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Hidden Gems
The Ciro Cycling Trail: Sarajevo to Dubrovnik

The Ciro Cycling Trail: Sarajevo to Dubrovnik

Overview

The scenic Ciro Trail is a unique bicycle route opened in 2017 that runs through the Dinaric Alps between Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dubrovnik in Croatia. The cycle track follows the old Austro-Hungarian railway line built in the 1900s and closed in the 1970s. The trail is often described as an “open-air museum” because it passes through enchanting abandoned towns and the beautiful Vjetrenica caves.

The Central Dinaric Alps have been a natural border between the coastal towns of the Adriatic and highland trading cities and settlements along the Ottoman caravan routes to Istanbul. This is a moderate-grade self guided cycling tour on dedicated gravel cycle paths, secondary asphalt roads and some dirt roads. The trip is suitable for those interested in finding out more about the diverse cultural background of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the Western Balkans.

The trail will take you deep into the mountains, passing small isolated settlements where the way of life has remained unchanged for centuries. Both on and off the bikes, you have an opportunity to explore the unique cultural heritage of the region. Some of the hotels along the route are made from converted railway stations, and other attractions include The Old Bridge in Mostar, the Roman ruins of Mogorjelo, the Orthodox Church in Zitomislici and the Nature Park Hutovo Blato.

Highlights

  • Explore the tumultuous history of Sarajevo
  • Ride over Bjelasnica, the 1984 Olympic mountain range
  • Swim in Boracko Glacial Lake
  • Walk over the Mostar Old Bridge
  • Explore the wine routes of  Herzegovina
  • Ride along the Ciro Austro Hungarian narrow-gauge railway
  • Zavala Orthodox monastery
  • Vjetrenica Cave
  • Cross the rugged Dinaric Alps
  • Take in Dubrovnik Old Town
  • Swim in the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Sarajevo

Arrival on your own in Sarajevo. Depending on the time of your arrival you will have the rest of the day for exploring the numerous cultural riches of the city.

Day 2: Igman War Route and the Olympic Experience | 61 km

On your first day, you’ll follow a path from Sarajevo to Igman and Bjelašnica Mountain, the site of the men’s downhill and ski jump during the 1984 Olympic Winter Games. You will cycle along the route over Igman connecting Sarajevo to the outside world during the war in the 90’s. Overnight in Umoljani.

  • Cycling for the day: 61 km, ↑1300 m
  • Accommodation: Pension Umoljani or similar
  • Included meals: breakfast 

Day 3: Bjelasnica and Visocica Mountains | 55 km

Starting from Umoljani village, today you go through Bjelašnica and Visočica mountain ranges to Boračko lake, following the Caravan trading route used during the Ottoman era. The gentle asphalt road will soon give way to a more challenging and steep road on a stretch between the Bjelašnica and Visočica Massifs through the heart of the Visočica Range. You pass medieval tombstones and monuments of Bosnia’s turbulent history, reminders of what once was a mighty kingdom stretching all the way to the Dalmatian coast.

  • Cycling for the day: 55 km, ↑680 m
  • Accommodation: Vila Sunce Boracko Lake or similar 
  • Included meals: breakfast, packed lunch, and dinner

Day 4: Boracko Glacier Lake to Mostar | 60 km

You start the morning and warm up your legs with a strenuous climb out of Boračko Lake and then a spectacular ride across the Prenj mountain range. This is a challenging ride with switchbacks and climbing on a mix of gravel and secondary asphalt roads.

  • Cycling for the day: 60 km, ↑940 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Almira or similar
  • Included meals: breakfast, packed lunch

Day 5: Mostar to Capljina | 60 km

Today’s ride starts in Mostar and ends in the town of Capljina. At the beginning, you can stop at Blagaj visiting the spring of Buna river and a 600-year old historical tekke (a Dervish monastery), uniquely perched on a 200 metre-high cliff that overlooks the entire area.

  • Cycling for the day: 60 km, ↑410 m
  • Accommodation: Hutovo Blato, Park Hotel or similar
  • Included meals: breakfast, packed lunch

Day 6: Capljina to Zavala | 60 km

Today’s ride along the Ciro Trail will take you on a gravel path along vast fields and mounting beautiful old railway bridges, through the Hutovo Blato nature park. During the day you will be able to stop at various viewpoints and old railway stations: Capljina – Roman Villa Rustica – Ciro station Brstanica – Ciro station Ravno – Ciro station Zavala. In Zavala, you have the opportunity to visit one of the biggest speleological sights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Vjetrenica Cave. Another place of interest is the XVI century Christian Orthodox Monastery of Zavala.

  • Cycling for the day: 60 km, ↑950 m
  • Accommodation: Guesthouse Zavala or similar
  • Included meals: breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 7: Zavala to Dubrovnik | 57 km

You begin your ride along Popovo fields, an area that was flooded regularly in the past and as a result, most of the old villages today are located up on the sides of the dry limestone mountains and ridges. You will cycle along the old train tracks in direction of Ivanica Border Crossing. There is almost no traffic at all and the route is very enjoyable for riding. Overnight in Dubrovnik.

  • Walking for the day: 57 km, ↑450m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Komodor or similar
  • Included meals: breakfast,packed lunch, dinner

Day 8: Departure

Departure on your own, or extra nights in Dubrovnik.

What to Expect

Accommodation

The accommodation on this tour is mostly in family-run pensions and small cosy 3* hotels. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view our default hotels for this trip

Pension Kandilj, Vila Sunce Boracko Lake, Hotel Almira, Guesthouse Zavala, Hotel Komodor

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Meals are included as listed in the itinerary: breakfast on all days, packed lunch on days 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, dinners on days 3, 6 and 7.

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for experienced cyclists and requires a good level of fitness (read more about difficulty grades). You will cycle on average of 60 km per day, with an average daily elevation gain of 900 m. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available between May and October. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking. During the active season, the weather is normally pleasant and sunny. More rain is expected at the beginning and the end of the season, and it gets warmer during July and August.

Getting there

View country info and up-to-date travel advice, here for Bosnia & Herzegovina, and here for Croatia

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airports for this tour are Sarajevo (for arrival) and Dubrovnik (for departure).

By train or bus

Inclusions

Included

  • Detailed pre-departure holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, route notes and maps
  • 7 nights in 3-star hotels and family pensions (private rooms with en-suite facilities)
  • 7 breakfasts, 5 packed lunches, and 3 dinners
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all cycling days
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Additional nights in Sarajevo before the trip
  • Additional nights in Dubrovnik after the trip
  • Sarajevo City tour
  • Mostar City tour
  • Neretva White Water Rafting Extension

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