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Cycle Croatia & the Balkans


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Day 1: Split

Dobro Dosli! Welcome to Croatia. Today is arrival day and there are no activities planned for today apart from a welcome meeting at 6pm. After this meeting you have the option of heading out for a meal with your group. Perhaps grab a drink at a cafe on the gorgeous Riva Promenade. As this tour will spend a limited time in Split, arriving early is recommended to fully enjoy all that Split has to offer. Explore the impressive ruins of Diocletian's Palace, see the original and fantastically preserved basements under the city, or simply unwind with a walk along the waterfront promenade. Please note on this trip you need to arrive with your own bicycle helmet as bicycle shops are closed on Sundays and we depart Split the following day before the shops are open. Cycling distance: none

Day 2: Brac Island

It’s an early start today as we catch the ferry (approx. 1 hr) from Split to Supetar on the largest island in Dalmatia, Brac. There is a bike fitting for the group followed by a short test ride to ensure everything is working properly. From here we start our first 'real' ride in Croatia, cycling from Supetar along the winding coastal road to the beautiful seaside village of Pučišća. Along the way we take a short detour inland to the tiny village of Dol, passing well maintained vineyards, fig tree plantations and olive groves along the way. Considered an “ethno-eco village” this is Dalmatia ‘as it used to be’. After a quick stop for refreshments in Pučišća we encounter our first real climb of the trip up to Praznica – it is a pretty steep climb (7kms at an average of 7.5%) but as long as you focus on slow, steady riding you’ll be rewarded with endless views over the blue Adriatic Sea while passing by olive groves, cypress forests, and timeless drystone walls. And remember if you don’t feel up to it we always have our support vehicle available to people that need it. We’ll have a rest at the top then cycle across the relatively flat centre of the island before enjoying a well-earned descent down to the popular town of Bol. Bol is famous for the Zlatni rat (Golden Cape), one of the most beautiful beaches on the Adriatic Sea and an excellent place to relax after a hard day’s cycling. Take part in a short orientation walk, ending with ample time to enjoy an optional visit to the famous Stina Winery for a wine tasting. The wine of choice here is Plavac Mali, the King of Dalmatian red wines. Also sample the Crljenak, a native Croatian grape variety. End the day with a walk along the coastal boulevard and perhaps try some seafood for dinner. Cycling distance: approx. 35kms/22 miles, undulating with a significant climb towards the end of the ride, approx. 650m/2130ft of total elevation gain

Day 3: Hvar Island

It's another early morning as we take the ferry to Stari Grad (via Split, total transport time approx. 4.5 hours). We take lunch in Split and have a little time to look around before boarding the second ferry. Set in a beautiful protected bay, Stari Grad is one of the oldest towns in Europe, settled by Neolithic tribes as far back as 3500BC. Today the old stone houses, narrow streets and small squares still retain a cultured and historic feel. There's plenty to see and do, including the medieval Dominican Monastery and Tvrdalj Fortress. Leaving Stari Grad behind we ride up to the scenic hilly heart of Hvar Island, via the less-trafficked old road, passing viewpoints (including one of the entire bay with Brač Island in the distance) and old taverns along the way before stopping for lunch. Afterwards we descend through the old village of Brusje and down into the vibrant Hvar Town, with its historic charm and ancient city walls (approximately 21 kms). The streets of Hvar are a traffic-free zone, giving you ample freedom to slowly stroll the Pjaca (piazza) and soak in the views of St Stephen's Cathedral, the Arsenal, and the myriad Palaces that flank the square. Cycling distance: approx. 27kms/17 miles, flat start then mostly climbing for 10kms/6 miles then descending the last 10kms, with approx. 560m/1830ft of elevation gain.

