You should arrive in Zagreb at least one day before your tour start date, to allow for any travel or baggage delays and to give yourself time to relax before your adventure begins.
We have a handy guide to spending 24 hours in Zagreb, with recommendations for places to stay and things to do in the city.
Your guide will meet you at the train station in Zagreb tomorrow morning.
Your guide will meet you at Zagreb train station in the morning, then you’ll make the 3 hour transfer through beautiful scenery to your first stop of the tour.
We will arrive in Buje, a small town that has its own charming brewery, where we’ll grab a bite to eat, fit e-bikes, then your guide will take you through the all-important pre-trip briefing.
We’ll then start our Istrian e-mountain bike adventure on the famous Parenzana trail, which used to be a 123km-long narrow gauge rail road between Trieste and Parenzo (Porec). It is now a biking and hiking trail, and we’ll ride the most scenic section of it to the town of Grožnjan.
You’ll pedal through farmland and olive groves, with the aroma of trailside herbs and flowers filling your senses as you pass. It’s not all gentle doubletrack, however, and after an hour or so we’ll join some technical, fast, singletrack trails through the forest near Grožnjan that will take us all the way down to Mirna valley.
We’ll then rejoin the Parenzana trail for the final push that will deliver us at the foot of Motovun, and our breath-taking hilltop accommodation.
Motovun is one of many mediaeval fortified villages, perched high on the hilltops around Istria. With a population of little more than 500, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
We need to cycle all the way to the top of Motovun, where only the church tower overlooks our 17th century hotel. If we have time, you can enjoy a swim in the hotel pool before dinner on the terrace.
After a hearty breakfast, including scrambled eggs with truffles, we’ll ride towards the town of Buzet, considered the Istrian truffle capital.
We will ride through the forests of the Mirna valley, a world-renowned truffle area, with beautiful views of the surrounding hilltops. We will descend to the outskirts of Buzet before picking up a rocky singletrack, with a few short, challenging climbs that will take us to the medieval town of Hum – officially the smallest town in the world.
Riding into the old town of Hum, you’ll be forgiven for expecting to see knights in full armour, brandishing swords and shields; it really is that kind of place!
We’ll stop for lunch in the only (but very good) restaurant in Hum, then descend to the valley floor and follow the aromatic smells of thyme, wild garlic and rosemary as we head back towards Motovun.
Today’s trails are hugely diverse: from rocky singletrack through the forest, to fast double track descents and riverside singletrack at the bottom of a beautiful gorge.
After freshening up and enjoying a relaxing massage in the hotel spa, we’ll test our cookery skills with a pasta-making class. This is a traditional dish of Istria called ‘Frkanci’ and you will visit the mill where they produce the flour, learn how to make the dough, and then finish by making your own pasta.
Your cooking class will continue on the hotel terrace where we will share another delicious meal ‘al fresco’.
With strong Italian history, Istria is like the Croatian Tuscany. As far as the eye can see there are rolling hills dotted with vineyards and olive groves, with hilltop fortresses keeping watch over these valuable crops.
Today we’ll use one of these historically-rich towns as our base for enjoying a day of multiple fun descents.
The hilltop town of Grožnjan dates back to the early 12th century, and is the only town in Croatia to have an ethnic Italian majority. It is known as a village of artists, and with the smell of coffee in the calm, warm air, it is a place you’ll want to spend a lot of time in.
We will be riding a selection of singletrack descents that peel off from the town, dropping you to the valley floor with ever-increasing smiles. We’ll be passing through the town a few times today and have lunch here, so if you feel like resting and taking in the atmosphere, you can opt to sit out a run or two and sip on a cappuccino whilst looking over the vineyards instead.
After we finish today’s riding, we’ll leave this inland region and head to the turquoise coast and our accommodation in the beautiful town of Bale.
Again, you’ll have the option to ease aching muscles in the hotel spa, or have a wander round the village before dinner in the hotel restaurant.
