We present you our TOP 10 choice for spending a great time on Croatian Rivers. Swimming, paddling, freediving are just some part oft he summer fun on the rivers.
Summer is on its peak, you can’t even think from the heat in the steamy apartments and red hot, almost melted asphalt in the cities. Sultriness and the sweat make us look for a natural refreshment, and it is always lovely to be by the water. So far, the sea was still the top choice for summer vacations. But, beaches are becoming more and more overcrowded, often there is no shade, and the prices so high that blue Adriatic is out of the reach for many. Luckily, there is an alternative – summer vacation on the rivers. Rivers flow, they are clean, crystalline, and some of them shallow. Rivers provide a lot of sport and recreation activities, from swimming, diving, rafting, paddling, getting through the rocks… Still, not many people know that rivers are the big treasure of Croatia and not any of Europe´s countries have so preserved and diverse rivers.
Summer vacations on the rivers, no matter if it is “on the wild” in a tent, in a campsite, holiday house or several days long expedition with the boats, is a real experience of nature, still not commercialized besides on some popular locations like Skradinski Buk. When almost every corner of Croatia coast is well known, vacation on the rivers provides exploring Croatia, unknown roads and villages… With that, it is a never forgetting experience of building a campfire in the evening and baking sausages and potatoes, founding out some local legends, spending time with the hosts. Perhaps this is an ideal vacation in every sense of it.
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What is necessary for summer vacation by the river?
Table of Contents
The romantic idea of summer vacation in nature is appealing for a lot of people, but you need to be familiar with the basics of spending time in nature. If you are not staying in house or apartment, you will need a tent, air-mattress for good night sleep, sleeping bag for not to be cold in the colder river canyons. If you don´t want to eat only bread and pastry, small gas cooker, several lite pots and plates are life savers. If you can´t function without a coffee, don´t forget to pack a coffeepot. Most often you won´t need a portable fridge, at least not for beers, as all you need to do is simply hook a bag for the branch or the roots on the shore and let the water cool down the drinks or anything else.
The toilet is in a nearby grove! And you will wash in the river.
For entertainment and fun, imagination is the only limit. But, having a kayak or a canoe, as well as the other water accessories is a guarantee for enjoying at the fullest.
TOP 10 Rivers
The Cetina River
Cetina river, known as a feeder of the Dalmatia from the ancient times, is becoming a first-class tourist destination. Rafting and canyoning are perfect for an adrenaline rush, but they are just a part of Cetina charms. The source of the river itself is magnificent with a clean and turquoise pond and an impressive view on the rocky Dinara mountain. The upper part of the river flow is a perfect fit for more active canoeing, but only for the experienced as there are stronger rapids and waterfalls. The water there is colder and not suitable for spending too much time swimming. In the lower part, where Cetina is turning towards the Omiš and leaving a high canyon, is a famous rafting route, but warmer water and more space had provided easier access and maid it suitable for staying and enjoying several days. For that, you can go to the famous Studenci with the source of the fresh water, and even more downstream are small unofficial camping sites. Excursion site and a restaurant Radmanove mlinice is a familiar destination for a lot of tourists.
The Mrežnica River
Heavenly green Mrežnica river is the queen of vacations. In its steeply but, a lush green canyon with some rocky cliff, this river has two faces. In one side we have foaming waterfalls on barriers made of tufa from one to the other shore of the river. In the middle, the most interest part of the river flow from Duga Resa to the Generalski Stol, this waterfalls are not high and are therefore ideal for jumping and natural showers. Between them are calm parts where water is barely flowing, so water lilies are growing on the shallow sections. Water is magically green but clear and refreshing, never too warm, perfect for swimming and having fun in the water. Besides, it is tailor made for paddling with a canoe, from just a few hours to the several day tours, up to your wishes. For the ones looking for more comfort, there are several nicely arranged locations like the restaurant and excursion site Zeleni kutak as well as few camping sites.
The Kupa River
Kupa river is tailor-made for a family summer vacation. Near the small place called Klanac is a popular bathing spot where Slovenian and Croatian bathers, families with small children together with the more adventurous ones for the jumping and making acrobatics on the rope are mixing on the waterfall and on the nearby banks. The warm, shallow river is in its upper flow enough clear and fresh to save us from the heat of summer days. Luckily you can found shade everywhere on the shore, as well as a lot of river banks for sunbathing. Kupa river is ideal if you want to experience paddling for several day-long tours. Waterfalls are not dangerous here, but you need to be careful when crossing them. In the summer river is slow, so canoe is good enough, but in the spring and the autumn the upper flow is suitable for the rafting. As the Kupa is a river on the border, you need to contact the police for the paddling.
