Deep green pine forests. Dusky olive groves. Gentle river stretches between towering limestone canyons. Europe’s most dramatic karst landscapes. And an azure ocean scattered with wild islands. The rugged islands and rivers of Croatia’s stunning Northern Dalmatian coast aren’t just “pretty” — they’re stunning. And they’re a paddler’s dream.
Our voyage encompasses them all, as we journey by kayak and on foot through layers of history, and into places of intense natural beauty. En route, we stay in intimate, charming hotels and inns. We wander through medieval stone villages, sip coffee with locals, and dine alfresco by the sea on Croatia’s wonderful cuisine and wines.
The journey begins in Split, with an exploration of Diocletian’s Palace, built by a Roman emperor at the turn of the 4th century and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Heading to the Krka River National Park, we hike past jaw-dropping waterfalls, and have a shakedown kayaking session (and stand-up paddle boarding, if you’re keen) on the quieter reaches of the river.
Then we wander through the red-roofed village of Skradin, capital of Roman Liburnia in the 1st century, dramatically backed by mountains and facing the sea. From here, we paddle down the limestone-floored Krka River to picture-perfect Sibernik, built in the 11th century by Croatian kings. We explore its labyrinth of narrow, sun-warmed streets and gaze reverently up at the Cathedral of St James, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our next destination is the quiet island of Prvic: once the place where 15th century nobles summered, it’s now home to sleepy, romantic fishing villages — and not a single car. From our base in a harbourfront hotel (with mouthwatering fresh cuisine), we paddle to surrounding islands, immersing ourselves in each one’s distinct character.
Paddling back to the mainland, we transfer to Novigrad, a scenic seaside village overlooked by a 13th century fortress. This is our jumping off point (not literally, of course) for the dramatic canyons of Paklenica National Park. We explore them by kayak, along an emerald-green stretch of the Zrmanja River (think mini Grand Canyon) and on foot — to a tucked-away mountain hut for a special surprise.
As a grand finale, we head to Zadar: we visit its Roman ruins, soak up its geometrically-perfect architecture, and watch the sun set from the harbour wall as its legendary “sea organ” serenades us with otherworldly harmonies.
Inn to Inn kayaking, hiking and optional stand up paddle boarding!
After settling into a historic hotel in Split’s Diocletian’s Palace, wander though ancient streets for a welcome dinner in an atmospheric setting.
Avoid the crowds on an early morning walking tour of Diocletian’s Palace. Have coffee in one of its lovely squares, surrounded by ancient history. In the afternoon, head to the picturesque village of Skradin – maybe in time for some SUP!
Get immersed in the beauty of Krka National Park, hiking around the waterfalls, having a shake down paddle on quieter stretches of the river and trying out the SUPs.
Get your paddling arms ready for a voyage down the Krka River to 11th century Sibernik.
Paddle through a wartime tunnel, past the massive 16th Fort of St Nicholas and end up in a sleepy island harbour, home to the guy who invented the parachute!
Head off from our harbour side inn to explore some of the surrounding islands.
Kick up your heels in the morning, or paddle to a nearby quaint harbour for coffee with locals. In the afternoon, paddle back to the mainland for our ride to Novigrad, near Zadar.
Go up the creek with a paddle! Head across Novigrad Bay and into the spectacular Zrmanja River Canyon.
A fabulous finale: hike up through the dramatic landscapes of Paklenica National Park for a very special lunch. Head to Zadar for a walking tour of the old town and its Roman ruins. Listen to the sea organ at sundown, then enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner!
Wake up in the old city of Zadar, and say farewell to new found friends over breakfast before beginning homeward or onward journeys.
Please note: this itinerary serves as an example of trip highlights and is subject to change.
We think of our itineraries as melodies: they have a beginning and an end, a certain arc, dramatic highlights and a few surprises. We like to improvise, to adapt to the mood of our guests or to circumstances that arise — an invitation to a traditional wedding, say, or a local ethnic festival…
Crafting beautiful, harmonious trips with delightful twists is our trademark and passion.
