If you plan to travel to southern Croatia, maybe toward the famous city of Dubrovnik as many people do, then you are going to pass through the Neretva river delta. It’s a beautiful valley near the city of Ploce, which is our base, and we spend a lot of our time there. And that’s the reason why we feel confident while writing about the Neretva delta.
Neretva river delta is becoming more and more popular with each passing year and nowadays it’s famous because it’s considered to be one of the best places for kitesurfing in Croatia. And really, if you visit Neretva delta during the summer months afternoon hours, you’ll see a lot of these wind riders enjoying their dance with the wind. And it looks gorgeous. We like to chill out in a local beach bar, drinking coffee or a beer, and just look to kitesurfers doing their stuff. It’s relaxing.
But there is much more to the Neretva river delta, so many more reasons to fall in love with it and we’re bringing our top 5 in this post.
introduction to neretva river delta
Let us take you back into the past, some 70 years back. At that time, the Neretva river delta was a partly dry wasteland and partly swamp. Not many things were going around. A few years ago we stumbled upon the video about making the Neretva delta what it is today. The video is below this text and we recommend you watch it, it’s very interesting and it will show you how life here was looking before the Neretva river delta became what it is today. The things will be much clearer to you.
Neretva river has a source in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina and it flows through Croatia only for 20 kilometers. But it seems that 20 kilometers were enough for the Neretva river to make one of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in Croatia.
Neretva river pours into the Adriatic sea near the city of Ploce and the place where it meets the sea is full of sandbars on which you can walk for hundreds of meters into the sea. There are a lot of shallow parts where the water reaches only to your knees or ankles. This is one of the reasons why the Neretva river delta is a popular destination for families with children who don’t know how to swim yet.
That’s enough for the introduction, let’s move on with our top reasons why you should visit Neretva delta while you’re in Croatia.
beautiful nature and biodiversity of life
Neretva river delta is blooming with life. Starting with birdlife, the Neretva delta has more than 300 bird species living in its landscapes and ruling over its skies. All these bird species make it the second-largest ornithological landscape in Europe. There is a birdwatching point made for all the bird lovers out there.
When it comes to the rest of nature, it’s beautiful and unique. Sandy beaches dominate the mouth of the Neretva river while the rest of the valley is full of different shades of greens coming from different fruits and vegetable plantations.
Neretva river delta is a place where the river meets with the sea and when that happens you know that the results will be breathtaking. But not only the mouth of the river is full of wonders. If you move more inland you’ll find even more natural wonders there. Let’s take Modro Oko lake (Blue eye lake) or the Norin river near the city of Vid. On the other side of the valley, there is a legendary Kuti lake with a network of canals that serve as a road to it.
Neretva valley is full of drainage canals and when observed from the air, these canals make a real labyrinth. These canals are like roads in Neretva valley since there are some parts of the land accessible only by boats. So you could say that the Neretva river delta is like a Croatian Venice.
Going back in time now, almost 2000 years into the past. In that period Neretva delta was full of Illyrian tribes who were fighting with Romans. Romans eventually won and formed their colony right here, in the Neretva river delta. The second-largest Roman city on this side of the Adriatic was Narona and today it’s called Vid. Today, there is the largest museum about Roman culture in Croatia and it absolutely worth visiting.
The Neretva river was a famous trading route back then. Just imagine all those Roman ships sailing toward Narona bringing goods such as amphorae full of olive oil and wine. There are some amphorae still buried under the sand of the Neretva river and archeologists are still doing research and excavations in the Neretva river delta.
One of the latest discoveries in the Neretva delta is small boats made from a single piece of the wood trunk. They were found on the bottom of the river’s mouth and it’s believed that these boats date back to prehistoric times. What a cool discovery this is. Research is in progress and locals are thinking about opening a museum about prehistoric life in the Neretva river delta.
Another famous place in Neretva valley is Kuti lake. It’s somewhat secluded and not so popular as a Neretva river mouth, but there is a peculiar legend about this place. You know how today nobody knows where the ancient city of Troy was. Some locals swear that they saw some stone walls in the mud of this shallow lake and so the theory about the city of Troy being in Neretva delta was born. Some even believe that the ancient city of Narona was a real Troy.
Most of the people visit Croatia in the summer months and the Adriatic sea is one of the main reasons for it. Neretva river delta is a place where sea and river meet and become one. How romantic that sounds. And out of that love, many sandy beaches and sandbars are born. The whole Neretva valley is in fact place made out of the sand. You don’t have many beaches with real sand in Croatia, and if you are a fan of those, you have a very good reason to visit the Neretva delta.
Some of the sandbars stretch for hundreds of meters into the sea and you can walk on them while the sea reaches only to your ankles. Sometimes, during a low tide, sand is everywhere and you can see people walking on the parts that were under the sea just a few hours ago.
tangerines and road market
Neretva river delta has very fertile soil and all the cultures that are growing here were planned when the Neretva delta was being born some 70 years ago. This valley is often called ‘Croatian California’. The most common fruit found in Neretva valley is tangerine. Many tourists come here specifically during the harvest season to be a part of it and participate in picking up this sweet fruit. Tangerine has become one of the most famous products of Neretva valley and nowadays it’s widely known throughout Europe as one of the most quality tangerines.
If you are traveling toward or from Dubrovnik, you’ll pass through the Neretva valley. You’ll see a lot of shops on the sides of the road, selling different products. This is considered to be one of the longest markets in Croatia and you have to stop in at least one while driving through the Neretva valley.
Neretva river delta is famous for its gastronomy specialties too. People living in the delta some 100 years ago were poor so they had to be extra creative to make their food tasty. Remember, 100 years ago, the Neretva delta was marsh and not many parts of the land were fertile as today. The most famous local specialties include eels and frogs. Brodetto is another famous local dish and in the past, locals were boiling sea stones when making brodetto to make it saltier.
If you are traveling through the Neretva river delta, we suggest you stop at one of the local restaurants and try something. Try to look for some traditional restaurants on Google maps and let your taste buds enjoy.
Neretva river delta is a landscape worth visiting, especially if you are traveling to Dubrovnik as many people do. Or from Dubrovnik toward Split. Even if you don’t have much time, the mouth of the Neretva river is just 10 minutes away from the main road. Even with a little time you can make a visit and maybe drink a coffee in a spectacular landscape. If you are planning to stay in Neretva delta for a few days, there is still a lot of things to do and discover but we’ll write about it in some other posts.
Enjoy your travels and enjoy Croatia!