Discover the Dalmatian coast from Split to Dubrovnik on this week-long self-guided cycling adventure. You'll warm the legs with a ride up Marjan Hill to look over the historic city of Split, ride alongside fields of lavender and ancient Greek ruins in Hvar's interior, and cross the length of Korčula to drink native wines and swim in the sea. Then it's back to the mainland with a ride over the ruggedly beautiful Pelješac peninsula to the historic saltpans of Ston before ending the trip with two nights in the "Adriatic Pearl," and a day to venture into the rural countryside beyond the city's gleaming streets.

Highlights

  • Bike to the top of Marjan Hill for views over historic Split
  • Cycle through olive groves and vineyards and past coastal villages on Hvar
  • Pedal along Korčula's stunning coastline to hidden-away beaches and coves
  • Ride amid the wild and unspoiled nature of the Konavle region
  • Take in a sunset over the Elafiti Islands from Dubrovnik’s Srđ Mountain

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Split, Bike the Marjan Peninsula Split
Day 2 Split to Stari Grad, Cycling Hvar Island Hvar Town
Day 3 Private Transfer from Hvar to Vela Luka, Cycling Korčula Island Lumbarda
Day 4 Korčula to Ston, Cycling Pelješac Peninsula Ston
Day 5 Ston to Dubrovnik, Optional Guided Tour of Old Town Dubrovnik
Day 6 Cycle the Konavle Countryside (Day Trip from Dubrovnik) Dubrovnik
Day 7 Depart Dubrovnik  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Split, Bike the Marjan Peninsula

View of Split and its bay from atop Marjan Hill
View of Split and its bay from atop Marjan Hill

Welcome to the ancient port city of Split! You'll begin your Croatian cycling adventure with a bike fitting, briefing, and then a casual ride after checking into your accommodation.

Get to know your bike, members of your small riding group, and your guides on an easy, car-free ride up Marjan Hill. The "lungs of the city," the entire Marjan peninsula is dotted with tiny centuries-old churches, large cypress and black pine trees,  and the most beautiful beaches. Breathe in the invigorating scent of Mediterranean herbs and plants as you ride through cool woods to take in the stunning panoramic vistas over Split and the surrounding Adriatic islands. And if you're feeling adventurous and arrive early enough, you can extend your ride for a 50-mile (80 km) loop inland from the port city.

Return to your hotel to rest and relax before heading out to explore Croatia's second-largest city on your own. Start at Pjaca Square for pretty views of white marble tiles, the Iron Gate (the western entrance to UNESCO-protected Diocletian's Palace), a Romanesque clock tower with the remains of a medieval sundial, and the 15th-century Town Hall. Visit the popular Voćni trg (Fruit Square) where you can enjoy Renaissance architecture, influenced during Split's Venetian era. For a bit of shopping and a bite to eat head to Marmont Street or findy your way to Bačvice Beach to relax on the sand warmed by the day's sun before choosing a nearby restaurant for dinner.

In the evening, take a stroll along Split's seafront Riva to admire the views over the Adriatic before finding the off-beat Konoba Dioklecijan restaurant, just to the left of the Bronze Gate for a bite to eat, its outdoor terrace built into the walls of famed Diocletian's Palace.

Cycling distance (Marjan loop): 12 miles (20 km)

Day 2: Split to Stari Grad, Cycling Hvar Island

Cyclists ride across Hvar
Cyclists ride across Hvar

After an early morning in Split, you'll load your bikes onto a ferry and cruise to Stari Grad, a former Greek colony on Hvar. A Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar draws visitors for its natural setting, mild climate, and historic town of the same name and is often considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world. You'll gear up and get ready to cover the undulating island terrain, accented with vineyard-covered hills, thick olive groves, and fragrant fields full of rosemary and lavender, ending the day's ride in Hvar Town.

Set out from Stari Grad across the Stari Grad Plain—an agricultural landscape set up by the ancient Greeks (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site)—stopping to check out the well-preserved ancient Greek ruins before picking up the scenic and mostly flat road on the north side of the island from Vrboska to Jelsa. You'll then pedal west and follow the route to stop and explore small villages in the inner part of Hvar, like Selca and Velo Grablje, once home to a thriving lavender industry, and Brusje.

From here, you'll follow an old trail—the main thoroughfare in medieval times connecting the north and the south of the island—to reach Hvar Town and your hotel. Take the remainder of the day to unwind, treating yourself with a much-deserved drink or two or three in the ancient piazza overlooking the Venetian loggia, 7th-century fortification walls, and the oldest municipal theater in Europe. If you're up for it, you might like to visit the 16th-century Španjola Fortress to take in the setting sun over the nearby Pakleni islands.

