If you want to go hiking while in Split, you’ll often read recommendations for Marjan park and Mosor mountain. We, however, have been exploring the Kozjak mountain area. You can get amazing views of Split, the coastal area, and the islands from this ridge.
The hiking trails are well-marked. In fact, they renewed the paint while we were there in October 2019. The tricky part is to find information about the trails. If you find resources, “hiking” gets confused with “climbing”. That’s why I came up with this post. This way you can plan a hiking trip from Split to Kozjak mountains more easily.
Where is Kozjak?
The Kozjak mountain range is in the background of the Kastel villages (Kastel Stari, Kastel Sucurac, etc.). If you looked towards the North from Marjan park, you will see it clearly. Further to the West, you can see Mosor, which is another highly recommended hiking area.
How to reach Kozjak hiking trails?
If you have a car, it would be most convenient. We didn’t have one and had to walk many extra miles from the train stations or bus stops. However, this way we didn’t need to plan how to get back to the car. So, I guess it’s not too bad to use public transportation after all.
My favorite way to get there is by train. It’s cheaper and faster than the bus. There are 2 train stations in Split: the central and “suburban” (Predgrade). We took the train to either Kastel Sucurac (17 min, 10.40 KN) or Kastel Stari (28 min, 12.90 KN). It’s really the most convenient way if you are living close to one of the train stations. You can check the schedule and prices here.
The busses take way longer, and they are a pain to navigate. There is no schedule for each bus stop. They give you the time when the bus is leaving at the starting point. Then it’s up to you to guess how much time it’ll take to get to your closest bus stop.
On top of that, finding the right line isn’t easy either. The best way is to view the individual lines in the app. The only time we used the bus for these hikes was to get to Klis/Rupotine.
Bus #22 and sometimes #16 goes to Klis Megdan. Bus #2 and #37 go through Kastel Sucurac. #37 and #38 go to/through Kastel Stari.
The pricing is handled by zones. Kastel Sucurac and Klis are in zone 2 (13 KN). Kastel Stari is in zone 3 (17 KN). For lines and schedules, check the Promet website or the Split Bus App.
Well, this is the convenient but more expensive way to get there. We had to take a taxi twice but only because we just missed the train and didn’t want to wait for 3 hours. We paid around 70 KN from Kastel Sucurac to our apartment, which was closer to Split Predgrade station.
Tips for planning a hiking trip to Kozjak
Here are some quick tips so that you can make the most out of your hiking trip in the Kozjak mountains:
- Check for the bus or train schedule before you go. So, you don’t want to miss them by a few minutes and then wait forever.
- Busses and trains don’t run as frequently on weekends. Sometimes a whole line doesn’t run at all on weekends.
- The mountain huts start serving food around noon. You can still get some drinks but if you want to enjoy traditional Croatian food, you have to wait until noon or 12:30. Also, bring cash. I haven’t seen a card payment thingy, but they might have had one behind the counter. Better to be safe than sorry, though.
- Hiking trails are marked well with the red-white symbols. On trail heads or turns, you’ll find signposts that tell you the distance in minutes.
- Bring enough water, especially in summer.
- If you have hiking boots, use them. The trails are very rocky and have a lot of loose gravel/rocks. Your ankles will thank you for the support.
- In summer, start hiking early so that you can avoid the midday heat as much as possible. When we hiked there in October, it was actually nicer around noon. So, fall is great for hiking there!
Hiking to Putalj mountain hut & mountain ridge
One of the spots you can hike to is Putalj mountain hut. Behind it, you can hike for another 30-45+ min in order to reach the mountain ridge or to continue on the trails on top of the ridge. I highly recommend going there because the views are breathtaking. You’ll get a 360 view of the whole area. I will go into more detail after talking about the way from the train station to Putalj mountain hut.
There are different ways you can get to Putalj. You could even drive up there, but where is the fun in that, eh?
The gravel road to Putalj mountain hut
This is the easy, beginner-friendly, but also the longest way to get there.
- Distance (one way): 3.4 mi (5.5 km)
- Approx. time: 2h
- Elevation: 1394 ft (425 m)
- Difficulty: Easy
If you come from the train station, you follow the street toward the railway crossing. Go right, cross the tracks and follow the road. You will cross a bigger street while following the road.
