The coastal towns and villages of Istria, including Pula and Fazana, a small fishing town 5 miles northwest of Pula, are undoubtedly popular. However, Istria also boasts many architectural, cultural and natural treasures further inland. Vodnjan, just a short ride from Pula, is a tiny, unassuming town, but is nonetheless the ancient capital of Istria. Vodnjan retains is authentic Istrian flavour and is famous for one of the most unusual and macabre sights in the region. The 18th century Church of St. Blaise in Vodnan houses the desiccated remains of six "mummified" saints.
Croatia boasts over 3,000 miles of Adriatic coastline and over 1,100 islands and islets, some 66 of which are inhabited. Cycling holidays and adventure holidays to the islands of southern Dalmatia, including Korcula, Hvar and Mliet, are also hugely popular.
Korcula has been described as a mini Dubrovnik without the crowds. Korcula Old Town is a medieval walled town dominated by the Cathedral Sveti Marko, or St. Mark's Cathedral, which dates from the 15th century. Hvar has similarly been described as a Dalmatian St. Tropez, with an elegant seafront and vast fields of lavender, olive trees and vineyards further inland.
Further south, the island of Mljet is one of Croatia's eight national parks. As you might expect, Mljet is largely unspoilt by tourism and covered in dense Mediterranean forest, with two saltwater lakes, Veliko and Malo, at the northern end of the island. You can take a guided "island hopping" tour of southern Dalmatia, cycling by day and returning each evening to a private boat, equipped with all modern conveniences, to carry you to your next island destination.
Cycling on some of Croatia's narrower, two-lane roads may still not be for the faint-hearted, but the opening of the coastal highway between Rijeka and Split has done much to reduce traffic volumes and make life safer for cyclists. In any case, Croatia boasts many idyllic locations and mile upon mile of rural roads. The climate is predominantly continental, with hot, dry summers and mild winters along the coast, which makes Croatia a perfect holiday destination for cyclists, hikers, trekkers and other holidaymakers.
Bartol Pavic is a former inhabitant of the Croatian capital city, Zagreb. He writes regularly on the subjects of cycling holidays and adventure holidays in Italy, Croatia and the Balkan Peninsula for a range of travel websites and blogs.
Site updated on 2. June 2019
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