Croatia is bursting with unique landscapes and terrain, but, where do you start when choosing your next hike? Luckily, our guide has the top 9 trails so you can start your dream adventure right.
There’s nothing like hiking in Croatia; a place that sees you crossing rocky mountains and lush forests one day and passing towering waterfalls and serene lakes the next. And don’t forget those coastal hiking trails looking out over the sapphire-blue Adriatic sea. Discover our top 9 choices for hiking trails below. We’ve graded each one from beginner to relatively challenging because of the rocky terrain and steep climbs, however, all our chosen hikes are totally doable in a day (or even a morning). Whichever one you choose, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
A Mediterranean gem full of islands, stunning coastlines, national parks, rugged terrain – and bucket-list-worthy treks and trails. Hiking trails here can feel like being a kid in a candy shop: so many delicious choices exist! Do you want to hike near waterfalls or the sea? How about over peaks or through pine forests?
It’s been a challenge whittling down the many incredible hikes Croatia has to offer to just a handful. However, we’re confident that the 9 trails we’ve chosen will blow your mind – and set the bar high for your future adventures.
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Quick find navigation for the best trails in Croatia
When thinking of Croatia’s wonderful beaches, you might think that the only ‘hikes’ here are gentle strolls along the shoreline. However, this country actually features one of Europe’s most biodiverse landscapes. It’s bursting with unique terrain – from waterfall-filled national parks to mountainous paths and rocky peaks. And these landscapes can change pretty sharply throughout the same hike, even.
The mountains in Croatia never exceed an altitude of 2,000 metres, though, making their summits relatively easy to conquer. Most of Croatia’s must-do mountain trails are also never far from the coast, meaning it’s often possible to take a dip before or after your climb.
It’s also worth considering the weather in Croatia. If you’re not into hiking in high temperatures, avoid Croatia in the summer when it has a typical Mediterranean climate. It will be dry, hot and sunny, with temperatures potentially soaring above 35 degrees Celsius.
Hvar is the sunniest spot in Croatia, with over 2,700 hours of annual sun. Dubrovnik, Split, and Vela Luka are next on the list in terms of sunshine per year. However, in winter, temperatures can plummet to around 0 degrees Celsius. And although we’re big fans of the winter and the snow that comes with it here at Ridestore, hiking in it while unprepared is not the most fun activity in the world.
The best time to hike in Croatia is between late spring and early summer (around May) or in the autumn (from September to November). It's worth remembering, though, that many hikes around Croatia provide little shade or natural water. So, bringing water with you is a must regardless of the season!
Because of its magnificent scenery, hikes in Croatia can attract crowds – and lots of them. So, in high season, it’s better to hit the trail as soon as the national parks open. That way, you can often avoid bucket-loads of tourists.
Of course, hiking outside peak season means you’re more likely to have the trails to yourself. Just be aware, though, that some national parks might be closed in the off-season (November to April), so it’s worth checking ahead.
Let’s look at our top picks below.
Trail length: 8km (4-5 hours)
Best for: Your Instagram account
Region: Central Croatia
Step into Plitvice National Park – Croatia’s oldest, largest national park – and you’ll think you’ve walked onto the Lord of the Rings movie set. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this national park is a treasure trove of natural wonder, with its many waterfalls, woodlands, and 16 interconnected crystalline lakes. You can't help but walk around here with your mouth open in amazement. Plitvice Lakes is easily one of our favourite hikes in Croatia. There is almost 300 square kilometres to explore – and deer, bears, wild boar, and other fascinating wildlife to spot.
The lakes are split into the Upper and Lower Lakes, ending with the cascading Sastavci waterfalls. Throughout the National Park, there are eight different routes you can take to see it all. Choose anything from a quick two-hour walk to an all-day hike (approximately 11 miles).
We highly recommend Program C: a circular loop starting from Entrance 1. It’s fairly flat and easy to hike, although there are some steep and slippery sections. This route takes you through the entire park, where you can stop for a refreshing swim – and multiple Instagram shots. It also involves jumping into an electric boat and a panoramic train ride back to the beginning.
Ridestore recommends: Hit the trail first thing in the morning (around 7 or 8 am when the park opens) to avoid the crowds. Hiking here in low season is also a must – the trail will be emptier, and the autumnal leaves’ golden colours will take your breath away.
Trail length: 7km (2 hours)
Best for: Beach lovers
Region: Hvar Island
While in Croatia, you have to jump on a ferry and explore the coastal islands. One of our favourites is Hvar – a sandy getaway less than two hours by ferry from Split. You’ll find hidden beaches, sparkling seas – and one of our top hikes in the country.
