Lika – Karlovac Region

Lika – Karlovac Region

Along rivers and lakes, caves and karst fields, down historical roads to the sea

Through Croatia’s largest highland there lead numerous cycling routes which mainly follow the route of less congested and safer, yet landscape-wise extremely beautiful and interesting local roads, touching upon the valuable cultural-historical and natural heritage in combination with the occasional hospitality offer and quality family hotels, hostels, campsites, apartments and rooms to stay at along the way.

 

When and why did this development of the roads which today we ride down as historical roads begin? It was at the beginning of the 18th century with the development of trade and transport as the main drivers of the economy between Pannonia and the transport-significant Adriatic Sea when in this region many exceptionally important and from an engineering point of view very valuable roads were built, today roads of architectural heritage. Amongst the more important ones are the Carolina, Josephina, Louisiana, Rudolfina and the Master’s Road over Mali Alan (1,044 m above sea level) on Velebit, opened in 1832. The Louisana was finished in 1811 and was one of the most beautiful roads in Europe of that time. If you start by bicycle from Zagreb and the interior towards the sea through Karlovac, Duga Resa, Novigrad, Bosiljevo and Ogulin or Brinje, and Gospić and Lovinac towards Jasenice, Senj and Karlobag, one of these roads is an indispensable link.

The region offers many cycling routes, and each one is a kind of new, special experience of the area. Some follow the winding little roads of the picturesque valleys of the rivers Kupa, Korana, Mrežnica, Dobra, Gacka, Lika or Suvaja , they pass over old stone bridges to preserved mills – watermills.

Others lead along the banks of lakes Sabljaci, Sveti Rok, Gusić, Švica and Kruščica and over karst fields and pastoral meadows with large numbers of old springs. Or others climb the forested slopes and mountain glades of Vinica, Petrova Gora, Žumberačka Gora, Mala and Velika Kapela, Klek, Lička Plješivica and the largest Croatian mountain range, Velebit. Since these regions are the largest of Croatia’s untouched and highland wildernesses, some of the routes also pass the border parts of the UNESCO monument of natural heritage the Plitvice National Park or go into the heart of the Velebit mountain, its dense forest and unique karst phenomena, due to which back in 1978 is was listed on the UNESCO world network of biosphere reserves which today includes two national parks: Paklenica and Northern Velebit plus the Velebit Nature Park.

Apart from the highland areas, the region also has valuable city attractions, which can be visited via the NextBike public bike system introduced in Karlovac, Gospić and Brinje. Particularly interesting is thehistorical heart of Karlovac with its new Aquatika freshwater aquarium and the green parks which adorn its renaissance fortification system characterised by the six-pointed star shape of the city. Also, next to Gospić in Smiljan is the Nikola Tesla Memorial Centre in the hometown of the great world-known inventor and physicist.

 

In passing through this region the numerous picturesque mediaeval forts and castles often draw attention from the road: Dubovac, Novigrad na Dobri, Ozalj, Ribnik, Bosiljevo, Tounj, Modruš, Ogulin, Slunj, Drežnik, Cetingrad, Sokolac and Senj, as well as the many churches and chapels scattered around.

And when one finally crosses over the mountains to the sea by road, there remains the exploration of the nothing less than enchanting Podvelebit riviera with its pearls of protected nature such as the cove of Zavratnica and the only island of the region – Pag, an island of stripped, moon landscapes, with the oldest olive groves in the world in Lun and labyrinths of drystone walls, the witnesses to the ingenuity and skills of the island tradition of building with stone.

 

Everyone will find a route suitable for their motivation, interest and condition, and also their favourite kind of bike.

Lika Active and River Adventure are two offers of such abundant natural beauty, so the decision of where to start will be quite difficult!