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Northern Croatia's National Parks 8-day Self-guided Cycling Tour
This tour is an ideal supplement to a Bike & Boat Tour. Alone, in couples or in a group of your choice, you can go for one week on a tour traveling between selected hotels. Your luggage is transported for you, and you can cycle at your own speed, following especially prepared instructions and supported by a GPS device. The tour presented here is probably not what first comes to mind when you think of this multifaceted and interesting country. You go to the mid-range and high mountain regions of the Croatian hinterland. Only 12.5 mi/20km away from the more or less developed tourist areas of the coast, you enter a rough region of deep forests and stone deserts, where the Bora wind has had a strong impact and where the snow is meters deep in winter. En route, you cycle through three national parks, where bear, wolf and lynx can still be encountered in the wild. The variety and beauty of nature will constantly surprise you, and the fabulous vistas across the Croatian islands will stay with you for a long time. The highlights of the tour are the Plitvice Lakes and their spectacular waterfalls, which are known far beyond Croatia’s borders. The tour described here leads mainly along asphalted roads. Some forest tracks, however, make the use of a MTB worthwhile.
This bicycle tour requires good basic fitness, which one should have obtained by daily bicycling. The individual stretches of 16 – 55 mi. (25 - 88km) cover elevations of up to 3,900 ft./1,270m and lead through hilly and mountainous terrain. The bike tours are designed for a whole day, so that there is no reason for rushing. Although most of the roads are asphalted and little used, MTBs are recommended (180 Euros per week ) Helmets are obligatory. Please bring your own well-fitted helmet with you. A limited number of rental helmets are available (reservation necessary)
We believe that only children in a good physical condition and of a minimum age of 10 and previous bicycle tour experience are able to master the bike tours on their own strength. Please note that the minimum height for a rental bike is 1.20 m.
Good to very good medium class hotels in the 3* and 4* range.
Breakfast is included in the price. In the evenings, you can dine a la carte at your hotel, or we supply you with you tips and suggestions for restaurants, where you can try out the excellent local cuisine. Half-board can be booked for an additional charge of 100 EUR/person
If you would like to rent a bike or e-bike, please contact our office when booking: [email protected]
Slow Tours offers a number of other Cycling Tours in Europe
Arrival at Fužine
You travel individually either by car as far as Fužine, by train to Rijeka or by plane to the airport of Rijeka or Zagreb. On request, we gladly organize a fee-based transfer from Rijeka train station or Rijeka or Zagreb airport to your hotel. You have the rest of the day for a short introductory bike tour along the three lakes, located in the immediate vicinity of the village, or in the surroundings. If you still have time, there are several possibilities to extend the bike tour. A detour to the 300 m-deep Vrelo Cave, which is only a few kilometers away and one of Fužine’s main attraction, is also a rewarding excursion. You spend the first night in a hotel in or near Fužine.
(Risnjak National Park approx. 34mi./54km and 3,280 ft. | 1,000 m of altitude
After a healthy breakfast at your hotel, you start on your first cycle trip. The destination you aim for is Risnjak National Park. Ris is the Croatian word for lynx, so that Risnjak means something like “Place of the Lynx”. You reach the entrance to the park after about 16 mi./25 km. From here, you have the possibility to explore the park either on foot or by bike. There is a special trail for nature enthusiasts, where you can learn everything about the local fauna and flora. The park itself is home to many protected plant and animal species. Late in the afternoon, you return to your hotel for another night.
Fužine - Otočac approx. 55mi./88km and 3,840 ft. | 1,170 m of altitude
Before leaving your hotel today, please get your luggage ready for the transfer driver. Then, well strengthened by a hearty breakfast, you’re on your way, which takes you first along large fields and soon into a dense forest. Quite soon, right in the middle of the deepest woods, you come across a small, cozy restaurant named Vagabundo. The friendly owners are experts at creating delicious little snacks from what fields and woods supply. Even though it is still a bit early for lunch, you should not miss out on sampling a few tasty bits along with a cup of coffee. After more kilometres through a dense mixed forest such as it is rarely found in Europe anymore, you reach the hills sloping towards the Adriatic, which have partially been swept bare by the Bora. Here, you have breathtaking vistas across the islands of Kvarner Bay. Deep below, you recognize Krk and the moonscapes of Rab and Pag and on clear days, one sees as far as Dugi Otok. The destination of this leg of the tour is the small village of Otočac at the Gacka River, which is well known for its abundance of trout. The night is spent in a hotel in Otočac.
