active Holiday - where to start? There is 1.000 km of coast line, more than 1.000 islands, 8 National Parks and only 1 holiday. Sure, the first thought is that you may need to come back again. But where to start first and what to do? Here is our distilled list of 7 adventures to do in Croatia. We focused on activities in the most unique natural wonders in Croatia and the ones that are most connected to the local culture. From Islands to coast and mountains.
- SUP on island Molat
- Kayak and DWS in Kornati National Park
- Rock Climb Paklenica National Park
- Hike through Velebit Mountain range
- Windsurf/kitesurf Nin Beach
- Cycling the islands: Brač
- Top Croatia Activity Holidays on a Map
- Croatian adventure holiday guide: National Parks
1. SUP on island Molat
In a land of 1000 islands, there is one area that has one of the densest archipelagos in the entire Mediterranean. Add to this the crystal clear waters and number one activity holiday in Croatia is a water based adventure.
To do an island crossing with a stand-up paddle and move through turquoise waters on the way - it is the kind of thing you can't do in many places in the world. On island Molat you can expect that and add to this exploring little fisherman villages on the way, checking out a roman quarry, WW2 military caving system and it just adds perspective to adventure.
Even better, take a SUP course before you venture out. Come back from an active holiday with a new skill set, and newly discovered love and hobby. All the best things in life change us for better. Adventure holiday should (and can) do the same.
Take a look at the specific SUP itinerary, read more about how the islands function like neighbourhoods or see what (has not) changed on island Molat from an interview with Nataša, a long time traveller to the area.
2. Kayak and DWS in Kornati National Park
For a country with 8 national parks, the second must do adventure should be about exploring these protected and unique territories. We are subjective here, but if we had to choose 1 National Park and a holiday activity it would be Kornati National Park. The park is a collection of 150 islands. No public ferries, no electricity and no wifi (other than what temporary local residents the make themselves from solar power). The way to see it is paddling the maze of islets and rocks, dodging an occasional megayacht. If you have any climbing (or DWS) motivation, you will absolutely love the cliffs that rise up to 80m high and disappear in the 90m deep blue water.
Culture connection: people have been habiting these islands for centuries. They lived in simple huts, moving around sustainably with power of sails or their on legs. Today they supply their own energy. Kayaking around these isles ties in to this sustainable tradition with a modern twist.
3. Rock climb in Paklenica National park
If you want to climb in one place in the world, consider Paklenica – impressive gorge with a little stream in the middle (unless you come in August when it dries out) with climbers from all around the world. For seasoned climbers, there are trad and multi-pitch routes that are up to 400m long in Anića Kuk cliff. Just mind the temperatures in August. See our travel tips for more information on when to go. To explore more of rock climbing photography check out the portfolio of our friend Luka Tambača.
Culture connection: rock has been a building block for every architectural item that still remains today in Dalmatia. People worked with the rock to build houses, sculptures and interiors. Climbing brings back appreciation for the live rock. Hard to explain, but easy to feel once you are there.
4. Hike in Velebit Mountain Range
Croatia is very much like 5 countries in one. It is very much like the country's coat of arms which, if you look above the chequered box, consists of 5 elements. While Croatia is known for its coast, that actually represents only one side of the country. A second, very big part, are its mountains. Here we pick Velebit Mountian rising vertically above the Coastline – our destination for the next Croatia Active Holiday proposal.
Velebit mountain is the embodiment of the natural forces that made such stark differences in culture. On a hike, through Velebit, you walk through Mediterranean, continental and mountainous climate with equally diverse nature, flora and fauna. Not to mention the view of the mainland on one side and islands on the other.
For the best views take at least 3 days hike staying in the huts. You can try the one just 3h walk from Paklenica National Park. You can check out our thoughts and photos from a hiking trip to second highest peak Sveto Brdo.
Culture connection: for centuries people have lived in the little hamlets dotted around the Velebit mountain range, keeping livestock and basic farming. Hike through the area follows precisely the trails they used.
5. Windsurf/Kitesurf Nin beach
Having a coastline so close to the mountain range means there is a lot of wind. The wind has been a part of the local culture since ancient times. You are very likely to hear words Bura or Jugo mentioned by locals as they chit chat leaning small expresso cups dotted on the small round bar table. So, active holiday in Croatia should in some form be about the wind. Consider windsurf or kitesurf as your theme.
Best spots for wind-based activities are Nin beach near Zadar, Bol on island Brač, Viganj on peninsula Pelješac or Premantura near Pula. What makes them best is the constant wind flow throughout the season. If I had to pick one, it would be the mighty Queen's beach in Nin operated by these guys. I did my kite course there and they are really good. To avoid the crowds try pre or post season. In other words, skip July and August.
Culture connection: latin sail used to be as common on the coastline as modern sailboats are today. It was a mean of transport to both distant places and nearby fishing spots. Tradition reinvented through windsurfs and kitesurfs. These modern tools may not be a mean of transport but they connect to the mythical power of the wind.
6. Mountain biking on Brač
If you are not into water based activities but want to have an active holiday, then cycling is a great way to do it in Croatia. All inhabited islands have a network of dirt roads that people used to transport olives. They've used donkeys at the time. Today, mountain biking a dirt road with the views of the islands, olive fields and deep blue sea – it's a memorable experience.
For short day outings, you can try a rewarding cycling route through Telašćica Nature Reserve. Alternatively, you can rent your bike and use a network of bike friendly hotels and routes. For longer trips, you can book one of the guided multi-day cycling adventures with Adriabike or Meridien Ten.
Culture connection: donkeys have trodded the intricate path network between the olive fields. Paths are eaten up by lush green vegetation. Trekking and cycling keep the paths alive.
Top Croatia Activity Holidays on a Map
9. Croatian adventure holiday guide: National Parks
For more inspiration about active holidays, take a look at this overview of adventures opportunities in Croatia's 8 National Parks. Expect a holistic overview on things to do, times to visit and some starters for crafting your trips.