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Country name: Croatia
Area: 56594 Km2
Currency: Kuna (HRK)
Roadtrip name: Goal! Croatia on an MV Agusta
Road Length:1306.53 Kms
Route: Milan -> Zagreb -> Pag > Zadar -> Dubrovnik -> Milan
Ride on: Right side
Metric System: Speed is in KM/H and temperature in Degree Celsius. Fuel or gasoline is measured in litres
Looking for twisties? The Adriatic Coast is perhaps the best riding you’ll do in Croatia. The Adriatic Road stretches along the rugged coastline. A windy stretch with ample curves and a beautiful vista. In case you’ve got knobby tyres and a motorcycle like the Turismo Veloce 800, the Velebit Road might indulge you just right.
Zagreb: The largest city and the capital of Croatia. The most populated city of Croatia. Attracts around a million visitors annually. Historically rich with numerous cathedrals, museums and churches. The museum of Mimara houses archaeological attractions from all the major ancient civilizations. Home to the Croatian National Theatre and a modern art gallery as well. Jarun Lake is also one of the main attractions in the city which has shingle beaches around the lake itself.
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia and one of the largest cities in the country accounts for approximately a quarter of the total population of Croatia. It is the administrative centre of Croatia and just as important from the tourism perspective. Zagreb is known to attract almost a million visitors every year which is a lot. The city is divided into two main sections namely Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and Donji Grad (Lower Town).
Gornji Grad consists of cobblestone streets and red-tiled roofs. It houses the parliament and a number of cathedrals, churches and museums. Zagreb is the home to the famous St. Mark’s church, the origin of which dates back to the 13th century. This archaeological marvel is instantly recognizable with the bright-tiled roof which makes for some stunning photos if you are a shutterbug and a sight for sore eyes for the ones jarred with monotony.
The museum of Mimara, the main attractions of which are archaeological attractions from Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, the Middle East, the far East, India as well as Inca and Pre-Inca South America. This museum is a must-visit place for the history fans. For nature lovers, Jarun Lake is another beautiful part of the city. It offers a brilliant alternative for the people who do not head straight for Croatia’s famous coastline. The shingle beaches around the lake make for a beautiful place to relax and unwind. And party!
Pag: Probably the most surreal riding you can do in this part of the world, is in Pag. This is a small stretched island. You need to take the Prizna – Zigljen ferry to come to this place from the mainland while coming from north of Croatia (from Zagreb). From there its a ride southwards before you hit the town of Zadar. Beautiful seascapes and sand dunes await you here with minimal traffic!
Zadar: Zadar is another gem hidden in Croatia. This city is known to be inhabited since the Stone Age which makes it one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities. One of the best things about the city is its sunsets. Sunsets are overrated and seeing too many in movies almost made me want to ignore it but my curiosity got the best of me as I wanted to see for myself what hoopla was all about and what a stupendous decision it turned out to be.
One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Croatia is said to be inhabited since the Stone Age. It has a mild winter and quite warm summers. Home to the Cathedral of St. Anastasia featuring an amalgamation of different archaeological periods. The second oldest museum in Croatia, Zadar Archaeological Museum (Arheološki Muzej Zadar) is a part of this city. Home to the Kornati National Park, Zadar is known to have the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
It was simply the best form of the oh-so-many sunsets and I was awestruck. And they say each of Zadar differs from the previous or the next one. Zadar also has the second oldest museum of Croatia known as the Zadar Archaeological Museum (Arheološki Muzej Zadar). The Cathedral of St. Anastasia is also a place worthy of a lot of beautiful pictures. Last but not the least, the Kornati National Park offers a delightful outing for the wild ones. Situated just off the coast of Zadar, it has areas for the adventure junkies ranging from caves to cracks to cliffs.
Dubrovnik: One of the most prominent tourist destinations of Croatia situated on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Most popular in pop culture for Game of Thrones which was shot in the locales of this city. A beautiful place for walks is along the wall that surrounds the city along the coast. The Stradun of Dubrovnik, a pedestrian thoroughfare where locals and visitors gather to what they call ‘chill’. Fort Lovrijenac, the fortress located just outside the city’s western wall offers a picturesque view of the sea.