Day 4: Korcula Island

Enjoy a free morning with a quiet sleep in, or spend some more time savouring the ambience of Hvar Town. For options for the free day maybe check out the Hvar Spanjola fortress for views, go on a boat tour, or ask your tour leader for suggestions for a hike to Velo Grablje village, Catch a catamaran across to the island of Korcula, arriving late in the evening into Korcula Town, a Venetian Renaissance-inspired walled city full of narrow streets, medieval towers and the reputed birthplace of Marco Polo. Perhaps head out for a late dinner and a bar with a view of the Adriatic. Cycling distance: none

Day 5: Korcula Island

Prepare for a big day on the road through the very heart of Korcula, past countless vineyards, olive groves and forests – the ride is a long one but well worth the effort! Starting early in the day we ride drive up to the tiny hamlet of Pupnat (avoiding a nasty 10km/6 mile climb on the bikes!) for an early homemade breakfast with our local hosts. The position of Pupnat and steepness of the approach is no accident. It was designed to help keep Pupnat safe from pirates through the ages. Pupnat is Korcula ‘as it used to be’ – a picture perfect farming village with attractive stone buildings and a laid back atmosphere. Next enjoy a descent down to Pupnatska Luka, a beautiful bay with a clean pebble beach, then follow the magnificent coastline through Smokvica and its significant vineyards before tackling the final climb to Blato then once again descending down to the former fishing village turned large port town of Vela Luka. We have some time to walk around, have a quick coffee break then board our support vehicle and drive back across the island towards Korčula Town. In the late afternoon we drive back to Pupnat to visit a local farm and eat a delicious dinner on the outside patio. Sample some of the family wines and be treated to a meal made entirely from ingredients found on the farm. Afterwards, return to Korcula Town. The evening is free to explore the narrow streets of this wonderful town. Cycling distance: approx. 48kms/30 miles, mostly downhill but at times undulating, with approx. 630m/2070ft of elevation gain.

Day 6: Dubrovnik

Transfer by boat to Orebic on the isthmus of the Pelješac Peninsula. To avoid some serious uphill riding we drive high above the tiny village of Postup to the 'Panorama viewpoint' to take in the views then start our ride towards Potomje village for optional wine tasting and an introduction to the local wine growing traditions. Take to the backroads and cycle through the hills of the Dingač vineyards region before continuing to the beautiful bay of Žuljana. Finish our final ride in Croatia with a rewarding climb up to the village of Putnikovic, then enjoy an impromptu picnic and optional wine tasting in the natural surroundings before continuing by vehicle (approx. 20 mins) to the delightful walled town of Ston. While Ston is well known for its 700 year old medieval defensive stone wall, few know the real purpose of these walls was to protect the precious salt trade that helped found the wealth of nearby Dubrovnik. Visit these ancient salt pans on a short orientation walk. Afterwards, re-board your support vehicle and follow the glorious winding coast all the way down to Dubrovnik (approx. 1hr). With the sparkling water of the Adriatic in the background, Dubrovnik is picturesque, full of character and can easily be covered on foot. Take part in an orientation walk, including entry to the ancient city wall itself. Cycling distance: approx. 27kms/17 miles, undulating with approx. 480m/1550ft of elevation gain.

Day 7: Dubrovnik

Today is a free day for you to explore more of Dubrovnik until your next group meeting at 6 pm where you will meet new cyclists joining for the Balkan leg of the journey. Perhaps go out for an optional dinner together (hot tip: Old Town's gelato is phenomenal).

Day 8: Kotor

This morning you'll have your bike fitted before transporting from Dubrovnik into Montenegro to avoid the hectic traffic outside the city. Stop in Cavtat, a beautiful coastal town south of Dubrovnik, then continue over the border to Herceg Novi where you'll start cycling. Follow the Bay of Kotor for approx. 42 kilometres before arriving in the town of Kotor itself. Located on the shore of the Adriatic, Kotor is a 5th-century World Heritage-listed city boasting a spectacular location between a beautiful bay and imposing mountains. Its medieval Old Town features winding cobblestone lanes, historic buildings and buzzing nightlife. Ride - approx. 42kms/26 miles, undulating with approx. 470m/1540ft of elevation gain

Day 9: Niksic

Depart Kotor this morning by vehicle, heading north to scenic Slansko Lake and Kuside. Start riding here, passing nearby Niksic and heading up into the hills toward the incredible Ostrong Monastery, a white-washed building built into a cliff that's the most important site in Montenegro for Orthodox Christians. It's well worth the sweat and effort required to reach this gravity-defying icon, resting some 900 metres above the Zeta Valley. Enjoy an eight(ish) kilometre descent then ride back to Niksic, where you'll spend the evening. Founded in the 4th century, Niksic is the country's second-largest city and has plenty of options when it comes to an evening meal and entertainment. Ride: approx. 55 kms/34 miles, undulating terrain with a steep eight kilometre climb to the monastery, with approx.1050 metres/3440ft of elevation gain in total.

