Croatia Bike & Sail
On this fabulous trip we explore Croatia’s beautiful Dalmatian Islands by boat and bike. Our private 80-foot all-wood sailing vessel is the ideal way to move from island to island since we never have to line up under the hot sun for ferries. Instead we get off the boat and bike directly from small fishing ports far from the cars, buses and trucks of the ferry ports. We cycle along quiet roads, taking in the gorgeous scenery, while our boat motors to another small village where we rejoin it, then motor to a quiet bay, enjoy a swim and then lounge on the back deck with a cool drink in our hand while watching the setting sun. We will explore the islands of Šolta, Brac, Vis and Hvar (rated by Condé Naste magazine as one of the “Ten most beautiful islands in the world). We have been doing walking tours by “gulet” for years, and are excited to finally offer this kind of luxurious indulgence to our biking friends.
About the boat: we will be traveling aboard a traditional Turkish-style gulet, which is a two-masted all-wood sailing ketch, broad-beamed for extra stability. We don’t actually sail but use the ship’s motor to transfer us from quiet bay to quiet harbor. In this way, there is almost no rocking at all, which means no seasickness! The gulet is fully-crewed by a Croatian team of four (3 on the smaller gulets), including a cook who caters to our every whim. We stock the boat with our favorite drinks and the crew takes care of the rest. The cabins are comfortable, with high-ceilings, and ensuite WC and screened in stand-up showers. It’s the perfect way to cover a lot of ground while only having to unpack once!
Croatia Bike & Sail itinerary
Meet your guides at 3 p.m. and make your way to the harbor in either Split or Trogir, where we’ll do a short bike fitting and board our gulet. We then have a 1.5-hour “motor” over to the island of Šolta. If time permits we can take our bikes out for a short spin before dinner. You may want to arrive a day early and explore the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage city of Split. The historical center was built right inside of the ruins of the palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian (the only emperor ever to retire and live out his final days in peace!). Split is a 45-minute drive from Trogir (the airport is actually located between the two cities), so we often board in Split and disembark in Trogir. Overnight Šolta.
We have a short motor this morning from Šolta island over to Brac, the largest island in the Adriatic. We begin in Milna, which was home to Diocletian’s navy 2,000 years ago. We continue the ride along the northwestern coast, stopping for coffee in the quaint port town of Sutivan. More riding will take us past the main port of Supetar and then up into the hills at Nerežišca, where we can stop for a cold drink before heading down to the north coast. We’ll stop for lunch and maybe a quick swim before heading off along a lovely quiet road that follows the craggy coastline. We’ll meet our boat again in the marina town of Pucišca, famous for its limestone works. The island has been famous for its limestone since the times of the ancient Greeks, and the Romans used it to build Diocletian’s palace in Split. Overnight Brac.
We cut through the center of Brac this morning and then attack the highest point in the Adriatic: Vidova Gora (780 m). From there we have dramatic views all around, from far-flung Vis Island to the rugged skyline of the mainland. And after all your climbing, you now get to enjoy one of the greatest downhill rides around: down to the coastal town of Bol, famous for its ever-changing sand-spit beach, the “Golden Horn.” [Note: anyone who doesn’t want to go all the way up to Vidova Gora, you can cut down to Bol earlier] We pick up the boat here in Bol and then motor across to the nearby island of Hvar. Overnight Hvar.
We have a gorgeous full day of riding today through the “wine villages” and lavender fields of western Hvar. Our ride begins along the northern coast in the town of Vrboska, and then cuts in to do a circuit through the vineyards of Vrbanj, Svirce, Vrisnik and Pitve. We’ll have lunch in a local konoba(trattoria) offering regional specialties and maybe a sip of wine or two to help wash it down! The afternoon ride goes through the charming port-town of Starigrad and then up a final climb through the lavender fields. We crest at the tiny town of Brusje and then enjoy a fabulous downhill to Hvar town. Relax with a swim this afternoon or explore this elegant port town before we set “sail” for Vis island. Overnight Vis.
Today we explore the remote island of Vis, which was of strategic importance in the Adriatic throughout history, from the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Venetians, Austrians, French and finally the British, who won a decisive battle here in 1811 against the French. During WWII, the island was controlled by Tito’s partisans and remained in military hands until it was finally opened to tourists in the summer of 1998! This left the island relatively unspoiled and the locals still carry on their traditional fishing and farming. Vis is also famous for its many delicious wines. We begin in Vis Town, which boasts elegant Ventian palazzi and a monastery seemingly adrift on its own tiny islet. From here we ride clock-wise around the island, past the seaside town of Rukavac and through the vineyards to lovely Komiža for lunch and a swim. Afterwards, we have a steep climb out of Komiža and then a floating downhill back to Vis town, where we start motoring back to Hvar. Overnight Pakleni Islands.