Dubrovnik, the coastal city situated on the coast of the Adriatic Sea is one of the most prominent tourist destinations of Croatia. Most of its prominence in pop culture comes from the Game of Thrones. The city and its locations have been used extensively for the shooting of Game of Thrones. And an in-depth exploration of the city’s locale reminds you of the fictional provinces in Game of Thrones namely King’s Landing and Qarth.
Dubrovnik’s old city walls that surround the city from the coast side provide scenic viewpoints along its 2 km length and should be a treat for the ones who love long walks, usually with their love interests. Loners are also not banned as well though. And lastly, Fort Lovrijenac, the fortress built in the 11th century, provides a picturesque view of the city that is surely going to take your breath away.
Motorcycle: MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800: 798cc | 110 bhp | 83 Nm | 191 kg (dry)
The Turismo Veloce is the first touring motorcycle from the Italian marquee associated with some of the most beautiful motorcycles ever made. The Turismo Veloce stays true to the tradition of Italy and is remarkably beautiful. It derives its 798cc triple-cylinder engine from the screamer, the F3 800. It has been re-tuned to make it more tractable and touring friendly.
The touring bits continue with the luggage capacity which is more than enough for a roadtrip about… ‘Canada long’. And since the kit comes from MV Agusta, they look suave too. The traditional design language of MV Agusta makes itself apparent in every nook and cranny of the Turismo Veloce but tradition does not come in the way of technology in this particular motorcycle.
A counter-rotating crankshaft means that the motorcycle is butter-smooth throughout the rev-range with near-zero vibrations (not to be compared with EVs). Also, the Turismo Veloce has kept the soundtrack of the F3 800 and sounds magical all across the rev-range. It makes around 110 bhp of power and around 83 Nm of torque.
The torque is not surprisingly absent in the lower rev range and the motorcycle can crawl through traffic as easily as it goes zoom on the highways. But more than anything, it is the delivery that gets you. It is very linear. It strikes a perfect balance between eager and laid-back.
The Turismo Veloce 800 also features a ride-by-wire system which paves way for an 8-level traction control system. There are 4 riding modes; Sports, Race, Rain, and Custom. The last one lets you define the various parameters of electronic intervention so that the experience feels tailor-made to suit your riding style. Brakes from Brembo are complemented by ABS from Bosch and together, they keep you covered should you find yourself in a hairy… err… furry situation when riding through the wilderness.
Though the motorcycle is comfy, it has not compromised on the handling at all. It goes through the corners like a dream. The folks at MV Agusta have struck a perfect balance in geometry to make this motorcycle agile through the bends and relaxed along the highways. The best thing though is the weight. At 191 kg (dry), the Turismo Veloce is lighter than most ADV-tourers which is a welcome change. A motorcycle which still feels lively and more motorcycle-y even with all the luggage.
So, the weight combined with the more than ample power and torque makes the Turismo Veloce 800 one of the peppiest ADV-Tourers we have ridden on. And due to its close relation to the F3 800, the motorcycle is not too far from being a corner carver (relatively) despite the changed overall stance. If all of that doesn’t convince you, swing a leg over one, put it in Race mode, and hear it screaming!
Sponsors: MV Agusta
For all the Game of Thrones fans, Croatia doesn’t need an introduction. From the famed King’s Landing to the Jesuits Staircase where they shot Cersei’s “Walk of Shame”, Croatia is a special place for GoT fanatics. For us motorcyclists, think butter-smooth and winding coastal roads and some of the most beautiful landscape of Europe.
We may not have a lot of popular symbols to associate Croatia with (unless you know where Nikola Tesla was from) but once you do visit this beautiful country in the western Balkans, you will definitely associate it with some of the best memories you have from a road trip… we do.
Ranked among the Top 20 tourist destinations in the world, Croatia was carved from the erstwhile state of Yugoslavia. Croatia has a very rich historical heritage as well and is one of the countries inhabited since the prehistoric period. Once ruled by Greeks and Romans, Croatia has a lot to offer to the history lovers in its various museums and monuments.
Croatia is home to the smallest town in the world called ‘Hum’ with a population of 17 to 23, and also to the amphitheatre in Pula which was once the home of the Roman gladiator fights.
Situated along the Adriatic Sea, it is divided into two climatic regions- Continental and Mediterranean although mountainous regions may be exempt to that.
