Croatian local bike tour operator Meridien Ten has provided us with this wonderful description of the Dalmatia Coast and Islands. Specifically, Meridien Ten describes how to go from Split to Dubrovnik while exploring the beautiful and historic islands.
Your Starting Point to Reach the Dalmatia Islands: Split
Split is the cultural and administrative center of Dalmatia, and Croatia’s second biggest city.
In Split, the most important site to visit is Diocletian’s Palace, recognized on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Besides palace, you can visit a variety of archaeological, historical and cultural monuments.
The Palace is the center of life in the city. Some locals have their real homes built into the old walls of the Palace. In this area, you will find numerous cafes and restaurants serving fresh Mediterranean food. In front of the Palace you might a nice enjoy evening walk, along the beautiful waterfront promenade. Split offers some easy bike riding. A good ride starts just in front of Diocletian's palace and runs along Marjan Hill, a recreational area for citizens of Split.
There are couple of longer rides that include riding out of town and into the hills of Kozjak and Mosor. As Split has biggest ferry port on the Dalmatian coast, you can take ferry trips to Islands nearby: Solta, Brac, Hvar, Korcula and Vis. These make for easy day trips (start early in the morning with the ferry to the islands, ride and explore during the day, and in the afternoon return on the ferry to Split).
Split is a good starting point for the cycling tours as a base to get used to the bike and climate, get over jet-lag. We definitely recommend riding almost to Dubrovnik over the islands. This is most famous cycling route. The last part of that tour, on Peljesac peninsula or Mljet, we suggest getting into a shuttle car or taxi, and using either the ferry or car to visit Dubrovnik. For more about Dubrovnik, see below.
Which Dalmatia Island should I choose to ride?
While the islands are all scenic, they vary in terrain, some more fit for a challenging ride, while some are more suited for leisure riders.
Island Brac is the biggest of all central Dalmatian islands which will give you plenty of riding choices. It also has the biggest climb, the 780M Vidova Gora peak.
On Brac, you will have great views on the coast and ride along olive groves and vineyards. Brac Island is famous for its stone quarries. They shipped the stone to build White House in Washington, Diocletian's Palace in Split, and the Parliament in Budapest among others. Another highlight of the Island is beautiful pebble beach called Zlatni Rat – located next to the town of Bol on the southern side of the Island.
Island Hvar historically has been famous for its lavender oil production. The lavender makes a great backdrop for a fantastic ride.
Another great ride which can be done along the island is an easy ride around the UNESCO site of Stari Grad. Stari Grad is an ancient Greek colony dating back to 400 B.C. Besides historical sites you will discover charming towns, and the roads pass next to beautiful private gardens along the coast and olive groves. Serious cyclists can take the road to the most eastern point of the island – Sucuraj – this gives you about 60 km on quiet roads. Try delicious gregada, a fish stew that originates from Hvar.
Korcula was populated very early in history, even before Greek times and evidences can be seen on the ride! Korcula was chosen by Venetians to build their important walled city on the northern shores of the island. Thanks to the Venetians, we have the magnificent walled Korcula Old Town, which is still well preserved.
Enjoy the scenic south side of the island, with amazing views of beautiful hidden beaches and coves. Here you can ride through small villages and hamlets and stop in some of the few great local Konoba (taverns) for amazing locally prepared food. The whole island is about 60 km long, and it is not too busy traffic-wise.
A ride along the Peljesac peninsula includes climbs and amazing views. You will be riding through the vineyards of Dingac and Postup, full of Plavac Mali vines. These grapes are a close cousin to Zinfandel of California, and Primitivo from Calabria. There are many vineries which can be visited along the ride. Peljesac offers incredible views, with Mljet and Korcula Island on your right, and mainland on your left. Make sure to see Ston, a salt producing village on Peljesac peninsula which was built in the 14th century town, and has the longest fortified wall in Europe – 5.5 km. Ston was important town for Dubrovnik Republic, which was strongest and most prosperous in the 14th century.
Dubrovnik – The Pearl of the Adriatic
A typical Dalmatia tour ends in Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is definitely a must see, though cycling is not a great option in the very town of Dubrovnik. In Dubrovnik, make sure you take a walk along its main street – Stradun. The things to see are St. Blaize's church, the old port, and Rector's Palace. Also, walk the city walls (approximately 1 hour). Dubrovnik is quite touristic and busy from May till October. The old town can be seen in half or 1 day. If you are into clubbing you should prolong your stay there, but if you want to see the more authentic Croatian life you should get yourself on the islands as soon as possible.
Bike Tour Buzz thanks Meridien Ten for this fantastic review of the cycling opportunities in Croatia! If you enjoyed it, please check out their webiste.
About Meridien Ten
Meridien Ten is a bike tour and bike rental operator located in Split, Croatia, and has been family owned and operated for four generations. Their professional and efficient staff specializes in developing custom bike tours and adventure holidays. Meridien Ten can tailor to luxury and small group travel, custom tours, cultural and culinary tours in Croatia.
Meridien Ten offers self-guided cycling tours and quality bike rental as well as guided small group tours. As passionate cyclists with intimate knowledge of the islands of Croatia, Meridien Ten can create amazing tailor made tours based on your wishes/preferences.
Meridien Ten has 40 hybrid and 40 road bikes that come in 6 different sizes, one of if not the largest fleet in Croatia.