Leaving Split to Tour the Dalmatian Islands
Today, we are leaving the seaport town of Split to begin our 7-day cycling tour in the Dalmatian Islands. The port is filled with ships of varying shapes, sizes, and colors with busy crews making final preparations to onboard their guests.
As we board our 32-passenger ship, we are introduced to the crew members who will assist us in our week-long voyage, promising an enjoyable and memorable experience. We are introduced to Chef Jelena who is busily preparing our lunch which is served as we depart the Split Harbor for the island of Brac and our first port in the small seaside village of Milna.
There are 24 of us participating in the cycling portion of the tour. The group is evenly split with half of the riders opting for e-bikes and the rest selecting 27-speed bikes. We designed a special 3B cycling jersey for our Croatia tour this year. It was my goal to have an entire ship filled with 3B (Bikes Boats and Boots) guests wearing the best-looking Croatia cycling jersey on the islands…mission accomplished! It gave me great pleasure to see all the guests wearing the jersey as well as hearing comments like, “WOW; look at those cool cycling shirts” from other cyclists, as well as requests to purchase them.
Each day our ship will transfer us to a different location along the Dalmatian Island chain. Our day begins with breakfast in the dining room where our cycling guides, Davor and Ivan, review the details of the day’s ride.
Exploring the Island of Brac and Cycling to the Fiord Town of Bobovisca
Day 1 – After spending 2.5 hours on the azure blue waters of the Adriatic, we disembark on the island of Brac which is the largest island in the central Dalmatian group. The island landscape is dominated by a karst limestone relief, with numerous gullies, crevices, cavities, round valleys and coves. The ancient Romans used this very limestone to build their cities, amphitheaters, temples, and palaces all over the Dalmatia region, including the Parliament Building in Budapest, Hungary.
We begin a short, but challenging 12-mile bike ride to a little fiord in the town of Bobovisca located on the west coast of the island. It quickly becomes apparent that our days will be filled with beautiful views of the Adriatic blended with ancient old churches, buildings and villages.
Cycling to Gazul, the Ancient Sheppards Village for Lunch!
Day 2 – Today’s ride is 25-miles of hilly Dalmatian terrain. Our 25 miles of cycling takes us up to the tiny, ancient sheppard village of Gazul where we once again enjoy Peka, the hearty Dalmatia specialty of lamb, pork and vegetables cooked over an open spit.
Day 3 – Our third day of cycling begins in the incredibly scenic island of Hvar, one of Croatia’s most popular islands. Its hillsides are covered in pine forests, with vineyards, olive groves, fruit orchards and lavender fields in the agricultural areas. Hvar is also known for producing the best wine from Croatia.
Easy bike ride through Starigrad
Our 20-mile bike ride today is considered easy as we pass through Starigrad, one of Croatia’s oldest cities dating back to 385 BC. Our scenic bike trail takes us along a peaceful inlet on our way to the small coastal town of Jelsa. This is a common stopping point for all cyclists and has great little coffee and gelato shops serving ice cream that are truly works of art to be shared by many. We continue along the flat terrain and pass through what seems like miles of wine vineyards and return to the ship for lunch.
Each day lunch or dinner is included on our ship depending on our day’s cycling schedule. Typically, it is a three-course lunch. While most of us wouldn’t consume this type of lunch at home on a daily basis, we all enjoy the traditional Croatian specialties that are served. The chef has also been quite accommodating to those with special dietary needs.
We have found a new best friend in Lucy, the bartender, who greets us each day with a smile eager to serve Croatian beer and wine to the thirsty cyclists after each day’s ride.
Cycling to Korcula, Visiting the Island of Mljet and Continuing on to the Makarska Riveria!
Day 4 – Korcula is our next destination and today’s 25-mile ride offers sweeping views of the Adriatic along with another demanding day of hill climbs. A small group of people opt for a break from cycling to spend the day sightseeing in the once fortified city claiming to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. This opens up a few e-bikes which are quickly snapped up by those thinking today would be a good day to try one. The e-bikes provide a welcome respite from the demanding hills, allowing riders to focus on the scenery rather than the arduous hill climbs.
