The first town of any size south of Split is OMIŠ, at the end of the Cetina Gorge, a defile furrowed out of the bone-grey karst by the River Cetina. For centuries, Orris was an impregnable pirate stronghold – repeated efforts to winkle them out, including one expedition in 1221 led by the pope himself, all failed. These days the town is rather dominated by the Magistrala, which passes just south of the old quarter, a huddle of cramped alleys spread out along a pleasant central street, Knezova Kačića. Remnants of the old city walls survive, and two semi-ruined Venetian fortresses cling to the bare rocks above. The lowest of these is the Mirabela, reached by a zigzagging path that begins behind Omiš parish church.A steep scramble up staircases affords access to the roof of its tower (June–Sept daily 8am–noon & 4.30-8.30pm), which offers a good view of the offshore island of Brač. Perched more precariously on a pinnacle of rock higher up is a slightly more ruined stronghold, the Forties. It can be reached from the town centre via a steeply ascending road, then goat track, in about 45 minutes – you'll be rewarded with a stunning panorama of the offshore islands. The new town lies to the south, a featureless stretch of post-World War II buildings behind the main town beach, composed of hard and uninviting sand – you're better off heading for the long shingle beaches of Duce, about 2km back along the Magistrala, or for the nice shingle beach at the village of Nernira, 3km southeast.
Omiš is famous for its festival of local klape – the traditional male-voice choirs of Dalmatia – which takes place on weekends throughout July, usually culminating on the last weekend of the month with open-air performances in the old town. Klape are an important feature of Dalmatian life, and almost every town or village has at least one of them. Songs deal with typical Dalmatian preoccupations like love, the sea and fishing, and are usually sung in local dialect. It's well worth a trip from Split; the Omiš tourist office will have details.
As well as the intercity buses plying the Magistrala, Omiš is also served by local bus from Split (#60, caught from the Lazared bus stop at the eastern end of the Riva).The tourist office, just off the Magistrala on Trg kneza Miroslava (mid-June to mid-Sept Mon—Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am—noon; mid-Sept to mid-June Mon—Fri 8am-3pm), has details of local excursions up the Cetina Gorge. Omis is a popular place in July and August, when rooms can be hard to find unless you arrive early in the day or reserve in advance —Active Holidays, Knezova Kačića bb, are the places to make enquiries. The nearest campsite is the Galeb, just north of town and handy for the beaches of Duce. There are plenty of places to eat on Knezova Kačića; the atmospheric Konoba u našeg Marina serves up simple snacks like prsut and local cheese, while the nearby Milo has a wider range of meaty grills and seafood. The cafes of Trg Stjepana Radiča, at the eastern end of Knezova Kačića, are lovely places to sit outside in the summer.
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