The Drava River
The Drava is a perfect choice if you are expeditionary oriented. Paddling from Mura-Drava confluence to the Danube river lasts up to one week, and you need to get the permission from the border guard. On the Drava river, you always need to be careful, even during the summer as this river is big and strong and you have to give it due respect. Especially you need to beware whirlpools and stranded trees. Faster kayak is good enough for the Drava river. There are plenty of places where you can spend the night, but flooded forests are full of mosquitoes so you will need to take something to protect yourself from them. All of this should not discourage you, as the Drava is one of the last preserved lowland rivers in Europe, with colossal biodiversity, from white-tailed eagles, terns, deers… Summer experience on the Drava river, when the low water uncover virgin banks is heavenly, and if you are lucky enough Drava fairy can appear. Drava river is also great choice for one-day trips, where you can enjoy on the famous beach near Legrad at the Mura-Drava confluence.
Zrmanja and Krupa
River Zrmanja and it’s short, but astonishing tributary Krupa river are another perfect choice for summer vacations near the town of Zadar. Getting to the Zrmanja river is harder due to the steep, slippery canyon. If you want to avoid this, you can reach the waterfall in Muškovci by the car. You can book a tour in one of the agencies and experience rafting and canoeing on the Zrmanja river.
Several walking trails lead to the Krupa river in its canyon, and one of the most astonishing locations is Kuda bridge made of tufa. Legend says that the bridge was built by the shepherd Kuda so that he could go to his love on the other side of the river. Once you reach the river, you can´t stop admiring this green oasis in the middle of the inhospitable karst. Transparent, fresh water surrounded with lush vegetation of willows and water lilies, every now and then falls over impressive waterfalls. At the bottom of the canyon are enough places where you can put your tent and make yourself a small, private campsite.
The Kamačnik River
You cant take a swim on the Kamačnik river, but it is still perfect refreshment in a hot, summer day. In the lush shadow of mountain beech forest, in form of rapids and foaming waterfalls penetrates the icily fresh Kamačnik, short confluent of river Dobra by Vrbovsko. Kamačnik is a short river, it takes only hour or two to reach its source. Croatian forests arranged nice path that includes beautiful wooden bridges over the mini canyon. Kamačnik is a perfect choice for a half-day trip, and you can eat in a restaurant at the very beginning in an idyllic atmosphere. Lovers of fly fishing are usually staying longer, as the Kamačnik is tailor made for this sport. Between the rocks, in cold water are trouts, attracting fishing lovers.
The Gacka River
Trout fly fishing reaches its highlight on the Gacka river. Prouts are here achieving records in size, so it is no wonder that Austrians, Italians and other European lovers of fishing are coming here. Gacka river is a torrent that flows trough straight karst field near Otočac. Charming, gentle landscapes are providing full experience of the river. All locations are easily reached by a car, witch is ideal for families, and you can stay in a stunning rural hotel.
The Krka River
Thousands of people are visiting Krka river, and with a good reason. Skradinski buk, the biggest waterfall in Europe is here, only several kilometers from the sea. There is nothing better than swim underneath the huge waterfalls, and then when you get hungry from enjoying in the water, treat yourself with sweet figs, honey and other delicious Mediterranean fruits. Then take a walk in a deep shade trough the wooden paths over a lot of waterfalls and rustling canals. After that take a boat to the small island of Visovac. There is so many possibilities on Krka river, and even the summer crowd will understate unique experience of river in Dalmatia.
The Pazinčica River
In the heart of Istria, river Pazinčica flows in Pazin, better said it plunges in this city. Outside of the city are tow stunning waterfalls, Zarečki and Pazinski krov, where river flows over the stone canopies, with a small cave inside. Pazičica river then press forward over spectacular craters and trough the rapids all the way to the city center where it disappears in tremendous crack. Underneath the hotel is nice walking trail that goes down to the abyss. Thanks to the cavers, it is possible to go inside the cave. Equipped with the flash lights and boots, climbing down with a rope, it is possible to walk trough the underground flow in eternal darkness, of course during the summer whwn the water is low. On the zip-line you can pass over the entire canyon, like a hawk you will fly over 220 meters with speed of 65km/h.
The Neretva River
Neretva is big Croatian, Mediterranean river that creates delta, in form of muddy, sandy tongue that stretch towards Pelješac. The best watermelons, tangerines and other fruits is grown here, on Mediterranean clime and fertile land. This soft land, so rear for Dalmatia was brought here by the river, that flooded this area from ancient times. This is also the biggest Adriatic wetland, where thousands of birds nest, feed, hibernate, or rest during the migrations, and you can also see them during the summer. The main tourist event is regatta of vessels, traditional boats that was one massively used to transport fruits from the fields between canals. In the modern time, sandy strands are besides the bathers occupied by the wind-kites. Therefore, there are unlimited supplies of adventure in Neretva, all you need is to choose what is most interesting for you.