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Everything you need to know about walking the Via Dinarica Trail

Via Dinarica Trail

The Via Dinarica was launched in 2010 and is the baby of a group of local and regional leaders who had the vision to not only put their countries on the map but to do so in a sustainable and adventurous way. It has a network of three trails, covering over 2,000km in all, but the most complete one is the White Trail and the best one right now for walking the Via Dinarica Trail. This takes you on a journey of around 1,200km across the main ridge of the Dinaric Alps, through Slovenia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia. The others are called the Blue and Green Trails, and they are still in development. However, we have faith in these Balkan folks to see it through. Creating a multi-national colossal trail like this in the previously little-known West Balkans is a major achievement, so they have set their bar high. 

What’s it like walking the Via Dinarica Trail? 

Unbalkanievable. It really is a very special journey. The various sections of the Via Dinarica are microcosms of the region’s complex history but also of its magnificent natural heritage. From shepherds’ trails to paths through high-altitude pine forests or along former military paths, the landscape changes all the time, as do the languages, architecture, food and walking terrain. It’s a melting pot of mountain magnificence and, for keen hikers, it’s a feast of natural finery served up on a platter that is bejewelled with Balkan beauties. 

Hajdučka vrata arch in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Just one of many limestone wonders on the Via Dinarica.

Can you walk the complete Via Dinarica? 

As we create itineraries where you walk from one accommodation to the next, with your luggage transferred for you when possible, we have created routes that make the Via Dinarica as accessible as possible for you. So, we don’t offer any walking holidays that take you along the complete Via Dinarica, but we do offer many of the different stages, lasting between six and eight days. Many of our holidays also combine two countries into one trip and you can always mix and match, as suggested below.

Via Dinarica holidays at The Natural Adventure

Our longest walking holidays on the Via Dinarica are those that take in more than one country, and they last eight days. Some are guided by local mountain experts, and others are self-guided. The others, which are based in one country only, are six or seven days. 

Via Dinarica in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Via Dinarica in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina is an eight day, guided small group tour*, starting in Skradin, a Croatian town on the banks of the River Krka, and finishing in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. You get a good idea of the otherworldliness of it all from day one, hiking along Krupa Canyon, just a warm up for the two summits to follow over the next few days: Mount Badanj (1,281m) and  Mount Sinjal (1,831m), the highest peak in Croatia, otherwise known as Dinara, after the range itself. Bosnia-Herzegovina offers its own highlights, including cultural ones like Mostar and Lukomir, Bosnia’s highest village at 1,469m, known for its ancient stećci (medieval tombstones) and traditional lifestyle of the local people. Staying in remote mountain huts on several nights, you can fully immerse yourself in these wild landscapes, hiking to the likes of Mount Drinaca (2,038m) and Hajdučka Vrata, one of many natural limestone arches in this region. 

The Krupa Canyon on Croatia’s section of trail. The Dinarica digs deep.

Via Dinarica in Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Via Dinarica in Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina is an eight day small group tour*, a little more strenuous than the section between Croatia and BiH with some longer days. It’s worth it though, as it also takes you through two of the region’s most exquisite national parks:  Sutjeska in BiH and Durmitor in Montenegro. By day three of this trip, you are summiting Mount Maglić (2,386m), the highest in BiH. You can break open the bubbly to celebrate, or just career through the millions of bubbles in the Tara River, on a day of white water rafting the next day. There are plenty of opportunities for dips in Montengro’s Durmitor National Park too, such as at Skrka Lakes on your hike up to Skrka Pass (2,112m). Or in Zeleni Vir Lake en route to Bobotov Kuk (2,523m), Montenegro’s highest mountain. 

As this tour starts in Sarajevo, you could add it on after walking the Via Dinarica in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, taking some time out in the fascinating, multi-cultural city of Sarajevo before hitting the hills again. 

