The Other Great Adriatic Water Attraction in Dalmatia: River Cruising Up the Cetina

Total Croatia News

(Photo Copyright Romulic and Stojcic: Omis and the gateway to the River Cetina)

Reasons to leave the beach on the Makarska Riviera: river cruising up the mighty Cetina River.

The Makarska Riviera is one of Croatia’s most popular resorts, and with very good reason.

With more than 60km of coastline, the majority of which is home to some of the best beaches on the coast, it is little wonder that so many sun seekers flock to this destination, where guaranteed sun and fun combine to make a perfect holiday.  

Let’s face it, there is not a lot wrong with this view, by Hotel Berulia in Brela, a hotel whose beach divides the contrasting resorts of Brela and Baska Voda.

But what about something a little different – still water-themed – but a little away from the beach, offering a chance to experience another side of Dalmatia beyond the popular sun soaking in the pristine Adriatic? One very popular tour is the half-day trip to the pirate town of Omis and river cruise up the Cetina River, a total contrast to the packed beach experience. TCN road-tested the trip earlier this summer, as guests of Bluesun’s Hotel Berulia.  

The Cetina of course is the source of life for Dalmatia, and its 100+km journey from its source to the Adriatic is one of the great adrenaline playgrounds of Croatia, from diving into the source of the river (which goes down some 100 metres) to kayaking and the most popular activity – white water rafting, both of which are easily arranged through hotels and agencies on the coast.  

A recent adrenaline addition has been ziplining, and this year saw the opening of the second zipline facility, offering those brave enough the opportunity to criss-cross the towering cliffs of the mighty Cetina, whose fortresses and hidden spots have combined over the centuries to make it the perfect pirate hideout. Lonely Planet recently named the Cetina in Europe’s Top 40 Amazing Experiences. And so it surely is.  

For those like me who can live without so many thrills, there is a much more tranquil tourist opportunity, and one which takes in the historic town of Omis, which has guarded the secrets of the river and been home to the infamous Pirates of Omis, and a walking tour of the town is the perfect start to a day which continues with a relaxed cruise away from the crowds and traditional lunch in a hidden gem on the water’s edge.  

It is a charming little town, dominatedby the river and sheer cliffs which surround it, and there are several quaint reminders of the traditions of the past, including this Pillar of Shame, to which those unfortunate enough to be outed for various misdemeanours would be physically attached and exposed to ridicule.  

Given its strategic position on the coast and at the mouth of the mighty river, Omis is also a fortress town, and a short hike to one of the fortresses is rewarded by first views of the Cetina snaking its way inland. In years gone by, it provided the perfect hiding point for locals escaping by boat, with its warren of hiding places, almost impossible to detect by those without local knowledge.  

And the views out to sea were more than acceptable, including towards a rare sandy city beach at the mouth of the river.  

Omis itself is a bustling Dalmatian town, and bustling Dalmatian towns always contain the very best and the very freshest local produce. A typical market stand in the back streets as we wandered around.  

And no self-respecting bustling Dalmatian coastal town would be complete without a fine selection of fresh fish for sale.  

And just a couple of streets from the busy waterfront, a traditional town with quaint back streets away from the crowds – overlooked by those imposing mountains of course – perfect for a relaxing morning coffee and a chance to take in impressions of the Omis experience. It was lovely, and I will be back.  

But to the river we must, and within two minutes of departure, a totally different Dalmatia revealed itself. Here, less than a kilometre from the busy beaches, the only sound the chugging of the boat engine and occasional birdsong. As a contrast in water tourism to the throbbing beaches, it could not have been stronger.  

And those impressively steep cliffs continued to daunt. High above we noticed one of the zipline courses – so high above that I determined never to try it. My fear of heights had just intensified, but reports back from others are raving about the experience. 

Within minutes, all thoughts of the beach and coast were gone, and we were busy enjoying the peaceful ride, engaging with other members of the river community, who came in all shapes and sizes.  

Some of the other vessels looked as though they should not venture too far from the shore…

And then, just when we thought we were at one with nature and almost in the middle of nowhere…  

What should we stumble upon that a group of Swiss businessmen on a team-building exercise in the middle of an earning game of mini-golf!

Dalmatia has taught me to expect surprises around every corner, and our luncheon stop at Radman’s Hills certainly provided that. Far from being alone, we docked at an exquisite former mill, full of charm and tradition, but with something of a relaxed Munich beer garden feel.  

But before we went to investigate, a quick walk down to check out the river beach, every bit as enticing as the one we had left in Brela that morning, and a loss less populated.  

And so to lunch at Radman’s Mills. Plenty of facilities for the little ones to enjoy, including this rather divine fishpond.  

First mentioned in the 17th century, the mills enjoyed their heyday in the 19th century when they were renovated by the Radman family, whose name bears the mill to this day. These days, the mills have been converted into a leafy restaurant and entertainment area, popular with locals, weekend visitors, wedding parties and team building. It is a truly lovely spot, as was the excellent peka lunch.

Enjoy a few more photos of Radman below, as well as a video tour at the bottom. A nice stroll through the woods after lunch for a bit of communing with nature was followed by a transfer back to the coast, where the beach worship continued.

The Makarska Riviera is a fantastic destination, but it would be missing out somewhat not to experience a taste of inland Dalmatia for the complete holiday, at least for half a day.

TCN’s trip was organised by Hotel Berulia in Brela.  





Omis – Radmanove Mlinice from Drazen Biljak on Vimeo.


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