From the horse’s mouth – trail rides in Croatia
Rolling plains. Steep mountains. Lush river valleys. Waterfalls. And miles and miles of coastline. Croatia’s stunning, varied terrain is ideal for almost any activity you can think of: hiking, kayaking, sailing, camping, climbing – and even horseback riding.
You’ve seen it in the movies: riding along the beach, splashing through the surf. You might have even thought to yourself, hm, that’s something I’d like to do one day . . . Or maybe you’d rather trek through the mountains on horseback, wash down finger-licking good grub with a swig of homemade rakija, and crash in a hay barn. Whatever your riding style, you can find it in Croatia. Here are a few picks to get you started.
National Park Rides
Ranch Jelov Klanac specializes in rides through national parks, including Plitvice Lakes and Northern Velebit National Park, as well as the Gacka and Lika River valleys. Riders of all ages and levels of experience are welcome. You can choose from short trail rides around the ranch, day trips to Plitvice Lakes or Barac Caves, or two- to four-day guided treks that include accommodation and meals.
If you’re in Istria, check out Istria Trekking with Petar, who has over fifteen years of experience as a trail guide. Istria Trekking offers two six-day programs. The itineraries differ slightly, but on either excursion you’ll explore several of Istria’s beautiful villages by horseback and enjoy delicious local food and wine. Compare the Stationary Program and the Trail Program to see which sounds best to you.
At Kojan Coral in Gruda, south of Dubrvonik, you can catch breathtaking coastal views during a half-day ride. The 11-kilometer trail winds upward through olive groves and pine forests. At the top of Velje Brdo, take a few moments to rest and snap photos of the rocky Konavle region.
Equestrian Club Split offers two treks for intermediate to experienced riders. On the Dalmatia Trail, you’ll follow historic Roman and Napoleonic roads through the Dalmatian hinterland. Another option is the Plitvice Trail. During this excursion, you’ll have the rare opportunity to swim with your horse through a lake! Both treks include a preliminary ride up Mount Svilaja to help you and your horse get to know each other, as well as room and board.
Near Split, in the town of Trilj, you can organize a short one- or two-hour ride with Hotel Sv. Mihovil’s “Galop” stable. During the ride, you’ll explore the Cetina River valley. Information about the ride is in Croatian.
Now, about that Hollywood-style, romantic ride through the surf! If you’re near Zadar, you’re in luck. At Libertas Equestrian Center, located at the Zaton Holiday Resort, you can book a two-hour Beach Tour. On your way to the sea, you’ll ride past the town of Nin against the backdrop of Velebit mountain. Shorter trail rides are also available, as well as pony rides for children.
If you’re already in Croatia and your itinerary doesn’t include one of these locations, try asking hotel concierge or a local tourist office about horseback riding in your area. Often, they can arrange riding excursions with smaller stables. Occasionally, you’ll find opportunities to ride in unexpected places – like at Camp Strasko’s riding school in Novalja on Pag. Giddyup and sretan put!
Worked up an appetite on your ride? Find the best dining options wherever your journey takes you using Like Croatia’s Good Restaurants app, available on iTunes now!