Via Dinarica in Bosnia-Herzegovina

We offer both guided and self-guided holidays walking the Via Dinarica Trail in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the former over six days and the latter over seven, both starting in Sarajevo. They sweep you up the likes of Mount Bjelašnica (2,067m) or Mount Obalj (1,896m) through high altitude pine forests, known locally as kleka, passing welcoming traditional villages. This itinerary may take in fewer peaks, but it includes plenty of peeks into the beauty of BiH life. Such as in its high mountain villages of Umoljani or Lukomir, which you explore from your guesthouse in the former, which is enveloped by dramatic Dinaric landscapes. 

Via Dinarica Trail
We have guided trips on the Via Dinarica in Bosnia-Herzegovina, for plenty of Balkan banter.

Via Dinarica in Kosovo 

The Via Dinarica in Kosovo is a self-guided walking holiday that takes eight days, even though it only focuses on one country. This is because it is slightly more strenuous than some, walking in the wilderness wonders of Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park in the Accursed Mountains (part of the Dinaric Alps). As part of this tour, you get to trek to Mount Gjeravica, Kosovo’s highest mountain at 2,656m, and also the second highest in the Dinaric Alps. Starting and ending in Pristina, walking the Via Dinarica Trail in Kosovo boasts some seriously cool combo-highs. One day you hike on a ridge trail to both Maja e Dromodolit (2,120m) and Mount Hajla Shkrelit (2,011m). And then on another, you trek up to the iconic Jelenka Pass (2,275m), on the border with Montenegro, allowing you to hop in and out of both countries.  

Via Dinarica in North Macedonia

The Via Dinarica in North Macedonia is a self-guided, six day walking holiday, starting and ending in the ancient capital of Skopje. Walk through the country’s Šar Mountains, one of the Dinaric Alps’ many massifs. Also known as the Sharr Mountains, this is a pretty challenging section of the Via Dinarica with daily distances between 15 and 20km, including a hike up to the range’s highest summit Titov Vruh (2,747m). Another high is on Mount Ljuboten (2,498m), an impressive summit with a pyramidal shape with views back as far as the Skopje Valley. And Matka Canyon makes for a fitting finale on this holiday, cut to depths of 1,000m by the River Treska. 

You could consider doing a double Dinarica and combining this tour with the Via Dinarica in Kosovo above, as Pristina and Skopje are only two hours apart by bus. 

Via Dinarica Trail
Big Skrcko Lake, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro.

The best time to walk the Via Dinarica 

Our trips along the Via Dinarica run during the summer months when the temperatures are warm and rainfall is minimal, although the risk of rain increases towards September. It’s mountainous terrain, and so weather can be unpredictable of course, so be prepared for short, cold waves and you may even get splashes of snow in early summer. 

Tour dates also depend on elevations and access to summits and passes.  Our Via Dinarica in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina tour runs May-July and then throughout September, as August temperatures can be excessive in this region. On both the Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro holiday and Bosnia self-guided holiday we run guided tours throughout June, July, August and September. However, on our Bosnia small group holiday*, we have a longer window with tours available between May and October. This same long window of wanderlust applies to our Via Dinarica in North Macedonia, while the Via Dinarica in Kosovo runs between June and October.

Via Dinarica Trail
Tuning into The Archers. If you know, you know.

Where you stay on the Via Dinarica Trail

Just as every country’s landscapes vary on the Dinarica, so do the types of accommodation. For the most part you stay in small, locally owned guesthouses, but all trips include at least one night in a traditional mountain hut. These have shared, mixed-gender dorms, although a few have private, en-suite rooms too, it just depends on the location and availability. We will update you at time of booking regarding specific facilities. Read our blog on Staying in a mountain hut on walking holidays for more guidance. 

If you want to really explore off the beaten track and get in on the Balkan buzz that’s hitting the tourist scene right now, but without the crowds, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on the Via Dinarica. You may also enjoy Bigging up our Balkan holidays and Hiking holidays with some of our best mountain walks blogs. 

* On our small group guided tour, the minimum amount of walkers should be four people in order for the tour to take place. Perfect for walking group holidays.