Croatia is a beautiful Central European and Mediterranean country, and it has breathtaking views, nature, greenery, and – great outdoor rock-climbing spots! Some of them certainly stand out and they are spread along the Croatian coast. Due to that, I’m going to introduce you to the 7 best climbing spots in Croatia, as well as their surrounding towns and traditional cuisines so you know all the places and dishes with which you’ll regain your strength for a new climbing adventure!
1. Paklenica National Park
Paklenica is a Croatian national park, and it is considered the most important Croatian climbing center. The climbing area, which is arranged in carbonate rocks, has around 590 equipped and arranged routes of different lengths and difficulties, so every climber can find something according to their preferences. The climbing routes are graded from 3 to 8c.
Klanci is the narrowest part of the canyon Velika Paklenica and there is the largest number of short routes. Since Klanci has easy access, it is suitable for climbers with small children. One of the most interesting climbing areas in Paklenica is Crljenica. It is a prominent cliff with reddish rock and southern exposure on the left side of gorge. This area is great for winter climbing too.
The most popular rock for climbing in Paklenica is called Anića kuk. There you can find up to 350 m long routes – each of them is different and thanks to that, great for different levels of climbers. Besides Anića kuk, Paklenica has many more routes such as Veliki Ćuk, Debeli kuk, Kukova ispod Vlake, and Kuka od Skradeline.
Paklenica combines many climbing directions which differ a lot when it comes to their equipment. Old directions are equipped with wedges, while the newer ones have spits. The main climbing season in Paklenica starts in spring and lasts until late autumn.
What To Eat & See Nearby
Starigrad is situated in the middle of the Paklenica Riviera and today, thanks to the proximity and accessibility of the mountain, the city is a vivid tourist place. Starigrad is a traditional gathering place for all the mountaineers and alpinists who first enjoy the beauties of Paklenica and Velebit, and afterward, in the traditional flavors of the Croatian coast such as lamb prepared in numerous ways, grilled or cooked fish, risotto, oysters, and more. All those dishes you can find in tavern Marasovic and restaurants Dinko and Bragoc. These places offer the best local flavors and aromas – perfect for relaxing after adventurous climbing!
2. Sv. Nedjelja or Suplja stina
This climbing spot is situated on the east side of the small village Sv. Nedjelja on the southern parts of the island of Hvar. Sv. Nedjelja, Šuplja stina, or Cliffbase, is the most popular climbing spot on the island – it combines easy, simple, and difficult routes, as well as DWS and DWS boulder traversing. The climbing area is oriented to the south and it is located at sea level. Winter, fall, and spring are the best times to climb.
During the summer, the sun makes it difficult to climb so most climbers wait until 5 PM when the sun sets behind the cliff. The climbing grades in Šuplja stina goes from 5a to 8a+. Also, some of the routes have two slopes, so be sure to bring abseiling and descending equipment.
One more thing to know – the only legal way to get to the climbing area from Sveta Nedjelja is by sea. You can take a boat from the port or walk along the coast. For any additional information, you must contact the owner of the climbing area.
Šuplja stina is an amazing rock-climbing spot – not only because of its diverse routes suitable for everyone’s preferences but also because of the amazing view you have during the climbing. The crystal-clear sea and beautiful horizon (comparable to that of Kalymnos in Greece) are surely the best company for your rock-climbing adventure!
What To Eat & See Nearby
The island of Hvar is known for its beauty, amazing nightlife, and quite interesting cuisine. Some of the traditional dishes of this island are roasted dormouse, pašticada, gregada, and buzara. Of course, there are many restaurants and taverns which will give you true and authentic local flavors and aromas – Bacchus, Meneghello, Zbondini, Dva Ribara, and more.
The island of Hvar combines vivid life with fjaka and relaxation but besides that, it is an amazing place to explore culture and history, as well as to visit Paklinski otoci – breathtaking archipelago!
Orebić is a small town situated on the Pelješac peninsula and there, you can find a perfect sport climbing area. The climbing spot has around 20 routes with different categories of difficulties, so they are suitable for different levels of climbers.
The area has 2 climbing sectors, Pržun and Hrid, and each of them has a couple of routes suitable for everyone. Pržun has 13 climbing routes which are graded from 4a to 7a+, all the routes are very well bolted and many of them have nameplates to make them easy to figure out. Hrid has 7 routes which are graded from 5a to 5c which are, of course, well-bolted.
