Feeling Croatia by riding in a rafting boat on the river, exploring the clear blue sea with a boat, seeing the most beautiful sunset in the world from the air during skydiving, riding a quad bike to raise your adrenaline while exploring the landscape - all of that is simply a different experience. Different than any other you can imagine.
And then there is a professional side of sports & adventure culture in Croatia. The smell of history on the stadiums and arenas where the greatest Croatian sporting successes were forged represents something really significant, regarding the fact that a country with a population of just 4 million people achieves success after success on the world’s biggest sports stages. It is a country from where the most famous athletes play a crucial role in the most popular sports teams or individually.
Because of all the mentioned above, it would be really unfair not to introduce all of you curious and eager to learn more to some of the most important aspects of Croatian sports and adventure culture through one short guide.
Hidden corners reveal the spirit of Zagreb sports
Well, let’s start with the north. Stopping in the capital city of Zagreb brings you lots of choices. Starting your day with Sites and bites walking tour is a great way to discover historical places in Zagreb and get a chance to have a bite of authentic dishes on your stops in small eateries in the city, with a group of like-minded foodies. Consider it a sort of preparation for your own further exploration of the city, namely its important sports side, marked by successes that almost no one would expect from a city and state of this magnitude.
After you have refreshed yourself, it’s time to check important places on which the history of Croatian sport was written. One of the favorite picnic spots of the people of Zagreb is Sljeme . It’s the place with numerous hiking trails, but also the one where Snow Queen Trophy, a slalom race of the World Ski Cup has been held since 2005. If you want to find out where Croatian most famous skiers and slalom perfectionists – Janica and Ivica Kostelić, learned their skills, trained hard, and have driven some of the most exciting slalom races in ski history – Sljeme is the place to be.
Sljeme is the top of Medvednica, a mountain above Zagreb. It is located at 1033 meters above sea level, with an asphalt road leading to it, together with dozens of hiking trails. There is also a ski slope there, which is one of the locations for the World Ski Cup (Snow Queen) races.
Skiing, of course, is not the only sport that has brought success to Zagreb. When we talk about contributing to the culture of the city, we must also mention the most popular sport in the world. Walking around the city will reveal to you that Dinamo Zagreb is the most popular football club there, a long-time Croatian champion, with extensive experience playing in the top European competitions.
Zagreb has given many other big sports figures throughout both recent and more distant history, such as Sandra Perković, a Croatian discus thrower, and two-time gold Olympic winner. Basketball lovers, on the other hand, will find their way to Dražen Petrović museum , to pay their tribute to one of the best shooters of all time that wore jerseys of greatest clubs in the world - Real Madrid, Portland Trail Blazers, and New Jersey Nets, alongside the one of his native club Šibenka and Cibona Zagreb.
For the end of your journey in the Zagreb region take an interesting hiking tour at Samobor hills in order to complete your sports & adventure experience in this highly-interesting area of Croatia. We want to be sure that you will burn some extra calories before you go for a well-deserved dessert, a famous Samobor kremšnite.
Zadar region - accessible, diverse and magical
Let’s go south now. With only 2,5 hours drive from the capital via highway, with plenty of low-cost airlines and boat connections, Zadar region is the area that awaits you impatiently. Zadar is an ancient Mediterranean port city, whose old town is surrounded by walls and towers on a peninsula, connected by a bridge to a new, urban part. Famous filmmaker, Alfred Hitchcock, once said that Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world.
There are many opportunities for exciting adventures and getting to know the natural resources of the region, and we will single out some of the most interesting ones. For example, Zadar Archipelago offers relaxing speed boat tours that mean only one thing - enjoyment through the exploration of hundreds of smaller and larger islands and islets.
The northern side of the region, protected by the imposing Velebit mountain, complemented by the magic of the Paklenica canyon and nurtured by the fertile hinterland where the Ravni Kotari area particularly stands out, gives this region its unique biodiversity. Hiking, cycling, running… You name it. This part of the region will let you do all of these activities and even immerse in a wine tasting experience shortly after, as the Ravni Kotari subregion is also abundant in vineyards full of Merlot, Syrah, and some indigenous grapes.
One fact about this part of the Zadar region is particularly impressive - Luka Modrić, currently a Real Madrid football player, winner of Ballon d’Or prestigious award, and the person who led Croatia to second place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia - was born here. Namely, in the small village of Zaton Obrovački!
