Unearthing 4 Split Dalmatian Hidden Gems: A Confident Guide

Dalmatian hidden gems
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Dalmatia enchants with its sun-drenched islands and historic cities, but this guide unveils 4 Split Dalmatian hidden gems waiting to be unearthed by the adventurous traveler.

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I already mentioned in one of the previous articles that many off-the-beaten-track destinations are worth visiting in the Split Central Dalmatian hinterland region.

Discover hidden gems and create unforgettable memories with my guide to lesser-known locations. Don't settle for the typical tourist spots – let me show you something new and truly special.

Many websites describe Dalmatia hidden wonders, but this guide will show that visiting less-visited locations can offer a chance to break away from the typical tourist experience and create a more authentic, personalized, and potentially budget-friendly adventure. 

Less-visited Dalmatian Hidden gems

Popular attractions often get crowded with tourists, making it hard to fully enjoy the scenery and ambiance. However, less-visited locations offer a more peaceful and serene experience. 

With more space to explore, you can take photos without worrying about photobombers and immerse yourself in the atmosphere without any distractions.

Less-visited locations often boast pristine natural beauty, untouched by mass tourism. You might encounter unique wildlife, breathtaking scenery, and a deeper environmental connection.

Are you planning to visit Split Central Dalmatia on your next vacation? Don't miss out on some of the best-kept secrets of this beautiful destination. Surprisingly, many tourists are unaware of the easily accessible and undiscovered locations just a stone's throw away from Split Town. 

Unleash the mysteries of this region and indulge in its hidden gems with the help of an expert guide. Let this confident guide lead you to uncharted territories and help you experience the best of what the region has to offer.

4 Untrodden Central Dalmatian hidden gems

I've already mentioned some hidden treasures in Dalmatia hinterland and some off-the-beaten-track in Split Central Dalmatia, but there are four more gems you should not miss.

Vranjača Cave - a fascinating natural wonder

Vranjaca Cave Dalmatian hidden Gem

Explore the wonders of the Vranjica Cave, an awe-inspiring natural wonder near Split, Croatia. Witness the power of nature as you venture into this limestone cave, carved out over millions of years, and discover the fascinating geological history hidden beneath the surface of the Dalmatian coast. 

Don't miss out on this unforgettable underground experience that will leave you with lasting memories. Entering Vranjica Cave feels like stepping into another world of Dalmatian hidden gems.

As you descend into its depths, you'll discover intricate formations of stalactites and stalagmites created over centuries by the slow dripping of mineral-rich water. The cave's chambers are adorned with shimmering crystals, and the play of light and shadow adds to the mystique of the surroundings.

Vranjaca Cave

In 1963, the cave was protected as a geomorphological natural monument due to its significant value. To reach the cave, you can take the about 25 km long asphalt road that goes through the town of Dugopolje and ends in the villages of Kotlenica and Punde. After that, you need to walk a 300 m gravel path that leads directly to the cave entrance.

The cave opened to the public in 1929. The entry hall leads into the second hall through a small natural passage. The second hall consists of nine smaller parts, each with a different name, and is filled with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and arcades of various shapes.

When passing through the cave, you get the impression that there is a new passage between the pillars and stalagmites at every turn. Some halls seem almost supernatural with their blue and green colors, while others shimmer due to many natural crystals.

The temperature inside the cave remains the same throughout the year at 15°C, so it can be visited all year round since the outside weather conditions have no significant effect on what goes on inside.

There is a pathway inside the cave, steps with rope-handrail handrails, artificial lighting, and doors. The richness of its formations makes it the most beautiful cave open to the public in Dalmatia.

Near the entrance to the Vranjača Cave lies the starting point for the hiking trail that leads to the most famous peak of Mosor Mountain, Vickov stop (1.325 m). 

Landscaped surroundings, with stone and wooden benches and tables, the pine forest and pure nature, sightseeing the beautiful Vranjača Cave. There are many reasons to visit this one of the many Dalmatian hidden gems in this picturesque area.

Where is this cave, and how do you get there?
  • At the heart of the Dalmatian hinterland, only a half-hour drive from Split, lies one of the most beautiful gems of the karst landscape, Vranjača Cave.
  • Guided tours are available to explore Vranjica Cave safely. Knowledgeable guides lead visitors through its labyrinthine passages and share insights into its formation and significance. Whether you're a seasoned spelunker or a curious traveler seeking adventure, Vranjica Cave promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of the earth, where the Dalmatian hidden gems of nature are on full display.
  • The best way to reach this cave is to drive there. Here is an easy-to-follow map from Split Town to the cave.
  • As this cave is located on Mosor Mountain, it's a good idea to undertake a Mosor hiking tour from Split.

