Croatia // Split and the south Dalmatian coast //

The Cetina gorge

The River Cetina rises just east of Knin and flows down to meet the sea at Omiš, carving its way through the karst of the Zagora to produce some spectacular rock formations on the way. The most eye-catching portions are those just outside Omiš, and another set 23km upstream near Zadvarje.

Out of Omiš, the first few kilometres of the Cetina gorge are truly dramatic, with the mountains pressing in on a narrow winding valley. Six kilometres up, the valley floor widens, making room for some swampy stretches of half-sunken deciduous forest; there’s a string of popular restaurants along this stretch of the gorge. Most boat excursions and tourist trains from Omiš terminate at the Radmanove Mlinice restaurant, where there’s also a children’s playpark and a beach.

Soon after the Radmanove Mlinice the road turns inland, twisting its way up onto a plateau surrounded by dry hills streaked with scrub. The village of ZADVARJE, at the top of a steep sequence of hairpins, offers views of the most impressive stretch of the gorge. Follow a sign marked Vodopad (waterfall) in the centre of the village to a scruffy car park on the edge of a cliff, from where there’s a view northeast towards a canyon suspended halfway up a rock face, with the river plunging down via two waterfalls to a gorge deep below. The cliffs lining the canyon sprout several more minor waterfalls whenever the local hills fill up with rain.

From Zadvarje, you can either head south to rejoin the main coastal road (Magistrala), or carry on northwards through Šestanovac to a major T-junction 7km beyond at Cista Provo, where you’re faced with a choice of routes – eastwards to the lakes of Imotski, or westwards to the village of Trilj, where you can stay.

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