Otočac – Plitvice Lakes National Park approx. 30mi./48km and 1,968 ft. | 600 m of altitude
From Otočac you continue your journey towards the Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is the largest national park in Croatia and the oldest in Southeast Europe. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Through small villages you cycle through hilly landscape up to the forest belt of the Plitvice Lakes. Depending on your arrival time, the decision lies with you. You can either go on to Grabovac to your accommodation (12 km), check in there and later return by taxi to the National Park or stop in between to explore the National Park on foot before you cycle to Grabovac. Whatever you choose, let yourself be fascinated by the variety and lush greenery of the plants within the Plitvice Lakes National Park. You will be able to explore the otherwise unspoilt nature by using wooden footbridges, which have been specially constructed for this purpose. Admire the waterfalls cascading from one basin to the next. Discover the different fishes cavorting at the bottom of the clear lakes and marvel at the colourful dragonflies and butterflies that fill the air. In short, enjoy another wonderful day.
Grabovac - Slunj approx. 24 mi./39km and 1,540 ft. | 470m of elevation
After an extensive breakfast you start the day. Today's bike tour takes you along the Bosnian border through deep forests and small villages to Slunj, whose Rastoke district is known for its miniature Plitvice Lakes. Here the river Slunjčica branches into many smaller arms and flows through numerous cascades and smaller waterfalls into the Korana. Another special feature of the area are the numerous old water mills along the course of the river. You will spend the night in a hotel located in the middle of this romantic landscape.
Slunj – Karlovac (aprx. 42.5 mi./68km and 2,100 ft. | 640 m of altitude
After breakfast, you leave Slunj which, incidentally, just as the Plitvice Lakes, could be admired in the film version of Winnetou. An Indian village and the saloon were located in Slunj, and Mile Strk, a local villager, who is still a legend today, played the medicine man. Today’s tour takes you to Karlovac, which is one of the youngest cities in Croatia. Founded in 1579 at the confluence of four rivers, the fortress is considered an outstanding example of Renaissance architecture. The Baroque historical centre was heavily damaged in the war but has largely been restored in the last few years and offers some attractive corners that are worth visiting. Give yourself some time in the evening to stroll around and taste a glass of the local Karlovacko beer.
All around Karlovac approx. 15.6 - 47 mi. | 25 – 75km
Today, you can choose your activities from a rich program. Because of its location at four rivers, the region around Karlovac offers various cycling tours of different lengths and grades of difficulty that we will show you. As an alternative, you have the possibility to participate through your local hotel in rafting tours, fishing courses, horseback excursions or hikes. Everybody can find something here to spend a pleasant and interesting day.
After breakfast, check-out and individual journey home – or you may prolong your hotel stay. On request, we organize a free return transfer to your first hotel in Fužine
This cycling tour was fantastic and we LOVED it! Everything was perfect (except the weather, which rained and stormed most of the days we had to ride) but We won't hold you responsible for that. This was a trip I would absolutely recommend, and might even do again during a time of year that is a bit warmer. The hotels were all adorable, the food was fantastic, the people were amazing and the scenery was breathtaking! The one problem was that from where we were staying at the national lakes, you could not get around to the other side to get a ticket to get in to see them. It was so late in the season they stopped selling tickets on our side so you couldn't take the ferry over to the side to buy a ticket because we didn't have a ticket to get onto the ferry. Maybe include a ticket at the hotel check in? The rides we thought were harder than a 2, but maybe that was because of the weather and also because we usually took a few wrong turns, adding mileage. Thanks again for a great vacation! Thanks Vania. Noted about the park ticket and we will address the issue. Vania California, USA
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