Friday, 15 October 2021

Omiš in Autumn, the Perfect Time to Visit Mountains, the Cetina and the Sea

October 15, 2021 – With local seafood currently at its best and cooler temperatures inviting runners, hikers and cyclists to this spectacular location, Omiš in autumn is one of the best destinations of the season.

When temperatures cool on the Croatian coast, the telltale signs of tourism start to fade. Villages that were full of people in summer become very still. Only in the larger places does life go on unaffected.

The seaside city of Omiš is one such place. The charming Omiš Old Town streets hold their special atmosphere throughout the year. Autumn, in particular, is a favourite time for visitors to come.

IMG_3546sdfghjk.JPGEarthenware shades of rooftops in Omiš Old Town © Marc Rowlands

Arguably, this is the time of year when Omiš's famous and distinct cuisine is at its best. Omiš's special bounty of seafood comes from its position on the Cetina river. The best-tasting Mediterranean fish and shellfish love these conditions, where the freshwater meets the saltwater. And, in autumn, the prawns, scampi and calamari are at their biggest and best. The restaurants of Omiš offer fresh, seasonal specialties every day. Their tables are taken by relaxed visitors from all over the region, drawn to the city now the summertime rush has subsided.

IMG_6040sdfghjklo.jpegSeafood is an autumn specialty at sister Omiš restaurants Puljiz and Bastion. © Marc Rowlands

But, in the hills above and behind Omiš, and along the long promenades of the Omiš riviera, different kinds of visitors can be found. The cooler temperatures of autumn are perfect for cycling, running, hiking and walking.

edfgbhnjmh.JPGStarigrad Fortress, Omiš © Marc Rowlands

Sitting 262 metres above the city, the 15th century Starigrad Fortress is a mildly challenging hike. But, even older children can easily manage it. And the views from the top are incredibly rewarding. Autumn's cooling winds blow along the water surface, cleaning the vista. You can see so much detail on the islands opposite Omiš when the air quality is like this.

For those who prefer sport and recreation of a different kind, autumn in Omiš holds four of the city's most eagerly anticipated challenges

Omiš in Autumn: Dalmatia Ultra Trail

Dalmatia_Ultra_Trailrfvbhnjk.jpgOmiš in Autumn © Dalmatia Ultra Trail

With between 60% and 80% of its entrants coming from overseas, Dalmatia Ultra Trail is among the most internationally famous of all Croatia's cross country runs. And for good reason. The scenery is spectacular. There are three route options, allowing the race to be accessible to runners of varying abilities.

Mountain Dut

Starting from the Roman town of Solin, just north of Split, Mountain Dut is the biggest challenge of this Dalmatia Ultra Trail. On a course with a total distance of 122 km, runners will ascend to Putalj and Klis, site of the famous fortress, crossing along the Dinaric Alps before dropping down to Gata in the Omiš hinterland. From there, they drop down into the spectacular Cetina river valley and run parallel to the river until Kostanje.

wedfgvbhjnmk.JPGIn the hills near the village of Gata, Ivan Meštrović's statue of Mila Gojsalić overlooks the Cetina river and Omiš © Marc Rowlands

Returning up into the hills to visit the traditional village of Zadvarje, the trail next takes runners down to beautiful Brela. Runners will pass by beautiful Brela beaches, then those of the Omiš riviera villages Pisak, Marušići, Mimice and Medići. Then, it's back up to the final stretch of hills, visiting the old village of Lokva Rogoznica on the way, before finally descending to Omiš.

Mountain Dut 2021 starts on Friday 15th October at 9pm from Solin. Trail runners have 32 hours to complete the course. Each finisher will be awarded with 5 ITRA qualification points.

Dalmatia_Ultra_Trailf.jpgOmiš in Autumn © Dalmatia Ultra Trail

Sea Dut

At 56km in length, Sea Dut offers a challenging trail set before the entire Makarska and Omiš riviera coastline. Starting in Makarska, runners rise up to the village of Kotišina, famous for its botanical gardens and castle. Thereafter, they ascend Biokovo mountain, the trail reaching almost 875 metres above sea level. They stay atop the hills all the way to Brela, where they drop down to the beach. Thereafter, they take the same course as Mountain Dut, past Pisak, Marušići, Mimice and Medići, up to Lokva Rogoznica, then down to Omiš.

Sea Dut 2021 starts on Saturday 16th October at 8am from Makarska. Trail runners have 15 hours to complete the course. Each finisher will be awarded with 3 ITRA qualification points.

tergdhgjfhkg.JPGDalmatia Ultra Trail visits some of the most traditional and timeless sections of the Omiš riviera © Marc Rowlands

Ethno Dut

With a total distance of 18km, Ethno Dut is the most accessible of the Dalmatia Ultra Trails here. Starting in Dugi Rat, runners make a moderate ascent into the hills of just under 400 metres above sea level. They maintain roughly the same altitude for the entire trail, passing Jesenice and Tugare, before dropping down into Omiš.

Ethno Dut 2021 starts on Saturday 16th October at 1pm from Dugi Rat. Trail runners have 5 hours to complete the course. Each finisher will be awarded with 1 ITRA qualification point.

Omiš in Autumn: Omiš Half Marathon

Omiš_Half_-_Marathonswdfrgtyhuj.jpgOmiš in Autumn © Omiš Half Marathon

With a backdrop of mountains and the Cetina river, the half marathon in Omiš is perhaps Croatia's most spectacular. Where else can you run a virtually flat course with such scenery accompanying you?

Of course, the striking route is facilitated by following the Cetina river canyon. When doing so, runners pass some of the best rafting, kayaking, trekking, hiking and free-climbing locations in Croatia.

In 2021, the event again has two races - the half marathon and a recreational 6 kilometre race. Both take place within the Cetina river canyon.

Omiš_Half_-_Marathonsdfghn.jpg© Omiš Half Marathon

The Omiš Half Marathon takes place on Saturday 23rd October 2021.

You can register here and entries will be accepted in person between 8 am - 9 am on the day of the race. For more details, check the event's Facebook page.

UEFA Futsal Champions League 2021

244202666_2964388060467686_6950115119302343745_n.jpgZeleno Plavi © MNK Olmissum

With the tournament celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2021, there's no better time for the Fifa accredited UEFA Futsal Champions League to be coming to Omiš. Better still, the hometown Futsal team, MNK Olmissum are the current national champions. They won both the cup and the league in the 2020/2021 season!

MNK_Olmissumdf.jpgChampions! © MNK Olmissum

It's been two decades since a Croatian team reached the semi-finals of the tournament. Currently, MNK Olmissum are ranked within the top 16 of all European futsal clubs. To proceed in the competition, the hometown heroes will have to come top of their group. They face opponents Leo (Armenia), Diamant Linz (Austria) and KMF FON (Serbia). They will host the group at their home ground of Ribnjak, Omiš between October 26 and 31. The matches will be televised, but what better way to enjoy than in-person?

Omiš in Autumn: Dalmatian Trail League - Mosor Grebbening

GrebMarko_Hermansdfghjk.jpg© Marko Herman

The spectacular section of the Dinaric Alps that lies to the west of Omiš is known as Mosor. It starts near Klis, above Split, and runs to the Cetina river. Mosor Grebbening is a series of trail runs through this epic mountain terrain. In 2021, it is the 9th round of the famous Dalmatian Trail League.

