Nature & wildlife trip

Hiking through 3 distinctive Croatian regions – Kvarner, Istria, Gorski Kotar, incl. Via Dinarica trail

The Kvarner Gulf is the birthplace of tourism in Croatia, loved by travellers attracted by the mild climate and cobalt blue waters. From there, diversity of Croatia is in your hand. It takes less than an hour to get to Istria, as well as to Gorski Kotar region – the green heart of the country.

Trip highlights

  • Hiking on one of the Via Dinarica Blue trails in Istria
  • Hiking along forest macadam roads in Gorski Kotar
  • Visiting the cliff Brajkove Stijene and its unique system of wooden troughs
  • Scenic drives through ancient Istrian villages
  • Visit to the small but exceptionally beautiful Vrelo cave

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The Kvarner Gulf, sheltered by soaring mountains, and Istria, the heart-shaped peninsula in the north-west of the country, is where Continental Croatia meets the Adriatic. The trademark of some parts of this area is karst terrain and cobalt-coloured sea, but just a few kilometres away, the mild Mediterranean climate is replaced by fresh cool forest air of Gorski Kotar region. Forests in Gorski Kotar provide habitat for a vast variety of fauna and flora, including some rare mammal species extinct in most other parts of the world. This unique tour offers a combination of discovering old Istrian villages with stone houses and dried wells and thick forests of the Croatian "mountain district" full of life. It boasts a combination of continental and Mediterranean food and a stunning meshing of interesting stories and beautiful landscapes.

Opatija is a city with rich history, situated along the coast between the Adriatic Sea and the green foothills of the Učka Mountain. It’s surrounded by numerous small towns and villages, connected by a seafront promenade called Lungomare. In 1884, the first hotel along the Adriatic coastline was built here, mainly for Austro-Hungarian nobility – one of Opatija's most famous guests was the Emperor Franz Joseph I.

Just across the Učka Mountain is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea – Istria. While vast hotel complexes line much of the coast, getting flooded with tourists in summer, you can still feel undisturbed in the interior and enjoy spectacular views of rolling hills and fertile plains, nice villages and olive groves.

One-hour drive by car or van from Opatija will take you to Platak. During winter, Platak provides skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of Radeševo Mountain (1363 m) with stunning views of the Adriatic Sea and islands of Krk, Cres and Lošinj. Gravel roads at Platak are excellent for mountain biking or an easy walk through nature while enjoying the fresh air – unique for this place where the mountain and Mediterranean climates are mixed.

You cannot get to know Gorski Kotar without visiting Fužine – a beautiful town with natural attractions that include the Vrelo Cave and the Bajer and Lepenica lakes. There are also a few traditional events held here, one of them being the New Year Send-Off, which takes place in the open every 31st December at noon exactly, and attracts an increasing number of visitors from all over the world.

Day-by-day itinerary


Getting to know enchanting Opatija

Arrival and settling in at your apartment in the afternoon. Meeting the local guide. Opatija lies at the very heart of the riviera with the longest tradition in tourism in Croatia. Get to know Opatija better on a guided walking tour and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask our friendly host who will show you what life is like in this quiet Mediterranean town. The architecturally diverse buildings, gorgeous gardens, the 12 km long waterfront promenade known as Lungomare and the well-tended beaches and fountains provide a breathtaking backdrop for an array of villas and hotels. We recommend that after the tour you have a relaxing dinner at one of the local restaurants. Overnight stay.


Discovering inland Istria on foot

A licensed tour guide will meet you in the morning and take you to Istria, the largest Croatian peninsula, by car or van. Your first activity of the day will be a light hike on one of the Via Dinarica Blue trails, starting from the village of Brgudac. You will reach the spring of Korita in 45 minutes via a mountain trail that leads from the village. Korita is situated in a meadow at 1010 m above sea level beneath the Brajkove Stijene cliff and consists of 10 massive wooden troughs (korita) in which women used to wash laundry not so long ago. Take a well-deserved break, have a sip of pure spring water and breathe in the fragrant air filled with the aroma of medicinal herbs and then get ready to head back on a different and gentler trail.

Next on your itinerary is a scenic ride past Mount Ćićarija to the village of Brest, where you will hear an interesting story about the local church and the bell tower. You will then continue your ride towards Slum, another ancient Istrian village and the home of the biggest tree in Istria. You can literally get inside this old linden tree and capture the moment by snapping a few photos. It's time for a lunch break at one of the traditional Istrian inns. Your hosts will welcome you with a drink – a local liqueur that will work up your appetite. If you're not into liqueres, you can have Pašareta, a local non-alcoholic drink with a cult following and Istria's best-kept secret. After trying the local delicacies, you will continue your drive by passing through Lupoglav until you reach Vela Draga, where you will go sightseeing on foot (cca. 30 minutes). After listening to a few more fascinating tales, you will draw your excursion to a close and return to your point of departure. Overnight stay.


Hiking trip in Gorski Kotar

After breakfast and check-out, you will meet with the guide and depart for Gorski kotar region, which is also known as the "green heart of Croatia". Your first stop is Platak where the popular Via Dinarica trail re-emerges. After arriving at the Platak mountain lodge, you can prepare for your hike over a cup of coffee: the Radeševo trail (marked with green and white lines) – a forest macadam road that leads to the top of Radeševo (1363 m) with a trail branching off to the top of the Tešnje ski trail (1309 m) and then continuing further to the fascinating Malo Radeševo peak (1364 m) before descending to the Sušak mountain lodge (2-2.5h hike). Return to the Platak mountain lodge/restaurant for the well-deserved lunch. After trying the local cuisine, we will take the road to Fužine (30 minutes) and visit Vrelo, a small, but exceptionally beautiful cave richly adorned with cave decorations. The temperature in Vrelo Cave is 8°C so make sure you wear appropriate clothing. We will cap off our excursion with a walk alongside the stunning Lake Bajer (0.5-1h), followed by a short coffee break in the centre of Fužine. Return to the point of departure.

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