If you’ve ever planned to ride Croatia, you’ve probably heard of its stunning Adriatic Coast routes rivaling the Amalfi coast. The tales are true; the entire Croatian coast is a dream, and if you’re mostly sticking to paved roads, this route is ideal for a few days of leisurely cruising.
Dotted with small fishing villages and touristy marinas, the Adriatic coast is both beautiful and spectacular, but Croatia’s true hidden gems lie in its rugged mountain country stretching along the country’s spine from Slovenia all the way into Bosnia and Montenegro. Here’s what’s not to miss if you’re thinking to ride Croatia next summer:
The Trans Euro Trail project has really taken off in the last few years, and Croatia boasts one of the most awe-inspiring TET routes on the entire continent. TET Croatia runs from the Slovenian border along the ridges of the Velebit and the Dinaric mountain ranges, and it’s best done on an enduro bike rather than a fully loaded, large-capacity adventure motorcycle as some sections are a little technical. Expect a lot of rocky terrain, breathtaking views, and in some parts, landmine signs as some areas have not been fully cleared of the mines from the 90’s wars yet. The danger zones are clearly marked however, so simply pay attention to the signs and do not venture off track whenever you see them.
If you’ve already done the Adriatic Coast, want to stay on paved roads, and venture inland, ride the eastern part of Croatia near the Bosnian border. Here, there are few tourists even in the height of the season, and the small, narrow roads winding around valleys and mountains are perfect for easy yet spectacular riding. The Krka National Park near Sibenik is an added bonus – very touristy during the summer months yet definitely worth exploring, the Park is famous for its fairytale waterfalls and pools.
Knin: The Adventure Capital of Croatia
In for a real adventure? Time your ride for September and head for Knin, a small mountain town in the south-east of Croatia. Knin is home to the Dinaric Rally, a new yet thoroughly gnarly rally-enduro event that takes you into the really remote and rugged areas of the Dinaric Alps. Best done on a 250-450 cc dirt bike, the Dinaric Rally is not for the faint of heart as the terrain is seriously rocky and unrelenting, and the overall vibe of the event can be described in two words: gnarly and awesome.
With breath-taking vistas around every corner, dozens of like-minded rally maniacs for company, and plenty of dirt and dust glory to last an entire season, the Dinaric Rally is worth putting on your enduro challenge list if you’re going to ride Croatia in the fall (which, incidentally, is the best time to explore this country as the weather is still mild and pleasant, but most of the tourist crowds are already gone). The Dinaric Rally is a three-day rally-format event with rules and ambitions of its own, and merely surviving it is already a victory.
Croatian Currency, Fuel Availability, and Food
Although Croatia is a member of the EU, they still use the local currency, kuna, and it can be a little confusing at first as one euro equals about 7,5 kuna. Food, fuel, and accommodation aren’t very expensive – expect to pay around 25-30 euros for a hotel or an Airbnb and around 1,2 euros per liter of petrol – but the prices are closer to the Italian rather than the Balkan side. The same goes for food: Croatian cuisine is much closer to the Mediterranean- Italian rather than Bosnian or Albanian, and seafood is to die for on the coast. Black risotto is another local specialty, and don’t be surprised when you see locals adding water to their white wine glasses – it’s a thing in Croatia. Local Dalmatian wine is a point of pride for Croatians, too: make sure to try some while you’re there, and you may also get invited for some homemade wine if you stay at smaller guesthouses or Airbnbs.
If you’re planning a fly and ride, going to Zagreb and renting a motorcycle there can be the best options. If you’re looking for an enduro bike, very few companies will rent you a bike you can take off-road, but there are several off-road training and tours crews that will happily get you off the beaten path. TK Racing near Zagreb, an enduro training and tours company, is a great place to start: owned by Tihomir Kotarski, a Croatian Romaniacs and Erzberg racer, TK Racing is guaranteed to put you through your paces. For longer enduro tours, Untamed is another good place to start exploring Croatia on two wheels and off the road.