Plentiful of adrenaline and outdoor activities
Situated on the southern slopes of Velebit and covering its most attractive parts, Paklenica National Park is a striking landscape perfect for outdoor recreation. When it comes to specific outdoor experiences, however, rock climbing in Paklenica is one of the most attractive ones on the Authland platform - as climbers from all around the world are coming to feel the adrenaline and test their skills in this beautiful national park rich with stunning mountain views. If you are coming with kids, we suggest a leisure hiking tour which also includes food and drinks , which is more suitable in that case.
Also, there is a Velebit photo safari tour , where you can discover fabulous hinterland routes and enjoy a number of views - Adriatic sea and Zadar archipelago on one, and Paklenica National Park and Sveto Brdo summit on the other side.
And if you look across the sea, your view will be aimed at the area of Ražanac and Ljubač, where a very special adventure awaits. Do not hesitate to book a quad safari tour to combine adrenaline, panoramic and gastronomic experience in one. Local olive oil, prosciutto, cheese, and tuna pâté are waiting on the table for you; you just have to find a way, riding on your quad.
Zadar as a home to basketball… and some interesting water-related activities
When visiting Zadar, do not forget that it is a city of basketball. So, if you are interested, visit two inevitable locations - one is the place of the past – Jazine Hall, where Basketball club Zadar has written the most beautiful pages of its own, but also Croatian basketball history. Even Michael Jordan played a game there before his astonishing NBA career. On the other hand, Krešimir Ćosić Arena, named by the famous Zadar’s Hall of Famer, and with its 9000 seats, represents a place of the Zadar basketball present and future.
Since basketball is a sport which provides a lot of movement in the air, maybe afterward you will have gained enough courage to check the maximum of your adrenaline dose intake - by going for a Zadar tandem skydiving experience . Please, don’t forget to send us photos of the scenic sunset, stunning islands, and mighty Velebit mountain!
If you are a passionate fan of the Olympic games, you have certainly watched two pairs of Croatian brothers winning medals by showing off their skills on the water. Šime and Mihovil Fantela are famous Croatian sailors born in Zadar, while Martin and Valent Sinković are rowers and Olympic winners. But what to do when you don’t want to just watch others compete and enjoy, but also test your own skills on the water? We recommend two experiences.
First one is a kayak tour in Privlaka , nearby Zadar, while another one is a kayaking or rafting adventure on Zrmanja river - probably Croatia’s most beautiful river, full of astonishing oasis, waterfalls, and diverse nature all around. Spending a night on the sea with your friends and family in a kayak sounds really interesting and will transform your vacation into something more than ordinary, while rafting on the Zrmanja river and facing the waterfalls brings great excitement that you won’t forget.
Is Split truly the sportiest city in the world?
South of Zadar is Split, the second-largest city in Croatia. Privileged by its location, warm and pleasant climate, historical monuments, and Mediterranean ambiance, it’s one of the most popular Croatian destinations.
Citizens of Split like to claim the title of the sportiest city in the world. Why? Because of all the great names in the history of the sport - with their origins from Split. Double Olympic medallist, Blanka Vlašić is a former track and field athlete who specialized in the high jump, Goran Ivanišević is a former Wimbledon winner, Ivano Balić was a magical handball player and one of the best to ever do it, while Toni Kukoč helped to build a famous Chicago Bulls dynasty by winning an NBA championship 3 times with. He also helped the local team Jugoplastika (nowadays Basketball club Split ) to win 3 consecutive European titles. Football club Hajduk Split is something else. It is the most popular sports club in Croatia, whose fans create a spectacular atmosphere at Poljud Stadium, one you should not miss.
There are many other Olympics, World and European medals won in water polo, swimming, rowing, handball, athletics, and martial arts… so, the title of the sportiest city in the world actually supports the theory.
When you decide to explore the 17 centuries old Split, discover Diocletian’s Palace and the history of the city, we definitely recommend taking a ride with a tuk tuk vehicle . Not only will you discover all the most known (and those unknown!) monuments which you would usually miss or would take you a whole day to visit, but you will be able to ask local guides anything about the sport’s history of the city as well.
Now that you know more about the sports culture and different possibilities that Croatian destinations offer, we hope you are ready for an entirely new experience. Experience Croatia as a country of sports, adventure, natural beauties, and stunning gastronomic and cultural heritage.