Cycling is one of the best ways to explore any place, and the same is true for Croatia. Going down roads less traveled often leads to places that offer peace, quiet and not least the sense of discovery. Be it more well-known destinations as Dalmatian islands, Istria or more low-key places inland a magnificent vista, excellent meal or a new friend is often just around the corner. Here are a few tips on how to explore Croatia by bicycle.
By Zlatko Tomšić/AiC
Law and order
Croatian road safety law regarding cycling is not very complicated. Main points include:
- mandatory use of cycle lanes if they exist,
- mandatory use of helmets for under sixteen-year-olds
- mandatory use of reflective gear and front and rear lights in conditions of reduced visibility
- it is prohibited to cycle on highways and roads for motor traffic
- group of cyclists is required to ride in single file
- in towns, it is forbidden to ride on the sidewalks among pedestrians.
Local cyclists find the last two rules hardest to follow, but they are not to be taken lightly as several cyclists have been issued fines for breaking them. If you plan multiday camping trips have in mind that setting up tents are allowed only on licensed camping grounds.
Where to ride
For touring and exploring first stop would be a local tourist board. Usually, the rides offered are between five and thirty kilometers long and serve as a promotion of local natural, historical and culinary attractions.
If you are preparing for an event and want to get a training session in, there are numerous Sunday group rides that are usually happy to accept newbies. Also, it is worth checking if there are any local leagues. These are a cross between a club training ride and a race, usually for a small starting fee organizer times the event and offers refreshments at the finish as well as transport of personal belongings for in-line events.
Road or MTB?
Croatia offers an excellent backdrop for any cyclist. Road, off-road, touring, exploring anything you can imagine. Many road cyclists benefit from sunny and warm springs and autumns on Dalmatian coast and Istria to prepare or end their season.
Mountain bikers can explore islands and hone their skills on the famous rocky descents that are typical of Croatian coast. Head inland and you will find Velebit mountain range for long one and multi-day adventures.
Even if you are in ►Zagreb city center, you are just a half an hour ride from great single-track trails.
When to come
Coastal areas are best visited in spring and autumn as the temperatures are in the twenties and one can ride all day. During the summer it is best to do most of your riding during morning or evening hours.
Also, do not forget to take a look at the weather forecast before heading out as many cyclists have been late for dinner because of a strong headwind on the way home.
Renting a bike should not be a problem in coastal touristic areas. Usually, most of these are entry level bicycles intended for going to the beach or for commuting. For all-day riding and exploring it is best to contact the renting company in advance and try and reserve bikes to ensure you can get proper size and type of bike for your style.
There are local bike shops in most towns, although if riding through smaller cities and islands you should count on them to carry only essential spare parts. If possible, it is best to pack more specific items to take with you (disc brake pads, spokes, etc.).
Many cyclists discover Croatia each year be it on road bike, mountain bike or a cross bike with panniers. Next time you visit, take an afternoon or a weekend and try to discover something new. Success is almost guaranteed!