The proud guardian of Istria and Kvarner
Učka is the only mountain in the Dinaric mountain range stretching northeast-southwest, perpendicularly to the direction of the Dinarides. The steep slopes displaying alternations of rocks, woods and grassland and offering spectacular views from their tops, numerous water springs and settlements, separateness and closeness to the sea make Učka unique and special. This mountain is equally wonderful to look at from the inland of Istria, Rijeka or Gorski Kotar, as well as from the islands of Kvarner. Of course, it is even more beautiful to explore it from the inside, which is not difficult as entire Učka is interwoven with a network of mountain trails.
Učka is on the eastern side of the Istrian peninsula and acts as a demarcation line between Istria and the Littoral Region. It stretches some 20 kilometres from the saddle Poklon to the Plomin Bay, where it abruptly descends into the sea. Although its summits are not particularly high, due to the steep slopes that are located close to the sea, Učka seems much higher than it actually is. Still, getting to the top takes time and is not as simple as one might think, as 1400 meters above sea level must be mastered.
The main excursion destination on Učka is the saddle Poklon, which can be reached from all coastal towns – Opatija, Ičići, Ika, Lovran, Medveja, Mošćenička Draga. It takes some 2-3 hours of walk to get to Poklon from the Istrian coast but for those who wish to experience the most beautiful part of Učka, its top, it is best to drive to Poklon by car and continue hiking towards Vojak. Poklon is the location from which the sea and the town of Rijeka can be spotted for the first time and this is why it has long been a popular stop for travellers. When the pilgrims from Istria would first sight Trsat from that location, they would commonly bow to Our Lady of Trsat. A memory of this custom remained in the name of Poklon (a bow).
Looking at Učka from afar, it may be assumed that its summit is a beautiful viewpoint. View from Vojak is one of the most impressive ones in Croatia, as there are no higher mountaintops nearby that would obstruct the view of the scenery. On a bright and clear day, it is possible to admire entire Istria and the Kvarner Bay with pertaining islands, the mountains of Gorski Kotar, Velebit and even the Alps and Italy. The top of Učka looks like an elongated and sharp rock that descends steeply from one side to Čepićko Polje, and on the other side towards the Kvarner Bay. The summit is recognisable as per its round stone tower whose upper terrace is used as a viewpoint and the inside is a souvenir shop.
Mountain Ćićarija is a continuation of Učka; it stretches northeast from the saddle Poklon. It displays completely different features: it is nowhere near as steep as Učka. It is rather a vast highland with several less prominent peaks and a mountain trail meandering among these, connecting some dozen picturesque villages.
Of all the interesting sites to be seen on Učka, the most attractive is the Vela Draga valley located close to the Istrian entry to the tunnel Učka. It is easily accessed by a geological-educational trail. If you come here on a weekend or in the summer, you will see many climbers on the rocks, as Vela Draga is one of the most attractive Croatian climbing locations.
A huge quantity of precipitation, which made Učka abound in vegetation, is why it is so uniquely different from all other mountains by the seaside. A particularity of the eastern slopes are the woods of sweet chestnut, known as maruni. Due to its uniqueness, Učka became a nature park in 1999. Each corner of Učka offers something new and unknown, ideal for those who like diverse mountaineering and climbing challenges.