Incredible Croatia

I just spent six weeks (6 May – 16 June) traveling and hiking around in Croatia, and also a little bit in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. An absolutely amazing trip! Stunning scenery, wonderful weather, and friendly folks. Below is a brief impression. For more pictures, follow the link at the bottom of this post.

I started my trip in Sarajevo, an interesting east-meets-west mix of Muslims, Christians (both catholic and orthodox), and also Jews. Economic development is slow here though, and half of the buildings in the city still have bullet holes from the civil war 20 years ago. But my main reason for coming here was to visit the supposed pyramid complex and underground tunnels at Visoko, just 30km away. An intriguing site (and sight) indeed!

The pyramid of the sun at Visoko, BiH.
The pyramid of the sun at Visoko, BiH.

After a one-day stopover in Mostar (with its famous stone bridge), I then went on to Dubrovnik with its beautiful walled old town, in the southern tip of Croatia. I hiked up and over the hill behind the city for some great views of the old town, the Adriatic and its many islands, and also the Balkan mountains further inland.

The old town of Dubrovnik from halfway up the hill behind it.
The old town of Dubrovnik from halfway up the hill behind it.

Crossing the border south into Montenegro, I spent two days in Kotor, another beautiful walled town in an amazing location, at the far corner of a secluded bay surrounded by high mountains. I hiked up into the mountains directly behind the town, to an altitude of 950m, with spectacular views all along the way.

A view from up high over the bay of Kotor.
A view from up high over the bay of Kotor.

Back into Croatia, and on to Orebic, almost at the end of the Peljesac peninsula north of Dubrovnik. Here I hiked up Mt. Ilija (961m) for splendid views of the entire peninsula, coastal mountains, Adriatic, and many islands. I actually stayed here for several days just to relax and enjoy this beautiful place.

A look back over the peninsula from the top of Mt. Ilija.
A look back over the Peljesac peninsula from the top of Mt. Ilija.

Then I took a small passenger ferry to the town of Korcula (another beautiful old walled town) on the nearby island with the same name, and from there a fast catamaran ferry to Split. Unfortunately I had to sit out two days of rain here, but walked around in the old town (Diocleatian’s Palace) and a nearby park (Marjan) a bit anyway.

From Split I went south along the coast, to Makarska. I walked around in the beautiful Osejava forest park, and the next day I hiked up to the top of Vošac Peak (1422m). A long and tough hike, but the impressive views were more than worth it (despite the still cloudy weather that day).

A panoramic view from the top of Vošac Peak. Click the pic for a full-size view.
A panoramic view from the top of Vošac Peak. Click the pic for a full-size view.

The next day the weather had completely cleared up again, and I went on to Šibenik, north of Split. From here I did a boat trip to Kornati National Park, a beautiful group of protected islands, and went for a hike in Krka National Park to see the waterfalls.

The large waterfall in Krka National Park.
The large waterfall in Krka National Park.

Then on to Zadar, from where I did a day trip to Plitvice National Park, with it’s many lakes cascading into each other. It is very beautiful indeed, but also very (too) touristy. It’s worth spending several hours wandering around in this unique park though.

One of the many cascades in Plitvice National Park.
One of the many lakes and cascades in Plitvice National Park.

From Zadar I went to Starigrad, at the doorstep of Paklenica National Park, where I did two very long but incredibly beautiful hikes (and where I hardly saw anyone else once I got off the main trail!). All of Croatia is very beautiful, but for me Paklenica takes the cake, partly because of its remoteness (hiking is the only way to get into the park).

A panoramic view over Paklenica National Park.
A panoramic view over Paklenica National Park. Click the pic for a full-size view.

On to Rejika, where I needed a few days to recover, so I just took it easy with some walks along the waterfront, and up to an old fort above the town. From Rejika I took a catamaran ferry to Rab island, where I hiked up Kamenjak, a 410m hill with great views all around.

A view from the top of Kamenjak on Rab island.
A view from the top of Kamenjak on Rab island.

With the ferry back to Rijeka, and then on to Pula, with its many Roman remains (including a large and well-preserved amphitheater, temple, and beautiful floor mosaic). From Pula I also went on a boat trip to Rovinj, a picturesque fishing village on a small peninsula, with an impressive church on top of its hill.

The beautiful fishing village of Rovinj.
The beautiful fishing village of Rovinj.

From Pula I continued north through Koper (Slovenia) to Trieste (Italy), and then by train via Milan back to Lausanne. Six weeks of incredible sights and scenery, and only three days of rain. What a trip!

For more pictures of all of these places and hikes, please see the relevant links on my hiking page.