If you love whitewater sports, you’re going to want to check out this article to learn about the top 5 rivers to go rafting on in Croatia.
In the past few years, Croatia has become the hot spot for travellers wanting to enjoy a Mediterranean paradise, complete with pristine, crystal waters and buzzing nightlife. The major cities vacationers like to visit include Split and Dubrovnik. These beachside villages are known to be party towns. But Croatia has quite a few hidden gems to offer just a short trip from the coast. The rivers in Croatia flow through an almost completely untouched paradise- and offer a thrilling ride for those who want to do more than just lay on the beach!
Rafting on the Cetina River, Omis
The Cetina river is one of the most famous rivers in Croatia. Not only is it well-known for being a rafting hotspot, but its source is also famous. Indeed, the Cetina river originates from a natural karst spring pool, a quite rare occurrence.
The Cetina River flows down from central Dalmatia for over 100 sparkling kilometers. It then reaches the Adriatic Sea at Omiš, just south of Split. Along its path, the Cetina meets the Peruča River and passes by the Mosor Mountains.
Because of the strong force behind its flow, the water here is used for hydroelectric power. It is also bottled as “Cetina Water”. Indeed, since the river flows through mostly rocky karst terrain, it remains very clear and free of impurities.
Rafting adventures on the Cetina River are very popular with adventure lovers visiting Croatia. Most rafting and whitewater activities on the Cetina river go for the lower section of the river for 10-12km. Meeting points are usually organized in Omis, and from there shuttle services will transfer you upriver.
The first 5 km of the rafting route will take you through gentle class II rapids, whilst the latter 5-7km section will more sporty class III rapids, still very suitable for beginners.
Many rafting centres on the Cetina river will also organize stops along the way to swim in the beautiful canyon. Some also organize quick stops at a beautiful cave with stalagmites and stalactites.
The Cetina river is really a must-do if you want to raft in Croatia, or are on vacation in nearby Split or Makarska. And since Omis if often dubbed as the capital city of outdoor sports in Croatia, you will have plenty more outdoor activities in Omis. You can go canyoning, rock climbing, kayaking and enjoy hydrospeed.
Rafting on the Zrmanja River, Zadar
Second on this list is the Zrmanja river and its incredible canyon. Flowing in Northern Dalmatia, the Zrmanja river is particularly know for its spring, located at the bottom of a steel and majestic 200m deep canyon called Misije. Just an hour from the city of Zadar, an activity on the Zrmanja river is the perfect getaway.
One reason this river is so popular for rafting in Croatia is because of the cascading waterfalls rafters can paddle over, such as the iconic Krupa waterfall! The pure, sparkling emerald pools, and beautiful canyon scenery make Zrmanja an incredible ride.
Rafting tours on the Zrmanja River usually start from Kastel Zegarski to end 14km downstream at Muskovci for a 3-4h rafting experience. Most tours start in the morning, and, wheather permitting, will include a picnic at the very scenic Krupa waterfall. Rapids in Spring and Autumun are usually class II-III, and children as young as 6 year old can usually join the tour.
In July and August, when the wheather is drier and water levels lower, most rafting centers propose kayaking tours on Zrmanja river instead. Yet don’t be fooled. Going through class II rapids in kayaking can be somewhat more sporty than class III rapids while rafting!
Irrespective of the activity you choose eventually, the Zrmanja river is high on the list for whitewater activities in Croatia!
Rafting on the Mreznica River, Karlovac
Tucked away in Karlovac county in Northern Croatia is a spectacular river called the Mreznica. Whitewater sports fans love this river because of the pristine waterfalls, and crystal-clear waters.
The Mreznica river is well-known to be one of the most stunning rafting rivers in all of northern Croatia. It has over 93 waterfalls which grace its 63km journey before arriving at Karlovac.
But it’s not just beauty, the Mreznica is one rowdy ride. Rafting trips down the Mreznica River are among the best in Croatia. Lasting about 4-5 hours each, both the upper and the lower sections of the river can be paddled through.
Whilst rafting down the lower section of the river (closer to Karlovac) is a great adventure accessible to families and children, the upper section of the river is a somewhat more sporty rafting experience. In the latter, you can expect to paddle through no less than 26 small waterfalls in one of the deepest canyon of Croatia.
Along the trip, you can also take short rest breaks, and jump into the sparkling pools of water between the rocky waterfalls!
Rafting on the Kupa River, Rijeka
The Kupa River in Risnjak National Park is pure backcountry bliss. The river begins at a secret, serene emerald lake nestled in forested mountains. It then begins its journey down through the mountains of Gorski Kotar, northeast of Rijeka.
Along its path, the Kupa River crosses several other rivers, such as the Čabranka, Lahinja, Dobra and Korana rivers. The mixing of all these different currents creates fun whitewater rapids along the way.
Rafting tours on the Kupa River are usually organized on the upper part of this 200km + long river for a 10km ride. You can expect rapids of class II and class III depending on water levels. Rafting centers in the area will adapt raft sizes to make sure that the river delivers the right level of fun and adrenaline.
The scenery when rafting on the Kupa river is quite fantastic with notably an untouched foresty canyon called Saint Ana. This activity is 2-3 hours long, and will take you down the river, stopping at points to rest and swim in calm turquoise pools.
Other sections will be faster, and those who want more challenge can attempt the “grbajel liana”.
Rafting on the Korana River, Slunj
The Korana river is another highlight (and our last) of Croatian rafting. Taking its source at the largest waterfall in Croatia, just at the end of the Plitvice Lakes. The Korana river then flows north to meet the Kupa river at Karlovac.
Throughout its 130km + voyage towards Karlovac, the Korana river offers very changing scenery. From the stunning beauty of its initial cascade, through deep canyons or more open scenery before flowing into Kupa River.
Yet it is at Slunj (or at the nearby Rastoke), roughly midway to its destination, that the best rafting can be found on the Korana. There the river flows into a beautiful canyon graced by several waterfalls. Rafting is very accessible during the Summer months when water levels are lower. In Spring or Autumn, rapids can be fierce and provide a really sporty experience.
If you want to know more about rafting or Croatia, check the following articles:
- Access all our whitewater articles
- All the questions you may have about rafting are answered in our complete guide to rafting
- Need more inspiration to know where to go rafting, read our guide to the best locations for rafting in Europe
- Access all our rafting destinations
- Travelling to Croatia, check out our Croatia articles