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Cetina River Spring (Eye of the Earth) in Croatia

Cetina River Spring (Eye of the Earth) in Croatia

Discover the famous Cetina River Spring (Izvor Cetine), an amazing karst spring famously known as the Eye of the Earth.

From the Adriatic Sea to the Dinara Mountains, Croatia is filled with amazing natural treasures to explore.

One of the most unique is the little-known Cetina River Spring (Izvor Cetine in Croatian), which is now better known as the Eye of the Earth. Chances are, you would have seen this incredible karst spring on social media.

While this has been a local secret for years, loads of photographers are making their way to the Cetine River source to snap an aerial photo of this natural phenomenon.

If you want to witness this awesome spot for yourself, you’ve come to the right place.

Aerial photograph of the cetina river source
Olly gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler & adventure photographer for 6 years with 700+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.

About the Cetina River Spring (Source of the Cetina River)

The Cetina Spring is a natural karst spring located at the foothills of the Dinara Mountain Range just north of Split.

This clear water spring brings up cold groundwater and is the source of the Cetina River, which flows 101 kilometers (63 miles) to the village of Omis (famous for river rafting and ziplining), in the Dalmatia region of the Adriatic Sea.

On its way, it passes the deep canyons at the village of Zadvarje, forming the most famous waterfalls on this river.

This is a beautiful spring to visit since the water is crystal clear, with a distinct turquoise and emerald green color. While it simply looks like a small body of water, divers have explored this incredible karst spring to a depth of over 155 meters!

Update: The local name for this spring is Veliko vrilo Glavaš, which translates to "Great spring Glavaš" in Croatian. Apparently, locals from this region have never heard the colloquial name "Eye of the Earth".

Izvor cetine natural karst spring  in croatia

Croatia's Karst Landscapes

Croatia is home to some of the most beautiful karst landscapes on earth, including the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park and the Krka National Park.

Karst landscapes are those where the bedrock dissolves to create sinkholes, sinking streams, caves, and springs. Some of the most famous examples for divers and tourists are the Cenotes in Tulum and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

This phenomenon is responsible for creating this incredible karst spring, which serves as the reservoir for the Cetina River (the most water-rich river in Croatia and the longest river in Dalmatia).

Eye of the earth spring in croatian village

Croatia's Eye of the Earth

Many people know the spring of Cetina as Croatia's Eye of the Earth. This is because from above, this body of water looks like a green and blue dragon's eye!

It's truly an incredible sight, so if you've got a drone, make sure to fly it here!

Eye of the earth, natural spring in croatia

Where is the Cetina River Spring?

The famous spring is located in the town of Cetina, which is a small rural village in Dalmatia (southern Croatia). The spring is approximately 80 kilometers (49 miles) north of Split near the border of Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The spring and source of this beautiful river is located approximately 385 meters (1,263 ft) above sea level just beneath Dinara mountain, which is the tallest mountain in Croatia.

Below I've pinned the exact location of the Cetina River Spring to help you find it.

Map location of centina river spring in croatia

How to Get to the Cetina River Spring in Croatia

Unfortunately, there are currently no tours running to Cetina from any of the popular tourist cities on the Dalmatian Coast.

This means that if you want to make the journey to this amazing natural attraction, you'll need to drive yourself.

Luckily, renting a car in Croatia is very cheap, especially if you use rental comparison tools like DiscoverCars. We used this to book a car for a week for less than 40 Euros a day.

Once you've got your set of wheels, enter in "Cetina River Spring" or "Izvor Cetine" into your navigation app and you'll find it easily along Highway 1.

Once you take the right turn exit at Restaurant Ivan, you'll come into the small village of Cetina after following a narrow road. Soon, you'll see a small parking space and viewpoint area right next to the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Holy Salvation.

Mountain village in dalmatia, croatia
Croatian Village in the Dinara Mountain Range
Croatia coastline boat

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The Cetina River Source from Dubrovnik

From Dubrovnik, expect a long, 266-kilometer (165 miles) journey taking up to 3.5 hours.

You'll need to cross a border control twice for this journey since part of the Mediterranean belongs to Bosnia & Herzegovina.

So, it's important to remember your passport.

Due to the distance, I wouldn't suggest visiting the Eye of the Earth on a day trip from Dubrovnik. Instead, break up the trip by visiting other attractions nearby like the Dinara mountains and Peruča Lake.

Also, there are plenty of great places to stay nearby, and I've given some recommendations at the bottom of this article.

Cetina river and church from above

The Cetina River Source from Split

Getting to the Cetina River source is much easier from the city of Split. This journey is only around 80 kilometers (49 miles), or about 1.5 hours.

Similarly, you'll take Highway 1, passing the town of Sinj on the way.

This time, there's no need to bring your passport because you won't need to cross any borders. Due to the relatively short distance, it's totally possible to drive to River Cetina on a day trip from Split.

What to Expect at the Eye of the Earth in Croatia

As soon as you arrive at the viewpoint, you'll likely discover why the Eye of the Earth at Cetina River Spring got its name!

On a clear, sunny day, the water is a translucent shade of turquoise-green, with a deep, blue section in the middle, representing the pupil.

Between the viewpoint and the hillside church, you'll find a short path leading to the edge of the water. While it seems inviting to take a dip in this clear swimming hole, locals find it quite rude for tourists to swim here since it their source of fresh drinking water. Additionally, the waters are near ice bath temperatures!