Day 10: Pluzine

Today you'll cycle approximately sixty kilometres from Niksic to Pluzine, a small town on the shore of the man-made Lake Piva. It's a hilly ride today, starting with a long but gradual climb then hitting undulating terrain. Ride through rolling, tree-lined hills with the support vehicle nearby in case you'd prefer to avoid the long climb. Visit the 16th-century Piva Monastery and its museum that contains, among other things, a psalm from the Crnojevici printing press, the first printing press in the Balkans (circa 15th century). Enjoy a picnic by Lake Piva then continue to Pluzine, a small, beautiful town in which to relax and rest those legs. Ride: approx. 60 kms/37 miles, with a long but gradual climb for the first 25kms. Elevation gain is approx.1070 metres/3500ft.

Day 11: Mostar

Today is a shorter ride than yesterday and you'll be cycling through Bosnia and Herzegovina for the first time. Depart Pluzine and drive approximately 150 kilometres to the old trading town of Nevesinje. From here, enjoy a predominantly downhill ride to the utterly charming town of Mostar, a distance of 40 kilometres or so. Mostar is best known for its iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge), from which both tourists and locals dive into the River Neretva. This is a tradition for local boys, who are said to have a lifetime of bad luck if they do not complete the jump in order to become a man. It's a beautiful spot to kick back by the river, enjoy a Turkish coffee and watch the divers and the world go by. Ride: approx. 40 kms/25 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 310 metres/1020ft of elevation gain.

Day 12: Mostar

Prepare for a real treat riding a section of the Ciro Trail, a new trail trail that follows an old Austro-Hungarian railway track running from Dubrovnik to Mostar. Stretching more than 160 kilometres, this well-maintained track traverses some truly wild, spectacular landscapes while winding through long-abandoned villages. It's touted as an 'open-air museum', and was partly funded by the EU in the hope of injecting some tourist dollars into the local economy. You'll ride approx. 50 kilometres of the trail before returning to Mostar for the evening, where you can continue exploring the alleys, bars and restaurants in search of a hidden gem. Ride: approx 50kms/31 miles, undulating with approx. 400m/1300ft of elevation gain

Day 13: Sarajevo

Start the day with an approximately 120 kilometre drive north towards Sarajevo, the intriguing capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics and you'll begin cycling among thick pine forests of Igman, the site for several events including the ski jump. More importantly, Igman was the only lifeline into Sarajevo during its thousand-day blockade during the Bosnian War in the early 1990s. Weather permitting, the group will take the same route over Igman into Sarajevo as many Sarajevans did. The views are phenomenal on a clear day. On arrival, your leader will take you on an orientation walk of this fascinating city before an optional farewell dinner with your group. Ride: approx. 30 kms/19 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 200 metres/650ft of elevation gain.

Day 14: Sarajevo

Your Croatia and Balkan cycling adventure comes to an end today. There are no planned activities or rides, so you're free to depart anytime before noon.

#ZMXBC#
Start date - End date Trip Status Price
15/SEP/2019 - 28/SEP/2019 BCAU$3555
(single supplement $805)
29/SEP/2019 - 12/OCT/2019 OR LR DGAU$3870
(single supplement $805)
10/MAY/2020 - 23/MAY/2020 FS DGAU$3753
(single supplement $855)
14/JUN/2020 - 27/JUN/2020 FS DGAU$3753
(single supplement $855)
19/JUL/2020 - 01/AUG/2020 FS DGAU$3753
(single supplement $855)
02/AUG/2020 - 15/AUG/2020 FS DGAU$3753
(single supplement $855)
13/SEP/2020 - 26/SEP/2020 FS DGAU$3753
(single supplement $855)
27/SEP/2020 - 10/OCT/2020 FS DGAU$3753
(single supplement $855)