I'm a 20 year old backpacking in Italy right now, but missing my bicycle. I would love to tour the coast of Croatia if possible in the coming months, but I have a couple questions. The first is if anyone knows of a place to possibly rent a bike in Croatia, or if you have any recommendations for how to rent a good bike for about a month in Europe in general (I could rent in Italy and go on the ferry). Second, is Croatia easy enough to bike around and find places to stay as someone staying on their own and likely without a tent? And finally, I only have my 65L backpacking bag - is there any way I'd be able to bike with this on my shoulders, or would that be too difficult/damaging. Thanks in advance for your help!
Sounds like an interesting itinerary. Croatia has a beautiful landscape.
You may be better off buying a second hand bike and then selling it off or giving it away at the end. The problem with renting is: 1) it gets stolen, you must pay the company that rented it 2) You have to plan your route as a loop so you can return it
A 65L backpack will certainly be uncomfortable on your back. Try wearing it for 3-4h per day and see how it feels as you walk around. If it's fine, then maybe you will be OK. But nothing beats proper bicycle panniers. I bought Ortlieb ones, they are very nicely designed and will last a long time. However, if money is an issue, I guess you can adapt other bags or something. But if you are planning on cycling serious distances then the cash outlay may save you pain...
Re the backpack.
Wearing it, depending on the distances you'll be travelling, is likely to be uncomfortable. You may however (depending on your load) be able to strap them to the bicycles rack using bungee cords etc.
Ps. Touring Croatia is great. Finding places to stay will be very easy without a tent. You can't move for pensions/hostels. Croatia is very well developed tourism wise. Some f the roads can be quite busy and aren't designed for bikes but nothing that can't be handled.
Wearing a backpack on a bike is really bad for your back, I tried, it's bad in every road that goes up (and in Croatia, there are Roads UP).
But you can find a big carton, strong carton or a wine carton, or a vegetables carton that could contain a part of your bag and then you fixe it with cables. But the best is for sure to buy, to find or to build some suitcases adapted at your bike;
I cycled Croatia Cost AND Croatia Est, in Croatia Est, it depends on when you go, the touristic coat is good betwween march until beginning of may, because a lot of camping are still not open and so you can go for free to sleep there.
But I would keep my tent if I had to do it again.
In some places, I found some indifference, as I don't like to ask or to force the people to invit me, I had to sleep quite often in my tent in Croatia, much more than in Bosnia or Serbia.
But everybody is different, as every roads you will take are differents.
So I hope I helped you.
So I ended up biking from Split-Hvar, partially along the island Brac and then down the coast, and then down Hvar. I'll post a longer review of the trip for people to check out later, but in the interim if anyone has any immediate questions about cycling that area, let me know. Overall it was a decent and short tour but not a fantastic one.
So here's how my tour went: Keep in mind that there were some mitigating factors, namely that I was going to meet a friend but our dates kept changing for when we were meeting in Hvar, so it was a little difficult to figure out.
I started in Split and took the ferry to Brac island, biking from Supetar to Bol, then out of Bol and to Sumartin where I spent the night. This was a pretty challenging ride, mostly because Bol is at the bottom of a mountain and you probably have about 10 kms uphill when you get out, but that means going into Bol and Sumarti were really incredible downhills. I would recommend cycling on Brac.
Then I took the ferry to Makarska, where I planned to bike to Drvenik to catch the ferry to Hvar. The coastal road at that time of year was not so bad because there wern't so many cars, and although the shoulder was narrow it was quite manageable. HOwever, I missed the ferry by three minutes, and rather than waiting four hours, I decided to press on and try to start biking down to Dubrovnik. After Drvenik, however, the road unexpectedly became terrible, and after Ploce I found myself biking on what were essentially two lane highways in really ugly parts of the country, including a stretch of highway in Bosnia once I got back to the Coast. I ended up sleeping in Ston and did 112 KM that day, and after that initial part in the morning it just wasn't the most pleasant ride - Would not recommend this part of the coastal road.
Then I took a bus down to Dubrovnik because I heard the road was far too narrow going into the city, and from what I saw from the bus, this was confirmed. Happy I didn't do that. Took a bus back and went to Drvenik and took the ferry to Hvar island, where I biked 56km in the afternoon to Jelsa. This part again was quite nice, and enjoyably difficult. The descent to Jelsa was incredible. Finally on the last day I just did a brief ride to the city of Hvar.
On a whole I think I learned that you need to stay on the islands if you're touring in Croatia, but the problem is that the ferries are not really accessible by bike very often (you have to take the car ferry instead of the power boats) and the islands are not well connected. So it ends up being hard to not just take a circuitous route, which makes the whole thing feel rather pointless. I didn't plan so well for this trip, but I also think the ferries and the coastal road just make it a little too difficult to plan effectively, so unless you just want to bike on all the islands without a real destination, I wouldn't recommend the tour here.