Adriatic escape: The Žrnovnica River awaits

Are you craving a refreshing dip in crystal-clear waters surrounded by breathtaking scenery? Look no further than the Žrnovnica River, a hidden gem in the Mosor Mountains near Split, Croatia.

Unlike the bustling Adriatic coast, Žrnovnica offers a tranquil escape, perfect for a day trip filled with swimming, hiking, and soaking up the natural beauty.

Zrnovnica River

This short but captivating river winds through lush greenery and is a paradise for nature lovers. Imagine diving into calm, refreshing waters teeming with trout, a local specialty. It's the most picturesque among Dalmatian hidden gems.

Hike along the riverbank, breathing in the fresh mountain air and marveling at the cascading waterfalls that decorate the landscape.

The Žrnovnica River caters to travelers seeking a variety of experiences. For those yearning for relaxation, bask in the sun-dappled pebbles by the riverbank and listen to the calming gurgle of the water.

Adventurous souls can explore the hiking trails that weave through the mountains, offering stunning panoramic views.

Zrnovnica River
Where is Žrnovnica River and how to get there?

The Žrnovnica River is closer than you might think – it's only 10.9 kilometers away from Split, Croatia! According to Google Maps, that's a quick and easy drive that should take about 14 minutes. The route seems pretty straightforward – you'll be taking Street Domovinskog rata most of the way.

It belongs to the Podstrana Riviera, one of the best alternatives to staying near bustling Split Town, particularly during the high tourist season (July and August). Podstrana village is only 10 km southeast of Split. The advantages of Podstrana are that the prices are lower and more convenient.

Things to do and what to visit?

If you decide to visit this one of the most beautiful sites among Dalmatian hidden gems, you should start from the promenade by the Žrnovnica River.

This pleasant, 2-kilometre-long pebbled trail owes its great recreational value to its excellently preserved natural environment, particularly its high vegetation and the vegetation of the river bank (poplar and willow trees). It is well-suited for walking, running, and cycling. Here, you can find info about all cycling trails.

Promenade by the Žrnovnica River

The largely pebbled six-kilometer stretch of the Podstrana sea coast functions as a beach throughout its entire length and is equipped with recreational facilities and equipment. Off-season, it is perfect for recreational walks and relaxation.

The lungo mare of Podstrana begins in Strožanac, near the mouth of the Žrnovnica River, and continues to the southeast border of the municipality. This promenade is also well-suited for running and cycling.

The promenade by the Žrnovnica River leads along its left bank, from its mouth to Antonica’s Mill in the neighboring village of Žrnovnica.

Antonica Mill on Zrnovnica River

So, if you're looking for a unique and unforgettable Croatian adventure, ditch the crowds and head to the Žrnovnica River. This secret paradise promises a day of relaxation, rejuvenation, and connection with nature's beauty.

Discover Lake Peruča, Dalmatian's best kept secret

Split's Dalmatian Coast is brimming with popular tourist destinations, but for the adventurous souls seeking something unique, Peruća Lake beckons.

Peruca Lake

Nestled amidst the verdant embrace of the Dinaric Alps, this captivating lake offers a tranquil escape from the bustling crowds. Here's your guide to a fascinating day trip to Peruća Lake from Split:

A Glimpse into Paradise

Peruća Lake, Croatia's second-largest artificial lake, is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Surrounded by majestic mountains and carpeted with lush greenery, the lake's turquoise waters shimmer under the Croatian sun.

Imagine basking on pristine pebble beaches, taking a refreshing dip in the calm waters, or exploring hidden coves by kayak. The tranquil atmosphere is perfect for unwinding and reconnecting with nature.

Activities for Every Explorer

Beyond the serene beauty, Peruća Lake offers a variety of activities to keep you engaged:

  • Hiking & Biking: Lace up your boots and explore scenic trails that weave through the mountains. Alternatively, cycle along the picturesque lakeside paths, enjoying breathtaking panoramas.
Peruca Lake
  • Boating & Kayaking: Glide across the crystal-clear waters on a boat tour, taking in the lake's vastness and hidden coves. For a more adventurous experience, rent a kayak and explore the lake at your own pace, discovering secluded spots and hidden inlets.

