It’s been a long winter for our writers and bikers alike. And although the season of cold weather and sparse sunlight is with us for another month, there’s been a scent about for the last few days that’s put the spring in our step and wind behind our pedals. This is a time to replenish vitamin D and replace the grey scenes of winter traffic with wide sunny vistas. And where best to do this than Croatia’s sunny shores, as our teams get ready to begin with another glorious season of specialist bike cycling tours in Croatia!. Road Cycling tours in Croatia is good for your health.
We have thought long and hard and have designed two great Croatian cycling tours for the connoisseurs of biking, food and wine – Croatia Gourmet Bike Tour and Dalmatia Bike Tour – covering two of the most popular Croatian regions, Istria and Dalmatia.
Thanks to its beauty, accessibility and affordable flights, Croatia has featured highly in the latest travel news but for those who are new to this fabulous country, here is the lowdown of what to expect.
What gives such great variety to this tiny place is its weather – for Croatia is blessed by both the Continental and Mediterranean climate. Effectively, this means that you could go skiing, climb the winter Alps and sip your coffee in a T-shirt (or even take a skinny dip!) – all in the same week and without the need to exchange your currency. It effects everything: the type of produce, growing seasons and naturally cuisine, which varies greatly between the continental Croatia and its coast.
Historically, the territory of today’s Croatia has always been at the convergence of great empires. Roman, Venetian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman rulers and times have all left their unmistakable markers on this small country. From architecture to food, culture and wine, different parts of Croatia have all been gifted, each with its own bag of goodies that we still get to enjoy. There are continental pastries, cheeses and cream-cakes in the north and north-west and Mediterranean herb-grazed lamb roasted under a peka (with truffle-imbued “everything”!) in Istria and Kvarner islands. Not forgetting the ubiquitous ćevapčići that are, well, everywhere. Every delicious meal can be paired with the perfect rakija or liqueur, of which there are seemingly endless varieties. Let’s just say that Istrians even managed to produce a mistletoe rakija, called biska. The wine production has had a long tradition throughout Croatia and it is now becoming increasingly sophisticated as it shifts from mass produced to smaller, family-owned vineries. The wines of Roxandich, Boškinac, Bibić, Korta Katarina and Trapan, to name but a few, offer a world-class experience at a fraction of price you would pay elsewhere.
Not surprisingly, the story of tourism in Croatia is long and varied. Long after Jason was said to have searched for the elusive Golden Fleece around the Kvarner islands in vicinity of Istria, various Roman centurions, generals and even emperors decided to pitch up their palaces on Croatia’s golden shores. The most famous and lasting is, of course, Diocletian’s palace in Split, the Roman emperor’s home away from home, built in the fourth century AD. The regular supply of fun and games for this choosy lot was provided at the Pula Arena, a remarkably preserved Roman amphitheatre in the Istrian town of Pula, nowadays a film festival and music venue in the summer months.
The health tourism flourished in the 20th century and Croatia did more than well with its clear, curative waters and air permeated by the scent of pines and Mediterranean flora. Naturists were spearheaded by the British royalty – King Edward VIII and his future wife famously unrobed here in 1936 on the island of Rab, the site of the Adriatic’s first naturist beach.
At the height of their 70s Hollywood glamour, Taylor and Burton frolicked around Dubrovnik. Following this, there was a period of cheap package holidays bringing busloads of British pensioners to regal Opatija and surrounding towns in the 80. But this is no longer true.
Hollywood A-listers now regularly flock to Hvar and Dubrovnik and Eastwood, Douglas, Pitt and Clooney have all been here, to name but the few.
The last few years also saw a significant shift towards bespoke activity and adventure holidays and Croatia Travel Co. aims to become the leading provider of quality cycling tours in Istria and Dalmatia. Croatia has the great many national and nature parks such as Kornati, Mljet, Brijuni and Krka Waterfalls in the coastal area and its hilly relief and excellent roads are fast becoming the mecca for those who wish to offset their intake of delectable food and wine with cycling, hiking, climbing and white-water rafting. The vicinity of countryside means you can lunch at the historical centre of town and then be cycling through vineyards in no time, without need for negotiating traffic jams and biding your time in transport from one place to the next.
Oh, and another thing for when your vigorous training gets the better of you: many hotels have updated their Wellness packages and offer therapeutic and sports massages and various cutting-edge treatments at deliciously affordable prices. Viola!
By all accounts, Croatia has come leaps and bounds in the recent years and if you don’t believe us, we dare you to come and experience it for yourself. In the words of a great chef and TV-personality Anthony Bourdain uttered at the filming of his No Reservations show in Croatia: “Holy S***t, That’s Good!” J. And remember – what makes us happy, keeps us healthy!