While most tourists prefer the high summer season during July-August, it would be more convenient to opt for the shoulder season during between April-June or September-October where you can enjoy the sunny beaches without the crowds and higher prices. The winter season has its own charm as well but you will want to avoid peak winters as riding may get difficult.
It consists of a large number of islands and a part of the south territory is a practical exclave, connected by territorial waters but separated on land by a small strip of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The terrain also varies as the landscape changes from flat plains to highlands and mountains (the Dinaric Alps) in a matter of hours. This is one of the reasons why Croatia offers a wholesome riding experience and also… why we fell in love with the Turismo Veloce 800. Smooth, balanced and ready to roar at your whims.
Talking about the cities, Zagreb is the largest city and the capital of Croatia. It is also the most populated city of Croatia. Attracting around a million visitors annually, it is historically rich with numerous cathedrals, museums and churches. The museum of Mimara houses archaeological wonders from all the major ancient civilizations.
It is home to the Croatian National Theatre and a modern art gallery as well as one of the quirkiest museums in the world- The Museum of Broken Relationships. Jarun Lake is also one of the main tourist spots in the city which has shingle beaches around the lake itself.
It is also famous for how seriously the residents take their coffee and is often deemed as a heaven for coffee lovers. Did we mention the Sea Organ? It has the World’s first pipe organ that is played by the sea’s rhythmic waves.
Probably the most surreal riding you can do in this part of the world, is in Pag. This is a small stretched island. You need to take the Prizna – Zigljen ferry to come to this place from the mainland while coming from north of Croatia (from Zagreb). From there it’s a ride southwards before you hit the town of Zadar. Beautiful seascapes and sand dunes await you here with minimal traffic!
Zadar: One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Croatia, it is said to be inhabited since the Stone Age. It is home to the Cathedral of St. Anastasia featuring an amalgamation of different archaeological periods as well as the second oldest museum in Croatia, Zadar Archaeological Museum (Arheološki Muzej Zadar). It also has the Kornati National Park, Zadar is known to have the most beautiful sunsets in the world (exact words of the revered Alfred Hitchcock!)
Dubrovnik, the tourist sweet spot of Croatia, is situated on the coast of the Adriatic Sea (often called the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’). Most popular in pop culture for Game of Thrones which was shot in the locales of this city, it is a beautiful place for walks along the wall that surrounds the city along the coast. The Stradun of Dubrovnik, a pedestrian thoroughfare where locals and visitors gather to what they call ‘chill’. Fort Lovrijenac, the fortress located just outside the city’s western wall offers a picturesque view of the sea.
Split, nicknamed the ‘Mediterranean Flower’, is Croatia’s second-largest city. The main attraction is the allure of the Gothic and Renaissance architecture, a stunning example of which is Diocletian’s Palace.
Other important mentions include the Plitvice National Park which hosts the famous 16-lake system called the Plitvice Lakes, linked through waterfalls, and the Krka National Park. (Fun fact: At least 10% of the land in Croatia is made up of 8 national parks, 11 nature parks and two nature reserves.) Be sure to also visit the towns of Pula, Korcula (the alleged birthplace of the legendary traveller, Marco Polo), and Hvar (with its stellar beaches, lavender fields and beautiful vineyards).
Driving in Croatia is no uphill task. The roads are in good condition throughout and adequately signalized. Many new ones are also being added such as Zagreb-Split motorway with connections to Zadar and Sibenik, and the motorway between Istria and Italy. The regional roads can be tricky during the night as some of them may be unlit so ride with caution.
You may want to take some of the more scenic routes such as the Jadranska Magistrala Adriatic coastal road or the Motorway A1 (also called Europe’s most beautiful highway). However, beware of hazardous falling rocks when driving through elevated areas. If you’re planning on island hopping, you’ll have to fix yourself up with a ferry. Very limited ferries allow cars onboard so check up on that. Ensure that you reserve your place well in advance; some allow online booking but for others, you’ll have to go to a local ticket office.
There are certain toll roads for motorways which may make it expensive but Croatia is deceptively big and you can save on a lot of time by using these. There are two kinds of toll systems- open toll system where you pay on entering and the close toll system where you get a toll card on entry and pay on exit.
The former is common on bridges, tunnels and shorter motorways while larger motorways tend to have the latter. Toll fees can be paid in cash (Kunas, or Euros) as well as by debit/credit card. If there is any confusion regarding mapping out your route, you can always refer to the Croatian Motorways website.