We disembark in Hvar town again and head out along the southern coast to explore the vast vine-covered slopes above the towns of Milna and Zarace. We turn inland and then have a spectacular ride along the “spine” of the island, stopping for lunch at a well-known konoba that prepares local meals using only traditional methods (no electricity!). We’ll continue about two-thirds down the length of the island and then cut back to the north coast to meet our boat at the small port town of Pokrivenik. Overnight Hvar.
From the north coast of Hvar we motor back to the southeastern corner of Brac at the cute port town of Sumartin. We’ll ride across the central crest of the island this morning and then hit the coast again where we began. We ride along the coast, stop to visit of a lovely little archaeological museum, and then have lunch at “Tony’s,” our favorite konoba. We continue past Postira and Splitska for a final pick-up in Sutivan. After a quick swim we motor back to Šolta so we’re close the mainland for tomorrow morning’s transfer back to Trogir. Overnight Šolta.
We motor back to Trogir this morning and sadly disembark our floating home. We are back on land at 9 a.m., so feel free to arrange onward flights for any time after 11:30.
While you are on the Dalmatian coast, don’t miss the UNESCO World Heritage city of Dubrovnik. We can organize transport for you (it’s a four-hour drive from Split) and set you up with lodging in the historic old town. We can arrange a visit of the old town, known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” The town is encircled by more than a mile of stone walls originally built between the 13th-16th centuries to protect the city from invaders coming from the sea. Stay another day or two to visit some of the outlying islands, like nearby Lokrum or the beautiful city of Korcula, birthplace of Marco Polo! We can offer a fully-guided two or three-day option, or just set you up in a hotel.
Qualifications: Activity Level: Rewarding. This trip is rated 4 out of 5. It is perfect for anyone who is physically fit and likes to cycle. Note, this is our only bike tour that does not have a support van (we could not fit it on the gulet!). In the case of emergency when you have had a nice long lunch accompanied by a cool glass of wine or two, then we can always call a taxi and put you and your bike in the taxi and have you taken to the rendez-vous spot with the boat, but that will be at your expense. The daily distances are around 50 kms (30 miles) a day, or about four hours of riding more or less equally divided between morning and afternoon.
What is included: Seven nights accommodation on a privately chartered fully crewed luxury gulet , all cabins have en-suite WC and stand up showers, 7 breakfasts, 7 dinners; Customwalks cycle guide; bike rental (hybrid or road bike are both available), maps and written route directions; transfer from Split to port where we board the gulet; and morning transfer on day 8 to Split airport. All departures are accompanied by two guides.
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Getting There: we board our yacht around 4 p.m. either in Split or in nearby Trogir (25 km north of Split), so we meet up in Split mid-afternoon and then make our way together to the boat. You may choose to do an extension to Dubrovnik (which is accessible via 4-hour bus ride from Split), or you can also fly into one city and out of the other.
Air: Most international flights arrive in Zagreb, but it is much simpler to fly directly into Split (or Dubrovnik if you're doing an extension). The national carrier Croatia Airlines has direct flights from several European hubs, but you should also check out low-cost carriers like EasyJet, Transavia (which now has flights to Split from Paris-Orly), or Thomson Airlines (with flights from London-Gatwick). See the Split Airport and Dubrovnik Airport websites for the most current schedules.
Rail: Croatia’s mountainous coastline makes it unsuitable for rail access to Split and Dubrovnik. There are trains, but many of them link through Zagreb, inland, so unless you are planning on arriving overland from Budapest this is not the option for you. Trains from Italy fare no better: you can get to the border at Trieste, just past Venice, but then the trains move into the interior and the only option for traveling south is by bus. Ten hour bus. There are also ferries which hop down the coast, which would be nice option for those with time on their hands and a smattering of Croatian.
Sea: arriving by ferry from Italy is yet another option for those who wish to dip into Italy before beginning their Croatian odyssey. There are overnight ferries from Venice, Ancona, and Bari to both Split and Dubrovnik, and there are even hydrofoils from Ancona, ferrying you across the Adriatic in just a few hours. See the SNAV ferry website for more information, or Adriatica Navigazione or the Croatian Jadrolinija lines.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: our trip ends in Split or nearby Trogir at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. We can arrange for transport to the airport (only 10 mins from Trogir) or back to Split.
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip, or feel free to e-mail us with any specific travel questions.
The incredible blues of the waters are what I will remember most about this trip. The boat would drop us off each morning, with our bikes, and we'd cycle throughout the island. In the afternoon, we'd meet up with the boat again, and after a swim, would relax into the evening sunsets from the deck. The food was made fresh each day by the captain's wife, and was always a pleasant surprise.