The climbing routes vary when it comes to their length. The shortest ones are Pionir, Hrid, Bode stina, Elvis, Kiko, and Hurmašica with the length of 8 meters, while the longest ones are Karako and 6 i kvarat with the length of 23 meters. The best time for climbing is during spring and fall.
Also, if you don’t have climbing experience, you can have a climbing guide who will teach you about the basic rules of climbing so you can safely climb the rock with a technique called “top rope”.
What To Eat & See Nearby
When it comes to the cuisine of the Pelješac peninsula, local restaurants mostly prepare fish, seafood, and shells such as oysters. And oysters are a must-try, must-indulge! Besides that, restaurants offer lamb and boar prepared under peka.
Pelješac has quite a classic Mediterranean food selection, but when it comes to the wines, it is known for its extraordinary red wines like Dingač, Postup, and Plavac mali. All the traditional Croatian dishes, as well as amazing local wines, you can taste in restaurant Stari kapetan, and taverns Babilon, Andiamo, and others. If you’re a true wine lover, make sure to visit a history-making winery Grgić vina.
Pelješac is also known for its stunning and hidden beaches – Divna, Jezero, Mokalo, Prapratno, and Trstenica are just a couple of beaches which will seduce you with their beauty, untouched nature, and crystal-clear sea!
4. Limski Kanal
Limski kanal is often described as one of the Istrian most dramatic natural phenomena. It has densely forested cliffs up to a height of 150 m and a crystal-clear sea below it. Limski kanal is around 10 km long and it has 5 different climbing sectors on its northern side – Gavranik, Horoskop, Krugi, Šimije, and Kloštar. The climbing routes are graded from 4b to 8b+.
Some of the routes in sector D (Šimije) are 40 meters long, so you’ll need 80-meter rope and a set of 16 quickdraws. Other sectors have shorter routes so a 60-meter rope and 12 quickdraws will do the trick. Some of the climbs have slabs, cracks, and smaller roofs which give an excellent view over the canal and sea.
Every mentioned route has numerous different climbing areas so you can certainly choose the one which is most suitable for your level of expertise, skills, and preferences. The attractive rocks rise above the sea and due to that, they provide beautiful views over the canal.
What To Eat & See Nearby
When it comes to its gastronomy scene, Istria is mostly known for its indigenous pasta – pasutice, ravijoli, makaruni, rigationi, gnocchi, pljukanci, fuži, and more. Pasta is often combined with classic sauces, meat, fish, shells, seafood, and other ingredients. Besides pasta, Istrian ham, ombolo, and boškarin are true delicacies and must-try when visiting! This beautiful Croatian region has many restaurants which offer amazing local dishes and recipes, but some of them that certainly stand out are Fjord, Viking, Istarska hiža Kontija, and Kod Luce. They are situated close to the Limski kanal and due to that, they are great for relaxation and exploring new flavors!
Istria is known as the best Croatian region for foodies, but besides that, it has quite an amazing wine selection (Istarska Malvazija and Muškat are a must), beautiful nature, small and picturesque towns and cities in which you can almost feel and see those ancient spirits wandering through the small stone-paved streets. Istria is just amazing!
5. Cikola Canyon
The river Čikola near Šibenik is 46 km long and it is the longest tributary of Krka. The watercourse and canyon of the Čikola river is 13 km long and it is characterized by a very deep canyon which is on some places up to 170 m deep. The canyon offers 9 climbing sectors – Osoje (divided into 5 more sectors), Betkin, Brštane above, Brštane bottom, and Sige. The climbing area is easy to access – the walls face south, and they are suitable for climbing during winter. Two other sectors which are on the opposite side of the canyon have been recently developed and they are ideal for summer.
The climbing area of Čikola canyon has approach trails and viewpoints, while the routes are well-bolted and appropriate for recreational climbers and beginners. Of course, there are some harder routes too. Most cliffs are slab or vertical, some of them are also slightly overhanging. Summer sectors provide steeper climbing on tufas. The walls are up to 80 meters high, and the climbs are long – some goes up to 50 meters in length.
The mentioned sectors have around 50 climbing routes of different categories. This climbing adventure offers beautiful and quite breathtaking views over the canyon which certainly bring a touch to the attractiveness of rock climbing!