Cars drive on the right side of the road with overtaking on the left. Seatbelts are a must and phones are prohibited although hands free devices are allowed. Adhere to the speed limits (50km/h on lesser roads and 130 km/h on highways) as there are speed cameras and there is a zero tolerance policy for drunk driving (BAC level for drivers under 25 is 0% and over 25 is 0.5%).
Our MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 had no trouble toiling at 50 km/h or sprinting at 130 km/h. That just goes on to say how well MV Agusta has tuned the F3 800 engine meant for screaming redline on racetracks and turned it into this calm and benevolent being. Now, Legal driving age is 18 and make sure you carry your license, car insurance, as well as passport. Within cities, driving can be chaotic, due to the traffic congestion and shortage of parking space. Try to avoid rush hours in the major cities like Zagreb and Split.
Croatian drivers have an affinity for overtaking, even on tight corners and they may also use their horn as a means of greeting to other drivers so don’t be alarmed. Another nugget of wisdom is to be wary of scammers who pretend to have a roadside emergency, lure you out of your vehicle and rob you. Therefore, it is advisable that when you do step out as a good Samaritan, you do so in full view of passing traffic.
There aren’t a lot of covered lots for parking but even the open areas are usually safe. It is mostly paid parking and you can receive an SMS when your parking is about to expire. Parking areas are indicated by a ‘P’ sign on the curb and you may park within the white lines. The yellow lines, however, are for disabled only. Do not park elsewhere or The Spider (the tow truck, as it is called there) will come for you!
The roads are sprinkled with an adequate number of gas/service stations and rest stops, ranging from the more basic ones to those with a small snack shop and even a little playground. The petrol stations offer unleaded and diesel as a standard and are open from early morning till late night, some even full 24 hours. They accept debit/credit cards as well.
In case you have an electric ride, there are also charging locations available in the country and you can access the list of charging points on the Open Charge Map website. If you need road assistance, the Croatian Auto Club Emergency Service will help you which has English speaking operators. Contact them on +385 1 1987. They also have an amazing app with useful information!
Accommodation options include the typical hotels, hostels, guesthouses as well as furnished apartments. You can easily find reasonably priced, good quality rooms although peak seasons may see a spike in the rates. There are numerous lodgings which offer all essential services like Wi-Fi, parking, etc.
It would be a good idea to opt for personal apartments, especially with a kitchen because you can cook your own meals and save on the bucks. Coming to the food, Croatians are exceptionally proud of their cuisine and rightly so. Istria is deemed as an excellent purveyor of olive oil, truffles, and wine. In fact, truffles are quite the rage in Croatia, which also holds the Guinness World Record of the biggest white truffle.
Other culinary gems include black risotto (known as crni rižot), Boškarin (Istrian oxen), Fuži and pljukanci (home-made pasta), Fritule (donut-like fried pastries) and one cannot forego the famous Octopus salad.
Rakija, a distilled spirit made from fruit is an integral part of Croatian culture and a symbol of their hospitality. Make sure to have a glass before/after the meal and follow the tradition of looking your fellow drinkers in the eye while clinking the glasses, and down it in one go!
Croatians (or Croats) are largely believed to be friendly, extremely hospitable, and generous, not to mention quite funny too.
They are fiercely protective of their culture, embedded in a history of struggle for independence, and at times may appear stand-offish if tourists blatantly disrespect their norms. Also to those who refuse to recognize the Serbs and Croats as two different ethnicities. It goes without saying that you must respect the cultural differences existing within the different ethnic groups in Croatia.
One thing you may have to get used to is their generally assertive way of talking. No, they’re not about to douse you in alcohol and set you on fire, they’re just more straightforward and blunt! On the whole, they are a pleasant bunch and fortunately, English-speaking too. You shouldn’t encounter problems with the language barrier and mingle seamlessly with the Croatian population (pro tip: soccer is a great talking point!)
Croatian festivals too reflect their strong ties with their culture and strong sense of community that they have ingrained. Some of the best known festivals include the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, the film festival in Motovun, Istria, the Love International Festival, and Baroque music festival. For those seeking a dynamic nightlife, Hvar Town and Rab Town should definitely be on your list!