The event contains a choice of three adult trails and one children's race. All of the races start or end in the village of Gata, in the Omiš hinterland.

Mosor_GrebbeningdfgvbhIvo_Pešić_Golub.jpg© Ivo Pešić

Starting in Klis and finishing in Gata, Sivonja is the toughest trail. It is 37.50km in length and has a 2590m ascent. Runners have 12 hours to complete the course.

Still a tough ask, Tovar is the slightly easier choice. At 17km and with an ascent of 1270m, you're given 8 hours to complete the trail.

At 8 kilometres in length and with a 400 metre ascent, Pule is the most accessible race. It should take way less than the 4 hours allocated. The children's race is an 800 metre dash around Gata.

GrebMarko_Hermansdfghj.jpg© Marko Herman

Mosor Grebbening takes place on Saturday 13 November 2021.

Registration for the races: exclusively via the online registration form here.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

16 Super Reasons to Visit Croatia Now: September October 2021

September 22, 2021 – The sun is shining and we'll still be swimming in the sea for some time yet, although the weather and warm Adriatic are far from the only reasons to visit Croatia now

Here are a full 16 reasons to visit Croatia now, in September and October 2021
The weather is fantastic and the forecast is great!

Screenshot_205.pngVisit Croatia now: screenshot © Marc Rowlands

Screenshot_204.pngVisit Croatia now: screenshot

The sea is still warm enough for swimming

242336077_6243047692432629_2508322542701942610_n.jpgSwimming in very late September 2021 on the Omiš riviera, one of the best reasons to visit Croatia now © Marc Rowlands

The very best Croatian food

241480915_6170941186309947_1327304007351009063_n.jpgDomestic bacon and prosciutto, a classic Croatian 'tapas' served at the last surviving inn on Biokovo mountain, Vrata Biokovo © Marc Rowlands

There's no shortage of the finest fresh fish and seafood now the rush have tourists have gone. Want to cook them for yourself? Buy straight from the fishermen on the beach. You can't do that in peak season – it all goes to the restaurants. Also, Croatia's fruit and vegetables are ripe and at their best right now.

241126505_6138144742922925_8968400606881277475_n.jpgUnique, miniature squid, served in ink, with a medley of fresh, roasted vegetables at the restaurant of Camping Labadusa on the island of Čiovo, 2021. Yes, this is how amazing food is at some campsites in Croatia © Marc Rowlands

From figs, melons, mushrooms and truffles to salad greens, pumpkins and mandarins, Croatia is currently the land of plenty. And, the lunchtime specials – Marenda (Dalmatia), Gablets (Zagreb) are outstanding and super cheap right now. Looking for an amazing 50 kuna lunch in Dalmatia right now? Try Konoba Marenda in Šibenik, Konoba Joskan in Omiš or Gastro Diva or Konoba Kalalarga in Makarska?

242356626_6243046882432710_3401854122891850972_n.jpgRoast beef and beetroot risotto with sour cream, pomegranate and apple. Marenda of Konoba Joskan in Omiš © Marc Rowlands

Sports, activity and recreation

242223445_6222414447829287_952918838844562246_n.jpgCycling in Šibenik © Marc Rowlands

Now the temperature have grown more gentle, it's the perfect time to get sporty or active in Croatia. Why not try cycling and hiking in and around Šibenik? Or how about golfing in Zagreb? Inland Dalmatia is a great place for quad biking. Try it in Drniš, Knin, near Vrlika or in Imotski. If you want to try a range of activities and sports, then maybe head for Omiš. You can try canyoning, white water rafting, diving, mountain biking, hiking and a thrilling zip line in Omiš.

Peace, quiet, relaxation

IMG_3328defcvbnjuhgfcv.JPGThe peaceful beach at Kamp Adria Village Baško Polje, pictured in late September 2021 © Marc Rowlands

The kids are mostly back at school, the students have finished partying and are returned to university. Right now, Croatia's campsites, beaches and lunchtime restaurants are quiet and chilled. Romantic couples walk undisturbed across the sands or sip wine as they watch the sunset. The only sound you often hear is the lapping of the waves against the shore.

Idyllic camping

IMG_3321edrfghjnk.JPGRelaxing and peaceful, individual terraces of each glamping unit in Kamp Adria Village Baško Polje © Marc Rowlands

If you want to get up close to nature, camping in Croatia is one of the best ways to do this. And, right now, the country's campsites are at their best. Incredibly peaceful and way under full capacity, there are no more children, families or teenagers. You can bring your own mobile home or even tent – it's cool enough to sleep under canvas now (tents are too hot during the height of a Croatian summer).

241130404_6149405168463549_8737034291319710149_n.jpgUnforgettable sunset views at Camping Rožac, Trogir © Marc Rowlands

Looking for a brilliant Croatian campsite for late September / early October 2021? Camping Rožac, Trogir here has incredible sunset views, whereas the beach at nearby Camping Labadusa here on Čiovo island's other side is a faultless slice of paradise. Further south, the glamping offer of Kamp Adria Village Baško Polje here is also among the finest in Croatia. All three sites are nestled under strongly scented pine trees, just metres from the shore.

IMG_2401dfvgbhnjkiuyhgb.JPGIncredible paradise beach at Camping Labadusa on the island of Čiovo © Marc Rowlands

Discover some of Europe's greatest white and sparkling wine in continental Croatia

AnyConv.com__IMG_2044fgvbnmjnhg.jpgVineyards of Koprivnica-Križevci County winemakers © Marc Rowlands

Been to the Croatian coast before? Then no doubt you've tried some of Dalmatia's famous red wines. Unlike other places, where white wines usually accompany the lighter seafood, pasta and fish dishes of the seaside and summer, on the Croatian coast it's the red wines that rule. Big, gutsy red wines like Plavac mali and Syrah are found by the Croatian Adriatic.

IMG_1802wsdfgh.JPGWinemakers of Koprivnica-Križevci County © Marc Rowlands

Less well known are Croatian white wines Even more hidden are Croatia's sparkling wines. Because, if you want to find them, you have to move away from the sea and come inland. For the best sparkling wines, look to Zagreb County.

IMG_2122.JPGWinemakers of south Koprivnica-Križevci County © Marc Rowlands

For brilliant white wines, there's a thick strip of continental Croatia you simply must get to know. Its north is the Drava river and the sandy soil runs along its length from Koprivnica and Đurđevac to the start of Baranja. Up into the hills of Baranja and to the border with Hungary the vineyards stretch. To the east, Aljmas and Erdut, to the south Ilok, then west through Kutjevo and back to Zagreb County. Now is the time of the newest wines, of harvest celebrations. Now is the best time to walk the wine roads and trails of this massive white wine super-region.

It's the perfect time for a city break

AnyConv.com__ETugIXoWoAA2NmI_1.jpgVisit Croatia now: Zagreb © Alan Grubelić

Nobody wants to be trapped in a bustling city in summertime's 40-degree heat. The high temperatures never subside. The concrete retains it. When things really heat up in Croatia, you need the cooler mountain air or the sea, which at night absorbs the heat of the day. But, right now is the perfect time to go exploring Croatia's bigger cities.