What To Eat & See Nearby
Šibenik combines Dalmatian flavors and continental specialties – from grilled fish, mussels on buzara, brodetto, and seafood risotto to the lamb, pork, indigenous cheese, and prosciutto. Some of the most popular restaurants there are Pelegrin, Pjat, Tinel, Marenda, and Galbiani. All those places prepare truly beautiful combinations of flavors, aromas, and nuances in an amazing harmony of local ingredients, traditional recipes, and modern twists.
Besides indulging in those classic Mediterranean flavors, Šibenik is known as old and historic city with beautifully preserved Old Town filled with 15th and 16th century architecture. So, besides rock climbing, you’ll certainly will enjoy wandering the old street and exploring the historic beauty of the town.
6. Marjan in Split
Marjan in Split is often referred to as the cradle of sport climbing in Croatia. It has amazing limestone cliffs, breathtaking views over the sea and islands, and it is suitable for both beginners and experienced climbers. Marjan has 9 climbing sectors, so it offers enough variety of climbing routes, levels of difficulties, and lengths. The routes are graded from 4b to 8a while their length goes from 8 meters to 30 meters.
On the south side of Marjan, there are cliffs facing the island Šolta, peninsula Čiovo, and many beaches. The cliff runs along the top of the hill for about 500 meters, while the height goes from 15 to 30 meters. Those 9 mentioned sectors have 76 climbing routes which are graded from 4c to 8a, and they are mostly vertical. The best time to climb Marjan is during the winter, but spring and fall are also quite suitable seasons. It is possible to climb Marjan during the summer too, but the climbing area is famous for its quite many sunny days, so the climbers need to be careful of heat.
What’s interesting about this place is that the local climbers have been developing and climbing at Marjan since the 50’s and they used it as a training ground for the Alps. So, the climbing area combines old school routes mixed with some newer developments.
What To Eat & See Nearby
Split, like every other Dalmatian city, offers classic Mediterranean dishes and recipes to all visitors and tourists. There are many restaurants with a rich selection of fish and seafood which will give you authentic Dalmatian and local flavors and aromas – from fancy dining spots to small and charming restaurants and taverns, Split has it all. Some of the best restaurants with fresh, traditional, and local cuisine with delicious aromas of the sea depths are tavern Nikola, Laganini, Trattoria Tavulin, Nevera, Fetivi, and Marjan.
Split is surely known for its beauty of the Old Town, Diocletian’s Palace, Klis Fortress, long walks at Riva, and beautiful (but often too popular) beach called Bačvice. Split is an amazingly vivid town quite popular with the tourist and visitors, and it is perfect for all generations.
7. Biokovo in Dalmatian region
Biokovo or the queen of Dalmatian mountains is the highest and longest mountain in the Dalmatian region, and it is one of the Croatian nature parks. The most impressive peaks of the mountain are Miletnjak, Sv. Ilija, Kuranik, Šibenik, Sv. Jure, Vošac, and Kimet.
Biokovo has 15 climbing sectors and 214 climbing routes. Each of them has a different category of difficulty and thanks to that, climbers can choose the route suitable for their skills and personal preferences.
The multi-pitch routes are bolted and some of them goes up to 850 meters in length. The best climbing time for multi-pitch routes is from May to October. When it comes to the sport climbing routes, their number is growing while they’re being developed. In the south parts of Biokovo, there is sport climbing area called Brela. It has around 70 routes situated in very compact vertical limestone. Those routes are graded from 5a to 7c+.
What To Eat & See Nearby
The mountain is close to the cities such as Baška voda, Brela, Makarska, and Tučepi. Makarska Riviera is known for its amazing offer when it comes to the accommodation and gastronomy scene. Some of the town’s traditional dishes are Dalmatian prosciutto, brodetto, grilled fish, pašticada, and peka – basically, the dishes which can be found along the entire Dalmatian coast but of course, every town adds its own twist to the recipe. Some of the most popular restaurants for those local dishes are Vicenco Grill Bar, Kalalarga, Hrpia, Riva, and Jež.
Besides delicious food, rock climbing, and Biokovo Nature Park, Makarska has beautiful Old Town, astronomical observatory for daily stargazing during the summer, beautiful beaches, and breathtaking sights. What more to ask for!
Croatia certainly has amazing rock-climbing spots to offer – from the easiest ones to the spots which require a bit of skill, knowledge, and strength. They are situated in interesting places, surroundings, and islands, and thanks to that, they have great spots for relaxation, dining, and wining after a long day of adventures, exploring, and climbing.
So beyond Game of Thrones filming locations, come to Croatia for incredible rock climbing experiences.