Extreme Sports in Croatia – 6 Of The Most Bizarre Events

Paul Bradbury

extreme sports in croatia

March the 12th, 2024 – For such a small nation, this country abounds in sporting talent. Extreme sports in Croatia are no exception. Here are six of the most bizarre such sporting events held.

The Romans knew how to have fun. In an age before satellite television, they built amphitheatres for mass sporting entertainment. Gladiator fights were always popular, and if you got bored, you could always feed a Christian to the lions. But what would the Romans have made of the sporting uses of their timeless amphitheatres today?

Take Pula for example, whose Arena is the sixth largest surviving Roman amphitheatre in the world, and one which is now one of Croatia’s premier concert venues. After a break of almost 2,000 years, the gladiator fights are back, although nobody has to die in tourist-friendly 21-century Istria, and a whole host of musical events are held there – Leonard Cohen, Joe Cocker, Sting, 2 Cellos, Outlook Festival and many more. 

And ice hockey. 

Incredibly, back in September 2012, the famous Pula Arena hosted Arena Ice Fever PULA MMXII. Despite daytime temperatures of 86F during the day, two matches from the European Ice Hockey League took place, against Ljubljana and Vienna, in front of a crowd in specially constructed stands. Check out the video above.

Never watched a game of tennis between two Wimbledon champions in a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Come to Croatia, and more specifically, Dubrovnik. Forget Kings Landing, here is John McEnroe taking on Goran Ivanisevic in the heart of the old town of Dubrovnik in 2010.

Where else in the world can you ski into the main square in the capital city of a country? Only in Zagreb! One of the more unusual additions to Advent in Zagreb in 2016 included a specially constructed ski slope running past the cathedral onto the main square. Competitors even included world champion Janica Kostelic.
Anything Zagreb can do, the small Dalmatian island of Iz can do better. The international bizarre skiing action was moved last year from the capital to Iz, for the first skiing race ever held on a Dalmatian island – see below.

Sometimes freak weather conditions affect Croatian decision-making, especially on the islands in winter. Two years ago this week, Bol’s famous Zlatni Rat beach was the subject of some extreme weather, and the bottom of the movable beach veered to the right, something which is not so unusual for Zlatni Rat. What was new, however, was a small pond which appeared in the middle of the beach. Depsite the freezing temperatures, one crazy local took it upon himself to play his version of the Split beach ball game, picigin. See him in action below.

Waterpolo is a huge sport in Dubrovnik, and local team Jug have been European champions in the past. Part of their strength no doubt comes from the rich talent that can be found in the Dubrovnik Waterpolo Wild League, the most popular amateur waterpolo championship in the world, with some 40 teams from surrounding beaches competing in July and August for the right to compete in the final in the old port in front of the historic port of Dubrovnik.

And if a team of well-toned young men in Borat mankinis is your thing, Dubrovnik is the place to be.
Of course, this being Croatia, even the drinking games are highly competitive and extreme, none more so that one of the toughest marathons every organised, the Ilicki Maraton on Zagreb’s most famous and longest street. Starting at street number 530 with the aim of getting to number 1 and a celebration on the main square at Ban Jelacic, teams were tasked with having a shot of rakija in all bars on the left of the road, and 0.3l of beer on bars on the right. How did it end? Dragana Niksic did rather a good overview recently


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