Today we enjoy a picnic lunch in a small village provided by our cycling guides. We marvel at the guides for carrying food for 16 people on their bikes! Later in the afternoon we break things up a bit and find a place to go swimming.
Day 5 – Today’s destination is the serene island of Mljet offering a little bit of everything. Mljet is a National Park and is considered the greenest island with thick forested areas along with a beautiful little monastery sitting in the middle of a lake.
We begin our day cycling approximately 15 miles around the lake stopping for a swim. Later in the day, we enjoy a short hike to visit the monastery. The Croatian people often refer to this island as a “little slice of paradise” and enjoy vacationing here.
Day 6 – Our sixth day of cycling along the Peljesac Peninsula was altered due to weather. After a couple of hours on the Adriatic heading to the Makarska Rivera, the weather changed so we stopped for a couple of hours and jumped into the water for another refreshing swim.
Makarska is a waterfront city on the Croatian coastline and has a busy harbor, great restaurants, nightlife and a fun little pirate store. Who could refuse stopping at a pirate store in the lands once inhabited by pirates?
A small group of us decided we’d have a little fun and purchase pirate shirts, hats and other accessories. The store attendant must be used to people giggling madly while deciding what to purchase. I think we could have won the prize for having the most fun!Diana
We Cycle a Short 10-Mile Bike Ride In the Coastal City of Omis and End our Epic Week Rafting on the Cetina River
Day 7 – Our final day includes a short 10-mile bike ride in the coastal city of Omis, also once known as a pirate town. We stopped at Radman Mills, a famous restaurant dating back to the 17th century, situated in a beautiful park alongside the Cetina River serving traditional Croatian cuisine.
We weren’t planning on eating lunch there, but when we saw the giant round loaves of bread coming out of the oven to cool, we had to bring back a couple of loaves to enjoy on the ship.Diana
We wrapped them in paper and carried them back to the ship on our bike. Is there anything better in this world than freshly baked bread?! Those two loaves served 28 people!
Later this afternoon we head out for a 2.5 hour guided rafting tour. The Cetina River is perfect for rafting with its beautiful clear water and dramatic canyons alongside the banks. It offered several exhilarating moments as the raft carried us over several rapids.
We dock once again in the Split harbor and meet together for dinner and enjoy our last evening in Split. Afterward, some of us head off to enjoy the vibrant nightlife of the city.
Saturday morning, we say goodbye to the entire staff on the ship. We board our private 3B bus and make our way to Dubrovnik. We travel along the Croatian coastline and must pass through Bosnia Herzegovina to get to Dubrovnik which was once its own city and state.
The perfect ending, a resort hotel in beautiful Dubrovnik …
Our hotel in Dubrovnik is a beautiful resort, each room with its own balcony and a full view of the Adriatic. Our resort has several pools to choose from also providing magnificent views of the Adriatic. Once settled at the resort, everyone scatters and heads into the magnificent walled city known as “Old Town,” a complete walled city dating back to the 16th century. We walk along the massive stone walls enjoying the breathtaking views of the Adriatic and the red-tiled rooftops of the city.
The entire city still is paved with original limestone walkways, it’s home to a great palace, old gothic churches, museums, a cable car that takes you high above the city to an old war museum. Much of the Game of Thrones series was filmed here. There are many terrific restaurants and lots of shopping opportunities for last-minute gifts and souvenirs. Several of the guests opted to spend the remaining time enjoying the resort. This is something I say I’m going to do every year because it’s such a beautiful place, but I find it hard not to spend time in Old Town too.
It’s Monday morning and time to say farewell to everyone as we begin the long journey home. We were blessed with great weather for the majority of the tour, warm and sunny but never uncomfortable which is why we always choose this time of year to travel to Croatia. We met a lot of new friends and had a great time spending our days touring some of the most scenic places in Croatia. The local people are friendly, our staff on the ship couldn’t have been better, and all of the hotels we stayed in were situated so that our guests could quickly get out and explore on their own. Personally, I think all the Croatian cuisine was fresh and flavorful.
There is much to explore next year, so as always, the question for you is…Where to Next?
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