Why not try Osijek, with its kilometres of cycle routes and parks, epic riverside promenades and the best-preserved complex of baroque buildings in Croatia? Certainly, Osijek's Tvrda and its Secession architecture should be seen by everyone once.

croatia_slavonija_osijek_0001.jpgVisit Croatia now: Osijek © Romulić & Stojcic

Or, how about Zagreb, the country's social, cultural and economic capital? There are different happenings in Zagreb streets and parks almost every day. And the atmosphere is second to none.

In Istria, you can linger for much longer on the Roman Forum at this time of year. No need now for running urgently between shadows. You can instead afford to take your time as you wander around the epic Roman architecture here. You'll find more unmissable Roman architecture in Croatia's second city of Split, by way of Diocletian's Palace.

A packed events calendar

_MG_9181fgvbnh.JPGEvents of Zagreb parks 2021, captured by © Marc Rowlands

Croatia's event calendar explodes at this time of year. In Zagreb and Dubrovnik, famous music festivals fill the parks and streets. Elsewhere, this is one of the most important times of the year for food and drink festivals...

Harvest time

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It's harvest time, and when the local produce is collected from the trees or fields, usually there's an accompanying celebration. The party always extends well beyond championing the local produce. These are some of the best events in Croatia – accessible to all ages and appealing especially to gastro fans.

For example, Ivanić-Grad's pumpkin festival - Bučijada - always has a great music and entertainment programme attached. Held on October 1, 2 and 3 in 2021, it draws folks from far and wide to the pretty Zagreb County town. You won't have to look hard to find fun events like this all across Croatia at this time of year, celebrating everything from walnuts and almonds to grapes, olives and mushrooms.

Budget flights are still available

d75218b48e994601038e90bf5fc21f51_XL.jpgVisit Croatia now: Budget flights from Ryanair

Not only are budget flights still available, but the summertime routes to all Croatian airports are also still in play. Everywhere in Croatia is easily accessible right now. And for very little cost.

Last minute deals and inexpensive accommodation

AnyConv.com__IMG_3340edrfghjnmkjhgfd.jpgPrivate pool of the 4-star Boutique Hotel Noemia, Baška Voda © Marc Rowlands

It's no secret that prices plummet on Croatia's coast at this time of year. Smart operators do their best to extend the season by dropping prices. You can pick up incredible deals at this time of year everywhere from restaurant dining to luxury resorts, villas, apartments and hotels with full or half board.

Sailing in Croatia

AnyConv.com__IMG_3354ertyhujhgfd.jpgA regular visitor to Brela, Baska Voda and Split returned again in September 2021 © Marc Rowlands

The season for sailing Croatia is nowhere near as short as that enjoyed by most sunbathers. You only need look at the daily newspapers to read about the latest luxury yacht to sail into Croatian Adriatic waters. But, you don't need to be a Russian oligarch to enjoy the beautiful bays, beaches and islands of Croatia. Charter yachts in Croatia can be found at reasonable rates – especially in late September and early October!

Volunteering

IMG_20210915_165305139_HDR.jpg2021 volunteer divers at Calypso Diving in Omiš © Marc Rowlands

Late summer, early autumn and spring are the best time to come volunteer in Croatia. In late summer and early autumn, it's the Adriatic that needs a little love. Volunteer divers undertake ecological missions to clean the seabed around the coast. It's surprising just how much trash falls into the seas after a summer season.

IMG_2818edcvbnhgf.JPGExperienced divers, pictured in 2021 at Trogir Diving Centre © Marc Rowlands

If you're a qualified diver, why not come and help out? Try Trogir Diving Centre here, the oldest diving school in Croatia. Or try Calypso Diving in Omiš here. There, you don't even need to be qualified - beginners can learn from scratch and earn their first diving certificates in return for their volunteering!

242151424_6227553893982009_4396189167021449696_n.jpgVolunteer divers at Calypso Diving in Omiš, 2021 © Marc Rowlands

It's the best time to explore Croatia's National Parks and Nature Parks

241316764_6170947642975968_6841343418900551668_n.jpgThe famous Skywalk of Biokovo Nature Park on the Makarska riviera in Dalmatia, 2021 © Marc Rowlands

In the preserved and protected wilderness of Croatian National Parks and Nature Parks, there's sometimes very little shelter from the sun. They can be tough to explore at the height of summer. Mountainous parks like Paklenica, Velebit and Biokovo have incredible hiking trails that are best enjoyed at this time.

241631995_6170951239642275_3522302139938915487_n.jpgBiokovo Nature Park peaks in 2021 © Marc Rowlands

Elsewhere, you can trace the waterways and waterfalls of Krka National Park, Kopački rit, Plitvice lakes and Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje in relative calm right now. No long lines of queueing tourists spoiling your photos. The island parks like Mljet, Kornati and Brijuni are all the more idyllic when there's nobody else around.

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There are much worse places you could be working remotely

Working.JPGVisit Croatia now: September October 2021 © Marc Rowlands

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

The 10 Best Destinations For September Holidays in Croatia 2021

August 17, 2021 – With warm waters still perfect for swimming, but more space on the beach and at the best restaurants, September holidays in Croatia are the smart choice for discerning visitors. 

Much to everyone's surprise, the coast has been fully booked throughout August. Indeed, many who came last minute struggled to find accommodation. But, that doesn't mean you need to miss out. September holidays in Croatia are perhaps even better than July or August. The beaches are quieter and the sea is still warm. The waiters in the restaurants are less stressed and busy. The best tables and views are always available. Indeed, the Croatian welcome feels that much warmer in the ninth month.

Here's a look at our pick for the best destinations for 2021 September holidays in Croatia.
Omiš

old.jpgOmiš © Senka Vlahović

In Omiš, not only do you have Croatia's most underrated seaside city to explore, but also a whole remarkable riviera. A series of stunning villages - Nemira, Stanići, Ruskamen, Lokva Rogoznica, Medići, Mimice, Marušići and Pisak - offer postcard-pretty scenes with the Adriatic lapping at small fishing boats. Each comes with its own idyllic and uncrowded beaches.

21868215_10156015116624410_555677073_o.jpgOmiš © Senka Vlahović

The city itself has an Old Town that is full of intrigue – ancient architectural detail, winding, white-stone streets, sheltered squares with restaurants offering traditional Mediterranean food and also some that's unique to Omiš. Also, the Cetina river and canyon gifts Omiš an incredibly varied offer – rafting, river swimming, zipline, kayaking, nature photography, riverside restaurants – that no other coastal destination in Croatia can compete with.

If you want to learn more about Omiš and its incredible offer, read our detailed guide.

Brela

201251368_4090729184298801_2977464117068100083_n.jpgBrela © Vice Rudan Photography

With Brela's shoreline not far off 10 kilometres in length, it could rightfully claim to be the Croatian village most blessed with beaches. Oh, and what beaches they are! Incredibly clear, turquoise seas, quiet coves, small pebbles and often shaded by ancient pine trees that sometimes stretch out over the sea.

146254804_3715045301867193_3511865349649961953_n.jpgBrela © Vice Rudan Photography

Away from the coast, you'll find intriguing heritage in the foothills alongside exemplary restaurants. Decide which you want to visit and they give you a free ride there and back from your accommodation by the shore. You'll be rewarded with traditional Dalmatian food – seafood, peka, pašticada and more – and incredible views of the sunset framed by Biokovo mountain, island Brač and Brela's epic and uninterrupted beaches.