A spectacular coastline, and a quintessentially Mediterranean landscape dotted with groves of olives, figs, lemons and pomegranates, as well as the vineyards that produce Croatia’s tasty wines. And that’s not all! Croatia’s medieval villages and towns are lovingly preserved, and strolling their cobbled streets is truly like going back in time. The Italian-influenced cuisine is wonderful: local prosciutto, cheeses and olives, perfect pizzas, great risottos, amazing seafood and the best gelato we’ve ever tasted. Add to all this a myriad of paddling opportunities in a crystal clear sea that NASA astronauts have pronounced as the bluest body of water on the planet, and you can appreciate why it’s one of our very favorite places!
You can reach Croatia from a number of European hubs. Croatia Airlines has connections from London Heathrow and London Gatwick, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Vienna, Rome, Paris and Amsterdam. British Airways and Easy Jet also offer some connections from the UK.
A reasonable level of fitness is required. , Typically, we will be kayaking for a maximum of four hours a day with breaks. We have two cultural walking tours, which are very easy physically, and we do some hiking in the National Parks. We are also offering stand up paddle boarding as an optional activity on one day, and for this no experience is necessary.
For this trip we recommend that you have some previous kayaking experience, and that you are able to kayak for a total of four hours a day. We mostly use double kayaks. During the trip we will be offering some kayak instruction and tips on technique.
Not at all! Please let us know in advance, however, and advise us on your dietary preferences.
North Americans do not need a visa for Croatia. You will need a passport that is valid a few months beyond the end of your stay in Europe.
Medical insurance, including emergency evacuation, is mandatory on all our trips. We also strongly advise you to purchase trip cancellation insurance.
Your routine vaccinations (tetanus/diphtheria, polio, etc.) should be up to date.
In general, not at all, however, it’s always worth having some insect repellent along with you on land.
Airport transfers on the first and last days of the trip, all cultural tour guiding, park fees and entrance fees, all accommodation, kayak guiding, instruction and equipment, most meals (one or two dinners may be on your own: please check the itinerary) and water.
International and domestic flights, soft and alcoholic drinks, bike rentals, etc., personal insurance and gratuities.
ATMs are available in Split, Skradin, Sibernik, Novigrad and Zadar. Please ensure you have a card with a 4-digit pin number.
When you sign up for the trip, we will provide you with a comprehensive clothes and equipment list.
Absolutely not. We have many guests who travel with us on their own. They appreciate the camaraderie of our Hidden Places groups, and usually go home with new found friends. If you wish to have your own hotel room, a single supplement applies.
Of course. Just ask and we will be happy to put you in touch with one of our Hidden Places guests.
Scheduled: Sep 10 - 19, 2018
Scheduled: Sep 09-18, 2019
Private: May through Sep
From US $4980 per person
9 nights, 10 days
Ocean and flat river kayaking, hiking, swimming, historical walking tours, optional SUP sessions
Small inns and hotels
Begins in Split, ends in Zadar (transfers can be arranged to Split airport)
These can be arranged and customized to your needs.
Our guests say…
Thanks for sharing your passion with us: the Croatian culture, cuisine, the kayaking, our mothership and the exceptional crew. It will stay with us for a long time.
The boat, crew and guides were excellent. Our trip definitely exceeded all our expectations.
‘Perfect’ is the word that has so often come to mind: our mothership, our food, the water, the air, the towns, our tour guides... We so appreciate your discoveries and your willingness to share them with us.
Excellent! Our guide should be the Hidden Places Employee of the Year!
"Couldn’t have been better! I would recommend this trip as top drawer, and I would love to do it again."
The history of Croatia is fascinating and the crew, the guiding, and the people we’ve met were all fantastic. You did not miss a detail and you’ve given us the trip of a life time.
Kayaking and exploring the beauty of Croatia, we felt in harmony with nature and truly appreciated the kayak instruction, great meals and the concern you showed for all of us.
Our guide was absolutely the best. She and the crew had our best interests at all times. Loved every moment!
The whole experience was wonderful.