From your accommodation today, we will ride our e-mountain bikes through rural life in this dry, coastal region of Istria, through vineyards and olive groves all the way to the Adriatic sea. A mixture of trails, gravel and double track roads through the olive tree fields and vineyards will offer an easy and enjoyable day ride.
We’ll arrive in Rovinj and explore this well-preserved medieval town, which is a smaller, less crowded version of Dubrovnik. We will ride up to the church above town, explore the narrow streets and sit down to lunch, then stroll around with a gelato. You will have time to explore Rovinj, its galleries and food markets on your own this afternoon.
On our return ride from Rovinj to Bale, we will pedal through the cool coastal forests of native holm oak and cypress trees, dive in for a swim along the coast and visit an ancient quarry where the stone came from to build Venice!
As we arrive back at our hotel we will feel that our legs have been used today, but also happy to have had some downtime to get under the skin of Istrian culture.
This morning we’re heading eastward to the island of Krk, one of 1180 Croatian islands. Krk is one of the Kvarner islands and offers a totally different landscape from the inland forests and the coastal trails we have ridden so far in Croatia.
We’ll settle into our beachfront accommodation and have lunch looking over the bay, ready for our first island ride.
You also have the option of having the afternoon off to explore Krk, or just lie on the beach reading a book and re-charge your batteries, ready for the last two days riding on Croatian islands.
We’ll pedal towards the second highest mountain on the island, through magnificent olive groves, and start climbing to the summit on rocky singletrack to survey the archipelago that surrounds us; each island separated by glistening turquoise waters in the warm afternoon light.
As we push off from the top we’ll enjoy a selection of flowing and, at times, very rocky trails that weave their way through one-meter-high drystone walls that protect the crops from the wind and any hungry animals.
As we blast out of the downhill trail, we peel onto a singletrack that sees us hug the coastline for 10 kilometres, past secluded bays and harbours filled with fishing boats as well as pleasure boats.
We’ll ride back to our beachfront hotel and get freshened up for dinner, and to watch the sun set over the Adriatic.
It’s an early start today as we’re leaving Krk behind for the day and heading by ferry to Rab Island, known as the ‘Happy Island’. The ferry will take around one and a half hours, and we’ll have breakfast on deck, soaking up the views along with the morning sunlight.
Upon arrival at Rab we will swing by the island bakery to grab lunch for our backpacks, before setting off on a coastal trail that takes in the northern part of the island, weaving in and out of secluded bays, with some of the only sandy beaches in Croatia.
As we start the return leg of our loop we’ll stop off at a little-known beach, your guide’s favourite, to dive in for a swim then stretch out on the sand to soak up some sun as we wait for the ferry to come back to collect us. We’ll head up on deck, grab a coffee and sail off back to Krk island in the fading summer sunlight.
Today we’ll be e-biking the ‘Moonland Trail’, for reasons that will become obvious. We’ll start the ride from Baška bay where we will take on a long ascent. The climb is gradual, with the trail running though the shade of pine trees and offering spectacular panoramas of surrounding islands.
Once we reach the plateau you’ll feel like you’ve just arrived on the moon, with bleached-white limestone rocks strewn in every direction.
We’ll continue along the plateau, criss-crossed by hundreds of drystone walls built to mark land and keep animals in, but also out of necessity; it’s the simplest and most sensible place to put all of these rocks!
As we crest the saddle we’ll be rewarded by a long, winding singletrack descent that feels never ending. As we weave the bike in between large rock walls, we’ll stop to inspect the make up of the rock and find it is stuffed full of fossils, indicating that this area was once the sea floor.
The ride finishes with a sedate riverside trail that delivers us with ease to the seaside town of Baška, where we will sit on the beach front taking in the view and sampling the local seafood dishes, before heading back to pack up for our return journey home tomorrow.
Tonight we will drive to a special secluded farmstead to enjoy a final celebratory dinner of a classic slow cooked meat and local homemade brandies, cheeses and prosciutto.
Sadly, this is the end of our E-MTB tour in Croatia.
We will leave Istria behind, say our farewells and transfer back to Zagreb (around 2.5 hours) for around midday.