Croatia has a lot to offer for the adventurous traveler. With numerous mountains, beautiful Eastern European scenery, and a rugged coastline that borders the Adriatic Sea, there’s no shortage of thrilling activities to keep you busy. If you’re not sure where to start, read on for some ideas worth checking out.
Snorkeling and Diving
Although snorkeling is a popular activity in Croatia, the waters are actually so clear that its aquatic life can often be seen from nearby balconies without any gear. But if you want to get a closer look, rest assured that underwater visibility is excellent and there are no sharks or large whales in the area, so the Adriatic Sea offers a very safe environment for swimming. If you want to see dolphins, you can usually spot a few near Rovinj and Losinj. Rather than being an organized group activity, snorkeling is more individualized and anyone with the right gear can participate.
Wreck divers will also find plenty to explore along the coasts. Some of the most visited wrecks include the Baron Gautsch, the Totonno, the HMS Coriolanus, and even a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. The wreck of the SS Lina, an Italian cargo steamship that ran aground in heavy fog in 1914, is one of the most beautiful diving spots in the country. Despite its steep slope, the site is large enough that visitors can swim among its cargo decks and cabins. In addition to the wreckage, marine life is plentiful. Divers can catch glimpses of schools of salemas and even conger eels.
Croatia is home to countless lakes, rivers, canyons, and rapids that appeal to travelers looking for an adrenaline rush. Many of them offer sites for white water rafting, with a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike located on the River Una. The waterway creates a natural border with Bosnia, and the most challenging stretch lies between the Strbacki Buk waterfalls and Lahovo, where much of the area is considered a IV and V grade river.
For first-timers and those who prefer a more laid-back experience, the River Mreznica sits less than fifty miles from Zagreb. It’s actually a series of small lakes connected by waterfalls of varying size. Most routes will take rafters over the smaller waterfalls, and the area offers much more than just a whitewater adventure. Visitors will get to see all types of birds as well as old mills and freshwater springs.
Windsurfing is one of the most popular pastimes in Croatia. Some people will wake up at four in the morning and drive for an hour just to fit in twenty minutes of the water sport before they have to go to work. Tourists can find windsurfing sites all along the coast, although a local favorite is the village of Viganj, located on the Peljesac Peninsula.
One of the most attractive windsurfing sites in Croatia can be found on the south side of Brac Island. With one of the most beautiful beaches on the Adriatic, and idyllic wave and wind conditions, it is a perfect spot for all experience levels. Beginners can choose from several local windsurfing schools to learn the basics before heading out on the water.
Caves are plentiful throughout Croatia. The country hosts several underground caverns, with varying levels of difficulty. One favorite spot is the Modric Cave, which can be found near the small village of Rovanjska about twenty miles to the northeast of Zadar. It’s a natural cave, meaning there are no man-made railings, concrete, or even lighting. The entrance is a bit cramped, but the cave itself is mostly wide open. They do have a minimum age requirement (12 years old), but no previous caving experience is necessary. Visitors can even take a swim in the Zrmanja River that runs through it!
For low-key thrill seekers who enjoy exploring canyons, Croatia offers plenty of options. One of the most recommended treks is the Vrazji Prolaz (also known as Devil’s Passage), which carves through the hills of Gorski Kotar. At more than a mile long, 300 feet high, and two miles wide, many visitors hail it as one of the most impressive sights they’ve ever seen. Besides canyoning here, tourists can also hike, swim, and water dive.
For visitors who prefer something a bit more involved and challenging, the Cetina River in Dalmatia is worth checking out. The trek is about a mile and a half long and takes anywhere from four to seven hours to complete, depending on how many cliffs are jumped and how much time is spent in the water. The guides are highly experienced and can arrange private tours if requested.
Throughout the country, adventurists can find several local ranches and equestrian clubs that offer horseback riding trails. Some even provide packages for trips that last for a few days or up to a full week. One of the best experiences can be found at Old Mulberry in Golinja, which offers home cooked meals, lodging in traditional Croatian homes, and a selection of horses for a day of riding. Another local favorite is Samy’s Ranch in Istria, which even offers paintball, quad ATV tours, and swimming with the horses in addition to riding trips.
In Istria, thrill seekers can get a bird’s eye view of the Croatian countryside by ziplining over the country’s canyons and forests. A favorite spot involves flying over Pazin Cave. Two lines are available here, with the longer one built for speeds of around 30 miles per hour.
By far the most popular ziplining site though is found in Omis above the Cetina River Canyon. This location has eight lines of varying length, with the longest offering rides that fly along at 40 miles per hour. At almost five hundred feet in the air, it’s a great way to take in Croatia from above. Additionally, visitors can spend a few hours hiking along the mountain trails to take in the beauty of the park before checking into a nearby hotel.
Whether you’re into extreme sports or just like to explore the outdoors, Croatia is the perfect getaway. With its many hidden gems and protected countryside, it’s a thrillseeker’s paradise.