Even though Croatia is better known for its beaches and Game of Thrones filming locations (Dubrovnik), its hiking trails are something to write home about thanks to some breathtaking views that they offer.
And today we’re going to talk about the best hiking trails in Croatia, so that you can take a short break away from the beach and explore the natural beauty of this small country. Unspoiled nature, amazing views and truly Instagram-worthy locations will be shared below
For the hiking and trekking enthusiasts, Croatia offers diverse landscapes and fascinating mountain ranges with uncompromising views of some of the best preserved and untouched parts of country.
Here are 10 best hiking trails that you can explore while in Croatia.
1. Učka National Park
If you are one for challenges, Učka is the destination for you. It is the highest mountain in the Istrian peninsula (at 1,400 meters), and several different hiking trails leading to the summit will get you in touch with nature’s beauty like never before.
The highest peak, Vojak, offers panoramic views of the northern coast and islands of Croatia, Kvarner’s Bay, and of the Istrian peninsula itself.
Its proximity to Rijeka make it a good choice for those on a beach holiday, or simply for those who need proximity to a large city in the country. But once you get there, you’ll never want to leave thanks to its beauty.
2. Paklenica National Park
An overwhelming favorite among hikers, Paklenica offers some of the most breathtaking sceneries in Europe and even the world and as a result the Paklenica National Park is a part of the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
This is a must-visit destination if you’re looking for amazing hikes through nature coupled with beautiful views when you reach the top – but also along the way.
Just 46 kilometers away from Zadar, it has two gorges, Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica (big and small Paklenica) and various options for day-long hikes.
I recommend choosing the longer (around 8-10 hours for a return trip) Sveto Brdo hike, which will get you to the top of the Velebit Mountain and offer breathtaking views.
If you are short on time, there’s the lower hike up to Anića Kuk (around 5 hours), with a nice panoramic view of Zadar and the nearby bay.
3. The Premužić Trail
The Premužić trail is the signature hiking trail for hikers visiting Croatia. It winds through the heart of the Velebit mountain range and offers great views of the Adriatic Sea for all tourists to enjoy.
Some would go as far as saying that you haven’t been to Croatia if you haven’t been here… so make sure to put this on your schedule!
The trail itself is very long though and can’t be completed in one day, but if you don’t have enough time and the right equipment to experience it all (consider doing it in around 3 days in its entirety), you can still do a shorter hike along the way.
4. Risnjak National Park
Risnjak National Park is located in the most heavily forested region of Croatia – Gorski Kotar. A delight for nature lovers, serious mountain hikers will also find the highest peak in the Park – Veliki Risnjak – to be a challenge to take on.
The Park covers an area of 63,5 square kilometers, including the central part of the Risnjak and Snjeznik massif, as well as the upper flow of the river Kupa (one of the top rafting rivers in Croatia).
Climatic influences from the Adriatic Sea penetrating from the nearby Kvarner bay and the continental influences penetrating through the Kupa valley play a significant role in determining the specific climate of the area, with pleasantly warm summers and an average temperature around 20°C, rainy springs and long, cold snowy winters. So make sure to take this into account when planning your adventure!
The main entrance to the Risnjak National Park is 1 Km west of the village of Crni Lug (click to see the map on Google) and it provides a wide range of paths and trails to explore.
The main interest for hikers is the peak of Veliki Risnjak which is 1,528 meters high. From the park’s entrance it takes about 3 hours each way to walk to the top of the peak.
5. Plitvice Lakes National Park
This is the largest national park in Croatia. Home to 16 pristine lakes and over 90 waterfalls, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is the ultimate destination for walking/hiking enthusiasts and for avid shutterbugs.
This is both the easiest hike on our list and the most instantly rewarding thanks to the waterfalls. So if you’re looking for some truly memorable photos, you will get to some amazing Instagram-worthy places here without breaking much of a sweat.
The advantage here is that there are many organized tour, suitable even for the more inexperienced hikers and trekkers. You can check out all the available tours by clicking here.
6. Lopud Island
This is of the most amazing hiking trails in Croatia, and one of my favorite of all time because it’s not as touristy and it allows you to experience raw Croatia.
The magnificence and natural beauty of the Lopud Island can only be admired on foot. High points along the walking trails on this island offer scenic views of the coast and the Adriatic Sea.
In order to get here, you will have to hop on a ferry from Dubrovnik to Lopud, where you can discover nature in all its glory. You need an entire day for this, but if hiking is your thing and you love nature, you have to do it!
7. Mljet Island
The Mljet Island offers an epic walking/hiking experience, featuring a 43 km long walking trail that showcases everything the island has to offer.
Witness awesome views of bays and saltwater lakes and discover the ancient cave from Homer’s epic The Odyssey, all on the Mljet Island!
Of course, if you don’t have the time for all the 43 kilometers, you will be pleased to hear that the trail itself has been divided into various shorter ones: four, to be specific and you can complete each in one day.
8. Krka National Park
The Krka National Park is located in the southern half of Croatia. A number of hiking trails take you around the park on a wonderful journey complete with serene lakes, cascades, caves and Skradinski Buk (the place featured in the image.)
Skradinski Buk is the most popular part of the park, and we can see why. It’s not as impressive as Plitvice, but it’s also easy and spectacular, so totally worth it if you have some time on your hand and you don’t want to end up too tired at the end of the day.
9. Biokovo National Park
Hike among the highest of peaks in Croatia’s second-highest mountain range in the Biokovo National Park. Biokovo rises vertically from the Adriatic Coast to the height of 1762 meters and you can imagine how spectacular the views are from the top!
There are no words that could describe this mountain, really and even the image above doesn’t make much justice. All I would like to say about Biokovo would seem insufficient and too little in relation to its beauty in reality. This mountain is truly a paradise for climbers and hikers!
A great hike here begins near the seaside and makes its way through limestone ridges and valleys, opening up to captivating views from the trail.
If you are the adventurous type, take on the Sveti Jure Peak – the highest peak in the Biokovo mountain range.
10. The Northern Velebit National Park
Established as a national park in 1999 due to its richness of karst phenomena, outstanding biodiversity and beautiful nature on a relatively small area, the Norhtern part of the Velebit mountains is one of Croatia’s most attractive spots for hiking.
The Park is crisscrossed with numerous mountaineering trails, perfect for climbing and hiking. The most famous and widely known is Premuzic’s trail, named after its constructor, Ante Premuzic who built it in the late 1930s.
From the numerous peaks in the area you can have a magnificent view on the Adriatic Sea and its islands Pag, Rab, Krk and Zadar archipelago.
On its coastal banks, you can find many ruined houses, lodges and stonewalls which once marked the specific lifestyle of the local population who scattered all around the globe in the years to come, leaving nothing but traces of their presence on this extraordinary beautiful and unique land.
How to the Northern Velebit National Park? The most frequently used path is the one from the town of Otocac. You can reach Otocac by using the Zagreb-Split highway, or the old road Josipdol – Senj, over the Kapela mountain pass.
When you take off the highway, take the road to Svica and Krasno, where the park’s headquarter is.
Hopefully, my list of the best hiking trails in Croatia will provide helpful when it comes to choosing your next adventure. No matter if you are an experienced hiker or you just want to trek around for a bit, you have tons of options in beautiful Croatia!