If you want to learn more about breathtakingly beautiful Brela, read our detailed guide.

Makarska

206836234_4119940851377634_8129877583474515472_n.jpgMakarska © Vice Rudan Photography

There's no shortage of beaches in Makarska but, in July and August, you might struggle to find a quiet and secluded spot just for yourself. You won't have that problem in September – arguably, it's the best month to be here.

236899549_4251621594876225_9066465384493055383_n.jpgMakarska © Vice Rudan Photography

Makarska is an incredibly popular destination in peak season for a very good reason – its offer is fantastic and huge. At the rear of the city, the huge Biokovo Nature Park (which you can read about here), with a fantastic offer of nature, views, recreation and activities. Within the town itself, a port which remains small enough to be charming, unhurried and traditional, but big enough to grant fast and regular boat trips to some of Croatia's most desirable island destinations. You can hop over to several on day trips from Makarska. If you want to find out more about the massive offer in Makarska, then read our detailed guide.

Šibenik

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A city completely reinvented specifically for visitors, in truth Šibenik is a destination just as suitable for a long weekend break throughout the year as it is a summer holiday. In the centre, an incredibly charming Old Town, filled with atmospheric stone stairways, historic squares, fascinating architectural details and the world-famous Cathedral of St. James.

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Three Venetian fortresses hold hidden histories of the city's successful defence against the Ottoman Empire – each uses multi-media or augmented reality to tell their tales. Events take place on Šibenik streets and city centre parks throughout late summer. There is a range of quality restaurants – one even has a Michelin star – activities like cycling, zipline, kayak and canoe. Also, the further you travel down Šibenik's famous St. Anthony's channel towards the open Adriatic, the more secluded and quiet the see-through seas become. Gorgeous.

If you want to find out more about the endless entertainment and excitement of Šibenik, then read our detailed guide and see our dedicated TCN Šibenik pages.

Primošten

238640369_4621303521236055_2517203873394563661_n.jpgSeptember holidays in Croatia: Primošten © Jeremiasz Gadek

The island on which the settlement of Primošten was founded helped protect this place and its residents from attack. Separated from the mainland, you'd have to pass across a drawbridge, through city walls and between military towers to enter. However, the surrounding sea also restricted city limits, leading to the development of wonderful and unique architectural solutions.

The Old Town of Primošten is that much more delightful to walk around in September, free from the bustle of fast-moving peak season tourists. In fact, Primošten is much more enjoyable taken at a gentle, even lazy pace. Away from the Old Town, Raduča, and Mala Raduča are considered to be among the most beautiful beaches in Croatia. Just back from the shore, on the mainland, Primošten's famous vineyards. Šibenik-Knin County has some of the most frequently awarded smaller wine producers in the whole of Croatia.

Tisno and Murter

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The island of Murter sits extremely close to the Croatian mainland. So close, in fact, that a short bridge connects the two. On each side of the bridge, one half of the town Tisno, known across Europe as one of the most famous sites for dance music festivals.

In fact, the festivals continue on the outskirts of Tisno in September 2021, with two of the best known of them all taking places in the month's first two weeks (Outlook and Dimensions).

236335331_3062014214034876_6848389841683692665_n.jpgAs shown above, beautiful Jezera @druckerroman

But, there's a lot more to Tisno and specifically the island of Murter than just the music festivals, as thousands of happy returning visitors will tell you. The settlements of Betina and Jezera on the island are incredibly beautiful, so too the larger town of Murter, which also has an incredibly famous restaurant offer. Across the whole island – and on the mainland in Tisno – you'll find incredible beaches and bays. On the opposite shores in Pirovac, one of the best open-air nightclubs in the world.

To find out more about Tisno, Betina, Jezera and Murter, read our detailed guide

Pula

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There are few cities whose Roman Empire heritage can compete with Pula's. Pula Arena is not only one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world, but also it is still a living part of the city's cultural and social life. Attending a music concert or film festival there is an unforgettable experience. More unforgettable Roman monuments come in the form of city gates and walls, a temple, an open-air theatre and forum.

Outside of the Roman heritage, there's a Venetian hilltop fortress right in the city centre, with exquisite views of Pula, its bay, nearby peninsula and the wider Adriatic. Nearby, the must-see Brijuni National Park (read about it here) and a short drive in any direction will take you to some of the most breathtaking and secluded beaches in Croatia.

It really is hard work summing up the immense offer of Pula in just a few short sentences. You'd be better advised to read about the fuller picture in our detailed guide.

Čiovo

Life-is-simple-just-add-seaTatinja-beach-Okrug-GornjiDino-Caljkusic.jpgSeptember holidays in Croatia: Tatinja beach, Okrug Gornji © Dino Čaljkušić

With a UNESCO world heritage site – Trogir – sitting proudly and loudly on its doorstep, the island of Čiovo sometimes stands in the shadow of its famous neighbour. But, sometimes it's worth listening more closely to those who are more softly spoken.

18891579_14644fromaboveOV-1536x864.jpgSeptember holidays in Croatia: Čiovo and Okrug

Čiovo not only has the advantage of having the incredible Trogir as part of its very own offer but also it holds all the classic features that everyone looks for in a Croatian holiday – crystal clear seas, pristine beaches, breathtaking nature and unforgettable views. In particular, the southwestern section of the island, Okrug, has an incredible beachside promenade and a series of irresistible bays.

If you want to read more about Čiovo and Okrug, then read our detailed guide.

Zagreb

220862634_10160017442313221_7939799732839949953_n.jpgSeptember holidays in Croatia: Zagreb © Julien Duval Photography

Of course, not all of the best Croatia holidays in September 2021 need to be taken on the coast. In fact, the capital city of Zagreb has become the country's most popular city destination over recent years, including the warmer months. Zagreb in September has the added bonus that summer holidays are over for most city residents, prompting the return of the city's entertainment and event calendar in full force.

Garden.jpgSeptember holidays in Croatia: Zagreb © Julien Duval Photography

All of the nightclubs are back open, catering for the return of the city's university students. The cafe bar terraces are full, with a wonderful atmosphere, as tanned friends reconvene. Art galleries and museums show their very best displays and food festivals or pop-up bars can be found in Zagreb's irresistible city centre parks. Some of September highlights include the 54th International Puppet Theatre Festival and massive one-day open-air rave We Love Sound with world-famous techno DJs Len Faki and Chris Liebing.

If you want to know more about the peerless Croatian city of Zagreb, then read our detailed guide.

Dubrovnik

1920px-1_dubrovnik_pano_1.jpgSeptember holidays in Croatia: Dubrovnik © Chensiyuan

The great southern city of coastal Croatia. A famous filming destination for movies and TV series. Not that the Pearl of the Adriatic needs any extra help with promotion. A global superstar for centuries, thanks to its status as an independent city-state, its well-known walls have been welcoming strangers for much longer than tourism has existed. They continue to do so and at the height of summer, competition for space in the city is at a premium.

All that can easily be avoided by visiting Dubrovnik outside the peak season. The walls and winding streets are much more easily enjoyed at an unhurried pace. And, when you're not trailing immediately behind a sluggish crowd of 500, fresh off a cruise ship. No queues at the restaurants, the best tables available. Truth be told, there's a strong case for Dubrovnik as the perfect destination even later than September – the quieter it gets, the better the experience seems to be.

