- Cycle amid the wild and unspoiled nature of the Konavle region
- Island hop from Korčula to Mljet and discover Mljet National Park
- Enjoy Dalmatian cuisine in Marco Polo's hometown of Korčula
- Explore the marble streets and baroque buildings of Dubrovnik's Old Town
- Relax on a pristine beach on the quiet island of Šipan
|Day 1||Arrive in Dubrovnik, Transfer to the Konavle||Konavle|
|Day 2||Cycle the Konavle Countryside from Gruda||Konavle|
|Day 3||Transfer to Putniković, Cycle the Pelješac Peninsula to Korčula||Lumbarda|
|Day 4||Cycle Korčula, From Lumbarda to Račišće||Lumbarda|
|Day 5||Ferry to Mljet, Cycle Around Mljet National Park||Polače|
|Day 6||Ferry from Mljet to Dubrovnik, Optional Guided Tour of Old Town||Dubrovnik|
|Day 7||Cycle Around the Island of Šipan (Day Trip from Dubrovnik)||Dubrovnik|
|Day 8||Depart Dubrovnik|
Day 1: Arrive in Dubrovnik, Transfer to the Konavle
Welcome to Croatia! Meet your transportation at the airport and transfer the short distance to the Konavle countryside, where you will have the opportunity to settle into your accommodation before readying your bike. If there's time, take your bike out for a spin through the Konavle region, biking amid orchards, and alongside vineyards and peaceful villages and farms to warm up the muscles for the days ahead.
The Konavle is a famous wine region 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. 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.
Day 2: Cycle the Konavle Countryside from Gruda
Enjoy a hearty breakfast this morning to prepare yourself for your first active day, where you'll cover some (asphalt) ground and get to see more of the pastoral Konavle region, 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, Konavle 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 completing the circuit back to Gruda.
Alternatively, for something a bit more challenging, consider a similar route with an added steeper climb. Instead of returning to Gruda, you'll sail past, following the Montenegrin border and working your way to the protected Prevlaka peninsula—Croatia's most southeasterly destination.
Cycling distance (shorter route option): 25-34 miles (40-55 km)
Cycling distance (longer route option): 40 miles (65 km)
Day 3: Transfer to Putniković, Cycle the Pelješac Peninsula to Korčula
Setting out from the Konavle by car, you'll drive along the Dalmatian coast, past Dubrovnik and onward to the village of Putniković on the ruggedly beautiful Pelješac peninsula. The Pelješac peninsula—known for its rugged scenery, robust red wines, and tasty oysters—is a spit of land that stretches for 40 miles (65 km) west of the mainland. It's also home to a number of small towns and villages: Orebić, connecting Pelješac to Korčula, and twin settlements, Ston and Mali Ston, sit opposite each other at the isthmus of the peninsula.
You'll want to stop in medieval Ston, a 14th-century salt-producing village at the entrance to the Pelješac peninsula and home to the longest fortified walls in Europe (originally built to keep predators away from the saltpans). Once in Putniković, you'll have time to gear up and fit your bikes before riding out along the southern edge of the peninsula amid Dingač and Postup vineyards to Orebić. If you're in need of a break you might consider taking the time to pause your pedaling to visit a winery and to enjoy the sweeping seaside views that look out to the islands of Korčula and Mljet.
Chock full of narrow streets and charming stone villas once occupied by famous sea captains, you'll board a ferry from Orebić to Korčula where you'll continue your ride south (about 5 miles / 8 km) toward the spread-out-village of Lumbarda. Here you'll 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. While in the area, take a dip in the sea or relax on the sandy beach, or better yet, grab a bite to eat and pair your meal with the local dry white, Grk, indigenous to Lumbarda and nowhere else.
Driving time (Konavle to Putniković): 2 hours
Cycling distance: 30 miles (48 km)
Elevation gain: 2,428 feet (740 m)
Day 4: Cycle Korčula, From Lumbarda to Račišće
Warm up the legs this morning with a gentle ride north stopping to check out the ancient and historic sites of the eastern side of the island as you make the short trip to Korcula Town. One of the finest examples of Venetian architecture on the Dalmatian coast, you'll likely want to spend a little time exploring its historic town center,
To get the most out of your Korčula Town experience, choose from the following list of activities:
- Roam the maze of gray stone houses, alleys, churches, and squares to find your way to the 14th-century Land Gate on top of an elegant staircase.
