Cyclists of all ages gathered on the island of Hvar in early June to take part in the 5th Jubilee Cycling Through Heritage Race. The race started in front of the bastioned summer house of Renaissance poet Petar Hektorović in the town of Stari Grad. The goal of the race was to make a link between sports and the historical heritage of the island’s central part.
For the most part, the 32-kilometre trail ran through the Stari Grad Plain, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, and along the same roads that have been regularly used by believers in a unique five-century old procession called “Za Krstom”. The race brings together the most precious aspects of this island – its rich cultural heritage and the beauty of its landscape, created by nature and shaped by the diligent islanders. This is also the goal of Sunshine Island’s bicycle tourism.
Cyclists discovered the challenges of offbeat paths, ancient roads and breath-taking crags on the Island of Hvar a long time ago. This year, they are able to enjoy 13 bike trails with a total length of 470km, all mapped and published online. This is just the first step in having a well organised and professional approach to bicycle tourism.
The joint project, implemented by five tourist associations on the island of Hvar – the Tourist Board of the Splitsko-Dalmatinska County, the County Cycling Association, the Splitsko-Dalmatinska County and several island towns and municipalities – has added value to the island’s bicycle tourism by establishing trails that are suitable for both recreational cyclists and those who relish a real challenge.
The first stage of the project entailed selecting and tracing the trails to suit the needs of both tourists and the local community. The completion of the second stage – putting up signs and info-panels – is planned for September this year, followed by educating the owners of tourist facilities about the BED & BIKE project.
In order for the island’s bicycle tourism offer to be as rounded as possible, the available accommodation for the cyclists has to be adapted to include room for bicycle storage, maintenance and repair. In addition to the relevant education, selection and development of lookouts and vacation locations will have been finished by spring. After this joint project is implemented, ensuing tendencies will be closely monitored since it seems that the project is going to bring many fans of active vacation to the Adriatic coast and the islands.
Cyclists discovered the challenges of offbeat paths, ancient roads and breath-taking crags on the Island of Hvar a long time ago. This year, they are able to enjoy 13 bike trails with a total length of 470km
The international Tour of Croatia 2016 race has been a great vehicle for promoting bicycle tourism, owing in part to Eurosport’s coverage of this race, seen worldwide. Many foreign media have also praised Croatia, which puts the country head-to-head with other, more developed bicycle tourism destinations. Another extremely valuable bonus was having Hvar appear on the list of the ten most beautiful places for coastal bicycle tours in Europe (compiled by the DuVine Agency). Also, Hvar was featured in the March issue of the British road cycling magazine – Cyclist.
To illustrate just how much Splitsko-Dalmatinska County has invested in bicycle tourism, two years ago, there were no marked cycling trails in the county at all. Today, there are 70 of them, with a total length of 2,250 km, in addition to the seven official bicycle races that bring annual revenue of €2 million. Further plans include getting closer to Istria, the leader of bicycle tourism in Croatia. Joint projects implemented both on the national and county level, in addition to unique cycling tours put together by local enthusiasts in collaboration with small family businesses, are the surest way to create an exceptional bicycle tourism offer on an island that is a pioneer of organized tourism in Europe.