If you want to preview a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Dubrovnik, then read our detailed guide

Total Croatia News contacted the Tourist Boards of each of the destinations recommended, who confirmed that - at the time of publication - there are accommodation vacancies available for the month September 2021

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Visit Omis: The Summertime Holiday Winter Dreams Are Made For

17 December 2020 – Missing adventure, escape, breathtaking landscapes and unspoiled nature? Visit Omis in 2021 - with 20 kilometres of perfect beaches and crystal-clear seas, the mighty Cetina river and an atmospheric Old Town, it's the summertime holiday that winter dreams are made for.

P3292991_Panorama1Omispastel.jpegThe pretty pastel shades of buildings in Omis contrast beautifully against the sheer, grey, karst rock which rises sharply behind © Omis Tourist Board

The cold outside is often reason enough to spend most of winter indoors. It's a good time for wrapping presents or even wrapping yourself in blankets. Perhaps, if it snows, you'll sit by the window, daydreaming. With a chill in the air, there's no better dream than that of next summer. In the warmth of the summer sun, you can forget all about those blankets and staying indoors. It's time for escape, adventure, the great outdoors, to hit the beach and to swim in the sea.

IMG_1367.jpegCrystal-clear waters run along the length of the Omis riviera © Omis Tourist Board

In 2021, the City of Omis will once again welcome winter's dreamers. From Springtime to October, visitors will come and enjoy its extended summer, many of them returning as they do every year. Because, once you visit Omis, there really is nowhere else that can match its incredible offer.

P4220074.jpegA spectacular landscape, with the lush Cetina river valley cutting through the Dinaric Alps to flow into the sea at Omis - you can see the island of Brac in the distance © Omis Tourist Board

The unique experience when you visit Omis is a product of a singular history and geography. Standing on the mouth of the Cetina - the largest river in Croatia to drain into the Adriatic – Omis and its surrounding riviera is not only filled with pristine and peaceful beaches, it also has waters that, for hundreds of years, have connected the city far into the hinterland. When you visit Omis, it is this riverside positioning that gives its unmissable adventures, culture, heritage and nature.

Omisborderedbypines.jpegThe Cetina river is the largest to flow into the Adriatic in Croatia and helps give Omis a truly unique offer © Omis Tourist Board

Omis has been inhabited since at least Roman times. Today, the winding, narrow streets of its Old Town are a pretty promenade with a distinctly Mediterranean atmosphere. Walking down these stone-paved pathways, intriguing architecture built over centuries is revealed – an unexpected city square opens up, seating drinkers and diners. Above them, the walls of an ancient church and beyond, the spectacularly lit Mirabella fortress that stands impressively above the town. You can easily walk to the top and look over the Old Town and river or, by day, take the path further back, up to the 15th century Starigrad Fortress. Its walls are renowned to hold one of the greatest views in Croatia, the island of Brac dominating the skyline, further still, the island of Hvar. Both can be toured by boat on day trips when you visit Omis.

puljizomis.jpegThe atmosphere-filled Old Town of Omis © Marc Rowlands

Besides venturing out to sea by boat, taking to the waters of the Cetina river is the best way to get the most from the unique offer when you visit Omis. You can kayak from the town into the nearest sections, watching as the pastel shades of Omis buildings are replaced by the towering, epic cliffs of grey karst rock, sometimes dotted with brave and experienced free climbers. Then, suddenly, the river widens to become flanked by reeds, then fields and trees. Birds sit atop the water or fly overhead, fish dart below you in crystal-clear waters, insects and frogs can be heard coming from some hidden place. The whole landscape seems alive, yet silent except for the sounds of nature – you can't hear a single car engine, not the buzz of an overhead cable, only the dipping of your oar in the calm waters.

SamirKurtagi6Cetinabasin.jpegThe still and silent Cetina river valley near Omis, perfect for kayaking and reconnecting with nature © Samir Kurtagić / Omis Tourist Board

Further up the river, the sounds are not so silent. Thrillseekers scream as they fly down the longest run of ziplines in Croatia – a series of eight lines, at times rising 150 metres above the river, the scenery of mountains and surging river is breathtaking, as feet whistle over high treetops. Further up the river, rapids produce white waters perfect for rafting. Although an action-packed run of over two-hours duration, it's an undemanding course taken by many families with children as young as six. Between the fast-moving sections are waterfalls that spray the air and peaceful pools where you pause to swim. At one of the largest stands a huge picnic area, serviced by a restaurant specialising in the rustic cuisine of this part of the Dalmatian hinterland. Thick-crusted, homemade bread is made within metal bells atop wood fires, the perfect accompaniment to local cheeses, prosciutto and seafood.

Zipline Croatia.jpeg© Zipline Croatia

Here, away from the shoreline of the town, countless small villages appear on the roads between the river and mountains. Life in these villages looks remarkably like it did a few hundred years ago. The same fruits and vegetables and vines still grow around the traditional houses, many of them ending up on the tables of the fine restaurants you'll dine in when you visit Omis. The same meals are prepared, such as Soparnik, one of Croatia's most authentic dishes – you can only find it in the small region surrounding Omis. The same folk dances are preserved, and the same songs fill the air. You can hear many of them in Omis itself – the city hosts a famous 55-year-old festival of klapa (acapella) music, its singers dressed in traditional clothes, their voices echoing around the stone streets of the Old Town in the same way they have for hundreds of years. The chamber music evenings and one of the most important guitar festivals in the region add to the wonderful entertainment and atmosphere of balmy summer evenings you have when you visit Omis.

soparnik.jpegSoparnik, one of the most authentically Croatian foods in the country. It comes from the hinterland behind Omis and it's unlikely you'll find it anywhere else © Marc Rowlands

FestivaldalmatinskihklapaOmi_UNESCO_pjaca.jpegThe 55-year-old festival of klapa music in Omis © Omis Tourist Board

Of course, no trip to the Adriatic is complete without time spent on the beach and swimming in the sea. And, when you visit Omis, you're in one of the best places anywhere in Croatia to enjoy it. Relatively undiscovered, the Omis riviera has a wide range of options to suit all. Want to stay close to town? Visit Omis city beach – it's right on your doorstep, popular with families and its waters famously clean. It is extremely rare to find a huge sandy beach like this, right in the heart of the city.