- Taking three centuries to build, admire the Gothic, Romanesque, and Baroque influences of the Cathedral of St. Mark's (Korčula Cathedral) and note the strange sculptures of beasts and people.
- Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Bishop's Treasury next door to the Cathedral for a small but impressive art collection, including works from Carpaccio, Bassano, and Tiepolo.
- A visit to Korčula would be amiss if you didn't check out the somewhat unremarkable house thought to be the birthplace of Marco Polo.
Following your sightseeing, you'll continue your ride along the northern edge of Korčula to the village of Račišće, a smalling fishing settlement that cradles its namesake and picturesque bay. You can rest here and enjoy a traditional Dalmatian lunch of lamb and goat before choosing to return to Lumbarda the same way you came or selecting an alternate (and longer) route via Pupnat. There's of course, the option to venture further west through more of Korčula's wine country where you might like to visit the interior's Čara, Smokvica, or Blato, for vine-covered hills and valleys and wineries offering Korčula's leading (and native) wines like Grk and Pošip.
Cycling distance: 25 miles (40 km)
Elevation gain: 262 feet (80 m)
Day 5: Ferry to Mljet, Cycle Around Mljet National Park
Today you'll board a ferry from Korčula Town's harbor to Pomena on Mljet Island where you'll disembark to spend time exploring Mljet National Park. Considered the greenest as well as one of the larger Adriatic islands off the Croatian coast, Mljet is a thin strip of land parallel to the Pelješac peninsula and runs 20 miles (32 km) long and up to 2 miles (3 km) wide. The park itself covers a third of the island and is made up of lakes and bays, dense forests, and olive groves.
Hop on your bike and set out from Pomena to explore the unspoiled western side of the island in the National Park and stop to enjoy a unique swim in any of the beautiful lush coves. Popular sights worth a visit include Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake)—two salt lakes in the park, connected by a narrow canal, Soline Bay, and a sea-belt some 500 miles wide off the most prominent cape, the Cape of Mljet. If the mood should strike, stop for a swim in the lakes (which are invariably warmer than the open Adriatic sea!).
Here are some additional ideas to consider:
- Bike the steep ascent up Montokuc, putting your bike down to hike the last section of the climb where you can admire the all-encompassing vistas from the park's highest peak.
- Named after a 5th-century Roman palace, discover Polače and its Roman ruins from the crumbling walls of the palace to a late Antiquity fort and even an early Christian church.
- Join a guided tour through the park to visit a 12th-century Benedictine monastery.
Ferry time (Korčula Town to Polače): 45 minutes
Cycling distance: 19 miles (31 km)
Elevation gain: 3,488 feet (1,063 m)
Day 6: Ferry from Mljet to Dubrovnik, Optional Guided Tour of Old Town
Catch a ferry (or private motorboat) east to the mainland and 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:
- 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.
Ferry time (Pomena to Dubrovnik): 1.5 hours
Day 7: Cycle Around the Island of Šipan (Day Trip from Dubrovnik)
After a hearty breakfast this morning, you'll slip into your cycling gear and ride directly from your accommodation onto a ferry departing from Dubrovnik's Port Gruž to Suđurađ on Šipan's eastern coast. The largest of the Elafiti islands, Šipan was once home to Dubrovnik's patricians, but today remains a peaceful and well-preserved Dalmatian island: craggy hills along the coast, fertile land in the interior, and the occasional hamlet throughout. You'll have the day to explore Šipan as you like.
Following the paved road from Suđurađ, you'll pass vineyards and olive groves as you make your way to the small harbor of Šipanska Luka—a quaint fisherman's village located at the apex of a deep inlet on the western side of the island. Stop to explore old churches and summer residential palaces, including the neglected Stjepančić villa, complete with a stone balcony and carved lions. Take advantage of the quiet and relax on one of Šipanska Luka's beaches enjoying a swim as you please.
Meanwhile, dine on straight-from-the-sea platters from a local family-owned konoba (tavern) like Kod Marka or Tauris or consider Stara Mlinica in Suđurađ before returning to Dubrovnik in the late afternoon.
Cycling distance: 12.4 miles (20km)
Elevation gain: 755 feet (230 m)
Day 8: Depart Dubrovnik
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 a short distance outside of the city.