Although Croatia is famous as a summer holiday destination there are plenty of winter options. The islands often suffer severe storms, cancelling the ferries and catamarans, but on other days the sun comes out and the wind drops, leaving perfect conditions to be enjoyed by those lucky enough to be there.  

 

Skiing

There is a small ski resort at Platak, just 35 minutes drive from Rijeka. There are only two lifts plus a short drag lift for beginners. The main runs are reasonably hard red runs with the bonus of views of islands from the pistes   Although limited and the snow highly unreliable it makes for a fun and cheap half or full day out. When the weather is good at the weekend half of Rijeka seems to head there to ski, sledge or just to enjoy lunch in the mountain lodges.

There is a second ski area at Mrkopalj, about 50 minutes drive from Rijeka. Although higher than Platak it is smaller and less easy to get information on conditions.

There are ski hire and instructors available at Platak. Information on conditions and lift prices can be found at www.platak.hr

Getting to Platak

Unfortunately there are no public transport connections to Platak except at weekends in winter. To drive take the highway towards Zagreb from Rijeka. Turn off just before the toll booths. Turn left at the T junction, follow the road steeply up the hill and then left to Platak, clearly signposted. From the direction of Zagreb, turn off the highway immediately just the Rijeka, turn right at the T junction, and then left after passing under the highway to join the previously described route.

 

Ice Skating

There is an excellent ice rink in Delnice – about 45 minutes drive from Rijeka. It is open most afternoons. Driving in winter in Gorski Kotor can be a treacherous experience. It is better to take the train at 12:00, skate for an hour or two, have an early dinner (I suggest Tron at Supilova Street 45 for a cosy option), and return to Rijeka on the train at 16:15 or 18:16.

There is also a small ice skating rink on the sea front of Rijeka operating in December and January. The hire skates aren’t so great and it can get crowded but it’s a convenient way to get your skating legs back.

 

Hiking

There are two main hiking options in winter. The first is to head high for the snow in Gorski Kotar, the second is to take advantage of having stunning hikes on the island to yourself. Without a car the most accessible starting point for high mountain hiking is Podkilavac with routes starting for Hahlic hut and the surrounding peaks. Podkilavac is in zone 4 and on bus route 16 from Rijeka.

The mountains huts are closed in winter except at Platak where two lodges operate year round. The other huts always have a small winter room open. However water is not always available, either take plenty or carry a stove to melt snow.