IMG_0240.jpegOmis city beach, a huge stretch of sand, moments walk from the centre - there's plenty of room for everyone © Omis Tourist Board

A short ride down the coast offers a 20-kilometre stretch of perfect small-pebble beaches, shaded by scented pine trees, sitting on impossibly clear waters. Pretty hamlets and fishing villages like Nemira, Stanici, Ruskamen, Lokma Rogoznica, Medici, Mimice, Marusici and Pisak allow you to chose between peaceful seclusion, diving and watersports or flavour-packed lunchtime dining in a traditional Dalmatian tavern.

nemira1beach.jpegThe village of Nemira, one of the countless pristine beaches along the 20 kilometres of the Omis riviera © Omis Tourist Board

This winter has long to go. We will be inside for quite some time yet. But, that gives us plenty of time to dream of next summer. Of all the places you think you'd like to be, once the warm days return, the City of Omis and its riviera should be top of the list. Unique in its offer of adventure, nature, culture and heritage, there really is nowhere else like it on the whole of the Adriatic.

daybreakoveromis.jpegDaybreak over Omis, as seen from the restaurant balcony of Hotel Villa Dvor. The hotel's restaurant is the best place to take coffee in town, the view is spectacular © Marc Rowlands

This article was written by TCN journalists based on first-hand experience of visiting Omis and was subsequently approved by Omis Tourist Board

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Hidden Dalmatia: Unique in Croatia - the Fantastic Food of the Cetina River

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 – The cuisine of Omiš and its surroundings is unique in Croatia. This rich, varied and distinct menu is gifted by the wild food of the Cetina river

Fresh fish and scallops, octopus and squid, washed down with beautiful wines made within 50 kilometres of your shaded seat. Lunch and dinner on the Adriatic coast can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of a visit to the Croatian sea. But, truth be told, these feasts are much the same in any decent restaurant on the Mediterranean.

There's nothing uniquely Croatian about this food – even the side of blitva that usually accompanies is served in Italy, Herzegovina, Bosnia and southern Serbia. The menu is so uniform because the land is so uniform, and so is the sea.

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Diners flick through menus filled with food of the Cetina river or wait for meals beneath the stars in the Old Town, a typical summertime scene in the Dalmatian town of Omiš © Marc Rowlands

But, the Dalmatian town of Omiš and its surrounding settlements are different. The traditional diet here is not reliant solely on that same sea. Because here, the largest Croatian river that flows into the Adriatic emerges. And the food of the Cetina river region is unique and varied as a result, a gift of both freshwater and salt.

Here we take a look at the singular food of the Cetina river and its surroundings.

Prawn

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Kocka, freshly caught from the estuary of the Cetina river in Omiš © Ivan Puljiz

Known around Omiš as kocka, this prawn only really likes to live in the estuaries of rivers. They thrive better at the mouth of the Cetina river than anywhere else in Croatia and can be found only 20 or 30 metres deep, feeding where the fresh water mixes with the sea. The conditions around the Cetina river are so perfect that they can reach 15 to 20 centimetres in length, but they are still quite rare. And they are delicious. As they attain such a size, it's best to cook them whole, creating a spectacular theatre when served.

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Kocka in Omiš. Its size allows spectacular theatre when this food of the Cetina river is served © Marc Rowlands

To eat, remove the head, then crush the body sideways so the shell breaks - this makes it easier to remove the meat. Save the head til last – squeeze and suck the insides, it's the best-tasting part by far. If you're a little too squeamish to do that, you should probably order something else. You can also find these prawn near the mouth of the Neretva river, near Dubrovnik. Those from there are usually reserved for the finest dining tables around the city and are sold at a hefty price, often under the name gambor or škamp. You can sample this delicacy at a much more reasonable price in Omiš. Translation of some seafood names from Croatian into English is persistently problematic. In English, these are often known as Langoustines (which is actually a French word, although a similar word is also used in Spanish, the root being Latin).

Shrimp

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Shrimp served in Omiš alongside a fantastic white wine of the kujundžuša variety, from nearby Imotski© Marc Rowlands

This is the more typical shrimp and in Croatia is called kozica. Compared to the kocka, this one likes to live very deep - closer to 100 metres down. They are found in such waters all through the Adriatic. Being much more common and smaller in size, they can be prepared in many different ways. It is common to see them impaled on a wooden stick and grilled atop a barbeque. Their meat is a popular ingredient in risottos, where extra flavour is added by using a stock made from their shells. When this meal is made, it's usual for it to be served with several whole shrimp served on top as a beautiful, tell-tale decoration. Other common serving methods are pasta dishes and soups or stews. Rare on restaurant menus, but in some Croatian homes their meat is minced and used to make balls or dumplings which are deep-fried. If the home cook knows what they are doing – and, in Croatia, they usually do – these are a real treat.

Sea bass

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Wild sea bass from Omiš, perhaps the greatest food of the Cetina river © Ivan Puljiz

Alongside sea bream (orada), sea bass is one of the most common premium fish to appear on the menus of restaurants by the Croatian shore. One good reason for this is that these fish are successfully farmed in Croatia, in huge cages dotted along the coast. Farmed Croatian sea bass is delicious when fresh, although it loses much of its appeal when cooked from frozen. But, wild sea bass is really something else entirely. Known as brancin in Croatia but referred to as lubin in Omiš, these fish are super predators and the wild versions can have a rich and varied diet. You can taste the difference in the meat. Wild brancin can also grow considerably bigger than the farmed version – monster-sized brancin are a huge prize for hunting divers, shot by speargun. They are very fast and quite the challenge to bag. The abundance of rich food gifted by the Cetina river makes the sea around Omiš the perfect place for wild brancin. Although, they don't just stay in the sea here. Sea bass love to hunt swimming against the tide and even the mighty force of the Cetina's flow is no obstacle to them - brancin here have been known to travel as far as 8 kilometres inland while hunting and can comfortably stay in the river for several months.

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Brancin, the tastiest food of the Cetina river, is best served grilled and in Dalmatia usually comes with a side of blitva and potato © Croatian National tourist Board

Strong in flavour, sea bass can take the addition of spices well - Asian spices such as ginger, garlic, lemongrass and coriander work well. But, if you're lucky enough to come across wild brancin from around Omiš, you really shouldn't mess around with it too much. You'll only detract from the flavour of what might be the best-tasting fish in the Mediterranean. Innovation is all well and good, but there's a reason why some recipes and serving methods are long-held traditions – because they are the best. In Dalmatia, brancin is usually seasoned only with olive oil, salt and with finely chopped garlic inserted in the emptied stomach cavity. It is then cooked in the oven.

Meagre

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A meagre, not dissimilar to sea bass, is known by many names in English. In Croatia it's widely known as hama, in Omiš it's called krb  © 지훈 정

In English, the meagre has many names including croaker, shade-fish, kir, salmon-bass and stone bass. Though the latter two are quite fitting - the fish sometimes looks not unlike a sea bass – so rare is this fish around any English-speaking nations, all but the keenest fishermen will have not heard any of them. The name corvina is also used in Spain.

A resident of all the eastern Atlantic, the fish live in river estuaries and don't like motor engines. In Croatia it's widely known as hama, in Omiš it's called krb. They range in size from 50 centimetres to two metres in length and upwards of 50 kilograms. It is delicious and in-the-know fishermen determined to catch them, sneak up on the fish using only oars or sails. The fish can be grilled or served in brudet, buzara or in another white stew known locally as gregada.

Eels

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Fried eels, a food of the Cetina river © mogens petersen

The Cetina river is not the only place in Croatia from which eels are taken for food. Further south in Dalmatia, several villages around the Neretva Delta are more famous for using eels and frogs in their cuisine. But, the eels of the Cetina are different. They are traditionally hunted using a fork, although these days some catch them using tube nets. They hide under rocks and in the shadows at the bottom of the river. Experienced hunters who still use the fork know the likely places to look and which stones to move to check for eels. Although they have been part of the European diet for a long time, many mysteries about the creature remain.

