Sports

Ski Croatia? Waaay cheaper than Austria, you can have slopes, cities and sea all in one day

The number of people who have no idea that you can ski in Croatia is still surprising to me. While summer has always been the lure for tourists, and understandably so, Croatia cannot afford to rest on its laurels the second the temperature drops.

While not quite on neighbouring Slovenia’s level when it comes to utilising the snow, winter is very much a “thing” here, too, and it isn’t only because of Advent in Zagreb.

While I’m on the topic of Zagreb, did you know that you can actually ski here in the capital?

Sljeme (Wikipedia)

Sljeme

Snow sports take place on the mountain that towers above the city called Medvednica (Bear Mountain), and its peak – Sljeme (meaning “summit” in Kajkavian, the local dialect).

Home to the FIS World Cup Snow Queen Trophy for both men’s and women’s slalom races, Zagreb’s mountain attracts the crowds every January. Known to attract upwards of 20,000 spectators and formerly called Zlatni Medvjed (Golden bear), Sljeme’s Crveni spust (red run ski track) is the race’s stage. With the exceptions of Moscow and Munich, Zagreb’s Snow Queen race is the only World Cup event in the world held so close to a large city.

If you really want to get your adrenaline pumping, Sljeme also offers the possibility of skiing at night. The mountain’s floodlit ski runs remain open until 10 p.m., and nothing gets the blood flowing quite like hurtling through the snow under the moonlight. Replace those calories in one of the mountain’s eateries and give your muscles a rest at Tomislavov Dom at the top.

Platak

If you’d prefer skiing near the thing Croatia is most famous for – the Adriatic Sea – then Platak just north of Rijeka is the place to go. Founded in the 1960s, Platak is a family ski resort intended for professionals and recreationalists that allows a visit to both the slopes and the beach in the same day. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy panoramic views of the Kvarner area and the sea from a height of 1,361 metres?

Also open for night skiing, Platak’s remarkable surroundings are second to none.

Trips to Rijeka, Opatija, Lovran and elsewhere below are easily done. From ancient historical sites to islands and from restaurants to national parks, this entire area is packed with places to visit if you want a day off from the white stuff.

You can see live webcam feeds here.

Čelimbaša

Not bothered about being in the immediate vicinity of the metropolis or the sea? Head to Croatia’s rugged west – Primorje-Gorski Kotar County. Located in the otherwise rarely trumpeted Mrkopalj, Čelimbaša is perfect for all those wanting to feel immersed in the bitterly cold, wild nature this part of the country is known for at this time of year.

Popular for skiing, snowboarding and sledding, this ski resort caters to all abilities. Another plus is that it is less heavily frequented than other resorts.

If your legs are begging for a break from the slopes, trips to Opatija, Rijeka and the Istrian peninsula are also doable when spending time here.

Mukinje and Petehovac

Also on offer are the ski resorts of Mukinje (close to Plitvice Lakes) and Petehovac (Delnice). This part of Croatia has always had to try harder to attract visitors than the coast has, and Plitvice Lakes National Park poured effort into promoting winter tourism long before the rest of the country caught up. As part of that, Mukinje has been offering skiing opportunities since the 1980s.

Located a few kilometres from the entrances to Croatia’s oldest and largest national park, the resort itself can handle 400 skiers on an hourly basis, with a lift transporting them to 700 metres above sea level. Snowboarding, sleighing and night skiing along floodlit runs are all offered here.

A day off from the skis here is easily spent at the awe-inspiring Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is somehow even more captivating when it snows.

Petehovac is a ski resort few ski enthusiasts outside of Croatia know much about, if anything. It is the product of the determination of a businessman wanting to exploit the natural trump cards of this typically omitted region. With artificial snow guaranteeing the fun, Petehovac is an excellent choice for all abilities and those wanting less crowds.

Nestled in Gorski Kotar, the ski resort itself is a stone’s throw from the town of Delnice and sits at about 1,000 metres above sea level.

Cheaper than the likes of Austria and even Slovenia, Croatia is open during the winter, and skiing is just as popular during the cold months here as swimming is in the scorching ones.

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Read more about Croatia here in Dispatches’ archives.

Read more from Lauren here.

Lauren Simmonds
+ posts

Lauren Simmonds is the editor of Total Croatia News, the largest English language portal in Croatia. She lives in Zagreb, Croatia, and is a translator, content writer, interpreter and the co-author of "Croatia - A Survival Kit for Foreigners," which was published in 2022.

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