Start the Milna Coastal Walk at the harbour in Hvar Town and follow the paved coastal walkway to Mustado Bay. It should only take you about half an hour. However, there is a beach along the way if the temptation to get in the water is too great.
From Mustado Bay, the path levels up a notch (we warned you the terrain could change quickly in Croatia). You’ll now be on a more rugged trail that weaves through woodland. However, it takes you to Robinson – a secret beach with a bar/restaurant for refreshments.
We definitely recommend refuelling in Robinson. From there, you’ll tackle a steep uphill walk through the woods to Milna, where your hike is complete. You can then walk back to Hvar from the way you came or take a boat or bus to your starting point.
Ridestore recommends: Walk in the summer and take your swim stuff with you! There are multiple bays and beaches along the way for a refreshing dip.
Trail length: 10.5km (around 3-4 hours)
Difficulty: Intermediate – Expert
Best for: Those who like heights
We’re not going to lie; the Vidova Goral Trail is a bit of a mission. However, it’s definitely a hike worth doing. This exposed, well-marked trail is open all year round on Brač Island. Because there isn’t much shade along this route, we highly recommend starting the hike as early as possible. You’ll begin on a gravelly path before joining a rocky mountain trail surrounded by wildflower meadows.
From there, you’ll climb a path about 900 metres long until you reach a ridge and the summit of Vidova Gora (778 metres). This is the highest peak of all the Adriatic Islands and where the ‘oh my god’ moment happens. The stunning views of the Golden Cape on Zlatni Rat Beach will practically knock you sideways. You’ll also have fantastic views of the Adriatic Sea, mainland Croatia, and other islands (such as Hvar).
Ridestore recommends: Pack a picnic! There’s a picnic table at the summit for a well-deserved refuel. Shop local delicacies in the village of Bol beforehand (where the hike starts).
Trail length: 2.5km (about 1 hour)
Best for: Bookworms and cliff divers
Region: Mljet Island
Another island worth visiting is Mljet. In fact, we think it’s the most stunning island in Croatia (don’t tell Hvar). We especially love the hike to Odysseus’ Cave. It’s on the quieter side of the island and takes you to the beautiful blue of the Adriatic Sea.
Odysseus’ Cave is on a magical cliffside beach. It’s here that Odysseus, the Greek hero from Homer’s The Odyssey, was thought to have been shipwrecked on his return home. Today, the bottom of the cave is connected to the sea via a natural tunnel, and access to it begins at Babino Polje.
The entrance to the cave itself looks pretty nondescript. It’s a steep dirt track that looks like no one’s been down it for years. However, persevere and scramble down the track before passing through a hotel (yes, you read that right). It’s the Hotel Penelopa, a little rugged oasis by the sea. The cliff edge is just a three-minute walk from the hotel, where you’ll find Odysseus’ Cave.
Ridestore recommends: The quickest way to get to Odysseus’ Cave? Jump! The cliffs offer jumping points at one, seven, or 21 meters high. So, hold your nose and leap into that salt water. It’s the perfect way to get to the cave and cool off after your hike. There’s a little rope at the bottom of the cliff to pull yourself back up.
Trail length: 3km (about 1 hour)
Best for: Fans of waterfalls
Region: Central Dalmatia
We wouldn’t blame you for proceeding on a ‘slap loop’ with caution. However, there’s really nothing to fear on this trail. ‘Slap’ is just the Croatian word for waterfall!
The Ogrlice and Roški Slap Loop hike is a relatively easy one in Croatia’s Krka National Park. It’s a slice of wilderness open all year round and takes you along boardwalks and past multiple jaw-dropping waterfalls. The cherry on top? There are natural plunge pools at the end (so bring your swimming stuff).
Along the way, you’ll take in the stunning scenery while being in the company of Croatia’s finest wildlife. You’ll also get to spot Europe’s second-highest density of lavender. Honestly, every minute of this hike feels like you’re inside a painting.
Ridestore recommends: Jump off the boardwalk at points and hike on the mud trail. Don’t worry if you get muddy, though, as swimming under the waterfalls at the end will clean you right up.
Trail length: 30km (6-8 hours)
Best for: Fans of steep ascents
We’re not going to sugar-coat it: the Vošac Peak is one of the toughest treks in Croatia. It’s in the beautiful Biokovo Nature Park on the Dalmatian Coast. This nature park sits on the Biokovo mountain range, where you’ll tackle Vošac (1,421 metres), one of its many peaks. Sveti Jure (1,762 metres), the highest peak, is also nearby.