Ferry time (Split to Stari Grad): 2 hours
Cycling distance: 25 miles (40 km)

Day 3: Private Transfer from Hvar to Vela Luka, Cycling Korčula Island

Fortressed Korčula Town
Fortressed Korčula Town

Early this morning, a private boat will sweep you across the sparkling Adriatic to laid-back Vela Luka on the western end of Korčula Island. Inhabited even before the Greeks, the island itself is 107 square miles and consists of a gorgeous mix of beaches, vineyards, villages, and quiet, harbor-side restaurants and resorts. You'll ride out from Vela Luka to cross the length of Korčula to the town-of-the-same-name, a beautifully preserved walled city and one of the finest examples of Venetian architecture on the Dalmatian coast.

Spend a few hours roaming the maze of gray stone houses, alleys, churches, and squares, and enjoy a traditional lunch of lamb and goat. Visit the 14th-century Land Gate on top of an elegant staircase, before heading to the Cathedral of St. Mark's to admire its strange sculptures of beasts and people. Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Bishop's Treasury next door for a small but impressive art collection, including works from Carpaccio, Bassano, and Tiepolo. From there, you may wish to visit the unremarkable house thought to be the birthplace of Marco Polo.

And when it's time, you'll continue your journey out of town, south toward Lumbarda. You will cycle through fields, villages, and wineries, covering asphalt, gravel, and dirt roads with vistas opening up to the Adriatic Sea as well as to the impressive Mt. Ilija on the nearby Pelješac peninsula. Boasting beautiful beaches and centuries-old winemaking traditions, Lumbarda is home to Grk, a white grape variety that will pair well with your lunch or dinner. Some of Croatia's best white wines are produced on Korčula, and you won't be left wanting.

Boating time: 45 minutes
Cycling distance: 34-37 miles (55–60 km)

Day 4: Korčula to Ston, Cycling Pelješac Peninsula

Ride along the water's edge of the Pelješac peninsula
Ride along the water's edge of the Pelješac peninsula

You'll warm up the legs this morning with a quick ride to the ferry terminal in Korčula Town, where you'll then transfer the short distance to Orebić on the Pelješac peninsula. After spending a little time exploring the seaside town's narrow streets and charming stone villas (once occupied by famous sea captains), you'll continue your ride southeast to the medieval city of Ston. Along the way, there will be many opportunities to stop to visit vineyards and sample wines the rugged landscape is known for, namely Dingač, Croatia's most well-known red, though there's also Pošip vineyards you can check out as well.

Once in Ston, you can trek one of the longest defensive stone walls in Europe (originally built to keep predators away from the town's saltpans) and discover the importance this area held in the 14th century. Savor a light meal of locally grown, fresh oysters or mussels after you climb part of the parapet walkway of Ston's wall for beautiful views over the town and its glittering saltpans—one of the oldest and still active in the Mediterranean!

Ferry time (Korčula to Orebić): 30 minutes
Cycling distance: 37 miles (60 km)

Day 5: Ston to Dubrovnik, Optional Guided Tour of Old Town

Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik

This morning you'll meet your transfer and shuttle the hour east to Dubrovnik. Known as the "Pearl of the Adriatic," Dubrovnik is a piece of history. While there's evidence of settlements as far back as the Byzantine era, this area only came into its own as an important power since the 13th century due in part to its strategic coastal position. Dubrovnik's long and storied history is told in its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque churches, monasteries, palaces, and fountains all found within its imposing fortress walls. 

You'll have the day to explore one of the most ancient fortress cities in Europe on your own or you can opt to see the city's highlights on a guided tour. Can't-miss activities include riding the cable car up to Srđ Mountain to take in the sunset over the nearby Elafiti Islands, visiting Lovrijenac and Bokar fortresses, and walking along the smooth, limestone-paved streets of historic Old Town. And be sure to find your way to Stradun, Dubrovnik's gleaming main street to get your bearings and to choose from a number of excellent restaurants and wine bars. There's Buza Bar along the water's edge and outside the city walls—a great spot to enjoy a cocktail while taking in the sunset.

