The Neretva: World’s Coldest River Flows Through Croatia

Lauren Simmonds

neretva river

March the 30th, 2024 – Did you know that the coldest river in the world flows through Croatia? The water temperature doesn’t exceed 7 even during the height of summer.

If you know much about the many rivers that cross the country, and particularly if you’ve dipped your feet in this one – you’ll know we’re talking about the ice cold, crystal clear Neretva River – the lifeblood of Herzegovina and the incredibly fertile part of southern Dalmatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the source of this particular river, known as Gornja (Upper) Neretva, is the coldest part of the entire river. Even during the scorching Dalmatian summer, the temperature of the water here never exceeds a mere seven degrees, according to Danas/

Experts explain the coldness of the Neretva by its source, which is located under Mount Jabuka, a branch of Zelengora, at an altitude of 1,227 metres.

Besides being known for being so cold, it is also known for its amazing turquoise colour.

Despite the colour, the water in the Neretva is safe to drink (even if it’s the coldest you’ll likely ever consume). The river is also used for energy, and there are four power plants and dams located near the source.

This makes it a river of vital importance to those who live in the countries through which it flows. It’s worth noting that the Neretva River is 230 kilometres long, most of it flows through neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina (208 km), and a smaller part, before its confluence with the Adriatic Sea, comes through Croatia (22 km). It is the longest tributary of the Adriatic Sea from the eastern side of the coast.

It springs in the mountainous regions of high, rugged Herzegovin and has been known and highly valued since the Greek period. The Greek colony of Narenta, which was located upstream from today’s Metković, was named after it.

The old names for the Neretva were Nera or Narenta, and it was famous in ancient times. The Illyrian Narensi tribe also lived on it. Known for its emerald-green colour, clean and completely drinkable water in the upper reaches, the Neretva Delta is one of the few fertile regions in all of Dalmatia.

During medieval Bosnia, there was even a shipyard on the coldest river in Croatia, with many people still referring to it lovingly as the Nile of Herzegovina. This is because the Neretva truly is as important to Herzegovina as the Nile is to Egypt.


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