Jaw-Dropping Caves in Croatia For Adventurous SHE-nanigans
Croatia is a small but beautiful country, geographically diverse, with a coastline overlooking the clear blue Adriatic sea and over 1,00 islands and islets. The other thing Croatia has lots of is caves – officially around 7000 although only around 40 are open to the public. Here’s our guide to the best, most interesting and most Instagrammable caves in Croatia.
NB: Guide prices given in Croatian Krona (HRK) but from January 1 2023 the country’s currency will be the Euro.
Modra Spilja Blue Grotto Cave (Biševo island)
Island Biševo is a tiny island with no shops, running water or roads just off Vis Island. It is home to 26 caves in total, the most famous of these being the naturally formed Blue Cave known locally as Modra Spilja.
Originally only accessible by divers, the cave’s opening was extended in the 19th century allowing access by boat. It’s open all year round unless sea conditions make traveling to the islands dangerous.
It can get very busy in the high season, July and August, and you might wait three hours for five minutes in the cave. Only authorized tourist boats are allowed in the cave and no swimming is allowed in the grotto.Visit off season for a better chance of seeing the amazing legendary natural light which appears around midday, bathing the grotto in a spectacular blue color light which gives the grotto its name.
Most visitors book a guided tour including transport and admission. Otherwise tickets to the Blue Cave can be purchased in the gift shop near the cave entrance. Prices range from 75 Croatian Krona (HRK) which equates to around $10 EUR in the low season to 100 HRK (around $14 EUR) in the high season with reductions for children, children aged six through 12. Children under six are admitted free. When purchasing tickets like this you’ll receive a number that shows your place in line.
- Location: 21485, Balun Bay, Biševo, Croatia.
- Where to stay: Stay in Split, Croatia’s second largest city. Games of Thrones fans may recognise locations in this historic city and its spectacular surrounding landscape. Or stay on Vis Island where Mamma Mia! (Here we Go Again) was filmed and spend your days enjoying ALL the water sports then at night release your Dancing Queen in one of the few but lively bars on the island.
- How to get there: You can only get to Biševo island by boat and most people’s starting point is Split on the mainland. There’s a year-round service from Komiza on Island Vis to Bisevo which takes just over an hour, stopping at other ports along the way. In total expect to spend around 5 hours traveling from Split to Bisevo unless you splash out on a speedboat – no pun intended! Look out for dolphins on the way.
Don’t take our word for it. Explorer Chicks love this area a lot…
Modrič Cave (Rovanjska)
Located between Modrič and Rovanjska near the national park Paklenica, Modric Cave is a wilder experience than many of the famous caves in Croatia. It has no steps, paths or lighting and visitors need to wear overalls and a helmet with a lamp (provided) to explore this cave which stretches for half a mile and is filled with stalactites, stalagmites and cave drawings.
Local cavers removing a rockfall blocking the furthest part of the cave in 1985 found the remains of human bones and cave bear along with remnants of Neolithic pottery. Before visiting the cave, visitors have a safety briefing and are issued with protective clothing and a helmet. You have to be moderately fit to explore Modric cave as you enter by crawling on your hands and knees.
The cave is open all year round but you do need to book via a tour company to enter. You don’t need special shoes – sneakers or any other closed in shoes will be fine. The cave temperature is around 60F. And don’t worry – you definitely won’t meet any live cave bears – they became extinct around 24,000 years ago.
- Location: Rovanjska, 23244. Near Zadar, Dalmatia, Central Croatian Coastal region.
- Where to stay: There are lots of places to stay within a mile or two of the cave, ranging from B&B’s to beach resort hotels. Many places have views of the sea or the mighty Velebit mountain which is the location for Croatia’s largest cave complex, the Cerovac Caves. Search “Where to stay to visit Modric cave” for a lengthy list of options to suit most budgets.
- How to get there: Fly into Zadar airport in Croatia which is around 40 minutes drive away or drive from Split in around 1 hour 45 mins. Admission costs around 160 HRK ($23 EUR) and includes all your protective clothing.
Barać Caves (Rakovica)
The Barać Caves are located in the same region as the famous Plitvice lakes and are more developed than other caves with a children’s playground, a picnic area, circular hiking trails and more nature than you can shake a stick at.
The caves, consisting of upper caves, a lower cave and additional cave systems in the protected area have a fascinating history.
Good guided tours have guides speaking English to show you the best of the stalactites and stalagmites (some over 16 feet long) and tell you about all the finds discovered in the caves including a medieval bronze bracelet.
The caves are open daily from April to October. During March, you can only visit the caves on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tours last between 45 minutes and an hour. It can be cold inside the caves so wear appropriate clothing and closed in footwear. The caves are closed from November to February to let the resident bats hibernate in peace.
- Location: 47245, Stara Kršlja, Croatia
- Where to stay: There’s a good selection of hotels, motels, rentals and B&B’s in the area which is popular with tourists, horseback riders, hikers and cyclists. There are also several campgrounds, some with wooden cabins to rent.
- How to get there: Using public transport to get to Barac Caves can be tricky so hire a car or join an organized trip. Some companies combine a trip to the Plitvice region and all its natural beauty with a visit to the nearby Barać Caves. Admission costs between 60 and 75 HRK (around $8-10 EUR).
Pro Tip: Visit Croatia in the Fall for full cave access and gorgeous foliage.
Veternica Cave (Zagreb)
The huge underground cave system at Veternica is situated in the Medvednica Nature Park and you can combine a visit to the cave with a lovely hike or bike in the park and a visit to Zrinski Mine. One of the forest trails is fully accessible to wheelchair users and families with small children and the texts along the route are also written in Braille.
Beautiful as the landscape is, going underground reveals many more amazing sights. Visiting this location, you can discover ceiling domes, sand dunes, a jaw of the cave bear, fossil mud, the Stone Waterfall, the Wishing Well in the Concert Hall, the fossils of ancient shells and ancient fossils of sea urchins, among other things.
The Neanderthal inhabitants of Zagreb were hunters who worshiped the cult of the cave bears, who lived in the cave. Apart from the cave bears, other creatures have left behind evidence of their presence in the renowned caves, including cave lions, leopards, cave hyenas, rhinos, wild cattle, and giant deer.
They are all gone now leaving only bats -18 species have been recorded here. Like the Barać caves the Veternica cave closes in winter to protect the hibernating animals.
- Location: 10090, Zagreb, Croatia
- Where to stay: Stay in a nearby mountain lodge, spa hotel or anywhere in Zagreb- Medvednica is around a 30 minute drive north of the city.
- How to get there: You can take public transport or drive but you will still need to walk for about 20 minutes to reach the cave. Check the Medvednica website for opening hours, admission fees and discounts for families, retired people and students.
Ready to Visit Croatia?
We’ve only covered a fraction of the many fascinating caves in Croatia in this roundup – you could also check out Odysseus’ cave on Mljet island where you can make like a mermaid and swim in the cave’s crystal clear waters. In northern Croatia you can explore Vindija cave where actual cavemen lived 40,000 years ago.
There is so much to explore in Croatia alongside the many caves. Why not visit Croatia with Explorer Chick and enjoy sports like kayaking, e-biking, snorkeling, rock climbing, swimming and do a bit of lounging around in the sun while learning more about the history, culture and customs in this gorgeous country.
Meet the Writer
Afra is an award winning journalist who has enjoyed many adventures including swimming with sharks, crewing hot air balloons and canyoning. She started creating online content ten years ago, diversifying after years writing for print publications. She loves travel, great food, and her family. Not necessarily in that order.
Favorite outdoor adventure: Snorkeling in the warm waters off the coast of Cyprus
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