While there's not that much to do here, it does make for a great stop to relax, and take some iconic photos. Additionally, you could also walk down the banks of the Cetina River to find some nice relaxing picnic spots in the beautiful nature.

Did you know? The Eye of the Earth isn't the only spring of the Cetina River. In fact, there are several glavas springs right near this one. However, none of these are very famous or as beautiful as this eye.

Eye of the earth on cetina river

Photography Tips For the Cetina River Eye

Due to its natural beauty, the Cetina River Eye is one of the most iconic natural attractions in Croatia for photographers.

If you've come to this beautiful place to take photographs of this natural wonder, here are some quick tips.

  • Bring a polarizing filter (CP) - a circular polarizer acts similarly to a polarizer in your sunglasses and effectively removes the glare. This is great for the Eye of the Earth because you'll get clearer shots without glare or cloud reflections. You can get one for your camera or your drone.
  • Bring a drone - it's fair to say that this is very much a drone-flying spot! You'll get some of the best photos of this natural eye from above.
  • Try to visit on a clear, sunny day - to get the most vibrant colors and clear waters, you'll want to visit on a sunny day. Luckily, Croatia is known for its excellent weather almost year-round!
Cetina river spring or the eye of the earth in croatia
Stylized edit of the Eye of the Earth
Cetina river source in dalmatia, croatia

All photographs on this blog post are taken by me and available for purchase as fine art prints or for commercial licensing. Please contact me for more information or read about how to use my images for free. For gear information, read my article on Camera Gear for Travel.

Where to Stay Near Cetina River (IZVOR CETINE)

Looking to explore more attractions in the Dinara Mountain region of Croatia? Here are a few top-rated picks nearby.

  • Villa Cetina - beautiful villa right near the river source under Dinara mountain.
  • Hotel Alkar - popular hotel near the village of Sinj, just 40 minutes away.
  • Kijevo Holiday Home - highly-rated holiday home on a private lot just 5 minutes from the Eye of the Earth.
Dinara mountain village in croatia

More Information about the Cetina River Spring in Croatia

How deep is the Cetina River Source?

Divers have explored this natural eye to a depth of around 155 meters, meaning the Cetina River Spring is at least this deep (according to the Croatian Nature Institute)

What is the water temperature at the Eye of the Earth?

The water here is very cold! The signs near the spring indicate that the water temperature brought from the depths of the earth are as low as 4 and 8 Celsius (39 F – 46 F).

Can you swim in the Cetina River Spring?

No! While the no-swimming sign has been taken down, large parts of the country's water supply comes from the Veliko Vrilo spring and the local muncipality leader is petitioning to enforce a restriction of swimming in the spring.

Is there really a whale in the Cetina River Eye?

I can't believe that this is one of the most asked questions from Google. No, this is a freshwater spring, the photos you see of a whale and a girl swimming in the Izvor Cetine is not real!

Drone photo of the karst spring in the village of omis, croatia

More Croatia Travel Guides & Hidden Gems

I hope you've enjoyed this guide and photos from the Cetina River Spring (Eye of the Earth) in the Dalmatian town of Omis, Croatia.

While you're here on my blog, check out a few more of my articles below. I guarantee you'll find something else to add to your Croatia or Balkans itinerary!

Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel journalist & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. These draw on my personal experience to share unique itineraries, accommodation tips, & fun adventure guides covering hikes, viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls, & tours. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

Your feedback & updates are crucial to keep my guides factual & current. Got new info or updates? Drop a comment below or contact me directly.

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Ivo Đogaš

Saturday 10th of February 2024

I noticed that the name "Eye of the Earth" appears all over the different portals (in English language). I am originally from this area and I have never in my 70 years heard anyone call it that in this country. That name translated to Croatian (Zemljino oko) would also sound weird. I wonder who launched it and why it has become so popular in the English-speaking cyber-world. FYI, the local name is Veliko vrilo Glavaš (great spring Glavaš) or simply izvor Cetine (the spring of the river Cetina).

Olly Gaspar

Saturday 10th of February 2024

Thanks for the update Ivo, always good to get a local to clarify. I'll update the blog post to include the local name. I'm also not sure where the "Eye of the Earth" name came from, but it sure is catching on.

Olly

Daniela

Tuesday 19th of September 2023

You don’t need to cross Bosnia border anymore. There’s a bridge that connects Croatia to Dubrovnik now 😍

Kiki

Wednesday 31st of August 2022

It is not allowed to swim there... https://www.total-croatia-news.com/lifestyle/65239-cetina-spring

Olly Gaspar

Wednesday 31st of August 2022

Thanks for the heads up guys. I had no idea that swimming was prohibited as most sources encouraged it. Sad to see that the sign was taken down as well if locals really do find it rude. I've updated the article to let people know.

Jure

Tuesday 30th of August 2022

Verona spring is the drinking water of the nearby williges. So swimming is in it is really rude.

Leen Callebaut

Monday 11th of July 2022

Hartelijk dank voor de info over Cetina river springs Wij zijn een jong dynamisch koppel van 66 jaar en we gaan in september 2 weken naar Kroatie,we vertrekken in Zadar en rijden tot Dubrovnik Aks je nog verborgen pareltjes weet mag je ze ons zeker doormailen Succes en groetjes Leen en Dirk