Both the coastal and mainland Croatia hide a few jewels underground.
Croatia is home to some of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring natural sights in the world. From its majestic mountains and rivers to its beautiful coastline, Croatia is a nature lover’s paradise. But today, let’s take a look at one of Croatia’s hidden gems: its incredible caves! From the Adriatic, Gorski kotar and continental Croatia, thee is plenty to discover when it comes to croatia’s caves. Read on to discover the seven most famous caves in Croatia that are sure to leave you speechless.
Known as the most beautiful among the blue caves in Croatia, the Blue Cave on Biševo island is a truly unique natural wonder. The sunlight enters through the cave’s underwater opening and reflects off the white seafloor, colouring the crystal clear Adriatic seawater into a gorgeous sapphire blue. This phenomenon can only be visited on official boat tours that start from several Dalmatian cities, the closest one being Komiža, Vis. Here’s a tip for you: come between 11 AM and 2 PM, when rays of sunlight inside the cave create the most spectacular hue of blue.
If you’re wondering if there are any more and where are the other blue caves in Croatia — there is one more on the island of Cres, called the Blue Grotto.
Travelling to see Plitvice Lakes, Croatia’s most popular national park? If yes, make sure to explore the nearby Barać caves, enjoyed by visitors since 1892. This underground karst phenomenon is full of dripstones and fossil remains from the Pleistocene, as well as endemic fauna. However, the most numerous inhabitants of the structure are the flying kind — the bats!
Barać Caves’ locale holds immense archaeological weight, so the Conservation Department of Karlovac made the wise decision to proactively protect it as an archaeological zone in 2003. It is paramount to shield its karst area, patchwork of natural and artificial habitat, and the entire biotic population in order to preserve its geological and speleological qualities.
Part of the Medvednica Nature Park, the Veternica Cave may not be as famous as some other caves in Croatia, but you’ll fall in love right off the bat (pun intended).
Veternica is an impressive system of channels that extends for over seven kilometres, making it the sixth largest cave in Croatia. Its unique features such as its domed ceilings and Stone waterfall have been explored by hardworking speleologists, who continue to discover more about this remarkable site.
Said to be the oldest archaeological site in Zagreb, Veternica also holds evidence of life from Neanderthals to Roman soldiers and medieval bandits. Along with the abundant markings made by long-extinct species like cave lions, leopards and aurochs, 18 different types of bat have also been noted here — 12 of which spend their winters in this cool 10°C environment. Out of respect for these animals during hibernation season, Veternica is closed to visitors during winter months but can still be accessed via hiking trails through the forest at other times. Special grates at the entrance prevent access while allowing unobstructed passage for bats, protecting both them and their home.
Located 30 km from Zadar, Modrič cave is a rare natural cave. This means that it was left intact since discovery and no lights or handrails were installed, there’s just the natural beauty of stalactites, stalagmites, columns and speleothems.
Discovered in the eighties, it was closed to visitors until 2004. Because of the absence of artificial lighting and man-made rails, wearing overalls and a helmet, with a carbide lamp providing illumination, is necessary for getting around inside the beautiful cave, which stretches up to a length of 840 meters and boasts a variety of cave decorations. Additionally, temperatures remain constant at 15ºC in this underground world, making it a welcome escape from the summer heat.
History enthusiasts, this is the cave for you. Vindija cave became popular in 1974, when the remains of Neanderthals that lived there 30.000 years ago were found.
The Vindija Cave is approximately 50 meters in length, 30 meters wide and 10 meters tall.
Since it holds some of the best-preserved remains of our extinct human relatives, the Vindija cave became an invaluable source in the investigation of neanderthal DNA. If you want to find out more about our ancestors, come to the Vindija cave in northern Croatia — it’s just a 1,5-hour drive from Zagreb!
Welcome to the biggest cave complex in Croatia! The Cerovac Caves, situated near Knin and 4km from Gračac, within the Velebit Nature Park, is an internationally renowned area of speleological interest. Discovered in 1913 during the construction of the Zagreb-Split rail route by engineer Nikola Turkalj, they were named after the nearby Cerovac train station.
The complex comprises of three caves (Lower, Middle and Upper) with over 7km of explored canals. Visitors can explore 700m of the Lower and Upper caves. Within their depths lie a wealth of archaeological objects from the Iron Age including ceramic vessels, bronze pieces, bone implements and stone tools.
Paleolithic Hunter Hall also contains a fossilised human bone as well as an awl and scraper – evidence for people inhabiting the caves in Early Paleolithic times. Water is responsible for forming stalagmites, stalactites and columns that will leave your imagination running wild.
Our map of magnificent Croatian caves ends on the island of Mljet. Since 1960, the northwest region of the island has been a national park and is thus the oldest in the Mediterranean.
The mythical beauty of this green jewel of the Adriatic is amplified with a secret treasure, the Odysseus Cave. As the legend has it, Odysseus faced a dangerous storm which crashed his ship on the island’s rocks. The ancient Greek mythological character had to swim to reach the nearest land; by luck, a hole opened up presenting him refuge from the hurricane’s ferocity. He found an entrance to a cave there where his host Calypso seduced him and promised him immortality if he stayed with her. Thousands of years later, the cave where he spent seven long years still carries his name. If you’re in its vicinity, this is definitely one of the caves to visit in Croatia.
Whether you see yourself as an indoor person or an outdoor enthusiast, the fantastic nature of Croatia is definitely something worth exploring. There are magnificent peaks perfect for hiking, but if you want to dig deeper into the pristine beauty of the country, go below the surface and visit these famous caves in Croatia, heck, you can even try swimming in caves in Croatia.