For alternative dining and drinking options, choose from a variety of top-notch restaurants and eateries. Solid options include:

  • Pantarul. Sitting outside the city walls lies one of Dubrovnik's more popular restaurants offering seasonal slow-food meals.
  • Taverna Otto. Enjoy fine dining atmosphere with traditional Dalmatian cuisine served up in a contemporary twist.
  • Restaurant Amfora. Delighting both meat and seafood lovers, Amfora fuses Mediterranean fare with Asian styles and influences from Morocco to Lebanon.
  • Bistro Glorijet. Enjoy traditional Croatia seafood dishes and meaty plates.
  • Lady Pipi. While you'll likely have to wait in line, it's worth it for the views over the city's historic walls and tasty grilled dishes.
  • Dolce Vita. For the best in sweet treats, head to Dolce Vita in Old Town and indulge your sweet tooth with a selection of ice creams, cakes, and sweet and savory crepes.
  • Restaurant Dubrovnik. Admire views over Old Town from the rooftop terrace as you dine on top-class Mediterranean cuisine in seclusion. 
  • Zuzori. An upscale Michelin-guide restaurant serving plenty of ambiance in Old Town alongside locally sourced and contemporary dishes. 

Driving time (Ston to Dubrovnik): 1 hour

Day 6: Cycle the Konavle Countryside (Day Trip from Dubrovnik)

Follow paved roads past stone settlements in the Konavle
Follow paved roads past stone settlements in the Konavle

Transfer the short distance to the Konavle, a famous region for its wine southeast of Dubrovnik that stretches from Cavtat to the most southern point of Croatia at the Montenegrin border. Squeezed between the mountains on one side and the sea on the other, its small population lives in some 32 villages scattered across the fertile land where you'll have the opportunity to not only take in the rural sights but to experience some of the local charms.

Starting from Gruda, you'll ride through the picturesque countryside of the wooded Konavoski Dvori for an easy ride until your first major climb at the 7-mile (11 km) mark that gradually takes you through Lovorno and Drvenik to the small village of Zvekovica.  Here you might like to visit Cavtat and explore the network of charming streets and cobbled alleys of its Old Town before sailing past Gruda, following the Montenegrin border and working your way to the protected Prevlaka peninsula—Croatia's most southeasterly destination.

And if you're not through with exploring the countryside beyond Dubrovnik, consider these recommendations for alternative places to visit and things to see:

  • Lace up your hiking boots to follow the old Austro-Hungarian military trail up to Sniježnica, the highest mountain in southern Croatia at over 4,000 feet (1,234 m).
  • Stroll the waterfront promenade, laze on pebbly beaches, or while away the hours in a café or restaurant at the gorgeous harbor village of Cavtat.
  • Discover the 14th-century tower of Sokol Grad (Hawk Castle) to enjoy the dizzying views from the clifftop ramparts as well as see the commander's quarters, barracks, and collection of archeological artifacts from the medieval era.
  • Dine at one of the Konavle settlement's authentic restaurants for a mouthwatering meal of succulent lamb slow-roasted under a peka—a large metal baking dish with a bell-shaped lid used to cook food in an open fire.
  • Follow paths to centuries-old watermills along wooded riverbanks of the Ljuta River, an oasis of natural beauty, and check out Konavoski Dvori, a restaurant complex. 
  • Sample wines endemic to Croatia at a family-run winery, like Dubrovacka malvasia, a unique white pressed from a strain of grapes originating from the days of the Dubrovnik Republic.

There are also plenty of dining options to choose from. For an authentic dining experience, consider these options:

  • Kameni Dvori. A traditional tavern located in charming Lovorno on the premises of a rustic villa complete with a view over the valley, you'll want to book a reservation well in advance. 
  • Konoba Vinica Monković. Set on the Ljuta River, you can feast on homemade cooking by the Monković family and savor a glass of the local rakija (strong white brandy made from the grape skins and typically flavored with herbs or fruit).
  • Konoba Koraćeva Kuća. A family-run establishment in Gruda puts a modern spin on traditional fare. Dine al fresco on the terrace to soak in the scene while you eat.

Cycling distance: 40 miles (65 km)

Day 7: Depart Dubrovnik

Farewell Croatia
Farewell Croatia

Depending on your departure details you might like to complete any last-minute souvenir and gift shopping or you may have time to visit one of Dubrovnik's museums, like the Rector's Palace and Cultural Historical Museum. Wander this well-preserved palace-turned-museum and explore its exhibits, some detailing life in the Republic of Ragusa during medieval times.

And when it's time, say farewell to Dubrovnik and meet your transfer to make your way to the airport just outside of the city.

Map

Map of Dalmatian Coast Bike Tour: Split, Hvar, Korčula, & Dubrovnik - 7 Days
Map of Dalmatian Coast Bike Tour: Split, Hvar, Korčula, & Dubrovnik - 7 Days