For instance, it is not exactly known for how long they live in the wild – captive eels have been known to live for up to 80 years, one was even recorded to have reached 155 years. It is widely held that all European eels spawn in the Sargasso Sea, a section of the western Atlantic ocean. From the Cetina river, that's a distance of over 6000 kilometres. After spawning, the adult simply dies and their larvae drift back towards Europe over the course of 300 days. They metamorphosize in order to enter their new freshwater homes, swim upstream to become elvers and grow into eels. With no parent to guide them, nobody really knows how they reach the rivers they inhabit.

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Brudet made with jegulja (the Croatian word for eel). Eels are a distinct food of the Cetina river and are here served with the river itself as a backdrop © Kaštil Slanica

The big challenge when preparing eel is to remove the smell and the taste of the earth, which comes from the mud in which they like to live. Unlike the Neretva river, the Cetina maintains a single course into the sea. It simply moves too fast for any amount of mud to accumulate. The eels of the Cetina, therefore, do not live in mud, but on rocks. This gives them an unusually pure and clean taste and enables them to be cooked in several different ways. Cetina is the only place in Croatia - perhaps even the only place in Europe - where you can eat eels prepared on the grill. When they are cooked in this way, the flavour is unadulterated. It tastes not unlike sea bass. Connoisseurs suggest you discard the skin – it's edible, but is not easily digested. You can find Cetin eels speared and then roasted on a stick, like a mini version of the classic razanj of lamb or pig. Otherwise, they are common in stews. Cetina eels are so free of the taste of earth they can be made into buzara which, in Omiš, is a white stew, usually containing white wine. They are classically found in a heartier, more spiced stew, brudet, which is always red in colour from the tomato used.

Frogs

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Deep-fried frogs legs, a popular food of the Cetina river. Frog is known as žaba in Croatian © Kaštil Slanica

The frogs who live in the area of the Cetina river have been here for longer than the Croats. Or the Illyrians, for that matter. In fact, frogs have inhabited the earth for a minimum of 250 million years. They have probably been eaten by humans since the dawn of man. British people are a bit squeamish about eating frogs. They like to laugh at the French because their southerly neighbours snack on these amphibians. Indeed, so popular are frogs with the French that, alongside neighbouring Belgium, they import no less than 5000 tonnes of farmed frog meat each year from Indonesia, where they are also popular. Frogs are enjoyed as part of the diet in America, China, Vietnam and Thailand. And Croatia. But, the ones you see on restaurant menus around Omiš are not farmed. They are just another wild food of the Cetina river.

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Food of the Cetina river: deep-fried frog, served here on a decorative pastry boat called a gajet © Kaštil Slanica

Cetina's frogs are hunted at night. A flashlight is used to find them. These days, it is common for the light to be worn on the head, on a hat, leaving both hands free. The eyes of the frog emerge brightly from the darkness as the light catches them. They sit transfixed by the glare, completely still. The hunter then simply picks them up. Frog hunting season is in the spring and autumn. Springtime is when the frogs reproduce. The hunters leave the pregnant females. In summertime, the young frogs are too small. September and October is the main period in which they're caught. Like eels, frog meat can end up in local versions of brudet and buzara. You can grill or barbecue them and much more than just the legs are eaten when they are prepared in this way. Deep-fried in a light batter, drizzled with fresh lemon juice is probably the favourite method of serving in Croatia, just as it is in France and Belgium.

Snails

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Roasted snail shells found in archaeological excavations prove than man has eaten snails since prehistoric times. The Romans were really big on the and the farming of snails - Heliciculture - is considered a Roman invention. That industry is today a global one It doesn't much affect the traditional consumption in Croatia, though. Here, people go out to collect them immediately after it has rained. They simply walk around and pick them. They are caught in the spring and summer. They are caught in the spring and summer when they're roaming around feeding. They stop to feed around mid-June when their mating season starts. All snails are hermaphrodites – they carry both male and female sex organs. A snail which undertook a male role in one season may very well assume a female role the next. A favourite way of serving this food of the Cetina river area is to fry them with the leaves of wild shallots and with eggs. A more rustic method is simply to throw the snails into the burning embers of a fire. They are soon cooked, retrieved and the snails removed from the hot shells with a cocktail stick.

On these links you can read the other features in our Hidden Dalmatia series:

Drniš - Drniški Pršut and Meštrović Roots

Soparnik - 100% Authentic Croatian Food

Baško Polje - Forgotten Paradise of Yugoslavia Holidays

Incredible and Mysterious 10 Rajcica Wells near Klis

Wild Rides on the Cetina River

To try the foods of the Cetina river, Total Croatia News recommends visiting Konoba Restoran Ćaća (Ul. Josipa Pupačića 1), by the river in the centre of Omiš, Restoran Puljiz (Knezova Kačića 21) in the centre of the Old Town of Omiš, Restaurant Knez, which is part of the Hotel Villa Dvor (Mosorska cesta 13) in the centre of Omiš and Restoran Kaštil Slanica, which is located around three kilometres up the Cetina from Omiš and can be reached by boat. Some of the foods specified are seasonal. We advise anyone wishing to order any of these dishes to book at least one day in advance

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Restaurant Puljiz in Omiš © Marc Rowlands

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Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Hidden Dalmatia: Wild Rides on the Cetina River

September 2, 2020 – Filled with thrills, history, incredible nature and scenery, the Cetina river is the largest in Croatia to flow into the Adriatic.

There are many ways of looking at the sea. A holidaymaker's perspective would be between their feet, lay on a beach towel, perhaps shaded by scented pines. In the distance, an island that maybe they might visit. Although not before the theatre of their Mediterranean restaurant lunch.

Locals hold a different view. For them, the sea is a constant companion. In his poem, 'More' (Sea), pre-eminent 20th-century Croatian poet Josip Pupačić talks with the sea. And the sea talks back to him. For Pupačić, the sea is part of the land, and the land is part of his life. Their conversation is whispered - "good morning" - but not due to nearness. Pupačić is not on the beach. He is in the mountains above the coastal town of Omiš. His home village, Slime, is some 20 kilometres inland. Connecting the sea to the land, and his village to Omiš is the Cetina river.

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"Good morning". Daybreak over Omiš, where the Cetina river meets the sea, as seen from the restaurant balcony of Hotel Villa Dvor. The hotel's restaurant is the best place to take coffee in town, the view is spectacular © Marc Rowlands

Not so famous as international travellers like the Danube, Sava and Drava, the Cetina river is nevertheless a giant. It is the largest river in Croatia to drain into the Adriatic. It surges downwards from a height of almost 400 metres over the course of more than 100 kilometres. Along its length lie evidence of lives, like Josip Pupačić's, connected to the land and the sea for centuries. Not that you would ever see this through your feet on the beach.

But, those visiting Omiš, Split and the Makarska riviera have the opportunity to see. The Cetina river has never been more accessible. From canyoning, rock climbing and hiking to kayaking, white water rafting and the most exhilarating zip-line in Croatia, a whole range of thrilling activities now open up this wild river, its history and its stunning, natural surroundings. A unique experience for those taking a holiday on the Dalmatian coast, the Cetina river offers a glimpse into both the hinterland and the past, a taste of sweet, freshwater to wash off all the salt.

Several springs occur at the river's start, high in the hills of the hinterland near a village called Cetina. Located not quite halfway between Drniš and the nearby Bosnian border, there is nevertheless one spectacularly coloured lake attributed as the main source. It is several hundred metres deep and is within eyesight of two defensive medieval fortresses, Glavaš and Prozor.