Eventually, you will get to a graveyard. Walk around it (following the road) and you’ll see a signpost. Go to the right here. You may see cars parked on the dirt there. Keep going.
Turn left onto a road that goes relatively steep and straight uphill. Follow it until you get to the somewhat even gravel road (right turn).
Stay on this dirt road for a while. Three switchbacks later, you’ll get to a fork close to a house. Take the right-ish path uphill. We actually went left here and it cost us about 30 min because we didn’t realize that we went wrong.
There is one more switchback and then you should get to the mountain hut.
Hiking trail to Putalj via the church
This is the actual hiking trail. Parts of it are very steep and rocky. So, watch your steps!
- Distance (one way): 2 mi (3.3 km)
- Approx. time: 1h
- Elevation: 1394 ft (425 m)
- Difficulty: Moderate to exhausting (steep parts)
If you come from the train station, you follow the street toward the railway crossing. Go right, cross the tracks and follow the road. You will cross a bigger street and keep following the road.
Eventually, you will get to a graveyard. You can either cut through it or walk around it by following the road. You will pass some houses.
When the road makes a turn, keep straight and follow the dirt road. You’ll walk around a little green patch and keep going.
Stick to the right following the “main” road. You’ll get to a fork with a house on the left. Go right here as well and follow this dirt road for a bit (around 600 ft / 200 m).
Keep your eyes open for trail markers to the left. Follow the trail to Sveti Jure church.
Enjoy the view, take photos, take a break. When you are ready, follow the trail behind the church going uphill. There are a few stairs in the beginning and then it goes through a little campground or resting area.
You will eventually hit the dirt road. Follow it for a few feet to the left. You will find the continuing trail on the right.
This is the steeper part of the trail, which gets pretty exhausting. Although the sign says 15 min, I don’t think we made it in this time. Or it just felt like forever.
The trail reaches the parking lot just below the mountain hut.
Hiking from Putalj to Kozjak ridge
Just behind the mountain hut, you will find the trail to the mountain ridge. It isn’t really far but it is very steep. There are a lot of switchbacks and the loose rocks make it a bit slippery at times.
- Distance (one way): 0.5-0.75 mi (0.8-1.2 km)
- Approx. time: 30-45 min
- Elevation: 909 ft (277 m)
- Difficulty: Exhausting (very steep)
You really just have to follow the markers. They are everywhere on the rocks.
Once you reach the ridge, you can enjoy the spectacular view. You will also see a higher point to the right when facing the sea. Going towards it will provide you an even better 360-view. So, I highly recommend spending the extra effort!
Once you are standing there, overlooking the breathtaking landscape, you’ll think that it was all worth it.
Another amazing (if not even better) view is on the other side. You would follow the road toward Sv. Jure for about 5-10 min (check out the photos within the hiking trail “Klis to Sucurac”). From here you can either go back to Kastel Sucurac or actually hike to Klis or Kastel Stari. It’s up to you!
Klis fortress to Kastel Sucurac
If you want to have a really active day with a bit of history lesson, you should include Klis fortress. Either start or end there. We did the fortress on another day, so we started our trail close by.
- Distance: 9 mi (14.5 km)
- Approx. time: 4.5 h
- Elevation: 1476 ft (450 m)
- Difficulty: Moderate (more exhausting, when done opposite direction)
Klis fortress is built in a prime location. The 360 view of the valley, mountains, and Split is just incredible. If you don’t want to combine the hike with a visit of the fortress, you can also get off the bus in Rupotine and walk up to the tower from there. It’ll save you around 1-2 miles.
I highly suggest following a map for directions. We did a different start and there are plenty of roads and turns. It would be way too boring to describe this here.
You will, however, come by a little view tower. After that you really just follow the road. It’s nothing special in particular.
If you want you can hike to Sveti Jure church. The view from there is supposed to be excellent as well. You will see a sign shortly after the tower.
If you are working with the Outdoor Active App, as I do, you will see that there are quite a few trails to the left. We haven’t found any of these. They are either overgrown or non-existent.
