Lonely Planet Writer

The new cycle trail between Bosnia and Croatia is an ‘open-air museum’

The scenic Ciro trail is a new bicycle route that runs between Dubrovnik in Croatia to Mostar in the southern region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 100-mile paved cycle track follows the route of the old Austro-Hungarian railway line, and is aimed at encouraging tourists back to the picturesque landscape that was abandoned during the Bosnian War in the 1990s.

Bosnia’s new cycle trail has been described as a big ‘open-air museum’. Image: Photograph: Goran Prskalo
Bosnia’s new cycle trail has been described as a big ‘open-air museum.’ Image: Goran Prskalo

The railway was officially opened in 1901 by the Austro-Hungarian authorities who ruled Bosnia and Croatia. It connected the coastal city of Dubrovnik to the inland towns of Trebinje and Capljina in Bosnia. A popular steam train known as “Ciro” operated until 1971, but ceased when the Yugoslav authorities closed all lines that were not profitable and terminated railway connections to Dubrovnik.

The idea to revitalise the Ciro railway line as a bicycle route was conceived as part of an EU-funded, cross-border drive between Bosnia and Croatia. The aim is to preserve it for historical heritage and develop a new tourism offering. The new trail has been described as an “open-air museum” because it passes through abandoned towns and the Vjetrenica caves.

Bosnia’s new Ciro cycle trail. Image: Goran Prskalo
Bosnia’s new Ciro cycle trail. Image: Goran Prskalo

Some of the hotels along the route are made from converted railway stations, and other attractions include The Old Bridge in Mostar, the Roman ruins of Mogorjelo, the Orthodox Church in Zitomislici and the Nature Park Hutovo Blato. It is believed that the new cycle trail will revitalise the areas it passes through thanks to increased visitor numbers, thus providing opportunities for the development of some smaller places along the track.

Bosnia’s new Ciro cycle trail. Image: Goran Prskalo
Bosnia’s new Ciro cycle trail. Image: Goran Prskalo

For further information on the trail, including the history of each station along the route, please see here.