Choose this hike, and you’ll climb pretty much from the get-go. Starting in Makarska, a seaside town, you’ll climb a well-marked, winding trail with lots of loose stones and uneven terrain. The ascent only gets rockier and steeper. If things get too intense, though, you can always take a breather while marvelling at the fact you've moved from the sea to the clouds.
And just remember, the views at the top make it all worth it. Once you reach the summit, you can even see as far as Italy, a whopping 252 kilometres away! We don’t blame you if you’re dreaming of pasta and pizza after a hike like this.
Ridestore recommends: Much like all our Croatia hikes, we highly recommend bringing water with you. It’s a tough hike, and you won’t find any services or natural sources on the way.
Trail length: Approximately 5km (around 2.5 hours)
Best for: Games of Thrones fans
This is a potentially controversial statement, but we think Dubrovnik looks better from above #sorrynotsorry. Check it out by swapping the walled city for craggy mountain scenery on the Mount Srđ Trail.
Anything with ‘Mount’ in front of it might make you think it’s a hardcore hike for mountaineers. However, the Mount Srđ Trail is only 412 metres high. While not especially long, hiking boots are definitely a must as this zig-zag trail up the mountain is quite rocky with a steep ascent.
However, the Dubrovnik photo op at the top makes it all worthwhile. You’ll feast your eyes on spectacular views of Dubrovnik Old Town and neighbouring islands off the coast. There’s a fortress at the summit, too, with a large white cross – a popular Insta shot, for sure. Eat at the restaurant at the top or cool off with a cold beer. If you don’t fancy the walk back, there’s a cable car to take you down.
Ridestore recommends: Hike Mount Srđ at sunset. Trust us, panoramic views of Dubrovnik look even better against candy-coloured skies. Those terracotta rooftops just shine differently under golden hues, too. Plus, as there’s little to no shade above the treeline on this hike, going at sunset is likely to make things less intense without the midday sun.
Trail length: About 7km (3 hours)
Difficulty: Beginner – Intermediate
Best for: Wandering through the woods
Walk into Medvednica Nature Park, another magical woodland that transports you into something otherworldly. This secluded spot is just a quick journey from Zagreb, the capital. However, it feels totally different from Croatia’s other coastal hikes. That’s because you’ll be among locals rather than tourists.
Over 150 well-marked routes weave through nearly 180 square kilometres of dense forest and 1205 plant species. We recommend taking a loop trail that incorporates Trail 52 and Trail 48. It’s mostly flat through wooded tracks, with a couple of gentle ascents thrown in. By Croatian standards, this is a mellow hike!
The beauty of Medvednica Nature Park is you can follow your nose a bit and make the hike what you want it to be. For example, if you want to push yourself, you can easily add elevation or make the hike longer by following a different trail than planned.
Ridestore recommends: Try this hike on weekdays when trails are blissfully empty. Weekends seem to be when hikers descend on Medvednica.
Trail length: 12km (around 5 to 6 hours)
Best for: Multi-country views
Region: Dinaric Alps
Push yourself on Plješivica Mountain (1,657 metres). This hiking trail is for experienced hikers only with a steep climb on rocky and challenging terrain in the Dinaric Alps, in northern Croatia.
While most of the hike is exposed, you can catch some shade in the dense forests or check out the old military airbase near the trail’s end. We highly recommend exploring this military complex – and the old underground tunnel if you’re feeling brave enough.
At the end of the trail, you’ll meet stunning views of lush woodland and rolling landscapes over the valley. These views aren’t just of Croatia, though. Its closeness to the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina means you’ll be soaking in their scenery, too.
Ridestore recommends: Jump onto the flat rock protruding from the hill at the top. This makes THE ultimate picnic spot and backdrop for a photoshoot.
Well, we hope you have a decisive head on your shoulders, because Croatia’s spectacular hiking options and differing landscapes are almost endless. This country has the hike to suit whatever you’re looking for in terms of terrain and difficulty rating, thanks to its varied climate and geography.
If your legs are up for it, you can hike past beautiful waterfalls at the start of your trip, discover hidden beaches in the middle, and climb peaks in the Dinaric Alps at the end. Where else is that possible?
With unspoiled nature at every turn, Croatia is certainly a hiking paradise. Don't be surprised if you fall in love with it and return year after year.