If you’re after outdoor adventure on your Croatia charter holiday, set your sights on Omiš, a historic pirate town wedged between the Cetina River and the sea about 25 kilometres down the coast from Split.
While the town is best known for its swashbuckling history, it also offers rafting, paragliding, horseback riding, diving, cycling, zip lines, and more.
A Brief History of Omiš
During the Middle Ages, Omiš was home to the infamous Corsairs of Almissa. These pirates were master shipbuilders, crafting powerful attack vessels called “Sagittas.” Allying up with the sovereign Poljica Principality, they were able to attack at sea without fear of reprisals from the mainland. This along with their strategic location near the mouth of the river made it possible for them to bring in tremendous wealth while easily defending their city for more than four centuries.
Indeed, the city’s economic power contributed to its defenses, allowing for the construction of sturdy fortifications. It wasn’t until 1444 when the Turks invaded that the alliance between the corsairs and the Poljica Principality was overcome, and the age of the Corsairs of Almissa came to an end.
What Can You Do in Omiš?
Now you know a bit about what makes Omiš awesome, what can you do while you are visiting? Here are just a few ideas.
1. Go canoeing, kayaking, or rafting.
The Cetina River is arguably one of the most scenic in all of Croatia. Rent a canoe or kayak and go for a relaxing ride over the waters. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch; there are a lot of beautiful spots you can stop and enjoy a bite surrounded by nature. Don’t forget you can also take your kayak out to sea and explore the coastline. There are also some other small boats you can rent in town.
Looking for a way to get the adrenaline pumping? Head out rafting on the river’s rapids. Start your route at Penšići and venture 9 kilometres to Radmanove Mlinice for the voyage of a lifetime. If you’re up for something even more adventurous, go on an extreme canoeing tour which includes a climb down the Gubavica Waterfall.
2. Explore the canyon.
The Cetina River cuts through a dramatic calcareous canyon. The sides soar 180 metres, offering opportunities for climbing, hiking, and even spelunking in subterranean tunnels. One of the most famous destinations for free climbing along the river is in Planovo, where the cliff wall rises a sheer 200 metres. You’ll also find many lakes and waterfalls here to explore.
3. Go on a zip line adventure.
Croatia is renowned for its amazing zip lines. Imagine whizzing along at 65 kilometres an hour across 8 wires suspended 150 metres over the Cetina River. There is no better way to take in the picturesque views while getting your heart pounding!
4. Go hiking.
There are tons of locations for hiking around Omiš, all of which are worth checking out. If you are looking to explore Croatia’s mountainous terrain, then head to Dinara, Biokovo or Mosor. You also can hop in your Croatia charter yacht and sail to nearby Hvar or Brač, both of which feature numerous exciting trails to scenic viewpoints.
5. Play paintball.
It’s hard to beat Croatia for paintball. The terrain lends to some thrilling strategic scenarios. So consider renting some equipment in town. You’ll have a blast no matter where you play.
6. Go on a horseback ride.
Feel like relaxing and giving your feet a break from all that hiking and climbing? Head to the town of Sinj, which is famous for its horses. Here you can book a class at a riding school or you can join a horseback riding tour for a new way to take in the region’s amazing scenery.
7. Go paragliding.
Speaking of a new perspective, take to the heights over the Adriatic or Cetina on a paragliding adventure. There’s nothing quite like the breeze on your face and the feeling that you are flying over the sparkling waves.
If you are a cycling enthusiast, you probably already know that Croatia is an absolute paradise for those who enjoy seeing the world on wheels. Whether you are a total beginner and are looking for a smooth, easy path or you are an advanced mountain biker in search of thrills, you will find plenty of trails around Omiš to explore and take your skills to the next level.
9. Go hunting or fishing.
Earlier we mentioned the Mosor Mountain, which is renowned for its trails. But did you know it is also famous for its hunting grounds? Here you are legally permitted to hunt deer, sheep, chamois, wild boar, rabbits and certain birds. Head out for a day, or arrange to stay overnight in a hut set aside just for hunters and trekkers.
Even if you are not a hunter, it is well worth visiting Mosor Mountain. This is an amazing place to sightsee and take photographs of the unique wildlife.
Prefer fishing to hunting? Around dawn you can catch tons of fish in the river or at sea including carp, trout, chub, mullet and even eel. Prepare a tasty meal and enjoy your fresh catch!
10. Go snorkeling or diving.
While there is much to see above the water, you should not miss out on what is below! There are a lot of world-class spots for snorkeling and diving around Hvar, Brač and Šolta, so make sure you rent some equipment, drop anchor near some of Croatia’s most colourful reefs, and see the underwater sights.
11. Hike to Starigrad Fortress.
When the pirates of Omiš were bringing back lots of plunder, they had the wealth they needed to fortify the city. The Starigrad Fortress was built during the 15th century to try and keep out the Turks. Ultimately of course it was unsuccessful in this purpose, but its walls still stand tall and proud today, a testament to the town’s remarkable history.
It is quite a hike if you want to get up there to check out the fortress for yourself, but well worth it. The easiest route takes about half an hour, and there is little in the way of shade, so come prepared for that. Once you arrive, you can take a look around at the impressive structure and also take in some breathtaking views.
12. Explore Omiš itself.
Who says you need to head out of town to hike? You can traverse quite a bit of distance just walking up and down the charming streets of Omiš. If you like old churches, you will particularly enjoy exploring all eight which are scattered throughout the town, and which are of historical interest. Also make sure you enjoy delicious Dalmatian cuisine in Omiš’s cafes and restaurants.
13. Enjoy the summer festival.
If you are in Omiš over the summer, be sure to check out the Dalmatian Klapa Singing Festival. This a cappella singing festival has been declared a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, and is one of the biggest celebrations in the country. It is a unique experience like no other that you will never forget.
Conclusion: Once a Pirate Town, Omiš is Now an Adventurer’s Dream Come True
If you are an outdoor adventurer, you will find few towns in Croatia which offer as much in one place as Omiš. Explore the cobbled lanes of the town, hike up to the medieval fortress, and then go kayaking, hiking, cycling, horseback riding, paragliding and more along the coast and up the Cetina River. You could easily fill an entire week with activities in Omiš and still not run out of things to do. Once you discover all that Omiš has to offer, you won’t be able to wait to come back!