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The source of the Cetina river © Cabrio2

The river soon widens into an artificial lake, the first of several points along its course where man has harnessed its awesome power (the river is a large source of hydroelectric power). It then runs near the first major town on its path, Sinj, before passing the ruins of the 700-year-old Čačvina fortress on its way to the town of Trilj, where it meets the river Ruda. This is not the only tributary to flow into the Cetina river. Dalmatian folklore numbers the springs and streams at 360 (Tako ti trista i šezdeset vrila šta se u Cetinu sliva). But actually, many more flow underground from Bosnia. Three pretty bridges assist Trilj residents in living on the waters. Below the town sit the excavated and well-preserved remains of Roman garrison Tilurium.

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The Cetina river canyon, south of Trilj © Trilj Tourist Board

Before long, the river enters a deep canyon, its start marked by the remains of the fortified town Nutjak, which clings to the cliffside. Running for at least 30 kilometres, this beautifully bordered stretch of river is the first to offer the thrills of white water rafting. The experience here is made visually daunting by the high cliffs which loom above you. Between the exciting sections of sharp, uneven descent, the river here can also run smoothly, its course slowed by dams. At one time it ran so fast as to be able to power traditional mills placed along the banks.

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The remains of Nutjak, next to the Cetina river, south of Trilj © Trilj Tourist Board

The south east-running canyon finally ends just after Blato Na Cetini, although the high cliffs remain as the river edges south, through Dio Kanjona Rijeke Cetine, before it drops down violently via the Gubavica Falls near Zadvarje. At Slime, it takes a sharp turn westwards for the 20 kilometre home stretch to Omiš. This is the most popular section of the river for white water rafting.

It's just over 15 kilometres between Slime, where you set off, and Radman's Mills, the proletarian picnic eatery, where you disembark. The journey takes around three hours. You need your sunscreen. Several companies run rafts here, although the more established options, such as Kentona Rafting, are usually the safest and the best.

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The rafting course between Slime and Radman's Mills is at time thrilling, at others, incredibly tranquil © Marc Rowlands

Following simple and clear safety instructions, rafts are boarded. It's reassuring to see your guide and navigator wearing the same helmet and life jacket as you. Not every company on the river insists on such. TCN's guide is young Marin from Omiš. This is his regular summer job. Although he's made this raft journey hundreds of times, he retains an infectious enthusiasm. By the time he's finished nautical university in Zadar, the boats he will steer will be considerably bigger.

Unlike the section south of Trilj, this is not a canyon. This is a valley. The topography changes throughout. Narrow, foaming stretches hurry you between intimidating rocks. Then, calm. The river widens. You have to dig your oars in to keep pace.

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You pass many waterfalls while rafting on the Cetina. Local folklore says 360 springs feed the river © Marc Rowlands

A hundred shades of green, brown and yellow surround, from mosses, water reeds and grasses, to low lying trees that make you thankful for your headgear. The cliffs are often at a distance, affording a wide and spectacular panorama. At other times, huge shards of karst like stalagmites suddenly rise from nowhere, dominating the immediate view.

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Rafting on the Cetina river © Marc Rowlands

Insects such as dragonfly skirt the water surface, moving incredibly fast. Other residents are not so hurried - turtles laze in the sun on branches by the waterside. Even from a considerable distance, Marin spots them easily. He guides the boat nearer, waiting patiently until everyone sees.

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A turtle by the Cetina river © Kentona Rafting

Other than the voices of companions, the hand of man is imperceptible. No telegraph poles can be seen overhead nor electricity cables, not once the sound of a distant car. You can almost hear the force of the crystal clear water, as fish speed up underneath to avoid the encroaching raft. Ducks atop the water nonchalantly follow suit.

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Rafters pause for a swim in the cool waters of the Cetina © Marc Rowlands

It seems like half the 360 springs feeding the river occur here. Waterfalls burst from the rock face overhead - sometimes linear, forceful and gushing, at others, so widely dispersed as to send a fine film of mist across your face as you pass underneath. There are many opportunities to stop. And no compulsion to quickly reach the end. Marin knows the best places to pause. He sits smiling by the beached raft as everyone takes a swim in a wide, idyllic pool. The water is refreshingly cool - not that much colder than the midsummer sea. Further on, he points out the high rocks from which thrillseekers can jump.

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Thrillseekers jump from high rocks into the Cetina river © Kentona Rafting

One small section of the river is too perilous for inexperienced rafters. We are left by a path and walk less than five minutes to meet Marin on the other side. This section contains a cave, once a popular stop-off point, but now considered too dangerous - upon entering, the drop in temperature is considerable. This rafting is open to anyone above the age of six. Despite sunburn and the beginnings of blisters where the oar has rubbed, the end comes all too soon. You'd gladly repeat the journey tomorrow.

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Though filled with thrills, even younger children can enjoy rafting on the Cetina river when taken by experienced guides © Kentona Rafting

The last eight kilometres of the Cetina river are taken calmly, by small passenger boat. There are no rapids here, just a smooth expanse of green-blue water with several hundred metres of wild vegetation separating it from the cliffs on either side.

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Children take the wheel of the passenger boat on the lower section of the Cetina river © Marc Rowlands

The water here is calm and there's lots of space to manoeuvre the boat, so children take the wheel. They pass groups of birds, resting on the water, and a kayak. Taken at your own pace, this canoe is the best way to explore the reed-edged banks.

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A couple explore the riverbanks by kayak © Marc Rowlands

About halfway to the town, the peacefulness is interrupted by screams. Not frightened but excited, they are coming from people crossing overhead on a zipline. The wire is so high - 150 metres - you can barely see it from the water. Only when people pass directly above can you follow the line.

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Flying through treetops beside the Cetina river © Zipline Croatia

This is Croatia's most spectacular zipline. The backdrop is everything. From high on the rock, you race down over the foliage, treetops just a metre or so from dangling legs. And then the land falls away. Isolated in the sky, seconds become minutes. The Cetina river looks monstrous from here, dominant, immovable, timeless.

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© Zipline Croatia

The activity holds a series of eight ziplines. It's a course. If you take the first, you have to do them all to reach the end. There's no chickening out. The total length of cables is over 2000 metres, the longest of which is 700 metres. Not every zipline on the run is as high as 150 metres and not all pass over the water - those which don't whizz precariously through tall treetops. The view from each is breathtaking. To cross the entire polygon of cables with a group of ten, plus two guides takes two and a half hours. After completion, a short journey by road takes the smiling adventurers back to Omiš. There, on the popular city beach, lazing tourists ponder the waves through their feet, unaware of the history and the thrills on the epic Cetina river behind them.

You can book a place with Kentona Rafting here and here

The eight zipline course above the Cetina river can be booked here

On these links you can read the other features in our Hidden Dalmatia series:

Drniš - Drniški Pršut and Meštrović Roots

Soparnik - 100% Authentic Croatian Food

The Fantastic Food of the Cetina River

Baško Polje - Forgotten Paradise of Yugoslavia Holidays

Incredible and Mysterious 10 Rajcica Wells near Klis

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T
he lower course of the Cetina river © Marc Rowlands

 

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