As far as I know, there are no places that rent kayaks at Lake Peruča. As it isn’t a touristy place even during the busiest season, there is no point for Croatians to run those types of businesses here. Luckily, some accommodations provide their guests with all the equipment to have an amazing stay at the lake. Check all accomodation option below!

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  • Fishing: Cast a line and test your angling skills in the lake's rich fish population. Just remember to obtain a fishing permit beforehand.
  • Birdwatching: Birdwatchers rejoice! The diverse ecosystem surrounding the lake attracts a variety of bird species, making it a haven for ornithologists and nature lovers alike.
A Taste of Local Flavor

Enjoy exploring Dalmatian hidden gems, isn't complete without indulging in the region's culinary delights. After a day of exploration, head to a local restaurant or konoba (traditional tavern) near the lake and savor fresh, locally sourced dishes.

Sample grilled fish caught in the lake, or opt for regional specialties like “peka” (meat and vegetables baked under a bell-shaped lid) and sip on a glass of refreshing Croatian wine.

Reaching Your Tranquil Escape

Peruca Lake is located approximately 60 kilometers north of Split. Check this map! Here are your options for getting there:

  • Car: Renting a car is the best option for maximum flexibility. The drive takes about one hour, offering scenic glimpses of the Croatian countryside. Public transport options are limited, so a car provides the most freedom in exploring the area.
Planning Your Trip

While Peruća Lake is less visited than other tourist spots, planning your day trip is recommended, especially during peak season (July and August). Here are some additional tips:

Limited accommodation options exist directly on the lake. Consider staying in nearby towns like Sinj or Vrlika, which offer a range of hotels, apartments, and guesthouses.

Rooms and Apartments Budiša – Perched right on the edge of the tranquil lake, these rooms boast private terraces that offer an awe-inspiring view of the basin below.

The apartments have been recently renovated, and the hosts are amazing. Prices start at just 70€ per night, making it an affordable escape that you won’t soon forget. (Kayaks and bicycles are included in the price!) Check 2024 prices!

Cetina River Eye - The source of the Cetina River

The longest river in Dalmatia, the Cetina River, boasts breathtaking scenery and a fascinating source—the Cetina River Spring, also known as the “Oko Cetine” or “Eye of the Earth.”

This natural wonder lives up to its nickname – the Eye of the Earth. The spring emerges as a deep, crystal-clear pool with a distinctive oval shape, resembling a giant eye peering upwards. The turquoise water, surrounded by lush greenery, creates a picture-perfect scene.

Cetina River eye

Location: The Cetina River Spring is situated near the village of Cetina, roughly 80 kilometers north of Split and close to the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is only 10 km from Peruca Lake.

The Cetina River Spring is no mere puddle. The spring's eye measures roughly 20 meters (66 feet) in diameter, and its depths are estimated to reach over 150 meters (500 feet)!

The Cetina River Spring is a popular spot for swimming, especially during the hot summer months. The cool, refreshing water provides a welcome respite from the Croatian sun. Additionally, kayaking and paddleboarding are popular activities in the calm waters around the spring.

Important Note: While swimming in the main pool of the spring used to be allowed, it's currently restricted due to conservation efforts.

Cetina River eye

Are you planning a trip to the Cetina River Spring but unsure where to stay? Due to its remote location, finding accommodation nearby can be challenging. 

However, don't let that deter you from visiting this beautiful natural wonder. With a bit of research and foresight, you can find the perfect place to stay and make the most of your trip. Here are some recommended accommodation options:

The closest one is Villa Leko Dream House, located just 2km away from Izvor Cetine (The Cetina River Spring). The villa is one of the most expensive in the area, but it has a pool and sleeps six people, which might make it a good option for a group trip.

The most budget-friendly option is Rooms Leda. The rooms are excellent, and it’s fantastic value for money. This accommodation is located in Vrlika, about 11km from the spring.

Another great option is Apartment Ana, which offers accommodation for 2 to 4 people. The accommodation has great reviews, the rooms are excellent, and it’s about 8km from the Cetina River Spring.

Rooms and Apartments Budiša

The favorite place to stay near the Cetina River Spring. They offer free bikes and free kayaks
Check Availability

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