The best Croatia kayak holidays offer the perfect combination of accessible adventure with beautiful wilderness, all topped off with some culture and a bit of a party. With so many options of where to paddle in Croatia, we’ve put together the top 5 Croatian kayaking destinations to help you decide where your next trip should be.
Croatia, lying in a niche of Eastern Europe surrounded by its former Yugoslav partners, has quickly regained its reputation as an adventure sports destination. Long hot summers and miles of coastline and pristine rivers are tempting not just the beach trippers but also adventure seekers.
Eight per cent of Croatia is protected in the form of national parks. These are scattered with forests, mountains, waterfalls and rivers. Croatia is a country asking to be explored in a kayak and many of the top Croatian kayaking destinations can be found inland.
But the best Croatia kayak holidays should include some time on the coast too. Croatia is located on the eastern shore of the beautiful Adriatic Sea. The stunning coastline is very popular for beach holidays, yet with 1185 islands, there’s still plenty of untouched beaches.
The historic cities, notably the UNESCO World Heritage site or Dubrovnik, and Zagreb, offer culture and nightlife. While the sparsely populated interior make it a great country for the adventure tourist. So for kayaking trips, cultural breaks and a bit of a party, Croatia is a great place to go.
If you are looking for the best Croatia kayak holidays then a visit to one of the five destinations below would be great. Even better visit them all using our itinerary below.
Small yet unique, is the way to describe Karlovac, Croatia. This star-shaped town is known at the city of four vivers because it sits at the confluence of Kupa, Mrežnica, Korana and Dobra rivers. This diversity creates one of the top Croatian kayaking destinations for all classes and seasons.
The four rivers all eventually become part of the Danube. But prior to that they flow past pristine forests and mountainsides and encompass beautiful waterfalls, rapids and lakes that enliven the spirit.
The town itself offers a host of upmarket hotels; budget accommodation is found in private homes. The town’s masterpiece is the 13th century Dubovac Castle looming over the star. Karlovac also contains parks, and museums and churches, making it the perfect place to explore archaic cultures and get your feet wet.
The Krupa and Zrmanja canyons are possibly the most beautiful in Croatia. Located in rugged terrain in Central Croatia, fairly near the border with Bosnia, they are not too touristy and offer plenty of adventure.
They can both be visited on a day trip and it is a stunning location for some paddling. There are 17 cascades on the Krupa that will use up plenty of space on your camera. There are some rapids you can kayak, hidden swimming pools and beautiful scenery.
Sitting at the estuary of the Krka River and Lake Prokljan, Skradin makes an ideal spot for river and lake kayaking – you can also head out to sea via Sibenik. Skradin is the oldest settlement (with town status) in Croatia and dates back to Ancient Greece, so it is a hub for adrenaline junkies and culture vultures alike.
The Krka River flows through the stunning Krka National park, which is well worth a visit although kayaking is unfortunately not allowed. Although they are not the highest of most volume of water, the Krka has some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Europe.
Lake Prokljan is the perfect for a practice kayak on tranquil waters. Surrounded by steep rocky hills with some nice beaches it is a pleasure to explore. Heading out of the other side of the lake you can kayak to Sibenik which is a historic city with a 14th/15th century buildings. It’s also the gateway to the beautiful Kornati Islands.
Off the water there’s plenty of action fixes as well: mountain biking, trekking and climbing are all popular. Ample sunny evenings let you snoop around monasteries and a Roman Emperor’s palace, or simply sit in a bar and try out the local brews.
The island of Vis, belonging to Croatia, was once a Yugoslavian military base. However, rather than damaging its natural beauty, the island has been preserved in it’s isolation and represents one of the few unspoilt coastlines on the Mediterranean.
Luckily, it shares the warm balanced climate of much of the Med so kayaking around Vis offers unbelievable treasures. The most famous, situated on Bisevo Islet, is the Blue cave where the water appears to shimmer in all shades of blue.
Being Croatia’s outermost island, the sea can be quite rough, but caves and bays supply plenty of shelter and wonderment. Towards the coast from Vis you’ll find the Island of Brac, which is also worth a visit although is more developed.
The diminutive yet stunning Elaphite Islands of Croatia sit as an ode to the Mediterranean of the past. A scarce population lives a traditional lifestyle, and a lack of cars means kayaks are the best way to circumnavigate this archipelago.
The sea tends to be calm and warm, perfectly suited for beginners. The islands of Sipan and Lopud have the most to offer; there are golden beaches, eerie caves and grandiose castles.
Sipan’s two villages sit in enclosed bays – perfect for testing the water in one of the top Croatian kayaking destinations. Sunj Bay is a beautiful area and a great place to unwind after kayaking around Lopud.
Croatia is a wealth of possibilities squashed into a small country. Zagreb is the place to fly to for the northern adventures and the best Croata kayak holidays around Karlovac where you can explore the four rivers.
From here head south to Krupa and Zrmanja Rivers and then onto Skradin for Krka River kayaking. From the intriguing old town and lake of Skradin you can paddle to Sibenik and head out to the Kornati Islands. From here you can head to the Islands of Vis and Brac – be sure to stop in the 2000 year old city of Split on the way.
The historical city of Dubrovnik offers a great base from which to explore southern Croatian kayaking destinations and is convenient for flights home. But before you do take a boat out to the Elaphite Islands and explore the rustic beaches, caves and bays of the Adriatic in a kayak.
We hope you have found this guide to the the best kayaking destinations is Croatia useful. For the best Croatia kayak holidays be sure to check out kayaking discounts as you could save a fortune.