On the way uphill, you should turn around every now and then. Sometimes the good views will be behind you.
Once you reach the ridge, you’ll have spectacular views of Split and Mosor mountains. You should take your time and enjoy it! We unpacked our lunch here on some rocks.
Once you reach the trail with the signpost and mailbox, you continue down to the mountain hut (Putalj) and then further to Kastel Sucurac. Unless you want to go all the way to Kastel Stari.
Kastel Stari/Malacka to Kastel Sucurac
This hike can be done on the dirt road below the Kozjak mountain ridge or on the ridge starting at Malacka mountain hut. However, there is an old (I think abandoned) military base that you have to walk around. This adds a bunch of non-sense miles to the trail.
Dirt road – Kastel Stari to Kastel Sucurac
- Distance (one way): 8.2 mi (13.2 km)
- Approx. time: 3 h 50 min
- Elevation: 1105 ft (337 m)
- Difficulty: Easy
This is the path we took and it starts at the train station in Kastel Stari. It’s super easy so you can fast walk or jog it as well.
It starts on the asphalt road going up toward Malacka mountain hut. In the second switchback, you can cut through and then the next switchback is where you get on the dirt road.
From there it’s very simple: Follow this road for miles.
You’ll eventually get to the switchback closer to Putalj mountain hut. You can either go there to have lunch or descend to Kastel Sucurac. There are three ways to get there from here:
- You can take the longer but easier gravel road you are already on. Just follow it downhill.
- You can hike down the trail on the left of the little overlook shortly after the switchback. However, I wouldn’t recommend this trail. It’s not well-marked and annoyingly scratchy on the legs.
- You can hike to the church and then to Kastel Sucurac.
In order to get to the church, you have to find the trail on the right-hand side. It is past the little overlook area.
Once you found the trail, hike to the church by following the markers. At the church you will find the continuing path on the left. Follow it until you get to a dirt road. Go right here and follow it. It will lead you by houses and eventually bring you to the graveyard. From here walk to the train station downhill.
Malacka mountain hut to Kastel Sucurac
- Distance (one way): 9.6 mi (15.4 km)
- Approx. time: 4 h 10 min
- Elevation: 1847 ft (563 m)
- Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous
The problem is, it’s hard to get to Malacka mountain hut. Uber didn’t find us a ride, so we picked the previous route and walked half-way uphill. If you cannot find a way to get to Malacka, it will add 3.4 mi (5.5 km) asphalt street walk onto this route.
Other than that, you will probably have amazing views from the ridge. You’ll pass by a couple of churches and you will have to walk around an old (possibly abandoned) military base.
Follow the trail map, I suggest you to plan the hike with an app like Outdoor Active. This way you can find the path easier in case there are no signs.
As I haven’t hiked this one myself, I cannot give you pointers, I am so sorry! However, if you hiked it, leave a comment to help other hikers!
Malacka mountain hut to Klis fortress
This is the “Grand Kozjak Tour”, I would say. It starts uphill from Kastel Stari at the mountain hut and ends on the other side of the Kozjak mountain ridge. This is a very long distance and you should start early and plan it well.
- Distance (one way): 13.7 mi (22 km)
- Approx. time: 6 h 50 min
- Elevation: 2300 ft (701 m)
- Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous and long distance
I suggest you to plan the hike with an app like Outdoor Active. This way you can find the path easier in case there are no signs. In addition, you can adjust the path to your liking (e.g. take dirt road to skip the military base).
Here are some possible adjustments:
- You can save 0.6 mi (1 km) by walking down to the bus stop in Rupotine, if you don’t need to go all the way to Klis fortress.
- If you go down to the dirt road below the ridge in order to avoid the military base, you can save yourself another mile. So, this would bring it down to 12 mi (19.4 km) if you also get on the bus in Rupotine.
- Add Sv. Ivan and Mount Biranj to your planned trail. It will add a mile but might be worth it.
- Add Sv. Jure (church) to the trail. It is 1.8 mi (2.9 km) in total for walking to it and back to the original trail.
Please note that I haven’t hiked it myself. That’s why I cannot give you any pointers for the trail. However, if you hiked it, leave a comment to help other hikers!